• ATLANTA, Georgia
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  • July 01, 2013

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Guests admiring the work of Dale Chihuly in the Holsten Galleries booth at SOFA CHICAGO.

Atlanta-based show management company Urban Expositions has acquired the international Sculpture Objects, Function Art + Design Fair (SOFA) from The Art Fair Company. Celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, SOFA is the largest and longest continually running art fair in Chicago.
Urban Expositions plans to build a division specializing in art fairs and SOFA is their first such acquisition.  The Art Fair Company will continue to run the fair during a transition period and Urban Expositions will take over at the completion of the upcoming 2013 event.  SOFA will take place at the Navy Pier’s Festival Hall in Chicago, October 31 – November 3, 2013.
Mark Lyman, SOFA CHICAGO founder and president of The Art Fair Company, will continue his involvement in a consulting capacity.  Donna Davies, SOFA CHICAGO’s long-time Fair Director, will join Urban Expositions and maintain her current position. Continuity will also be maintained as The Art Fair Company will continue to provide operational services and their walls and lights used for the fairs construction.
“We are thrilled to take ownership of an event that is so well known and respected by  galleries, collectors, museum curators, artists, dealers and countless other members of the international art and design communities,” says Doug Miller, president, Urban Expositions.  “With the expert guidance and invaluable industry insight of Mark Lyman, Donna Davies, and the entire SOFA team, we will initiate a seamless transition process through to the 2013 fair that builds upon the event’s solid foundation and impressive reputation by continuing to grow its exhibit, educational, and networking opportunities.”
“Urban Expositions is the perfect management team to take over the ownership of SOFA,” explains Mark Lyman.  “Urban partners Doug Miller and Tim von Gal have built their own company through a hands-on management style and keen desire to truly understand and serve the specialized needs and business goals of their customers. When we began talking about the acquisition opportunity, they instantly understood that this fair’s distinctive focus, unique educational programming and sense of community were the underlying keys to its longevity. I have every confidence they will continue to enhance the SOFA experience for the international art community.”
Lyman launched SOFA CHICAGO at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in 1994.  The first edition drew 58 exhibitors and 14,000 visitors.  Located at Navy Pier since 1995, today SOFA CHICAGO attracts around 80 exhibitors each year and its average attendance is close to 34,000.
The artwork exhibits are presented from dealers around the world in a host of media, including glass, ceramics, textiles, wood and metalwork by artists at every stage of their careers. SOFA CHICAGO features a signature lecture series, including presentations by renowned artists, collectors, curators, critics and designers. In addition, a number of special exhibits, tours and live demonstrations further enhance the educational outreach of the fair.
For information on the upcoming 2013 edition of SOFA CHICAGO, including exhibition opportunities and admission ticket purchasing and pricing, visit www.sofaexpo.com.
Founded in 1994, SOFA CHICAGO (Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design) is Chicago’s longest continuously running art fair and the  world’s foremost fair dedicated to studio glass, ceramics, wood, fiber and metal.  During the past two decades, SOFA CHICAGO has grown to attract more than 30,000 visitors every year and exhibitors from the U.S. and around the world.  The Fair’s dynamic artist talks, demonstrations and special exhibitions have made it an indispensable meeting place for artists, collectors, dealers, curators and scholars.  www.sofaexpo.com.

Urban Expositions is the largest gift, airport and souvenir trade show organizer in the U.S., hosting a total of 28 shows each year.  In January of 1996, Urban Expositions launched the semi-annual Philadelphia Gift Show, which has become one of the largest and most successful regional gift events in the nation. Since then, the company has continued to grow through acquisitions and new show development. Based in Kennesaw, GA, Urban Expositions offers a complete roster of trade show management services, including exhibit sales and marketing, operations, exhibitor/attendee promotions and services, media relations, seminar and event coordination, database development and management.  For more information, visit www.urban-expo.com or call 800.318.2238.

In 2009 Michael Franks, along with Mark Lyman, SOFA Founding Director, purchased the international renowned Sculpture Objects Functional Art Fair + Design Fair: SOFA CHICAGO from dmg world media, creating a new jointly owned firm, The Art Fair Company, Inc. (TAFC).  TAFC produces The METRO Show and the Arts and Antique Dealers League of America’s Spring Show NYC.  It also offers art fair management services and rents walls and lights to more than a dozen art and antiques fairs throughout the US. The Art Fair Company, Inc., is based in Chicago, Ill.  For more information, visit www.theartfaircompany.com or call 312.587.7632.

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