SOFA CHICAGO Returns to Navy Pier with Special Exhibitions and New Programming

SOFA Chicago
Oct 11, 2019 7:29PM

The 26th Edition Highlights Women in Design, Performance Art, and Interactive Experiences

Ilana Lilienthal, Raindrop Chandelier, Swarovski crystals, gold wire, resin, fiberglass & zip ties; 108" diameter, Image Courtesy of Lilienthal Gallery

SOFA CHICAGO will return to the city’s historic Navy Pier for its 26th Edition from Thursday, October 31st through Sunday, November 3rd. SOFA is known for its vast collection of prominent galleries featuring collectible three-dimensional art and objects by an international roster of fine artists and designers. The yearly event, which attracts over 40,000 visitors, is a highly-interactive fair rooted in programming and education. The coming iteration of the fair expands on these legacy activities with a series of special exhibitions and a dynamic focus on contemporary culture.

SOFA will present a diverse group of over 70 galleries from across the globe this season. With materiality taking center-stage, we can expect to see an expanded collection of glass works, wood and metal sculpture, textile art, conceptual and contemporary jewelry alongside traditional paintings. Internationally renowned design gallery, R & Company returns to the fair after a decade-long sabbatical to showcase an elegant group of notable and established artists such as Jeff Zimmerman, Dana Barnes, Ashley Hicks, along with a historic trompe l'oeil work by the late Wendell Castle. New York-based Heller Gallery, known internationally for its sculpture program, will offer a collection of notable contemporary glass artists along with a special exhibition entitled Collaborations with Queer Voices, curated by Matthew Day Perez and Kate Hush of FagSigns, in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall. Seoul, Korea-based Gallery Sowyen will bring a series of small-scale sculptures like wood and metal works by emerging artist Soohyun Chou and delicate ethereal pieces by Seung Hee Kim. Charon Kransen Fine Arts, which offers cutting-edge contemporary jewelry by international artists, is highlighting Reka Lorenz whose jewelry is an incisive and often humorous cultural commentary on the issues and dilemmas surrounding women and their role in society. J. Lohmann Gallery, a New York-based gallery specializing in contemporary studio works by emerging European artists, will present billowing sculptural ceramic vessels by artist Sandra Davolio of Copenhagen, Denmark, alongside the fantastical works of Ahryun Leeof Munich, Germany.

From art collectors to students, a vast range of visitors from all over the country enjoy SOFA because of the depth and breadth of programming offered each year. Interactive experiences include The Society of American Mosaic Artists, which will present an interactive pop-up mosaic-building studio, and the Chicago Wood Turners, which will showcase carving and turning techniques throughout the show. The Corning Museum of Glass will return to the fair with daily glass-blowing demonstrations along with screening the B Team documentary, a film about a group of glass blowing performance artists from New York founded by Zesty Meyers and Jeff Zimmerman in the early 1990s. Artist Mary Van Klinereturns to the fair with new works from the Documenta Project. Van Kline’s project focuses on documenting the ecosystem of prominent artists, dealers, and collectors as a ‘love letter’ to the glass-art community through photography. SOFA will once again host CONNECT.This platform is designed to highlight the work of young design talent from regional universities through the opportunity to exhibit new works at the fair.

As cultural dialogue shifts towards equity and awareness, SOFA turns a portion of its programmatic focus toward women in art and design, welcoming a series of collaborators to highlight the work, experiences, and creative processes of female artists and designers. The Female Design Council, a national organization championing women in design founded by curator and designer Lora Appelton, will present Intricate: Complexity & Beauty Sewn Up, an exhibition featuring the work of seven dynamic textile artists from Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and the United States. Chicago-based interior designer Emily Mackie will present Still Counting, an exhibition in recognition of the history of women’s suffrage and feminist movements within the United States. The Art History Babes, known for their spirited discussions about art history and all things tied to visual culture, will be the fair’s podcasters-in-residence, hosting live daily conversations throughout the weekend. To round out SOFA’s women-centric programming, included will be a panel discussion in partnership with Modern Luxury about women in design on Friday, November 1st at noon.

SELECTS, a platform highlighting pieces chosen by a cohort of curators, designers, and critics, will feature an all-woman cohort in line with the fair’s focus and include the following participants:

Suzanne Brunstrum, Studio Brunstrum, Randy Heller, Randy Heller Design, Suzanne Lovell, Suzanne Lovell, Inc., Emily Mackie, Inspired Interiors, Donna Mondi, Donna Mondi Interior Design

SOFA will open with a VIP Preview cocktail and festive vernissage to benefit The Chicago Foundation for Women for the Arts on Thursday, October 31, 2019 from 5 pm - 9 pm followed by a public preview from 7 pm - 9 pm. SOFA opens to the public on Friday, November 1, 2019.

The 2019 edition of SOFA is generously supported by Boxed Water, Jadot, Loewe Foundation, and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.


About SOFA

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair in Chicago is the premier gallery-presented art fair dedicated to three-dimensional art and design. On par with Art Basel and TEFAF Maastricht, SOFA is produced by Clarion Events.

Critically acclaimed and continuously running since 1993, SOFA is distinguished from other top art events by its focus on three-dimensional artworks that cross the boundaries of fine art, decorative art and design. SOFA is noted for its exceptional presentation, with an elite selection of international dealers presenting for sale one-of-a-kind masterworks in handsome, custom-designed gallery exhibits.

SOFA is held annually in the fall at Chicago's major destination, Navy Pier, with an average of 70 dealers and 40,000 people attending. Sales at the fair are estimated at 15-20 million dollars per show.

With a strong educational emphasis, SOFA CHICAGO includes an acclaimed lecture series and special exhibits exploring the artworks on view and surveying new trends in the art world. A VIP program includes exclusive events tailored to high-profile gallery clients and collector/museum groups.

SOFA has evolved into a dynamic international marketplace and community – a confluence of perspectives where art, design and people intersect.

For additional information visit:

SOFA CHICAGO 2019 Thursday, October 31, 2019 | 5 - 9 pmFriday, November 1, 2019 | 11 am - 7 pm (10 - 11am VIP hour)Saturday, November 2, 2019 | 11 am - 7 pm (10 - 11 am VIP hour)Sunday, November 3, 2019 | 12 - 6 pm

SOFA Chicago