Solid Crowds and Sales at 3rd Annual SOFA WEST: Santa Fe Art Fair 2011

  • SANTA FE, New Mexico
  • /
  • August 22, 2011

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Sakiyama Takayuki, Open Twisting Sculpture with Ridged Banding, 2011. 14 x 16.5 x 19", stoneware with sand and orange glaze. From Joan B Mirviss LTD, New York NY.
photo: Nishihara Katsumi

The 3rd annual Western edition of the Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair; SOFA WEST: Santa Fe and its new Spotlight Presentation of The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art enjoyed a successful run August 4 - 7 at the Santa Fe Convention Center. Mark Lyman, President of The Art Fair Company and Founder/Director of SOFA fairs in New York, Chicago, and Santa Fe, said, "It was a very upbeat fair despite the country's political and economic turmoil. Dealers reported the right crowd and significant sales were achieved." An estimated 10,000+ attended SOFA WEST through the weekend.

The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art Joins the Mix!   

Expanded by 25%, SOFA WEST 2011 seamlessly integrated The Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art into the fair this year, which was organized in partnership with Chicago's respected Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. As seminal Intuit dealer Carl Hammer of Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago observed, "The best of both outsider and contemporary art has commonalities in conceptual strength." Intuit dealer Bonnie Grossman of The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, CA, reported a good show and observed, "People weren't making a distinction between outsider or not, just enjoying the varied show." Garth Clark of CLARK + DEL VECCHIO of Santa Fe agreed: "Intuit is perfect material for Santa Fe; it's such a wonderful match." Jack Lemon of Landfall Press, Santa Fe, said, "Combining the two shows--I must say, I've been awestruck, it's been such a nice addition." Aron Packer of Chicago's Packer Schopf Gallery said, "People kept asking us if this was the Intuit section--they were definitely excited to be here and glad we were, too."  

Opening Night Preview  -The Right Crowd

SOFA WEST and The Intuit Show started out strong on Wednesday evening August 3rd with an estimated 1500 attending the Opening Night Preview over the course of the evening. State and local officials front and center for the ribbon-cutting included New Mexico's Senator Peter Wirth; David Coss, Mayor of Santa Fe; Monique Jacobson, Secretary, New Mexico Tourism; Santa Fe County Commission Chair Virginia Vigil; Rebecca Wurzburger, Santa Fe City Councilor; Chuck Zimmer, New Mexico Arts Commission; and Kirk Ellis, Chair of City of Santa Fe Arts Commission.

Nuala O'Donovan, Teasel, Standing, 2011, high fired unglazed porcelain, 14.9 x 21.6 x 12.9". From Flow Gallery, London UK.

Kicking off Opening Night for the third straight year was the prestigious Museum of New Mexico Foundation with a 5 - 6:30 pm FIRST LOOK private preview for its major donors and business partners. John Easley, Executive Director of the Foundation said, "It was a wonderful evening. Attendance was excellent and the fair was a real draw for our members." 

Manhattan’s Asian Art dealer Joan B. Mirviss was told on Opening Night by a very important Santa Fe collector that, “everyone who should be there, was.” She sold five major ceramic sculptures by Sakiyama Takuyuki and one by Kato Yasukage at the opening. Other dealers agreed. "The Museum Foundation crowd was extremely responsive, interested, and impressive. A fantastic audience,” said David Eichholtz of Santa Fe’s David Richard Contemporary. Jerry Austin of London’s Flow Gallery said, “We were very impressed with the quality of the crowd and the number of people—it was actually much like New York, so I am very delighted.” Intuit Show dealer Carl Hammer said the Opening brought, "A nice group of people who were very complimentary; it was a great showing.” Intuit’s Russell Bowman of Russell Bowman Art Advisory, also of Chicago, said, "There was lots of interest. I’m very pleased with the crowd.”

Visitors in the Charon Kransen Arts booth at SOFA WEST: Santa Fe 2011 Opening Night.

