Saturday morning, at the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass’s annual meeting that takes place at SOFA CHICAGO each year, there was a call for a quick show of hands for those who had purchased artwork in the previous 12 months. This was a repeat of an exercise done exactly one year ago at the 2008 SOFA, a bleak time when even the most serious collectors were nervously watching the plummeting stock market.
“This year, so many more hands went up,” Bruce Bachmann, former president of AACG, told the GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet on the floor of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall on the second day of SOFA, where he was looking at artwork with his wife, Ann. “It’s totally different than last year, you can feel the energy just walking the show.”
Unlike 2008, red dots were not difficult to spot at many booths this year, but it was far from a sellout show. Still, some dealers were very appreciative of the serious buying taking place by the second day of this show, with one gallery saying that the Chicago event had transformed their 2009 results.
“Sales are definitely above expectations,” said Scott Jacobson of Scott Jacobson Gallery (formerly Leo Kaplan Modern). A $41,000 Michael Taylor, a $48,000 Seth Randall, and three big sales of the work of Anne Wolff, including one piece for $53,000 were no doubt the source of Jacobson’s upbeat comments.
Jim Schantz of the recently purchased and renamed Schantz Galleries (formerly Kenn Holsten Gallery) said he was very encouraged by the sales of his Lino Tagliapietra work, the only artist whose work the gallery chose to put on display for 2009 SOFA CHICAGO. “It’s like a beam of light coming through,” he told GLASS. Lino had been on hand for the opening night party on Thursday night, and for Friday, but had flown back to Seattle on Saturday. In his wake were several red dots, including an extraordinary Bilbao that sold for $49,000. Sharing the booth space was Schantz’s longtime former partner Kenn Holsten who echoed Schantz’s optimism about the show and who was similarly buoyed by the strength of the buyer response to Lino’s work, which he also represents via his virtual gallery at Kenn Holsten Galleries website.
“We have had a website for 15 years,” said Holsten when asked about how he felt about going virtual. “That’s an advantage, because people know the website, and those who know an artist’s work can choose a piece by looking at images of it, and they have the assurance that the sale is only complete upon their approval.”
Visiting gallery displays, one couldn’t help but notice the wide range of prices, not only in the offerings of emerging alongside established artists, but within the work offered by an individual artist. Case in point was Davide Salvadore’s work on display at Habatat Galleries’ booth, which was identified by a towering assemblage of Salvadore’s blown murrini adorned work called Sentinel, and sporting a $200,000 pricetag. Nearby, in a corner of the display, one could also find a small-scale foot-long instrument piece called Coco #7 with a price of only $12,000. Notably, it was the smaller work that had a red dot.
There were signs of galleries turning to the work of European prizewinning artists to offer a lower-priced and fresh visions, perhaps sensing that there was an interest in a new type of aesthetic. The work of Josepha Gasch-Muche at Forre & Co of Aspen, Colorado, and at Habatat, was an effort to showcase the work of this winner of the 2006 Coberger Prize whose compositions of shards of glass present a more introspective take on the expressive potential of the material, particularly in her wall pieces, one of which sold for $17,000. (see her work in the red dot gallery below.)
At Litvak Gallery‘s lavish display, this year devoted primarily to the work of Vaclav Cigler, there was also a display of the fused glass tube constructions of Julius Weiland, a gold prize winner at the International Exhibition of Glass in Kanazawa, Japan in 2004.
Over at Heller Gallery, a major Libensky/Brychtova work, Red Crater (2007 – 2009), fetched a price of $112,000. Doug Heller said the sale was the result of years of discussion with a serious collector who felt the time was right to make some major purchases and chose the 2009 SOFA CHICAGO exhibition to act.
Also doing well at the Heller display was the work of Beth Lipman whose C-print photographs and tabletop installations of dishware reference the 17th century painting convention of the still life, updating and applying the awareness of mortality and virtuosic technical display the Dutch genre typified. Among Lipman’s sales was Tea Set (For Rachel and Maria), which sold for $16,500.
“We brought work ranging from the low thousands to $450,000,” said Heller. “We decided to bring a diverse group of the most important artists we have, and some of their most significant works. It seems to have been a good choice.”
Below, please find a random assortment of additional red dot sales, as of Saturday, November 7, 2009.