23rd Annual SOFA CHICAGO Boasts Rave Reviews from Galleries, Artists, Curators, Collectors and the Media

May 19, 2017 2:48PM

SOFA Chicago draws over 35,000 collectors and art patrons to Navy Pier in November.

CHICAGO (November 15, 2016) – The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair: SOFA CHICAGO, which took place at Navy Pier November 3-6, experienced high attendance and rave reviews from galleries, artists, curators and attendees. Chicago was a hot spot for excitement and celebration as the Cubs won the World Series the night before SOFA CHICAGO’s opening. Throughout the Fair, you could feel the energy in the aisles as collectors and art patrons admired unique works of art and mingled with galleries and artists. In all, over 32,000 people attended the Fair, presented by 70 established and emerging galleries from across the globe, displaying the very best in ceramics, wood, glass, fiber, studio jewelry, metal, painting, photography and works on paper.

“We are thrilled with this year’s fair, which was larger than previous years and strong sales reported by the galleries. We had museum boards and curatorial staff in attendance, as well as distinguished private collectors, art advisors, and designers,” said Donna Davies, Fair Director, SOFA CHICAGO.

Special thanks to this year’s sponsors, Chubb Personal Risk Services, one of the world’s preeminent insurers of fine homes, art, antiques, jewelry, automobiles, yachts, and other prized possessions, Official Automotive Sponsor, Cadillac, plus supporting sponsors Jetsmarter, Voss Water, Room & Board and media partners the Chicago Tribune, WBEZ and Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago. SOFA CHICAGO 2017 will take place November 3-5, with an Opening Night Preview on November 2.

“SOFA CHICAGO is a marquee event for Chubb Personal Risk Services and we were proud to be a sponsor for the 12th year in a row. Because Chubb has an expansive array of products and services to help customers protect their collections, SOFA has become a great platform to display our expertise. In addition to our unparalleled coverage, we offer clients a complimentary suite of Collector Services, including collection valuation reviews, on-site premises surveys, and referrals to a network of independent art specialists.”

-Joanna McNamara, Strategic Development Manager for Chubb Personal Risk Services

“Cadillac’s first Design Chief, Harley J. Earl, was known to have said that ‘If you drive by a school and the kids don’t whistle, back to the drawing board.' Well SOFA, Cadillac heard lots of whistles at the fair this year. Congratulations on a successful event.”

-Eric Pollard, Cadillac Marketing Manager

SOFA CHICAGO has been known for attracting a roster of some of the world’s preeminent galleries, and this year was no exception. The 2016 edition 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), Duane Reed Gallery (St. Louis), Habatat Galleries (Royal Oak, MI), Hawk Galleries (Columbus, OH), Hedone Gallery (Leonia, NJ), Heller Gallery (New York), Kirra Galleries (Melbourne, Australia), Korea Craft and Design Foundation (Seoul), Maurine Littleton Gallery (Washington, DC), Option Art and CREA (Montreal), Schantz Galleries (Stockbridge, MA), Tansey Contemporary (Santa Fe), Traver  Gallery (Seattle), and Wexler Gallery (Philadelphia).

“SOFA CHICAGO 2016 brought together an exciting combination of established and new collectors acquiring artists across the board. We were thrilled to have sold Jun Kaneko's Head Form Pair as well as major works by Lindsay Pichaske, Mary Giles, Pohlman/Knowles, Jan Huling, Beverly Mayeri and Irina Zaytceva.  New comer, Joey Watson - who lectured during  the exhibition - was met with enthusiasm and sales that resulted in numerous acquisitions. The sales continue even now as we unpack, repack and prepare for the next adventure. What a great SOFA ride!”

-Duane Reed, Duane Reed Gallery

“We had a very successful SOFA show this year with new work by Lino Tagliapietra. The response to his newest series, Forcole, was very well received. Three pieces were sold just prior to the show with two selling at SOFA. We also had three additional major works purchased by top collectors, with many follow up interests. Chicago is always such a positive environment, but this year was especially up-beat with the Cubs victory. We always enjoy being in Chicago as does Lino.”

-Jim Schantz, Schantz Galleries

“In our second year of doing SOFA, we sold multiple sculptures by Elissa Farrow-Savos and several steam-punk mixed media glass pieces by Audrey Wilson. We also nearly sold out of ceramics by Lori Katz, and sold over a dozen drawings with embedded videos by F. Lennox Campello. A truly international art fair! The sold works are heading to New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and across the United States.

-Alida Anderson, Alida Anderson Art Projects

“Despite the residual wrath from an event full Chicago weekend with summer like weather, a jaw-dropping World Series and the uncertainty from a volatile election, SOFA CHICAGO once again proved to be a dynamic and well-attended fair. There was a tremendous amount of energy Opening Night where artwork by Michael Behrens and Wilfred Grootens from  Germany, Peter Bremers from the Netherlands, Hiroshi Yamano from Japan, Janusz Walenenowicz from Denmark, Laura Donefer from Canada and Vivian Wang from China sold quickly.”

