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.