The granddaddy of Chicago art fairs, Art Chicago, almost bit the dust last year, but it's been reborn as part of Artropolis, the new umbrella term for five art and design shows happening this weekend. Art Chicago evolved from Art Expo at Navy Pier, which began in 1988 then almost fell off the map last year, beset by labor and financial woes. A last-minute switch in venue from Millennium Park to the Merchandise Mart (and a takeover of the trademark by the Mart) kept it afloat, and it returns to the Mart this year with 132 galleries, 33 from foreign cities such as Seoul, Stockholm, Madrid, and Bogota. It has two new spin-offs: New Insight, an exhibit by 24 grad students from 12 of the country's most prestigious MFA programs, and Symposium C6, three days of seminars on globalism in the art world.
Artropolis also includes the tenth annual International Antiques Fair, with more than 100 dealers, and the Bridge Art Fair, focusing on emerging and contemporary art from more than 60 galleries in a "cost-effective showcase." The Artist Project, making its debut this year, is a show of some 50 reportedly "undiscovered" individuals--though you may recognize some names. And the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, sponsored by the local Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, showcases work from 42 galleries and nonprofit organizations.
The whole shebang runs Friday, April 27, through Monday, April 30. Exhibits open at 11 AM, and all close at 7 PM Friday and Saturday and 6 PM on Sunday. Art Chicago and the Bridge show close at 6 PM Monday, while the other shows close at 4 PM. Three of the exhibits are at the Merchandise Mart, 350 N. Orleans: Art Chicago is on the seventh floor, and the antiques and Intuit shows are on the eighth. The Artist Project and the Bridge Art Fair are at 350 W. Mart Center, the Artist Project in the lobby and Bridge on the 12th floor. Admission to the Artist Project and the Bridge show is free; a ticket good for the other three main shows is $15 and includes reentry on later days. Some shows have related talks and seminars, some free with admission. Symposium C6, originally invitation-only, takes place at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and costs $250 for all three days or $100 for a single day. The "Artropolis" rubric also covers a variety of free and paid performances, film screenings, and art events. Check artropolischicago.com for complete listings.