-Corey Hampson, Habatat Galleries

“Being a Los Angeles-based gallery we were thrilled to participate in SOFA CHICAGO and connect with educated and enthusiastic collectors who value precise meticulous work. We established relationships with a new client base that is outside of our typical LA, New York and Miami clientele.”

-Meghan Corso, Cordesa Fine Art

“We sold eight pieces at the Fair, including Sueharu Fukami’s marvelous Energy-Soaring in the Wind sculpture. The large porcelain sculpture was picked up by a collector from North Carolina.”

-Yuichi Fujita, Sokyo Gallery

SOFA CHICAGO Continues to Attract New and Emerging Galleries in Addition to Established and Returning Exhibitors

In addition to returning galleries, 16 new galleries from around the globe exhibited for the first time including Cordesa Fine Art (Los Angeles), George Billis Gallery (Los Angeles and New York), Hagoromo Projects (Detroit and Miami), Kathryn Markel Fine Arts (New York, NY), Origenes Gallery (Havana, Cuba), Studio 21 Fine Art (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Villa del Arte Galleries (Barcelona, Spain), Volume Gallery (Chicago, IL), Xylem Gallery (Walnut, CA), and Youyuusya Gallery (Aichi, Japan).

Eclectic Mix of Artists and Artwork

SOFA CHICAGO boasts significant artist attendance each year, and 2016 was no different. Hundreds of artists were in attendance including Bertil Vallien, Norwood Viviano, Joey Watson, Albert Paley, Lino Tagliapietra, and Judy Mulford who all attended SOFA CHICAGO.

Strong Lecture Attendance, Special Exhibits and Design Reception

The SOFA CHICAGO Lecture Series received rave reviews. Lectures experienced more attendees than ever before, with over 2,200 attendees taking part in compelling presentations from galleries and artists, including a lively discussion by Hawk Galleries artist, Bertil Vallien, Friends of Fiber Art International’s (FOFA) outstanding panel on the history and development of three-dimensional fiber art, and a look at the Collectors of the Future, presented by Penland School of Crafts on Friday and Saturday.

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. The Special Exhibits at SOFA have become a beloved and anticipated feature of the Fair with exciting museum-style presentations organized by renowned museums and international art organizations including DIFFA CHICAGO (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS), Collectors of Wood Art, the Glass Art Society, Ball State University, Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts), browngrotta arts artist Judy Mulford and Gioielli in Fermento.

“Working with SOFA CHICAGO on our special exhibition this year was tremendous! It provided us the opportunity to exhibit the work of our alumni in a professional exhibition in their final year of college. This experience afforded our emerging artists a space to practice talking about their work in the gallery setting as well as in the more formal setting of the lecture hall. In addition to supporting our alumni this special exhibition helped us inform many more people about our program. It was a great success and we are grateful to those who helped make it happen.”

- Whitney Bradshaw, Visual Arts Department Chair at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts®) + Curator of SOFA Special Exhibit Four Years Later: New Work by Six ChiArts Alumni

The Design Reception, held Friday afternoon was well attended by interiors designers, architects and artists. Modern Luxury Interiors’ Editor-in-Chief, Andrea Mills, moderated an interesting discussion on Living and Designing with Art featuring panelists, Nicholas Moriarty of Nicholas Moriarty Interiors, Brynn Olson of Brynn Olson Design Group, Betsy Nathan of Pagoda Red and Matthew Rachman of Matthew Rachman Gallery.


CONNECT, the highly-acclaimed student design competition now in its fourth annual year, highlights design and innovation at universities throughout the country. Six 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 and featured six entries for the first time.

Purdue University was chosen by the CONNECT jury as the winning school, and received a $3000 cash prize awarded by Chubb Personal Risk Services.

"The Purdue students, Miranda Herring, Kara Hampton and Gabrielle Bennett, who participated in CONNECT at SOFA CHICAGO this year worked for three months during every possible free time slot they had between their classes. Their attention to detail and their willingness to dig into the tough work that it takes to create any sort of cohesive space was rewarded by this win, for which we were both grateful and honored. A love of materials and design is something that is intrinsic to the nature of artists of any age, and this was a very rewarding forum in which to display their passion for those things. Many thanks to SOFA for helping us reach our goal."

-Sigrid Zahner, Purdue University

The 2016 CONNECT entries were reviewed by a panel of jurors including Jeff Mack, Hot Glass Programs Supervisor, Corning Museum of Glass; Michelle Impey, AVP-Fine Art & Collections Manager, Risk Consulting Group, Chubb Personal Risk Services, Wendy Miller, Curator of Public Art, Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Chicago Cultural Center, Seth Romig, Principal, Seth Romig Architects Chicago and Sarah Traver, Traver Gallery.

Other schools who participated in the CONNECT design competition included: Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, IL), Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, NY), University of California – Davis (Davis, CA), University of Cincinnati | College of Design, Architecture and Art (Cincinnati, OH), and University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana, IL).

For more information, please visit www.sofaexpo.com or call 800.563.SOFA (7632).