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SOFA CHICAGO 2010 and The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art Have a Resounding Success
Guests at the Opening Night Preview of SOFA CHICAGO.
CHICAGO, IL.- For the first time ever, The Art Fair Company presented two art fairs under one roof at Chicago's historic Navy Pier: the 17th annual SOFA CHICAGO (International Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair), featuring more than 70 galleries from 11 countries and sponsored by Chubb Personal Insurance, shared center stage with 16 dealers in The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art. The Chicago-based Art Fair Company welcomed a crowd of more than 30,000 attendees to Navy Pier's Festival Hall between the SOFA CHICAGO + Intuit Show Opening Night preview party Nov. 4, 2010 and throughout the three day run of the fairs Nov. 5 - 7, 2010.

Mark Lyman, President of The Art Fair Company and Founder of SOFA, said that this year's fairs were "a step to the next level in terms of sophisticated curating and stunning presentation among the galleries, the high quality of work by the artists, and dedication of both the galleries and artists to bring large-scale works to the fairs. The artists' commitment to producing new and special works exclusively for SOFA made things exciting and fresh for collectors, and boosted confidence among the next generation of buyers. Sales, particularly in the higher five- and six-figure price ranges, were robust."

"Feedback that I've received from the 16 dealers who participated in this year's Intuit Show has been overwhelmingly positive. Sales were strong, with many items purchased in the $60,000 range," said Cleo Wilson, Executive Director, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. "SOFA CHICAGO provided a momentum to The Intuit Show that helped pique the interest of new buyers, who may not have previously been familiar with outsider art. Intuit Show dealers were also very appreciative of The Art Fair Company's thoughtfulness and expertise in organization. Intuit enthusiastically looks forward to continuing our partnership with The Art Fair Company, and to returning in 2011."

SOFA CHICAGO 2010 Highlights
Savvy long-time SOFA dealers spared no expense in presenting astonishing works by their best artists in major exhibitions, and their optimism and ambition paid off. Schantz Galleries, Stockbridge, Mass. sold a "truly historic work," 'Avventura' (76 3/4" x 39 1/2" x 5 1/2" 2010) by Lino Tagliapietra to a private collection for $245,000. The 102 element installation is unlike anything Tagliapietra has ever created before. "It is a way of Lino reflecting on his whole life's work, and his influences in Venetian and Syrian glass," explained gallery owner Jim Schantz.

Litvak Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel returned for a third year with a spacious booth custom-designed by acclaimed Seattle-based architect Norman Sandler and a wide selection of exclusive glass projects created by the world's leading contemporary artists. The gallery noted many sales in the high five-figure range. Litvak mounted a spectacular 2010 100 x 209" Dale Chihuly installation, as well as a black box corridor showcasing the artist's new silver cylinder series. "Collectors, designers, and curators from throughout the world purchased a wide variety of new work, including Chihuly, Peter Bremers' 2010 'Deserts and Canyons' series, Julius Weiland's 2010 fused glass tube works, and new work by our Israeli artists," said Litvak Director Orit Ephrat-Moscovitz.

"This is the best SOFA we've ever had," said Lewis Wexler, Owner of Wexler Gallery, Philadelphia, Pa. Wexler represents high quality contemporary glass, art and design, and enjoyed 3 big sales on Opening Night: $50,000 and $72,000 for glass works from artist Mark Peiser's 2010 'Palomar' series, and a $78,000 purchase for glass from the 'Artifacts' series by William Morris. The gallery also put a work on hold for a major museum, and sold four Paul Stankard paperweights by Saturday morning.

"We had a large table of more than 20 of our artists here, and lots of collectors coming through to meet the artists, see the new work, and make purchases," John Lawson of Habatat Galleries, Royal Oak, Mich. "The work we selected was very well-received by buyers, and the weekend had a positive trend throughout." Top sales by Saturday morning included four works by Czech Republic artist Petr Hora and most of the works from Martin Janecky's 'Theater' series.

Heller Gallery, New York, N.Y. also reported high marks for its latest endeavors by established artists. "The crowds were relentless and we sold across the board new work by our core artists, selling most of everything we brought," said Owner Michael Heller. Heller's sales highlights included $175,000 and $88,000 sales of cast glass works by artist Ivan Mares.

