Chicago's first art book fair happens next month

Prairie Production

Prairie Production

We're generally uninterested in making coastal comparisons, occupied as we are with THE CITY WE ACTUALLY LIVE IN. Still, once in a while there's some aspect of, say, L.A. or New York (to use two totally arbitrary examples) that we wish would arrive on our shores: SoCal's abundance of juice bars, for instance, or NYC's late-night dining options. 

Another longtime dream: that we'd get a great artist book fair—one on par with, yet dinstinctive from, the annual international fairs hosted by New York–based nonprofit Printed Matter. It's not that artist-made publications and periodicals—and the people and presses that make them—are invisible in Chicago. They've been featured at fairs such as MDW and the Printers' Ball, as well as reading roomspop-up libraries, (now-defunct) stores and venues such as the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts, Western Exhibitions and the Hyde Park Art Center. (This Thursday, in fact, the Blonde Art Books Summer Tour comes to the HPAC.) But visibility and access could be improved upon. 

Lucky for us, they will be. On August 11, from noon to 8pm, Chicago's first art book fair, Medium Cool, comes to Prairie Production (1314 W Randolph St), a popular wedding venue in the West Loop.

Marrying artists, galleries, designers, publishers, artist book retailers and arts organizations, the celebration of printed matter includes 5x7, Carson Fisk-Vittori, Document, Edition MK, FAMILYFAMILYTREE, Issue Press, James Goggin, The Journal of Artist Books, The Kingsboro Press, LVL3, Martine Syms, New Documents, New Hands, Ooga Booga, Soberscove Press, Sonnenzimmer, SPARE, Tenspeed Hero, Uni-press, Western Exhibitions and many more. Few details of the cash-only fair have been announced, and other participants will be revealed soon, but it's already shaping up to be a solid event. Organizer Ria Roberts assured (via Twitter), "Going to punctuate this cerebral book fair with a freaky after party, don't worry guys." Now we just need 24-hour pizza delivery.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)