I was quoted in this article.../mc
Chicago ARTEahora adds Latin side dish to art fair
By Lauren Viera | Tribune reporter
April 25, 2008
There's nothing like Chicago in the springtime: Tulips blooming on Michigan Avenue, boats casting off into the lake and, in late-April, more art events that you can shake a paintbrush at.
This year, add one more to the mix: Chicago ARTEahora. Scheduled to coincide with Artropolis—the multifaceted celebration of art-related festivals and events that descends on the city each April—ARTEahora (which means "art now") is billing itself as "The First Chicago Latin American Art Fair," which Latin art gallery owners say is an accurate claim. And a telling one.
The unofficial center of Chicago's Latin arts community is the Near South Side neighborhood of Pilsen, its semigentrified east side lined with galleries and its more rustic west side crammed with studios. But the Pilsen community has not been involved with Artropolis or its premier fair, Art Chicago.
It can't afford to, says Miguel Cortez, an artist, gallerist and longtime member of Pilsen's art community.
"[Artropolis] is a very commercial venue with huge fees that many artists living in Pilsen cannot afford," he says.
Artropolis, which begins Friday, draws an international audience of thousands to a half-dozen fairs, including the massive and mainstream Art Chicago, the indie-centric NEXT fair and the Outsider Art-oriented Intuit Show. Most featured artists in the past have been American and European, with a sprinkling of East Asian and Latino artists.
ARTEahora and its producers hope to broaden the horizons on their own terms.
"Because Latin American art has historically in Chicago had a very little voice, it is good for the general public and collectors to see more," says ARTEahora founder and co-curator Aldo Castillo, who has run his eponymous gallery in the River North neighborhood since 1993. Castillo's gallery was rejected from partaking in Art Chicago no less than nine times. That was back when Art Chicago was run by Thomas Blackman Associates, which sold to the Merchandise Mart in a last-minute financial crisis three days before the 2006 fair.
"I always respected [Blackman's] decision, but that rejection inspired me to create my own art fair," says Castillo. "[The Merchandise Mart] is very aware of that incident so they are trying to be friendly with me, and they advertised [ARTEahora] in their program despite the fact that it can be seen as competitive."
Merchandise Mart confirmed that Artropolis is including ARTEahora in its listings. A spokesperson said an all-encompassing approach is being taken to this weekend's events: Artropolis' objective is to celebrate the arts in Chicago, instead of advertising solely what's officially included in the fair.
Castillo and co-curator Thomas Monahan, who consults on Latin American artists for Sotheby's and Christie's auction houses, wanted a fair that focused on artists, not galleries. The pair handpicked work from contemporary Latin American artists ranging from Jose Luis Cuevas, who has a namesake museum in Mexico City, to Baltazar Castillo, a mixed-media artist who works out of a studio in Wicker Park.
Programs will be on tap too. Monahan will present a lecture on Chilean 20th Century artist Roberto Matta, whose work he has represented; Alexander Slato, associate director of the Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) in Long Beach, Calif., will discuss collecting Latin American art; and art critic Michael Weinstein will lead a lecture on modern Cuban photography.
"This is my city, where I have lived for 21 years," Castillo says. "I came to Chicago and studied at the Art Institute, and by living here I knew what the city was missing, and I feel like this is my contribution to my home."