The Women's Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago hosted the seventh annual Vernissage, the opening night preview party of Expo Chicago (International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art), on Sept. 27 at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. More than 8,000 art lovers, collectors and enthusiasts received a first look at artwork from 135 of the world's leading galleries. On display were 5,000 works of art from 27 countries and 63 cities.
The evening began with a patron's reception in the VIP Collector's Lounge, where guests enjoyed sweeping views of Festival Hall’s colorful exhibits on the floor below, as well as food stations from some of the city's top restaurants.
Tony Karman, Expo Chicago president and director, welcomed guests and presented a celebratory Ruinart Champagne toast along with his wife, Sondra, Michelle Boone (Navy Pier chief program and civic engagement officer), Madeleine Grynsztejn(MCA Chicago’s Pritzker director), Mike O'Grady (Northern Trust CEO and MCA Chicago Board of Trustees chair) and Mac MacLellan (Northern Trust wealth management executive vice president).
Karman spoke about the exciting four-day festival — a collaboration of more than 70 cultural institutions around the city that featured exhibits, gallery openings, artist talks, public art projects, open studios and outdoor installations.
MacLellan described Vernissage as "the social scene of the year" and lauded the partnerships between Northern Trust, the presenting sponsor, the MCA and Navy Pier.
Boone said, "This fair has cemented Navy Pier, not only as an historic attraction for Chicago, but as a new cultural destination." She enthusiastically described plans for next year that will include an interactive public art installation titled "The Beach Chicago," which will be created by New York-based firm Snarkitecture and display 1.1 million translucent balls in the Aon Ballroom.
Following the reception, guests headed to the exhibits, which featured artwork from galleries around the world as well as large-scale sculptures, interactive installations and site-specific works curated by Pablo Leon de la Barra from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
There was something for every taste in Festival Hall. At the CASE Art Fund booth, guests slipped inside a tent to view paintings related to humanitarian issues. Artist Oscar Murillo's exhibit featured a semicircle of human effigies in wheelchairs that represented the decaying of the global capitalist system. Prints from Dylan Miner and Oscar Tuazon addressed the Flint water crisis. Even Bertram the Pomeranian, an Instagram canine star with over 250,000 followers, was on hand to attract attention to the Hole Gallery booth.
Co-chaired by MCA Women's Board members Marcia Fraerman and Cathy Ross with support from Ellen Wallace, MCA Women's Board president, the evening raised over $300,000 to support the museum's educational programs.
"It's the collaborative nature of this city that we celebrate tonight. There's no place like it, and I'm Chicago proud," Karman said.