SOFA CHICAGO 2015 Opening Night

CHICAGO (November 13, 2015)  – The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair: SOFA CHICAGO, which took place at Navy Pier November 5-8, experienced high attendance and rave reviews from galleries, artists, curators and attendees. Throughout the Fair, aisles were full as collectors and art patrons admired unique works of art and mingled with galleries and artists. In all, over 36,000 people attended the Fair, presented by 67 established and emerging galleries from across the globe, displaying the very best in ceramics, wood, glass, fiber, jewelry, metal, and for the first-time ever, painting, photography and works on paper. 

“This year was record breaking in so many ways, and there was a tremendous amount of ‘buzz’ surrounding the Fair,” said Donna Davies, Fair Director, SOFA CHICAGO. “We received nothing but accolades from our galleries, collectors, artists, and partners, as the fair attracted collectors from not only the Chicago area, but also from around the globe. This was a banner year for SOFA, with a redesigned floor plan and look, 17 new galleries signing on to participate, and strong sales reported by the galleries. We are thrilled SOFA CHICAGO 2015 was a resounding success!”

SOFA CHICAGO 2015 unveiled a reimagined floor plan, designed by Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Chicago-based Wrap Architecture. The new layout offered a more open and cohesive floor plan, allowing visitors to navigate the galleries in a more engaging way. Changes included a centrally positioned main entrance, as well the relocating of the popular SOFA CHICAGO Lecture Series to the show floor, making it more accessible and visible. “As longtime fans of SOFA ourselves, we were inspired by the galleries and amazing artwork exhibited, and it was a joy for us to be involved. The show looked beautiful and we received nothing but positive feedback. We hope that everyone enjoyed SOFA CHICAGO 2015 as much as we did,” remarked Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture.

Award for Best Booth Design
Textile designer, author and collector, Jack Lenor Larsen awarded flow gallery with Best Booth Design.  Based in London, flow gallery carefully curates its contemporary artists working in a variety of media, including ceramics, glass, paper, wood, textiles, metal and jewelry, all of which are unique, and inventive. This year at SOFA CHICAGO, flow gallery showcased an aesthetic mix of Scandinavian and Japanese works from Akiko Hirai, Sue Lawty, Henk Wolvers, Matthias Kaiser, and Claire Brewster. 

flow gallery  
Since its inception, SOFA CHICAGO has been known for attracting a roster of some of the world’s preeminent galleries, and this year was no exception. The 2015 edition featured featured some of the world’s most established galleries who returned to the Fair, including Aaron Faber Gallery (New York), Abmeyer + Wood Fine Art (Seattle), Ann Nathan Gallery (Chicago), Blue Rain Gallery (Santa Fe), Blue Spiral 1 (Asheville), browngrotta arts (Wilton, CT), Charon Kransen Arts (New York), Craft Scotland (Edinburgh), Duane Reed Gallery (St. Louis), flow gallery (London), Gallery FW (Chicago), Habatat Galleries (Royal Oak, MI), Hawk Galleries (Columbus, OH), Hedone Gallery (Leonia, NJ), Heller Gallery (New York), Ippodo Gallery (Tokyo/New York), Kirra Galleries (Melbourne, Australia), Korea Craft and Design Foundation (Seoul), Maurine Littleton Gallery (Washington, DC), Option Art (Montreal), Schantz Galleries (Stockbridge, MA), Tansey Contemporary (Santa Fe), Traver Gallery (Seattle), Wexler Gallery (Philadelphia), and William Zimmer Gallery (Mendocino).  

“I felt that SOFA CHICAGO 2015 was enhanced by the fresh look and openness of the space.  Sales went well throughout the weekend and we were very impressed with the steady and enthusiastic crowds that included familiar and new faces.  Our highlight was the sale of the two large Kaneko heads. That set the tone for the rest of our fair with sales throughout the booth.” -Duane Reed, Duane Reed Gallery

“The 2015 SOFA CHICAGO fair was a great show for us. We sold a major, monumental glass piece by Preston Singletary called House Post of Raven Warrior. In general, there was a lot of strong interest and enthusiasm.” -Denise Phetteplace, Director of Business Development
Blue Rain Gallery

“Blue Spiral 1 had tremendous success at SOFA this year.  Our last showing at SOFA was 14 years ago, therefore this was our first show since the focus of the fair moved from solely sculptural work into the opportunity to include some two-dimensional work. We felt that our gallery and artists aligned well with the interests of the collectors we met at the Fair. -Jordan Ahlers, Blue Spiral 1 


  Foster/White Gallery

Record Breaking Gallery Participation
In addition to returning galleries, a record breaking 17 new galleries from around the globe signed on to participate including Alida Anderson Art Projects, (Washington, DC), Bender Gallery (Asheville, NC), C Fine Art (New York), Chesterfield Gallery (New York), Collection Ateliers d’Art de France (Paris), Didier Ltd. (London), Foster/White Gallery (Seattle), Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h (Montreal), Gladwell & Patterson (London), Onishi Gallery (New York), PHOS ART + DESIGN Curated by Sarah Myerscough (London), projects+ gallery (St. Louis), Richard Norton Gallery (Chicago), Sokyo Gallery (Tokyo), Szor Collections (Dallas), and Winterowd Fine Art (Santa Fe).

