I tend to blog during art fairs, but rarely in the immediate aftermath. That’s because I’m usually too busy catching up on all the work that piles up during time away.

It’s too bad, because some of the better stories come down once the fairs are over.

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Take-down at Art Miami: Clark, Ryan, Brent and Remy struggle to remake a packing puzzle….

Like, what happens to all the art that we work so passionately to put before the public, talk about, blog about, share booth space with, and then part with in the bittersweet event of a sale?

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For better or worse, an art fair is ultimately about buying and selling. And the buyers are an undeniable force in what is shown. But what about those of us who can often only buy  with our eyes?

I’ve walked the SOFA Fair in stolen moments over the last four days. What follows is my own personal Shopping Cart – the one I’d roll home if money were no object.

Of course, my cart ignores the contents of our own booth.  I’d obviously roll all of our own work home – and some we will -  or we wouldn’t have brought it.

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Top of the list is this quiet wall set by Sibylle Peretti at Heller Gallery. Like virtually everything I’ve seen of this artist’s work, it takes me into another world – a place that is both soothing and disturbing.

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It’s the start of the second full day of SOFA Chicago. The opening was grand. Friday had equal energy.

But no one’s energy matched Dan’s. He must have buzzed up the Rogers staircase at least a half dozen times. Despite encouragement from a group of passing teens, he never jumped.

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The architectural ideas got a lot of chatter. Sales were satisfying.

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In short: it was a spectacular opening night. A larger crowd than I’ve seen in years. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we were so busy talking, explaining,  and mostly reconnecting with old friends and clients that I didn’t get a chance to get out of the booth once.

But, at the end of it all, what everyone always wants to know is “What sold?” It’s the ultimate scorecard for so many. OK OK. So here’s where we are after Day one.

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Placed with a good home in southern California, the small Moje that has traveled across Australia and to museum exhibitions on both US coasts finally finds a family.

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Somewhere back in Portland, Oregon,  Susan, Janet and a dozen other serious-minded staffers at the Bullseye Glass Company imagine that their leader, Jim – in Chicago for Bullseye Gallery’s showing at SOFA 2009 – is working hard to uphold the supremely professional reputation of the company and the many fine artists its gallery represents.

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Wrong. Made irreparably giddy by the fumes of Sherwin-Williams #7048, the normally no-nonsense Mr Jones has been buzzing about the monkey bars all morning, drunkenly painting and repainting the endless corners and angles that make up the skeleton of Michael Rogers’ Beekeeper’s Staircase.

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To get to the glamorous bastion of high-ticket fine craft and design that is the annual Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Fair also known as SOFA you have to walk through over a half mile of amusement park.

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Little Jimmy at the Fairgrounds

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Up Up and Away to SOFA Chicago.

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Just when we thought we were pretty smart, we learned another kiln-glass lesson. It’s a corollary to Lesson No. 1, which is: NEVER think you know what’s going to happen in the kiln.

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In fact, we sooooo know that we don’t know, that we always test before doing major projects.

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Glass wants to be big.

Think about it. Ours is a medium that by its very nature overflows its edges. Its containers refuse to contain themselves. The light reflected and refracted by a glass object can spill over into surrounding space. Not unlike architecture, glass can define space.

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Jessica Loughlin in Bullseye’s factory studio, caught between Ted and Tom, between horror and enthusiasm, between art and design, between a rock and a hard place…..

This defining ability of the material is probably why I am so drawn to glass objects that are about space – and why glass seems to me to so naturally speak the language of architecture.

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………..Don’t walk on the art!

Even if it’s designed to be walked on, climbing up the prototype Michael Rogers staircase would not be a good idea. We’ve suggested as much by making the treads much narrower than standard and starting their rise a couple of feet off the ground.

Plus, the stairs don’t go anywhere. (But lots of people say that about contemporary art).

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