Published: November 26, 2002
By Susan And Al Bagdade
CHICAGO, ILL. – SOFA 2002, the ninth annual International Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art, drew huge crowds October 25-27 at historic Navy Pier. Approximately 33,000 showgoers attended SOFA, an increase of 6,000 visitors from last fall. This was the largest crowd ever to attend SOFA in Chicago.
Eighty-five international galleries representing eight countries exhibited one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional masterworks that bridged the worlds of contemporary decorative and fine art. The opening night benefit drew more than 1,000 guests to support the arts program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Demonstrating confidence in the American art market, the British led the way with an increased international presence with the addition of two new galleries. This brought UK participation to a total of ten galleries.
New to SOFA was Artizana from Cheshire, England, which specializes in contemporary British furniture design. This was the first time such a comprehensive collection of British furniture had participated in the event. Artizana represented 21 internationally renowned masters of British furniture, including John Makepeace and Alan Peters, who have been awarded the Order of the British Empire, and Tim Stead, the Member of the British Empire, for their dedication and contribution to contemporary furniture design.
Ramez Ghazoul said, “We wanted to mix furniture with decorative pieces in glass, ceramics and silver as it would look in one’s own home or setting.” John Makepeace’s “English Fruits Table,” with a copper top and carved in colored lime wood, was $65,000. Robert Ingham’s chest of drawers was $19,750, and a Dolphin table by Derek Pearce was $7,500. Andrew Holmes only uses found objects and reclaimed materials in his work. His “Union Jack Cabinet,” constructed from slate and British Isles wood and tagged $1,950, says, “come and see what makes Britain great.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Holsten Galleries of Stockbrige, Mass., featured a one-man exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s expressionistic glass art. Chihuly created a special installation with a nautical theme appropriate for Navy Pier, featuring the hull of an old wooden boat filled to overflowing with blown glass elements in every possible color. This piece was $350,000 and generated a lot of interest. “Festival Sea Form Set” sold, along with some smaller pieces.
Holsten director Jim Schantz reported that “it was a mob scene. They came out in force this year. Chilhuly’s major installation at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory had been extended through the run of SOFA and that certainly helped.”
Leo Kaplan Modern from New York City sold six glass and gold plated brass necklaces with pendants by Linda MacNeil that were in the $7,000 to $8,000 range. Three glass and metal teapots in gold, silver and bronze by Jose Chardiet also sold, along with a wonderful glass sculpture by Dan Dailey called “Contortionist.” Tommy Simpson, a sculptor, painter and furniture artist, had a special installation, “Garden of the Heart,” which featured carved and vividly painted organic forms derived from nature, art and the artist’s imagination. Simpson also sold a cabinet called “Looking Good.”
Snyderman/Works Galleries from Philadelphia sold two large-scale paper heads of “Andy Warhol” by Japanese artist Tsuguo Yanai, part of the “Relics Series.” This also contained representations of Charlie Chaplain, Mother Teresa, Pablo Picasso, Adolph Hitler, John Lennon and Albert Einstein.
In the first half hour of opening night, R. Duane Reed from St Louis sold “Basso Profundo Aria of Roots,” 2002, in bronze, stainless steel and glass by Ginny Ruffner for $90,000. They also sold blown glass works by Danny Perkins; coiled waxed linen, threads, wire and copper rdf_Descriptions by Mary Giles; and several ceramics by Rudy Autio, including “Dazzle,” a stoneware plate, and “Tempest.”
Also selling on opening night were four large cast glass sculptures by Swedish artist Bertil Vallien shown by Heller Gallery, New York City, as well as “Tulip Dress,” by Karen LaMonte, for $60,000. Later, additional glass examples by Vallien sold, along with “Dress VII” by LaMonte. Numerous glass pieces by Jenny Pohlman and Sabrina Knowles also sold.
Hawk Galleries from Columbus, Ohio, sold Albert Paley’s “New Leaf Table” in formed and fabricated steel and glass. They also sold four wall sculptures made of glass, metal and concrete, including “Migrations,” “Tensile Release,” and “Rhythmic Continuum,” by Julie Mihalisin/ Philip Walling.
