Expo Chicago Day One: A Diverse Display Of Mediums And Themes

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 24, 2014 4:30PM

One of the main highlights of this year's Expo Chicago was a piece by Jessica Stockholder called "Once Upon a Time." Greeting visitors and stretching 50 feet into the rafters of Festival Hall, her plastic "rainbow" summoned impressions of a mass-produced fairy tale and encouraged visitors to challenge their perceptions. This installation was created in conjunction with the Kavi Gupta Gallery and constantly drew crowds and tours throughout the weekend, a telling sign that the power of Stockholder is in her ability to create beauty out of otherwise banal objects that tend to blend into our lives unnoticed. The mirrors on the stools at the end at the base of the sculpture reflect the form moving upward from them, appearing very much as clouds performing a precarious balancing act. 

Catherine Edelman Gallery had a very well-curated booth and included works by Elizabeth Ernst . Her painting "Wishbones" is part of her Mirror Mirror series that was exhibited at the gallery recently. Large-scale works by Sandro Miller drew me in with their humor and incredible technique, particularly his silkscreen, "Andy Warhol / Green Marilyn." His cheeky appropriation of pop culture figures end up as lovely and quirky self-portraits.

The National Museum of Mexican Art's booth was filled with edgy artwork including a vitrine filled with caged stuffed animals by Franciso (Paco) Esnayra and a powerful, charged painting by Leonardo Diaz. This was a fearless museum at Expo and no doubt a museum that should be a frequented institution in Chicago.

Other highlights included the Jenkins / Johnson Gallery out of San Francisco with muted and dreamlike oil on paper portraits by Annie Kevans of important female figures in art history. Linda Warren Projects had a painting by Peter Drake called "Waiting" that at first appeared simple and calm, but the technique is incredible in its detail, leaving the canvas matte yet not at all flat, but quite dynamic.

After taking in Expo the first day, I was very happy to see the diversity of the artists represented, both emerging and established.