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Art Fair Season: So Many Versions, So Many Visions

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 25, 2006 1:44PM

This week brings an embarrassment of riches for art lovers. Longer, warmer days inspire artists, collectors, and curious bystanders to hook up, talk art, and put some serious coin in a few dealers’ and artists’ pockets. Everyday through Friday we’ll be featuring the highlights of another spring festival, helping you stay sane in these frenzied days of wheeling and dealing.

Art Chicago in the Park (Friday-Monday) is the granddaddy of them all. The city’s only major contemporary art fair, Art Chicago brings 125 galleries and over 2,000 artists together under one big tent. Literally, it's in a massive white tent on Butler Field.

UPDATE: Art Chicago's ginormous tent reportedly won't be ready in time for Thursday's gala opening. A conflict between labor and management have stalled its construction, and organizers are considering moving the fair back to Navy Pier. Chicagoist will update you, dear readers, as more information becomes available.

The Nova Art Fair (Thursday-Sunday) is granddaddy’s fetching young mistress, pulling the work of emerging artists into 40 rooms of the City Suites Hotel. That unusual exhibition is the centerpiece, but Nova also features an “el” fashion show, a video & film festival, readings, a Lakeview artwalk, and an excuse to party in style. In recruiting Iconoduel and Bad at Sports as the festival’s official blogger spearhead and podcast, respectively, Nova is easily Chicago’s most impressively geeky art fair.

Concurrently the Hyde Park Art Center, the stylish nephew of the family, celebrates their new space Saturday and Sunday during a 36-hour marathon of free art, performance, and general housewarming.

version.jpgToday we look at Art Chicago’s resourceful, independently-minded grandchild: Version>06. These kids acutely understand how our world is interconnected through technology and culture and harness both to foster discussion and social change. Stuffy it’s not. Imaginative beyond any quick, peppy labels it most definitely is. Art exhibits focusing on collaboration and exterior design opened the festival and remain on display through next weekend. Discussions, contests, projects and parties proliferate from Bridgeport to Logan Square, but organizers are also working to discern how alternative spaces can succeed globally.

Now about the entertainment: there’s an “Underground Multiplex” and dance party in Wicker Park (May 2), a ‘sonic hustlaz’ competition in the South Loop (April 27), a Bridgeport Pub Crawl (May 1), a Web radio station (ongoing) and plenty of other stuff we could only begin to describe. It’s far more participatory than granddad’s shindig, but they probably won’t mind if you’d rather sit around and let it all flow over you.

Version>06 continues through May 6 at various venues. Event tickets range from $0-10, event passes are available for $25 and $100. More details at

Image via Version 06.