The Chicago Tribune goes into detail on how Art Chicago evolved to where it is today. They ask if it’s still relevant:
Do we still care about one of the longest-running art fairs in the United States? And why, when so many gallerists have expressed displeasure with what they see an increasing focus on quantity over quality, do they continue to exhibit year after year? “I don’t know.”
That’s the short answer from Chicago gallery veteran Rhona Hoffman, who has owned her namesake gallery for 34 years and exhibited at Art Chicago since its inception in 1980. She expands: “Because I’ve been asked to fly the flag and I’m flying the flag. You can’t ask people from out of town to come to the art fair if people in Chicago don’t participate.” And once again, Hoffman is exhibiting this year. She confirmed as much over a recent telephone call, but not before exhaling a long, audible sigh.
It’s a sigh of surrender. Art Chicago, to be sure, has changed significantly even in the past four years. The year after taking over the fair, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., or MMPI, launched Artropolis, and under that moniker runs the whole kit-and-kaboodle: Art Chicago, an antiques show, the NEXT show of emerging art and related programming.
“The national reputation Chicago enjoys through its art is helpful to our branding,” says Christopher Kennedy, president of MMPI. “Chicago is the center for art and design. For us, art, design, architecture, building products, furniture — they go together. It’s a continuum.”
Once a Giant, 30-Year-Old Art Chicago Now is Just Big (Chicago Tribune)