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All Things Considered

Week of Art coming to Chicago in Fall 2013

Expo Chicago 2012 (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)

Expo Chicago, the city's latest effort at an international art fair, took place over a few days last September.

But for their second go-round, organizers are thinking more is more.

They've announced plans to wrap their fall art fair into a week-long festival of art and culture: Expo Art Week.

Expo Art Week will take place September 16-22 in 2013. Expo Chicago will host its vernissage at Navy Pier on September 19 and run through the 22.

Tony Karman is the Director of Expo Chicago. He says a week-long art festival will meet the expectations of art patrons everywhere.

"They're coming for the art fairs," Kalman said. "But they're also coming to experience our great theatre, our great dance, our restaurants. That's really the takeaway for the international art collector or art enthusiasts."

Also on board for Expo Art Week is Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Choose Chicago, which is the tourism and marketing wing of the city.

Kalman says he hasn't asked city officials for outright financial support, but does say it is a "huge facilitator" in terms of  "organizational and messaging" support.

Karman has also snagged some of Chicago's blue ribbon cultural institutions as collaborators.

Participants include: The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theatre, and Joffrey Ballet.

Karman promises there will be many more institutions on the list come September.

In far shorter supply, at least so far, are details about how the art week would actually work.  

Organizers did say that ACRE, a local art collective and residency, will lead tours of "alternative and apartment based galleries" in neighborhoods like Garfield Park.

And some participants are cooking up other ideas.

Gail Kalver is Executive Director of River North Chicago Dance Company. She hopes her troupe will put on performances at the Expo, or she may just send dancers in some of the company's costumes.

"There’s a particular piece that has a huge red train," Kalver said. "We have some beautiful costumes and I think they would go well at some of the public events."

Spectacle is a draw, but so is the prospect of money.

Northern Trust, which helped fund the Expo last year, has now signed on as the event’s leading sponsor.

"Frankly arts and culture is something for our clients are very interested in," said Steve "Mac" MacLellan,  Executive VP of Wealth Management. "It’s a way for us to give back and is recognized by our clients as well."

Launching a new art week right as Chicago's fall art season gets underway means an even busier cultural calendar for many locals. 

But Gail Kalver of River North Dance Chicago isn't worried. "I'm the Pollyanna. I think it is a really extraordinary opportunity to be able to highlight your group before you open your season. So I think any arts organization would welcome being part of it."

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