Barry Friedman Ltd., New York, also sold their "most expensive piece," a glass work from William Morris' 'Blackbirds' series. "The fair was well trafficked in terms of amount and quality of people, and the mood was much more receptive to making significant purchases this year than last," said Owner Barry Friedman.

Unusual interpretations of the human figure attracted audiences to sculpture. Ann Nathan, director of the eponymous Ann Nathan Gallery, Chicago, specializing in contemporary figurative sculpture, reported that Mark Sojan and Cristina Cordova’s works were the “most popular,” and that visitors “couldn’t help themselves from getting closer and trying to touch” the compellingly realistic forms, including a life-size handyman in repose on top of a packing crate.

“People are getting more excited about mixed media, found objects and new work. We had 38 sales and eight commissions,” said Gallery Manager Jorden Nye of Jane Sauer Gallery, Santa Fe, N.M. Proving the point, the gallery’s top seller was mixed-media artist Geoffrey Gorman. Additionally, all but two of Irina Zaytceva’s tongue-in-cheek contemporary ceramic, gold leaf, and coral vessels sold.

Galerie Besson, London reported sales of 14 sculptural ceramic vessels created by artist Deirdre Hawthorne of Ireland, and according to Gallery Manager Matthew Hall, SOFA CHICAGO provided dealers with “good attendance, the right people and steady selling.” Oliver & Espig, Santa Barbara, Calif, agreed. “We were very pleased with the setup, and SOFA got the right people here. The show is very professionally executed,” said Director Marcia Ribeiro.

Artist John Garrett captured visitors’ attention by hanging a special mixed media installation of aluminum, nickel, recycled plastic ware and beads above the martini bar. Chiaroscuro of Santa Fe, N.M. represented Garrett’s work, and said the artist was the “rockstar of the weekend,” selling nine bar strands,seven wall hangings, and securing seven commissions. “Garrett has been incredibly popular, and we’ve had a tremendous response to all of our exhibiting artists. We are very happy,” said Director John Addison. Garrett also attended SOFA CHICAGO in person, and many attendees were able to meet the artist face-to-face, which the gallery also credited for the success in sales.

Ornamentum international contemporary jewelry of Hudson, N.Y., noted crowds more willing to spend this year, and a special interest in unusual materials. “Agnes Larsson’s carbon and thread jewelry has been selling especially well,” said Gallery Director Stefan Friedemann, who also reported 15 sales in materials as diverse as palladium, horn, bird eggs, and fiber by Saturday morning. Among them, a silicone disc necklace by Danish artist Camilla Prasch a silver, nylon, and dyed coral brooch by Vietnamese-born German artist Sam Tho Duong.

Sienna Patti, Owner of Sienna Gallery, Lenox, Mass. almost sold out of Bettina Speckner’s ‘Rose is a Rose’ 2010 collection. “I’ve seen a buying trend toward jewelry that is a bit more organic in shape and uses alternative materials, especially in jewelry where traditional fine making techniques are combined with a big concept and new materials,” said Patti.

Galleries exhibiting at SOFA CHICAGO for the first time also mounted ambitious and impressive exhibits that achieved marvelous results, with collectors snapping up new works by emerging artists and requesting commissions. Galerie Suppan Contemporary Design, Vienna, Austria offered the first-ever showing of Philipp Aduatz’s work outside of Austria. Aduatz’s contemporary CFK (composite fiber material) furniture was well-received by SOFA collectors. “Highlights were the ‘Red Spoon Chair,’ ‘Flower Chairs,’ and ‘Dormeuse’ chair, which all sold. We also received a commission for a large suite of lounge chairs, which will take Philipp a whole year to complete,” said gallery Owner Martin Suppan.

“We have met new high-quality clients who specialize in ceramics and lacquer,” said Ippodo Gallery, New York, N.Y. Director Shoko Aono, who offered intimate artifacts by Shinya Yamamura in a unique traditional teahouse booth display. “I love the spark between the clients and the art. SOFA creates a place where the galleries can be in the middle of that energy, and we are so glad to be here,” said Aono, who made an impressive 25 sales during the weekend of her gallery’s first SOFA fair.

