“The Other Art Fair is “other” because we showcase artists, rather than galleries,” says Sophie Lucas, Chicago Director with The Other Art Fair.
This year’s show will feature 110 artists to be exact. They’ll be taking over Fulton Market this weekend to showcase their latest works.
“We’re based in cities around the world, so artists can travel and show their work with a group they’re familiar with,” Lucas said. “They know us, but it’s a brand-new city. So if you’re based in London, you can show in L.A. or Dallas or Chicago, and you just wouldn’t be able to do that without the fair. So, we’ve seen artists be successful in their hometown and go off and show internationally. I don’t know if there is any other platform that does the same.”
It’s the international art fair’s fourth year in Chicago, and about half of the featured artists are Chicago based. Community partner Ciera McKissick of AMFM says the approach is inclusive of artists of all levels and mediums.
“It doesn’t have the same elitism as other types of fairs,” McKissick said. “You don’t need to feel validated to be here. They’ve got the New Futures program too where they offer free event space and mentorship to emerging artists and that’s a wonderful addition.”
McKissick says AMFM is eager to showcase several emerging artists they represent.
“Caroline Lu has a piece up and so does Tianna Bracey, who is a New Futures recipient artist I met last year. There’s Moises Salzar, who has glitter and fur work. We also have Marcelo Eli and Roland Santana, they’re breakout artists.”
Among these breakout creatives also glows neon artist, Morgan Sims. He’s been manipulating bright lights for more than a decade, and says he hopes to make his passion more mainstream.
“You make your shape, then you put electrodes on the end, then you fill it with gas and then you seal it off.” Sims said. “It’s like a lightbulb at that point. In an art context, you can get close to it and see neon in a way you are not used to seeing it. But I like situations like this where you can install and have a lot of people see it. It’s versatile.”
The Other Art Fair also offers live presentations and demonstrations, from murals to portraits, or even a game of bags. Organizers say the goal is to create a relaxed environment for both the artist and art lovers, so that when they’re ready to make their first purchase, they aren’t intimidated. But if you aren’t ready to buy just yet, organizers say there are plenty of other ways to support local artists.
“The most important thing you can do for an artist is buy their work or spread the word,” McKissick continues. “Follow them on social media, go to their shows and show up in person. They really feel that.”
Pieces start as low as $100. The Other Art Fair opens Thursday April 21 at Revel in Fulton Market and goes until Sunday, April 24.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.