Art Chicago 2006 - 14th Annual International Fine Art Exposition - By Michael MacInnis
Christo and Jean-Claude, the husband and wife environmental art duo whose gigantic outdoor sculptures have inspired millions around the world to appreciate the ephemeral nature of public art, would surely have been impressed with Thomas Blackman's unplanned foray into their genre this past weekend in Chicago. Visitors to this year's Art Chicago in the Park 2006, which Mr. Blackman produced, arrived at the site of a Christo-esque structure, a 125, 000 square-foot tent, actually two enormous tent structures, that stood empty. The entire art fair, which in better days drew some 30,000 art patrons and boasted sales of artwork upwards of 60 million dollars, was relocated on a moment's notice to the cityıs venerable Chicago Merchandise Mart. Despite the 11th hour upheaval, the fair opened as scheduled, even keeping to its opening night preview on Thursday, April 27. Except for the slightly lower ceilings of the indoor facility, visitors familiar with last year's Art Chicago in the Park would probably see little difference in terms of the artwork presented and the roster of dealers in attendance. Reasons for abandoning the original site are many though now mute; the bottom line is there was no bottom line.
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