Expo Chicago, the biggest arts event of the year, kicks off its three-day run at Navy Pier this Friday. Grab your date, strap on your MFA cap and do it up right. Here’s our guide.
Off the bat, know that Expo can be incredibly overwhelming. More than 140 international galleries will attend. Countless special events. Even Shaq is curating a gallery. What you wanna do is hit Vernissage, basically the big opening party where those in-the-know sip on Chianti and get an exclusive early look at the fair before it opens. Pick up your passes here.
Gladhanding with all those starving artists will turn a man into one. Well, starving, at least. So head to Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor, walking distance from the pier. The menu here is about as sprawling as Expo’s. Start with tea. Dumplings are their specialty. Don’t miss the fried taro puffs. And one more pro tip: steamed white rice cleanses your palate between bites.
Amateur art collectors should start at EDITION Chicago — lower price point, excellent entryway to local and international galleries. Expo partner Artnet, with its database of 300,000 artists, can also help you find the perfect piece. Some favorites: the minimalist sculptures of Donald Judd, the iconic stencil work of Shepard Fairey and the photography of underground Chicago shutterbug Vivian Maier. And don’t sleep on the dedicated database for Expo.
Note bene: For more buying tips, check out Chicago Magazine’s Q&A with Expo Chicago president Tony Karman.