“Packed with Visitors”

Dealer and visitor enthusiasm remained high throughout the fair run from Thursday to Sunday. SOFA WEST and Intuit galleries reported a variety of sales and serious interest by well-qualified crowds. Tom Tavelli, director of Santa Fe’s fine art 222 Shelby Street Gallery said, "We have been very pleased with how well-attended the show has been and how well-marketed it is." Jaquelin Loyd, director of another Santa Fe fine art gallery, Eight Modern, agreed: "We are very happy to be participating in the fair. It has been packed with visitors. SOFA is great publicity for the gallery—we’ve made many new connections and rediscovered clients from years ago.” Charon Kransen of New York’s Charon Kransen Arts said, ““It has been a steady stream of people coming through. For our sales we saw some repeat clients and definitely made some new ones. I am very happy with the range of collectors who have come in." One hailed all the way from Singapore!  Kransen sold a Liv Blavarp necklace in the five-figure range. Assistant director Jamie Truppi of Portland, OR’s respected glass dealer, Bullseye Gallery said, “The crowd has been awesome and very responsive to the work in a passionate way.” Bullseye sold a significant Steve Klein cast glass sculpture to prominent Palm Springs collectors on Opening Night and reported securing numerous commissions, including one in Germany.

Significant Sales Achieved   

Leading the way of dealers selling work in the five figures range was New York’s Joan B. Mirviss, Ltd., who sold 7 out of 8 of her focus show of ceramic sculptures by Sakiyama Takayuki, as well as 16 works from her group show for between $10-$15,000 each. Jane Sauer Gallery, Santa Fe, sold a Kent Townsend coffee table for $26,000 and secured a large commission for a grouping of his furniture. Sauer also secured commissions for two Chuck Savoy wall glass installations for $44,000 each. Habatat Galleries of Royal Oak, MI sold a glass sculpture by Davide Salvatore for $20,000. And Darrell Bell Gallery of Saskatoon, CA was hopeful that he would conclude the sale of a large-scale bronze sculpture by Joe Fafard after the fair—for $150,000! 

Santa Fe’s Blue Rain Gallery sold three major Preston Singletary glass sculptures, for $16,000, $25,000 and $35,000 each. Blue Rain’s SOFA WEST Lecture Series presentation was attended by 40 persons interested in hearing owners Leroy and artist Tammy Garcia discuss the gallery’s evolution from contemporary Native American to contemporary glass, and its role in expanding glass art collecting in the Southwest. Likewise transcending Native branding, SWAIA@SOFA: Contemporary Metal (Southwestern Association of Indian Arts) sold a bracelet by Robin Waynee for $30,000, as well as significant pieces from each of its 9 artists, one of whom said, "SOFA’s such a great environment, it’s been very good exposure for us and it has been very very good to be involved in something more contemporary." Adding another contemporary media to the mix, Santa Fe’s Landfall Press collaborated with CLARK + DELVECCHIO’s ceramicist Diego Romero to create a unique lithograph, selling several at the fair. Romero is known for his darkly humorous depiction of Pueblo reality. 

CLARK + DELVECCHIO of Santa Fe sold two large porcelain vessels by famed Scandinavian ceramist Bodil Manz, priced at $9500.00, as well as numerous works including one by modernist potter Lucie Rie and eight by Toshiko Takaezu. Mark Del Vecchio said, "The show had an exuberant opening with many interesting people; we made several sales and are very happy.” Douglas Dawson Gallery of Chicago sold a large-scale framed 20th c. Dance Costume from the Ivory Coast’s Dida Culture and a Mali Storage Jar in this same price range, among other pieces. Owner Douglas Dawson said, “The crowd has certainly been very enthusiastic; this was the first time that many of the Santa Fe audience had seen African ceramics. For this show I was hoping to meet two to three very serious collectors, and we did. Very much so. Including one who purchased a piece for a museum, and one for her personal collection. I am very content with the success of the fair.” 35 persons attended Dawson’s Friday Lecture Series presentation on determining authenticity in collecting.

New Design Reception at SOFA WEST

SOFA WEST feted the Santa Fe arts and design community with two very successful special events. First up was an invitation-only Design Reception Friday afternoon sponsored by Trend Magazine. 90 designers, architects and VIPs attended the wine reception with delicious hors d’oeuvres courtesy of Il Piatto Italian Restaurant.  Afterwards, Invitees enjoyed a panel discussion on the topic Southwestern Dreamin’: High Desert Aesthetic in Contemporary Architecture and Design, moderated by famed design and architectural photographer Robert Reck of Robert Reck Photography. Reck was a staff photographer for Architectural Digest Magazine for 25 years and has contributed to dozens of publications globally, numerous books as well as major monographs on preeminent architects including Antoine Predock, Robert A.M. Stern and James Steward Polshek.

