Chicago Expo Highlights Art, Design, and Architecture Throughout the Windy City

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Chicago Expo Highlights Art, Design, and Architecture Throughout the Windy City

The seventh edition of the fair expands far beyond Navy Piers exhibition hall

TEXT BY BROOK MASON Posted September 28, 2018

 A billboard featuring Judy Chicago's "Purple Atmospheres," part of Expo Chicago's Override | A Billboard project.  Photo: Courtesy of Expo Chicago

A billboard featuring Judy Chicago's "Purple Atmospheres," part of Expo Chicago's Override | A Billboard project.

Photo: Courtesy of Expo Chicago

With landmark buildings by the likes of Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as more recent projects by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Chicago is already a design lover's paradise. This week, with the opening of Expo Chicago, the Windy City ups the ante, welcoming some 135 galleries from an astonishing 27 countries for a spectacular show of art and design, now in its seventh year. In aiming to draw far more visitors to the Expo than the 100,000 it saw last year, Expo director Tony Karman has conjured up a number of compelling programs. If you're not able to make it to the fair in person, AD PRO has selected the most captivating showings.

First up, Karman's IN/SITU Outside program of mega-sculpture, which casts the city as gargantuan urban sculpture park, featuring works like a towering rusted steel Mark di Suvero piece and Isa Genzken’s seemingly sky-high porcelain flowers. Nearby, Override | A Billboard project features a staggering 50 billboards emblazoned with work by top artists. Especially captivating is artist, feminist, and educator Judy Chicago’s billboard, which features a still from her performance "Purple Atmospheres," for which she ramped up smoke machines and pyrotechnics to render mesmerizing clouds of purple smoke.

 Firelei Báez’s mural.  Photo: Courtesy of Expo Chicago

Firelei Báez’s mural.

Photo: Courtesy of Expo Chicago

Just inside, Firelei Báez’s compelling tapestry-like installation stands out on a white wall. "Firelei’s work has taken a new sculptural, architectural direction that is really exciting,” says her dealer, Wendi Norris, who has her own booth just inside. "And since, fortuitously, the InSitu installation is placed directly across from our booth, I have the lucky position of getting to stare at it all day." New Yorkers, take note: Firelei’s newest installation, in the Harlem 163rd Street subway station, was unveiled today.

Chicago's work is also on view inside, in the booth of Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn's Manhattan gallery Salon 94. Alongside Chicago (and Marina Adams, Sylvie Fleury, Yukultji Napangati, Carlos Rolón, Laurie Simmons, and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri), Greenberg is showing Max Lamb’s Thermal Spray Series. His idiosyncratic seating is comprised of hand-cut polystyrene sprayed with bronze, copper, and aluminum. This isn't Lamb's only presence in the Windy City: "Max Lamb: Exercises in Seating" is currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Fresh on the heels of his new book Buckingham Palace: The Interiors (Rizzoli, $55) Ashley Hicks also makes an appearance at R & Co., where the New York gallery is showing his whimsical hand-painted totems. Also on hand is Katie Stout’s new body of ceramic works that are really lamps, drawings, and sculptures all in one, says R & Co.'s Evan Snyderman. Chilean Sebastian Errazuriz takes his design cues from feathered friends for his playful Bird chandelier and lamp, also in the booth.

 Zaha Hadid's "Cloud-I" mirror at David Gill Gallery.  Photo: Courtesy of David Gill Gallery

Zaha Hadid's "Cloud-I" mirror at David Gill Gallery.

Photo: Courtesy of David Gill Gallery

Other notable design dealers include London’s David Gill, whose tome David Gill: Designing Art (Vendome, $60) is due out next month. In 2007, Gill brought on Zaha Hadid’s cutting-edge designs. Her 2013 Mirror "Cloud-I" of mirror-polished stainless steel is both design and installation art and demonstrates Hadid’s uncanny talent to deliver sheer power. “Initially, Zaha solely intended her design example for her own home, but collectors and curators quickly approached her to produce editioned work,” says Gill. Other designers represented include Mattia Bonetti and Michele Oka Doner.

At Chelsea dealer Paul Kasmin’s stand, David Wiseman’s stellar design is juxtaposed with blue-chip paintings and sculpture by Robert Indiana, Morris Lewis, and Stuart Davis. Wiseman, whom Peter Marino enlisted to create site-specific installations for his Dior boutiques from Shanghai to New York, stands his ground against the big-name company.