Also from Columbus, Ohio, the Thomas R. Riley Galleries sold two Rhyton Bull bronze sculptures from an edition of 12 by William Morns, cast from his “Man Adorned” glass sculpture series. Selling during the preview was “Dinosaur (2),” by Lino Tagliapietra, for $44,000, as well as a blown glass piece, “Bilbao,” for $39,000. Works in a cast glass by David Reekie included “Buried in My Work 1,” “Developing a Personality,” “A Slight Problem VIII,” and several others, which all sold at SOFA. David Bennett’s “Clear Rearing Horse,” in blown glass and bronze wire, sold, along with “Amber Mare,” “Jumping Horse” and “Dancing Man with Mask.” They also sold works by Kari Russell-Pool, Marc Petrovic, and Seth Rondal.
Moderne Gallery from Philadelphia sold an exquisite carved and stained walnut 1992 “Dictionary Stand” by Wendell Castle. Other Castle pieces included a 1990 ebonized wood and cherry clock and a 1984 curly maple, black bean and ebony sideboard. By Sam Maloof, a round walnut 1960 dining table and a set of six walnut dining chairs were dated 1968.
We noted a George Nakashima 1987 American black walnut lounge chair and a 1953 long chair with free-form arm in cherry. From 1974 was an Asa-No-Ha floor lamp in Alaskan cedar and walnut that was an exceedingly rare form, since this one was made for Nakashima’s son. In American black walnut and pandanus cloth was a 1987 double sliding door cabinet.
Del Mano Gallery, Los Angeles, had major sales of turned and sculptural wood, including David Ellsworth’s “Lunar Sphere” in spalted maple and William Hunter’s “From the Heart” in vera wood. Three porcelain pieces from its contemporary Japanese focus exhibit also sold. At least seven wood pieces by Todd Hoyer sold, along with wood works by Michael Mode, William Moore and Philip Moulthrop.
The Nancy Margolis Gallery, New York City, had not been in Chicago for a long time. They sold several porcelains by Prue Venables and Tip Toland. An “Edward G. Robinson” ceramic and oil paint piece by Jack Earl sold as well. Another Jack Earl example, entitled “Stone Man,” was sold by Perimeter Gallery of Chicago.
The Maurine Littleton Gallery, Washington D.C., sold “Conical Intersection,” 1984, by Harvey K. Littleton, widely considered to be the father of the Studio Glass Movement.
Specializing in bamboo and textile arts, Tai Gallery/Tex-tile Arts from Santa Fe, N.M., sold two large bamboo sculptures by Shigeo Kawashima, along with “Sun,” 1975, by Hatakeyama Seido and “Woman,” by Nagakura Kenichi. These exhibitors reported seeing “both regular and new clients.”
Two important works by John McQueen in willow, waxed string and wood were sold by Elliott Brown Gallery of Seattle, Wash. These included “Of a Feather” and “Private Lives.”
At Gallery 500, Elkins Park, Penn., seven crater glazed ceramic sculptures by Mark Chatterly found buyers. Major ceramic sculptures by Sun Koo Yuh and Andrea Gill were sold by Helen Drutt: Philadelphia.
Ferrin Gallery of Lenox, Mass., brought wonderful teapots in a wide variety of shapes. Red Weldon-Sandlin’s “To TEA a Mockingbird,” in whiteware, wood and paint sold, as did Sergei Isupov’s “Destiny,” a porcelain figure, as well as his “Eternity” and “Drained.”
Chicago’s Douglas Dawson Gallery sold a Ikebana basket from Japan, an anthropomorphic effigy from Nias Island, Indonesia, circa Eighteenth to Nineteenth Century, and one Indonesian floor disc that was 300 to 500 years old. Also sold was a “Crazy Quilt” from upstate New York, circa 1881 to 1895, as well as “Uchishiki” from the Cansai area of Japan, dating from the Edo period.
Dawson also had a special exhibit entitled, “Money! The Collective Hunch” that was tribal currencies primarily from Africa, Indonesia and Japan. “Africans continued to use premodern currencies well into the Twentieth Century. The majority of African monies were based upon one of three primary sources: farm implements, weaponry and body ornaments,” read the exhibit notes.
For example, early Twentieth Century leg bands in forged copper form Zaire were worn by woman and used in marriage transactions. A Nineteenth Century feather coil made of feather and rattan came from the Solomon Islands, Melanesia. “Ten coils may have been worth a good wife or a small canoe,” the exhibit noted.
In addition to all of the participating galleries, SOFA had major presentations, special installations and a world film premiere, as well as more than 30 lectures free to attendees. Many artists as well as international art professionals spoke in the series.
SOFA Chicago 2002 had a wonderful catalog complete with informative essays written by scholars in the fields of contemporary decorative art and design. Next year’s dates are October 16-19.
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