Other highly-regarded panelists were Paul Fehlau and Karole Mazeika representing Antoine Predock Architect PC of Albuquerque, Los Angeles and Taiwan. Antoine Predock is one of the most accomplished of American architects, receiving the American Institute of Architects 2006 Gold Medal, and the 2007 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Lifetime Achievement Award. And Beverley Spears, Santa Fe architect and landscape architect, who is recognized with numerous awards from the AIA, multiple City of Santa Fe Heritage Preservation Awards, and the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division. Her portfolio includes the Santa Fe Convention Center!  Rounding out the panel were well-regarded Santa Fe designers Kris Lajeskie (Kris Lajeskie Design Group), and Victoria Price (Victoria Price Art and Design).

Welcome Reception for The Intuit Show on Museum Hill

Friday evening was a welcome reception on Museum Hill for The Intuit Show hosted by Santa Fe’s Museum of International Folk Art, Chicago’s Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art and SOFA WEST. 80 invited guests enjoyed the festive atmosphere which included five ‘outsider’ cars parked on the terrace, organized by Santa Fe’s Axle Contemporary mobile art gallery, including Love Armor, a hand-knit slip-covered Hummer by artist Shirley Klinghoffer with Sarah Hewitt and 70 volunteers. Intuit’s Executive Director Cleo Wilson said, "The Intuit Show collectors, dealers, and I all enjoyed scenic Museum Hill, wonderful food and music, dramatic skies, and the art cars very much. It was really a fabulous evening!” 

Lecture Series Expands, Visitors Respond

A record 409 attendees enjoyed The SOFA WEST Lecture Series, expanded to all four show days this year. 48 attended the Thursday panel on Japanese Prints of the Floating World (Ukiyo-e), featuring collector Lee Dirks and Joan Mirviss, moderated by Museum of New Mexico curator Laura Addison. Another big draw was Art and Non-Art Materials on Friday with 48 attendees, featuring Santa Fean John O’Hern, former director of the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY, and artist Ted Larsen (Eight Modern). 64 persons attended What is Outsider Art with outsider and folk art collector, Eugenie Johnson of Santa Fe, and Cleo F. Wilson, Executive Director, Chicago’s Intuit Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.

78 persons enjoyed Saturday’s The Language of Glass presented by Pilchuck Glass School, Seattle, WA and moderated by Pilchuck’s Executive Director, James Baker.  Panelists were artists James Drake, who has exhibited at both the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial and will have a major exhibition at the The New Mexico Museum of Art this fall, curated by Laura Addison; and John Torreano (Elliott Arts West), widely exhibited artist and professor of studio art at New York University. Baker said, “The Lecture Series format offers a convergence of artists, representatives, collectors, and the public together in the same room--an important opportunity to broaden interest in the field, answer questions, and learn from the audience as well.”  He added, “We are really pleased with the amount and quality of attendance, and look forward to working with SOFA on educational sessions again.”

VIP Program Builds Collector Base

291 high-level gallery clients enjoyed the VIP Program with nineteen exclusive events which included private home collections and curator-led museum tours, artist studio visits, and VIP discussions in the VIP Lounge. SOFA’s VIP Program coordinator Ginger Piotter said, “VIP events this year reached out to people who hadn't been to SOFA before, with the goal of continuing to expand a well-qualified collector base at the fair."

Dealers Report New Connections

TAI Gallery, Santa Fe reported connections with "new people and people from out of state, as well as Santa Feans who are discovering us for the first time through SOFA," said TAI sales associate Everett Cole. Mindy Solomon of Mindy Solomon Gallery of St. Petersburg, FL said, “We are definitely making new connections.” Jerry Szor of Jerry Szor Contemporary Jewelry, Dallas said, “All the clients and contacts we have made are great—an all new client base for us. We are very excited and happy.” Also from Austin, TX, a representative of Intuit’s Garde Rail Gallery said, "It has been a wonderful mix of people who'd never seen us before, and people who were excited to see us in the fair. The response to The Intuit Show and to outsider art has been tremendous. We are really so happy to have been included." Sentiments at St. Louis’ Galerie Bonheur were similar: “We made a lot of wonderful contacts—a very knowledgeable audience that was excited to see the folk art. We are very happy with the audience response and will definitely be back.”

Mark Lyman concluded, “The Intuit Show was a great addition to SOFA WEST. It widened the horizon of art offered and expanded the audience of collectors. The success of the fair during a week of discouraging economic news demonstrated the growing investment value of the art on offer. We look forward to next year’s fair and the upcoming 18th SOFA CHICAGO, November 4 – 6, where The Intuit Show and SOFA will again share center stage.”


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