art buyers chicago

Getting the Most Out of the Fall Art Season

Each fall, Chicago’s art world buzzes with gallery openings, art fairs, museum exhibitions, and major events. Here are our tips to get the most out of the season.

Carol Jackson at Corbett vs. Dempsey

Carol Jackson at Corbett vs. Dempsey

Pencil It In

With so much going on, we recommend making a list of the shows, galleries, and fairs you want to attend–and then adding the events to your calendar. Check out the shows at the galleries you are familiar with and read up on guides to the season from publications like Chicago Gallery News. Look into events outside your usual circle to see fresh art that you might otherwise miss. NewCity’s “Fall Arts Preview 2019: Alternative Spaces in Chicago” is a great place to find hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path galleries.

It can be all too easy to let an exhibition closing date slip by without realizing you never got to see it. Early in the season, prioritize attending events that are only open for a short time, like a weekend art fair, and save longer-running exhibitions for when things slow down in November. Always double check that spaces are open when you plan to go. Many galleries are closed on Mondays, for example. Call ahead if you want to confirm the hours that a space is open.

Visiting Galleries

Many galleries kick off their fall shows with an opening reception, often in September. Receptions are great for meeting gallerists, artists, and people in the art world, but the high attendance and overlapping conversations can make it hard to focus on the art, so plan on seeing the show again after the opening when you can absorb the exhibition more fully. The prices of artwork may not always be posted; if you are interested in a piece, ask a gallery attendant for a price list, which will detail the artist’s biographical information and the cost of the work. 

We are looking forward to so many shows this season. Julia Fish: bound by spectrum at the DePaul Art Museum captures a decade of observational paintings of light in a Chicago house (September 12–February 23, 2020). Corbett vs Dempsey hosts an exhibition of wall-hanging sculptures by Carol Jackson titled End World Music (September 6–October 12). In The Last Cruze, MacArthur “genius” Fellowship award winner LaToya Ruby Frazier brings 67 of her famed documentary photographs to the Renaissance Society, chronicling the lives of autoworkers in Ohio (September 14–December 1).

This fall, we are hosting our own exhibition in our office at 1709 W. Chicago Ave. Kantoor is a group exhibition of artwork made with pencil or graphite by five artists based in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. The exhibition will run from September 13–November 1 and showcase artists who are popular picks with our client base. We hope you’ll stop by!

Navigating Art Fairs

EXPO Chicago (September 19–22) is the city’s largest art fair. EXPO is an excellent opportunity to see artwork from around the world–136 galleries from 24 countries will be showing work by their best and brightest talent. This year, the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) will host a fair in Chicago–their first fair outside of Miami (September 18–21). Just as things are winding down before winter, the third annual Chicago Art Book Fair (November 15–17) is an excellent chance to pick up some reading for the cold months.

Art fairs can be an overwhelming blur of people, voices, and lots of art. Experience an art fair at your own pace and do not feel pressured to see every single booth or work of art. Do not feel shy about asking questions or inquiring about prices. Each booth will be staffed with one or more gallerists ready to tell you more about the art. And it never hurts to wear comfortable shoes–there’s usually a lot of walking involved in a day at the fair.

Don’t Miss Out on Other Major Cultural Events

Between gallery-hopping and chatting with dealers at EXPO, be sure to make time for some of the other excellent arts and cultural events happening in Chicago this fall. Every two years the Chicago Architectural Biennial takes over the Cultural Center with thought-provoking projects on the way we live and build. This year marks the third iteration of the biennial, running from September into early 2020.

The Chicago Humanities Festival hosts speakers from around the country–journalists, political figures, and cultural heavyweights headline the festival. There is even a series of free talks dedicated to fine arts, titled Creative Chicago: Arts and the City.

As always, the exhibitions at Chicago’s museums can’t be missed, including a slew of shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art and a blockbuster exhibition of Andy Warhol at the Art Institute

Grab a sweater and a latte & enjoy the autumn art season!

