Considered one of the foremost fairs for masterworks bridging contemporary decorative, fine art and design, the 13th annual Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair at the Park Avenue Armory enjoyed buoyant sales and steady crowds, from the packed vernissage on April 15 straight through its four-day run, which ended on Monday, April 19. An estimated 2500 persons attended the preview throughout the course of the evening, up from 2200 last year. A sold out, after-preview benefit dinner for the Museum of Arts & Design in the Armory's Tiffany Room honored longtime MAD trustee, collector, friend and colleague, Sandy Grotta.
Approximately 18,500 collectors, curators, architects, interior designers, art advisors and new enthusiasts took in SOFA NEW YORK, presented by 58 international galleries and produced by The Art Fair Company. President and founding director of SOFA fairs in New York, Chicago and Santa Fe, Mark Lyman said, "The mood on the floor was energetic and more upbeat compared to last year. Many dealers reported their top offerings sold quickly at the preview and sales held steady throughout the fair." Lyman reported opening day ticket sales were up 60% and sales on Saturday up 72%.
Even opening the fair on tax day did not scare off buyers. A stunning case in point-Joan Mirviss of Joan B. Mirviss Ltd., New York sold 23 pieces by the celebrated Japanese ceramicist Koike Shoko within 30 minutes of the show's opening. "Opening night was very strong," said Mirviss. "In addition to SOFA's regular clients, there were many new faces who expressed serious and knowledgeable interest in what we presented. I could have sold my show twice and some pieces 2 or 3 times. It's the best SOFA I've had thus far."
Clare Beck at Adrian Sassoon of London said, "Opening night was the most successful preview we've ever had! We saw many collectors we've nurtured at past SOFA's with many of them attending the opening preview, anxious to be on the show floor at the earliest opportunity, a change from prior years. We've sold to new clients and done really well." Major sales at the gallery included two very large-scale thrown and glazed porcelain columns with over-glaze enamel transfers by Felicity Aylieff in the $40,000 range.
Douglas Heller of Heller Gallery, New York said, “There was a huge crowd of knowledgeable and qualified collectors and a great deal of energy on the show floor. Opening night was a very positive beginning and we’ve done well at the fair.” Heller’s enjoyed key sales of the gallery’s focus show of Venetian glass maestro Lino Tagliapietra’s sculpture, offered in the $50,000 + range. Thea Burger, long-time dealer of modernist ceramic sculptor, Ruth Duckworth, said “Opening night was a success for dealers, artists, and the SOFA organization. An excellent crowd.”
Donna Schneier of Donna Schneier Fine Arts, Palm Beach, FL reported a good show, selling an iconic Peter Voulkos stack priced at $56,000, and a major Viola Frey sculpture priced at $40,000—“one of only two of this type Frey made,” according to Schneier. Leslie Ferrin of Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield, MA said, “Collectors made significant decisions quickly. There seemed to be more urgency to acquire top pieces—we had four sales before the show even opened!” Ferrin sold out the porcelain figural sculptures by Chris Antemann she had on offer in the $18,000 range.
Matthew Hall of Galerie Besson, London, reported Saturday was their best day. “There were many national collectors on the show floor.” Major sales on Saturday at the gallery included two historically significant ceramic sculptures by mid-century modernist Hans Coper, offered in the five-figure range. Tai Gallery, Santa Fe sold 20 bamboo sculptures and baskets ranging in price from $3200 to $25,000. Rob Coffland of Tai said, “We’ve been very pleased with the show this year, our business has been up more than 30% compared with last year.” Blue Rain Gallery, also of Santa Fe said they had a very good show, with acclaimed Native ceramic artist Tammy Garcia landing a “half-million dollar commission.”
Stefan Friedmann of Ornamentum, Hudson, NY said “Opening night was phenomenal.” Among the objects he sold were a bone antler and antique ivory necklace by Jennifer Trask, priced at $14,000. Jewelry seemed to be a very hot area at the fair and 97 people attended a SOFA NEW YORK Lecture Series presentation by Dutch jeweler/object artist Ruudt Peters, whose Ornamentum's SOLO at SOFA space was a standout at the fair. Also drawing 90 + people was Rock Hushka’s lecture, Director of Curatorial Administration/Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art, Tacoma Art Museum, who spoke on the psychoanalytic mechanisms behind jewelry wearing, sponsored by Art Jewelry Forum and Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG)