The 13th annual New York edition of Chicago-based SOFA (Sculpture Objects & Functional Art) opened last night at New York’s Park Avenue Armory, and it got off to a whiz-bang start. Approximately 2,500 people attended the opening night party, to benefit the Museum of Arts and Design, and sales were, to say the least, brisk. Fifty-eight dealers, a third of them new to the show this year, were a happy lot today, since many had enjoyed significant sales last night and all agreed that the tone of the crowd was extremely positive. Dealers described the attendees as knowledgeable, enthusiastic, seriously interested, and cheerful. Not to minimize cheerful. Scott Jacobson (NY) said the scowls on buyers’ faces last year were replaced by smiles this year. Smiles=sales. By evening’s end Jacobson had sold at least one work by glass artist Mary Van Cline, ticketed at $18,5000.
Several galleries devoted their whole space to the works of one artist. Joan B. Mirviss (NY) sold out her entire booth – 22 pieces of ceramic sculptures by the Japanese artist Koike Shoko. Douglas Heller (Heller Gallery, NY) devoted all his space to glass pieces by Lino Tagliapietra and by this morning had sold two glass panels, each in the $40,000 range. He too reported an opening night packed with “well-informed and qualified buyers.” And the gallery Clare Beck at Adrian Sassoon (London) sold two enormous porcelain cylindrical vases, each over seven feet tall, by British artist Felicity Aylieff, to two different buyers.
Many dealers said that decisions often were being made on the spot with much less hesitation than last year. Red and green sale dots were evident, and some dealers had already replaced sold lots. Some who had yet to make a sale were guardedly optimistic, based on collector responses.
Because the show seemed especially strong on glass, booths with a different kind of inventory stood out: attenuated Giacometti-influenced figures (Gudmann/Slaughter at ten472 Contemporary Art, SF), lovely patinated bronze “paintings” (Nathan Bennett at Maria Elena Kravetz, Argentina), stunning Japanese bamboo art (Tai Gallery, Sante Fe), bead creations in pop art colors (Jan Huling at Lyons Wier Gallery, NY).
This year SOFA is running an extra day, closing at 5:00 on Monday, April 19.