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SOFA CHICAGO announces initial exhibitor line up for 20th annual fair Nov 1-3
Nancy Josephson, Killer, 2013. Fly ashtray, insecticide spray pump, glass beads, rhinestone, Scrabble letters, assorted embellishments, 5 x 8 x 24 in. Judy Saslow Gallery.

CHICAGO, IL.- SOFA CHICAGO marks its 20th annual presentation in 2013 at Navy Pier's Festival Hall, November 1 - 3. Chicago's longest continuously running and the world's foremost art fair devoted to Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design, SOFA CHICAGO attracts an extraordinary range of national and international dealers showcasing more than 800 artists and their work in studio glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, fiber, metal and design, alongside Lectures, Special Exhibits and Live Demonstrations.

Noting the anticipation of SOFA CHICAGO's landmark presentation, Fair Director Donna Davies says I've encountered great excitement among our exhibitors. They are truly pulling out all the stops for our 20th year of SOFA CHICAGO, bringing exceptional works of art for this important year of the fair."

Many exhibitors are planning special presentations and solo exhibitions for this year's fair, including unique and limited edition furniture by the "Father of the Art Furniture Movement" Wendell Castle exhibited by New York-based gallery Barry Friedman Ltd.; small-scale sculptures, tables and monoprints from American metal sculptor Albert Paley brought to Chicago by Rochester, New York's Ruth Lawrence Fine Arts; and new work from iconic glass sculptor William Morris, presented by Philadelphia-based Wexler Gallery. More than 70 galleries are expected to participate in SOFA CHICAGO 2013.

New works by Castle, the 80-year-old award-winning sculptor-designer, "expand on the possibilities of voids and volumes," said Barry Friedman Ltd. Director Carole Hochman. Amorphous design elements, fluidly merged into surprisingly functional furniture, show Castle's confident execution and a freedom of expression that has not been seen in his work before.

Hochman also calls Chicago the ideal location for SOFA as it attracts collectors from the region and both coasts. "We will have an extra large space to show both decorative arts in a variety of materials, plus contemporary design."

In addition to Castle's furniture, the gallery will bring three standout solo exhibitions by glass artists to SOFA including American artist Michael Glancy, Italian artist Laura de Santillana and Czech master glass artists Stanislav Libensky & Jaroslava Brychtova, Frantisek Vizner, Vaclav Cigler and Pavel Hlava.

Presented to coincide with the landmark New York exhibit of Albert Paley's 13 monumental abstract Cor-Ten and stainless steel sculptures that are on view through November 2013 on Park Avenue, Ruth Lawrence Fine Art of Rochester, New York will offer a solo show by Paley, one of today's leading American sculptors working in metal. Recognized for his large scale, site-specific sculptures, including the extraordinary Animals Always for the St. Louis Zoo and new entrance gate for the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, Paley was recently awarded the coveted Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Institute of Architects, the highest award given to a non-architect. Found in public spaces around the country and in private collections and museums around the world, Paley's signature style brings steel to life, creating a flowing, organic movement from groups of sharp, geometric forms.

Inspired by ancient civilizations and ritual objects, artist William Morris, whose work in glass has been seen and prized by SOFA CHICAGO collectors throughout its 20-year history, uses a language of talismans, masks, skulls, shells and vessels in his work. This year at SOFA CHICAGO, a reinterpretation of a seminal piece of Morris' work will debut in a very special presentation by Wexler Gallery. Back in the studio for the first time since 2007, Morris will be “revisiting his momentous Mazorca installation with a fresh eye and perspective,” said gallery owner Lewis Wexler. “With so much energy surrounding Bill and his studio, we are proud to feature this important new work.”

Amidst these gallery presentations at SOFA CHICAGO, one of the most exciting and anticipated aspects of the fair is the opportunity to meet master and emerging artists on the show floor. Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) Chief Curator David Revere McFadden comments, “I have often found amazing new talent and new works of merit at SOFA. When the artists are there in person, which they often are, it is also a unique opportunity to meet them and discuss their artistic visions.”

One such gallery known for scouting new talent is Portland, Oregon's Bullseye Gallery, where Director Lani McGregor particularly enjoys introducing new artists to the SOFA audience. McGregor says “We'll debut a number of new glass artists that we think the SOFA audience will find hugely exciting, including Jennifer Halvorson and Stacy Lynn Smith.” Halvorson's sculptures and assemblages “imbue finely-crafted static forms with an agency that elevates a paper bag to the level of protagonist in a grand historical narrative,” describes Bullseye Curator Michael Endo. Smith makes interactive works out of found postcards, posters, and bits of paper. Her pop art-inspired sculpture combined with her obsessive process yields “a body of work that is somewhere between punk and anthropology,” he adds.

Aaron Faber Gallery, an exhibitor for all 20 of the SOFA CHICAGO fairs, features the group exhibition The Genius of Nature: Pattern and Randomness, displaying the work of many top contemporary jewelry designers. The exhibit includes Spanish artist Enric Majoral, whose delicate Mediterranean-inspired work is a part of the Museum of Arts and Design's collection and Jacqueline Cullen, whose elegant, stylized jewelry is made from Whitby jet, a rare black fossil found in ancient caves and mines, traditionally used in Victorian mourning jewelry. Cullen's imaginative pieces have also been seen on the big screen in the 2010 film "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince."

SOFA CHICAGO's appeal led U.K. based gallery Sarah Myerscough Fine Art to join the fair in 2012 and to return in 2013 for a second consecutive year representing a growing number of international galleries. “We were delighted by the overwhelming response to the international (largely European) and museum-quality wood and ceramic artists that we represent,” said Myerscough gallery manager, Freya Cooper Kindle. With plans to include new artists and more sculptural work, the gallery will also exhibit contemporary furniture at SOFA CHICAGO 2013, including an ash version of the 3 Drawer George Chest by Gareth Neal, which is currently featured in the Museum of Arts and Design exhibition of cutting-edge wood art, Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft and Design.

Affirming SOFA's precedence over two decades, Michael Heller of Heller Gallery, which has participated in SOFA for 19 of its 20 years, said, “SOFA has proven to be the most significant annual fair that our gallery participates in. It has allowed us to connect with a wide audience including committed collectors, important museums, art consultants, designers and an impressively large contingent of enthusiastic students. We are looking forward to being a part of this special year in the continuing legacy of SOFA CHICAGO.”

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