“As a first-time participant of SOFA we were impressed with the organization, attendance, and energy of the fair. Our standout artists were George Rodriguez, John de Wit and Paul Vexler. Both George and John were present at the fair and received additional exposure through lectures and a demonstration. The attendance in our booth was high and we heard many comments that collectors were happy to see new artists and work at SOFA.” -Stephanie Collier, Foster/White Gallery

“It was exciting for our gallery to exhibit for the first time at SOFA.  We had a successful show with steady business throughout the fair.  We enjoyed meeting new clients visiting from all over the country, as well as seeing longtime gallery friends and collectors who look forward to this show every year. SOFA offers a wonderfully vibrant and eclectic selection of artwork from established dealers from around the world.  There is something for everyone here, and the show provides a unique opportunity to view and acquire beautiful works of art that are otherwise rarely seen in Chicago. We look forward to being a part of the show next year.” -Richard Norton, Richard Norton Gallery

Eclectic Mix of Artists and Artwork
SOFA CHICAGO boasts significant artist attendance each year, and 2015 was no different. Artists including Tip Toland, Lino Tagliapietra, Cristina Cordova, Marvin Lipofsky, Norwood Viviano, Dominic Harris, Christian Burchard, Preston Singletary, Roberto Lugo, and Hunt Slonem, attended SOFA CHICAGO.

“It is always important to come back to SOFA CHICAGO. Particularly this year, I think that the show is more lively and qualified than ever before. I have not seen so much energy and interest for several years.  Without a doubt, SOFA is an important meeting point for art and people.” -Lino Tagliapietra, represented by Schantz Galleries

The galleries reported major sales throughout the Fair including six pieces by Katsuya Ohgita represented by Ippodo Gallery; several pieces by Lino Tagliapietra who was represented by Schantz Galleries, including the Masai Installation, Dinosaur, Angel Tear, Niomea and a new work entitled London; a piece by Tip Toland represented by Traver Gallery; one of Tokuda Yasokichi IV's plates, represented by Onishi Gallery; several pieces by Cristina Cordova and Bruno Surdo, represented by Ann Nathan Gallery; and several works by Joey Richardson, Jerome Blanc, Michael Gibson, Hiroshi Yamano, and Doug Randall, represented by Thomas R. Riley Galleries

Strong Lecture Attendance and Special Exhibits
The SOFA CHICAGO Lecture Series received rave reviews, as the presentations were moved to the fair floor as part of the redesign of the show layout. Lectures experienced more attendees than ever before, with over 2200 attendees taking part in presentations from galleries and artists, including Tip Toland, Roberto Lugo, Marvin Lipofsky, Norwood Viviano, John Iversen, George Rodriguez, and Christina Bothwell among others, throughout the weekend. 

SOFA CHICAGO also featured a series of Special Exhibits presented by prestigious arts organizations who reported a hugely successful fair with much excitement and crowded special exhibit areas.  Chicago-based Threewalls presented a special exhibit on Community Supported Art Chicago. Anderson Ranch Arts Center presented an exhibition that traced the history of the daily ritual of tea. Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts presented a special exhibit focusing on contemporary wood art. Rural Studio presented selection of projects built by Rural Studio, Auburn University, Newburn, AL. The Society of American Mosaic Artists presented a special exhibit celebrating the diverse cross section of artists committed to mosaic artworks, 

"I have been attending SOFA CHICAGO since its inception over two decades ago. It was a pleasant surprise to see that many of the top galleries and artists who have intermittently attended SOFA over the years were on hand. Ultimately the dealers, artists, and collectors that regularly attend are a community if not a family. I was honored to curate a Special Exhibit this year and enjoyed having thousands of people view the work and learn more about the current state of wood art.” -Kevin Wallace, Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts


  Pratt Institute 

The University of Iowa and Pratt Institute Tie for Winning CONNECT Student Design Exhibition
The University of Iowa and Pratt Institute were both chosen by the CONNECT jury as the winning schools at the Opening Night Preview on Thursday night, and will share a $3000 cash prize awarded by Chubb Personal Insurance. Chubb has been a long-time supporter of arts education, and CONNECT allows us to engage with design students from across the country.noted Laura Murphy Doyle, National Fine Art Specialist, Chubb Personal Insurance. CONNECT, the highly-acclaimed student design competition now in its third annual year, highlights design and innovation at universities throughout the country. Schools were invited to create a series of lounge environments, which incorporated seating, lighting and installations, provided an area where visitors could sit, relax and “connect” directly on the fair floor. 