Korea Craft & Design Foundation, Seoul, Korea called strong traffic and sales of Korean glass and jewelry “quite a surprise and successful” for their first year at SOFA. Fellow first-time exhibitor Floating World Gallery, Chicago, Ill. also enjoyed “a good crowd, good questions, and busy weekend,” reported Director of Exhibitions Elias Martin.

SOFA CHICAGO visitors also enjoyed large scale special exhibitions. Art textiles and fiber sculpture from the world-renowned Baruch Foundation Collection, presented in collaboration with browngrotta arts gallery of Wilton, Conn, were among the numerous special exhibits on view. The Baruch exhibit highlighted work of Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz, whose 54 x 81” orange sisal fiber weaving ‘Montana del Fuego’ enthralled visitors near the show hall entrance. “It was the artist’s favorite work, and hung in her bedroom in the 1980’s,” said Tom Grotta, Director of browngrotta arts. “People came to see in person the famous works they have seen on the internet. The work has never been displayed in this way before, and visitors were captivated,” said Grotta.

The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art Highlights
In her Nov. 4 Chicago Reader column, reporter Deanna Isaacs noted that “The Intuit Show is being produced this year for the first time by the Art Fair Company, which owns SOFA and hopes for audience crossover between the two.” Director Will Odom of Judy A. Saslow Gallery, Chicago, definitely believes that goal was achieved: “This is the best Intuit Show we’ve had, and there has been crossover from SOFA collectors both browsing and buying.”

“We were delighted to showcase and sell the works of two developmentally disabled artists, Chris Murray and Ricky Hagedorn, in addition to selling works created by Chicago native Pam Pauly,” said Deirdre Gerry, general manager of Just Folk Gallery, Summerland, Calif. “We haven’t even finished unpacking and are already looking forward to exhibiting again at the next show.”

“It’s refreshing how much people have enjoyed The Intuit Show, and noticing that the things that attract them to SOFA―handmade, inventive work and highly personalized vision―attract them to The Intuit Show as well,” said Tim Hill, Owner of Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Mich., who represented a collection of mixed-media carvings, metalwork and utilitarian art. He noted that attendees were “just knocked out by the spontaneous and original work” Intuit galleries displayed, and that some of his best, top-dollar works sold right away to top collectors.

Harvey Pranian of Harvey Pranian: Art & Antiques, Evanston, Ill. noted sales of a large tin man created by an unknown artist, as well as a full size man's button suit made in the 1940s by Ruby Ann Kittner of Clinton, Iowa. “It was a wonderful experience to be part of a fair that was so professionally organized,” said Pranian.

Russell Bowman Art Advisory, Chicago Ill. fascinated crowds with a painted wood sculpture of Adam and Eve being expelled from Eden by Edgar Tolson, and a quilt by Quilts of Gee’s Bend group of Alabama, said Gallery Director Natalie Waechter. “We loved the exhibition hall, and being side-by-side with the SOFA fair. And, Opening Night was great both for attendance and sales,” said Waechter.

George Viener, Owner of Outsider Folk Art Gallery, Reading Pa., noted that top sales included “Pug” (sculpture of a dog constructed from multi layered salvaged material) created by Leo Sewell. Additionally, 45 pieces of art that included pen, colored pencil and acrylic works on paper by newly discovered artist Michael Wysochansky sold to a European client. “We were excited, totally satisfied and pleased to be part of this seminal, monumental event,” said Viener of his gallery’s experience at The Intuit Show.

Mark Lyman concludes, “Everyone who attended SOFA CHICAGO + The Intuit Show of Folk of Outsider Art, from purchasers for major cultural institutions to first time buyers, from seasoned collectors to those just browsing, experienced a weekend filled with the excitement of discovery. The Art Fair Company would like to thank Intuit for an incredible partnership and Chubb Personal Insurance for its generous support of SOFA. We look forward to seeing everyone at SOFA NEW YORK in April, SOFA WEST: Santa Fe in August and welcoming Chicago’s impassioned art audience back to SOFA CHICAGO 2011 + The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art next year.”


SOFA CHICAGO 2010 | Cleo Wilson | The Art Fair Company | Mark Lyman |


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