Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Modern Artistry

Two upcoming art and design shows display an outstanding selection of contemporary objects and furnishings.

Architect David Ling transforms the Park Avenue Armory for the SOFA art fair; opening night party is April 19; open to the public 4/20-23.

April 12 is an important date for connoisseurs of 20th century objects, especially those who frequent the high-end design site, lstdibs. From its Thursday night preview party through the 15th, the debut of NYC20 will offer fans of modern furniture and objects a chance to browse the special finds brought to the show by three dozen of the site’s top-quality dealers. (Note: from Fairfield County, stop in to see Westport’s Glen Leroux, and Framont Fine Art, from Greenwich). This first-of-its-kind presentation combines the merchandise of 1stdibs vendors with the expertise of a veteran producer of modern design shows in a great venue—the Tent at Lincoln Center.

“Our online site was designed so that customers can get to know our dealers, but we had been thinking for some time about a putting together a physical show” says 1stdibs CEO Michael Bruno, who teamed with Dolphin Promotions chief Rosemary Krieger for NYC20. “The opportunity to do it in New York, in a great venue, working with an experienced twentieth century show producer, was too tempting to resist.”

Bruno, with designers Brad Ford, Julie Hillman and architect David Mann, will co-chair the opening night party to benefit the Bard Graduate Center. Early buyers at preview will have the opportunity for “first dibs” on some of the show’s exciting objects:

Philip and Kelvin LaVerne

A 1968 bronze sculptural console by Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, from Paul Donzella.

Alexander Calder

A 1970s tapestry by Alexander Calder, Le Lezard et le Tetard, from Vojtech Blau.

Across town, those who gather on April 19 for preview night festivities at the Park Avenue Armory for the Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) fair will find the very traditional armory space transformed, marking the show’s 15th year with the installation of display space that is a piece of art itself, designed by architect David Ling. This international gathering of top gallerists, displaying the world’s foremost studio artists and designers, promises an outstanding assortment of contemporary sculpture, textiles, furnishing and jewelry.

Says Mark Lyman, president of The Art Fair Company, which produces SOFA, “The contemporary studio artist’s work has become more extraordinary. It transcends the materials—ceramic, glass, metal, wood. A walk around the fair gives you an international perspective; it’s like visiting the best galleries all over the world.”

David McFadden, chief curator of the Museum of Arts and Design, who has worked with SOFA since the show’s inception, notes how the interest in contemporary studio art has grown since the show began.

“It is an exciting time for this art form—the merge of the worlds of craft, art and design. Old hierarchies are no longer enforced, and curators and collectors move freely in these fields, looking for quality of concept and execution.”

One of the SOFA dealers is Wilton’s Tom Grotta, co-owner of browngrotta arts, the largest dealer in the field of contemporary textile arts. To celebrate twenty-five years in the business, he and his wife, Rhonda Brown, will show twenty-five of the hundred artists they represent, including this large and intricate contemporary lace work by Slovenian artist Anda Klancic, titled “Black Grove.”

Tom Grotta

Photography copyright 2011, Tom Grotta, courtesy browngrotta arts

Top designer Jamie Drake, who will speak at this year’s SOFA designer breakfast, and select the best object and booth with fellow juror Jack Lenor Larsen, comments on the evolution of the show, and the importance of its dealers and their offerings:

“I started going to SOFA about ten years ago, and have applauded as the dealers and their wares became more and more sophisticated.  The fascinating array of mediums represented makes touring the stands an unfolding delight. The work of the artisans shown is diverse and delightful, ranging from the purely beautiful to the subversive, often rooted in historic decorative arts.”

Along with art pieces, a number of dealers are offering extraordinary examples of contemporary studio jewelry, including a pearl brooch by Davied Bielander at Ornamentum, and a Pol Bury cuff bracelet at the Nexxt20 booth:


In addition to its opening night preview, SOFA also holds a number of lectures, which are free with paid admission.