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EXPO Chicago - A Week In Review

Gladys Nilsson at Garth Greenan Gallery’s booth at EXPO Chicago

Gladys Nilsson at Garth Greenan Gallery’s booth at EXPO Chicago

We are still recovering from a busy September here in the office. The end of the year is always a race, but the addition of Chicago's premiere art fair, Expo Chicago, always makes things that much more exciting. Art fairs are a great opportunity for art consultants to take in an extensive array of artwork from a vast network of national and international galleries in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, we welcome any opportunity to see art in person and connect with its makers and purveyors, making this close-to-home option a must on our list.


DeGroot Fine Art at Vernissage

DeGroot Fine Art at Vernissage

The art season in Chicago opens in early September with many top-notch shows in the galleries around town leading up to the night of Expo Chicago or “Vernissage” as it is referred to in their programming. This term simply means a private viewing of paintings before public exhibition. This event is heavily attended, and the people-watching is as interesting as the artwork. That said, it is hard to fully perceive what is being exhibited behind the throngs of people, so it is important to strategize how and when you will be best able to take things in.


Every year I make sure to attend the professional preview before the fair opens for Vernissage. During this time I was able to take some quick snapshot reminders with my camera and write notes down of those pieces of particular interest. I use these notes to flag and quickly communicate artwork options for our private and corporate clients and get a head-start on any acquisitions. This year, I was focused on new prints, potential acquisitions for two different homes in Evanston and Lincoln Park, and executive level artwork for corporate clients.

Alex Katz at Richard Gray Gallery’s booth at EXPO

Alex Katz at Richard Gray Gallery’s booth at EXPO


This year DeGroot Fine Art was asked by Expo Chicago to give a private tour for the Northern Trust V.I.P. guests the morning before the fair opened to the public. Our Project Manager, Julia Sobieraj, donned a microphone headset and toured through the fair with a group of about 25 executives, highlighting artwork from locally relevant artists of note, including: Gladys Nilsson, Alex Katz, Judy Ledgerwood, Celeste Rapone, and Stephen Eichhorn. We were honored to be included in their programming and welcomed the chance to meet individuals with a mutual interest in fine art. 

After the tour, there was plenty of time the rest of the weekend to slowly take in the fair's offerings. We always plan to review any fair at least twice, as observing so much can be overwhelming at first. It is always advantageous to use fresh eyes in another round the bend. To see more of our top picks from this fair, check out our Aesthetics page on the website for the affiliated post. We are often tasked with being the eyes and ears of our clients for fairs such as Expo Chicago, but in addition to this service and offering exclusive invitations to our clientele, we also walk individuals around at their request to personally guide their experience custom to their interests.

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Art Collecting Culture

A few weeks ago I traveled to Amsterdam, the capital city of The Netherlands, to explore my heritage and a whole lot of art museums. When starting this company in 2016, I was put in a position to name our consulting firm rather quickly. After trying many options on for size, we landed on my surname which translates in Dutch to "The Great." Growing up I hoped it meant I was a decedent of royalty, but I've since learned it simply refers the stature of my ancestors. Either way, the name conveyed a sense of grandeur and was a perfect tribute to my grandmother who was herself an artist. 

After arriving at the airport I certainly found myself surrounded by those who are vertically advantaged, with a large part of the population over six feet tall. Equally great were the ways in which the Dutch lived; their iconic row houses are towering, skinny, and compact. At night I would peer into the windows as I walked along the canals and was struck by the consistent presence of original artwork on the walls. They even hung beautiful large-scale paintings in their houseboats!

Surely inspired by the multitudes of world-class art museums in their country, the line between historical and home blends seamlessly there. Many of the pieces hanging were contemporary, and it made me wonder why our culture doesn't make the leap as often. I am making a concerted effort to not only improve my own home by investing in work made by living artists but to also help others make their spaces "Great" in the finest sense of the word. DeGroot Fine Art strives to place superior, local artwork in offices, hotels, restaurants, and private collections alike.

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