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ARTNET: "The Best Booths at Expo Chicago," review of Eric Firestone Gallery, Booth 212

Eric Firestone Gallery, Booth 212, EXPO Chicago 2024

Expo Chicago has returned to Navy Pier, offering its fairgoers more of what it’s known for: a decidedly relaxed vibe (at least compared to its coastal counterparts), an unparalleled focus on regional operations, and wide-ranging art willing to take on American politics.

This is the first edition of Expo under the leadership of Frieze, which acquired the event alongside the Armory Show in 2023. Tony Kaufman, EXPO director, told ARTnews that new management has only led to further improvements. The fair has a fresh layout and its special sections—Exposure, In/Situ, and Profile—have been better integrated into the main exhibition. 

Some 170 galleries have gathered for this year, including first-time participants Labor (Mexico) and Hannah Traore Gallery (New York), along with blue chip enterprises from beyond the Windy City, like Galeria Nara Roesler and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Chicago, of course, is well represented by homegrown operations such as Document, Rhona Hoffman Gallery, and Corbett vs. Dempsey. Among the notable returning enterprises are Perrotin, Mariane Ibrahim, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, and Harper’s.

Below, a look at the best on offer during the 2024 edition of Expo Chicago, which runs through Sunday.

Judging by Eric Firestone’s recent programming (woe to New Yorkers who missed a recent show about the Godzilla collective), the gallery gets what means success for a group show. No color, pattern, or material overstays its welcome; each addition enriches the lot, all in service of a grand purpose. The gallery’s booth at Expo is much of the same, a vibrant medley of paintings, ceramics, and collages. A 1967–70 painting from Regina Granne is among the more interesting nudes on the sales floor, and a 2024 black and white collage from Cato, a London-based artist and musician, is a promising teaser for his forthcoming show at the gallery.

Two outdoors scenes are paired logically. There’s Soren Hope’s Where’s Your Paddle (2022–24), which depicts what might be a summer yard sale. In it, a bare-legged, barefooted woman in a lawn chair accepts a dollar in exchange for a length of hose; a person, abstracted beyond a discernible gender, struggles into a cowboy boot. There’s also Huê Thi Hoffmaster’s painted flower field devoid of people—just petals opening eagerly to the sun. 

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