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Notes from SOFA Chicago 2008

SOFA Chicago 2008 is exciting. This year’s event opened two days after the most historic presidential election in US history (confetti still covered the streets the day after the election!), and the usual jovial nature of Chicago residents seemed even more buoyant than I remember. SOFA’s Opening Gala was attended by glitterati of the international art world and important collectors, such as the Goldsteins (LACMA donors), who came to consider Taliaferro Jones’ work, 'Inhale Exhale'. We met Thomas Stern (who purchased Stig Persson's work, 'Stacked, #1') and enjoyed a renewed visit by San Francisco uber patrons of glass artists, Dorothy and George Saxe. The Saxes included a couple of sculptures by David Ruth in a local San Francisco exhibition they curated, and there is a rumor they will award him a commission for two works. Best wishes to all on the success of the commission and the exhibition! Natalia Pudzisz, our Assistant Director, had the quick perspicacity to introduce Taliaferro to the Saxes, who mentioned they looked forward to viewing more of her work. Bravo, Taliaferro, and thank you, Natalia! Taliaferro's photograph, 'Skim' caught the eye of many passersby - namely a young couple who purchased the work for their Mies van der Rohe apartment. The general reaction to Taliaferro's work was fun to watch - viewers strolling past our booth risked severe neck injury as they turned their heads to continue viewing the work in full stride! Another SF Bay Area star, Marvin Lipofsky, dropped in to say ‘hello’ and remind us that he will someday visit the gallery ... anytime, Marvin!

Our inaugural exhibition of Peter Bremers’ Arctic-inspired work resulted in a visit by a crew from Voice of America to videotape 60 seconds of extemporaneous comments about his work, which will be broadcast, along with those of Lucio Bubacco, Dale Chilhuly and Lino Tagliapietra, to the global community to show the world how the USA welcomes and supports international artists. David Gilhooly's work received the expected honorable attention a noteworthy artist deserves - a fixture in American art history, his recent additions to FrogWorld (Frog Burger for Two and Fr
og Bagel) attracted sophisticated art collectors and emerging collectors alike with his usual wry visual commentary of the banal. As expected, Ned Cantrell's skull, 'Amore et melle et felle est fecundismismus' [Eng."Love is rich with both Honey and Venom" - blown glass, graal technique and hot sculpted. 2008. 16 x 14 x 14 cm.], drew youthful collectors like bees to honey... Our newest artist, Weston Lambert, sold an artwork to Oscar and Emmy awarded sculptor, Ira Tippen!

A highlight of this visit to Chicago was dinner with artist, Lorraine Peltz, and her husband, James Yood, both local and important fixtures of the vibrant Chicago art scene. James, a renowned art critic and author, presented an interview with John Kuhn at SOFA Chicago on Saturday. Lorraine, an Associate Professo
r at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will present new works with us at this year’s Bridge Art Fair, Miami Beach (just four weeks away!). Together, they graciously introduced our crew to quintessential Chicago cuisine, stuffed deep-dish pizza and micro brews … lethal and delicious, we’re still groaning from the caloric intake!

We return to San Francisco with immense gratitude and kudos, to all our artists for their beautiful contributions to this year’s exhibition. David Ruth’s new work, glacial studies based on his recent travel to the Antarctic, and James Walker’s work, celebrating visual markers ubiquitous to the landscape of our era, disappointingly did not sell; they were nevertheless favorably reviewed and the subject of considerable positive commentary. We appreciate the considerable effort of your work, and the enormous expense of persevering an avocation of glass sculpture. In retrospect, our second year at SOFA Chicago, while not (at all) as financially rewarding as we’d hoped, delights with small successes and the new acquaintances we met. Recalling our inaugural appearance last year, to those galleries who presented their first exhibition this year, please don’t be discouraged. We saw wonderful works presented by a brand new gallery from Philadelphia and hope to see them again next year. Overall, the mood at this year’s SOFA, somber and puzzled (dramatic fluctuations in the stock market will affect my mood), seemed supported by a prevailing sense of hope and optimism, kind of like a warm buzz... Thank you, again, to all – our artists, collectors, friends and rivals (!). We hope to see you at SOFA Chicago 2009.