The Annual International Expositions of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art:
SOFA CHICAGO, SOFA NEW YORK
Atlanta‐based show management company Urban Expositions has acquired the international Sculpture Objects Functional 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 fair’s 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.
HISTORY OF SHOWS
1994-Present. SOFA CHICAGO was inaugurated at the
Sheraton Hotel and Towers in 1994, with 58 exhibitors and 14,000 persons
attending. In 1995, SOFA CHICAGO moved to Festival Hall at Chicago's
historic Navy Pier. Since then, the exposition has grown steadily in the
number of exhibitors, averaging 95 - 100 galleries and dealers in
recent years, and attendance has increased over 100%. A record 35,000
persons attended SOFA CHICAGO 2007.
SOFA CHICAGO, the largest and
longest continually-running art fair in Chicago, is a mainstay in its
cultural and social calendar. Mary Daniels, senior arts writer, The Chicago Tribune,
wrote, "New art forms never before seen and rich artisan traditions
come together in a synergistic explosion of creativity at SOFA
CHICAGO... A sense of discovery and surprise always permeates this show,
one of the most anticipated cultural events in this city." Jim Yood,
critic and historian, Art + Auction and Chicago Public
Radio/WBEZ-FM, said, "SOFA's high-end, cutting-edge mix clearly has
global appeal. It's a really wonderful art fair."
SOFA NEW YORK
1998-2012. In its inaugural year, SOFA NEW YORK 1998
sold every square foot of available exhibitor space in the prestigious
Park Avenue Armory (formerly Seventh Regiment Armory) on Manhattan's
Upper East Side, and enjoyed 9,000 visitors; by 2006, attendance had
increased over 55% to 13,500. SOFA NEW YORK has been increasingly
embraced by the New York fine art establishment.
SOFA WEST: Santa Fe
2009-2011. A third International Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair
was launched June 11 - 14, 2009 at the Santa Fe Convention Center in
Santa Fe, NM, presented by an elite line-up of 35 international dealers.
SOFA WEST: Santa Fe opened with a bang on Wednesday, June 10, with an
Opening Night Preview and Reception to benefit the New Mexico Museum of
Art Design Collection and an invitation-only VIP preview. The show
floor was packed with an estimated 2000 persons. Keith Toler, Executive
Director of the Santa Fe Community Convention Center said it was
“without a doubt, the largest crowd for an opening event we’ve ever
seen.” Tom Agesson, Executive Director of the Museum of New Mexico
Foundation said, “It was such a festive evening and very exciting to see
the community come out in force.”