The 2015 CONNECT entries were reviewed by a panel of jurors including Steve Gibbs, Senior Manager, Hot Glass Programs, Corning Museum of Glass; Laura Murphy Doyle, National Fine Art Specialist, Chubb Personal Insurance; Monica Obniski, Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design, Milwaukee Art Museum; Duane Reed, Owner, Duane Reed Gallery, St. Louis; Ravi Ricker, Principal, Wrap Architecture; and James Yood, Professor of Art Criticism and Theory, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Jurors with University of Iowa faculty and students  
“We are greatly pleased to be part of the SOFA CONNECT project for the third time. We are honored to exhibit next to prestigious international art and design galleries and schools. Our students are especially grateful for receiving the winning award for two years in a row from a renowned and esteemed jury. Our most sincere thanks to the SOFA organization, the University and donors that supported our project keeping the 3D Design Program at Iowa dynamic and prosperous.” -Monica Correia, Associate Professor of 3D Design, University of Iowa

“We are proud of the joy that we brought to those who came to experience our installation. We are thankful that the jury appreciated our willingness to take a risk and experiment. Our most sincere gratitude to SOFA, Chubb Personal Insurance, and the Corning Museum of Glass for the opportunity provided to Pratt Interior Design students to design and build an inhabitable space.” -Deborah Schneiderman, RA, LEED AP, Professor Interior Design Pratt Institute

Other schools who participated in the CONNECT design competition included: Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL), San Diego State University (San Diego, CA); University of Cincinnati - College of Design/Architecture/Art and Planning (Cincinnati, OH); and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (Dartmouth, MA). All six participating schools were also provided the amazing opportunity to submit a proposal for a unique design to be created in glass by the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). Proposals from students from the University of Iowa and IIT were created and recognized by CMOG. 

Special thanks to this year’s sponsors, Chubb Personal Insurance, one of the world’s preeminent insurers of fine homes, art, antiques, jewelry, automobiles, yachts, and other prized possessions, Caesarstone, Maya RomanoffModern Luxury Interiors Chicago and WBEZ.

SOFA CHICAGO 2016 will take place November 4-6, with an Opening Night Preview on November 3. 
For more information, please visit www.sofaexpo.com or call 800.563.SOFA (7632).  

Rave Reviews From Renowned Curators
“Great show this year! The new layout was excellent—The show felt open, inviting, and vibrant. And the quality of the work was particularly strong. I especially love the CONNECT program—it’s great to see work by students from across the country.”
-Susie Silbert, Curator, Lecturer, Rhode Island School of Design

“While SOFA is certainly an important marketplace, it is also a gathering for communities of artists, designers, curators, collectors, scholars, critics and gallerists. The lectures, panels and discussions at SOFA offer some of the best and most accessible opportunities for critical discussion and reflection regarding the history and changing landscape for fine craft. While artists often attend arts fairs, SOFA attracts a significant cross section of practitioners who lecture, demonstrate and network. Given that studio craft is a scarcely half-century-old phenomenon, it's always a pleasure to meet founders and legends as well as new generations of artists, gallerists and writers.”
-William Ganis, Chairperson, Department of Art and Design, Indiana State University

“For more than twenty years, SOFA has been a place to encounter masterful objects and those who make them. Much more than a selling venue, it is also a gathering for like minded people who care deeply about progressive craftsmanship.”
-Glenn Adamson, Director, Museum of Arts and Design, New York

“SOFA CHICAGO offers a condensed connecting platform for gallery owners, artists, collectors, and museum professionals. I wouldn’t want to miss it.”
-Jutta-Annette Page, Ph.D., Curator of Glass and Decorative Arts, Toledo Museum of Art

"The strength of this year's presentation of SOFA CHICAGO was rooted in traditional offerings, with world-class galleries presenting remarkable objects by artists working in glass, ceramics, and other media. But the excitement surrounding this year's SOFA may be attributed to the new galleries, the increased presence of painting and photography, and the extraordinary exhibitions and lectures that accompany the main event. Additionally, the new, open floor plan designed by Wrap Architecture contributed to easier promenading, and the entrance composed of architectural detritus--cardboard tubes that once held drawings or renderings--was a fun and responsible solution geared to the nature of a temporary exhibition."
-Monica Obniski, Demmer Curator of 20th and 21st Century Design, Milwaukee Art Museum

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