14 November 2012

The Process: Setting Up A Show


Set-up and takedown of a big art fair is a daunting task - and not all glitterati, paparazzi and Illuminati. Although visitors to the large shows only experience the special exhibitions and lectures, a lot goes on before and after the show. SOFA CHICAGO returned to Chicago’s Navy Pier in early November, 2012, and the WGS artists participating in the exhibit (Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Allegra Marquart) uploaded photos of the process. Much of the process shown below is centered around the Maurine Littleton Gallery space.
Driving the work for Washington’ DC’s Maurine Littleton Gallery to Chicago is artist Drew Graham. Besides being a mixed media artist, Drew works for the gallery, and is one of its featured artists.
 Navy Pier - jutting out into Lake Michigan has the central exhibition space ready for the exhibitors to set-up. The gallery team arrives early in the morning to begin the set-up.
Drew Graham pulls up the truck inside the event hall, and prepares to start unloading.
Glass artists John Littleton and Kate Vogel are already in the hall and begin to transport the artwork down to the booth space.
Gallery owner Maurine Littleton reviews the booth space and the layout of the walls and electrical. The design of the space and the location of each work was planned weeks previous to arrival in Chicago, with lighting and electrical planned in advance. Some artwork was already delivered to the space. It turned out that some of the walls needed to be re-positioned, and artwork installation worked around those areas. Items such as pedestals, tools, chairs, special lighting, storage shelving, printer, artwork brochures/info, signage, etc and all the necessary components had been packed onto the truck and now must be unpacked and sorted.
John Littleton at work uncrating artwork and preparing the display of many of the works in the booth.
Other galleries are installing artwork - here, Heller Gallery installs Norman Mooney's cast glass stars. 
Each glass artwork piece is unboxed and carefully installed.
The set-up time is a great time to catch up with other artist friends - Laura Donefer and Tim Tate share a hug.
The Littleton Gallery space is shaping up, pedestals are placed for the Harvey Littleton sculptures.
 The main aisle is busy with galleries preparing their booths.
SOFA Chicago is an international show, here Craft Scotland sets up their display.
The lighting is adjusted on the works, and the packing cleared. Kate Vogel checks for items that need adjustment before the fair opens. Time to shower and change into opening night attire.
Navy Pier just before the opening night gala, the quiet before the storm.
The Opening Night Premier begins with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Lino Tagliapietra is one of the glass greats that cut the opening ceremony ribbon.
The opening night is one to see and be seen. Very posh.
With the opening night premier over, the art expo is open to the public, who fill the hall.
The lectures and demos begin. Corning Museum has a mobile hot-shop that has a number of artists showing.
The art expo offers a great mix of art in all forms of media. For a Flickr gallery of SOFA glass works - click HERE.  For a link to local PBS television video segment on the art at the show - click HERE 
Christina Bothwell mixed media work at Habatat Galleries.
Miriam Di Fiore's beautiful landscape sculpture.
John Littleton and Kate Vogel's incredibly detailed cast sculptures.

The SOFA Art Fair ended on the Sunday night at 6:00 pm. With the announcement on the p.a. system that SOFA 2012 has ended, the lights go up and the public leaves the space. The reverse process of de-installation begins. Out come the boxes and crates.

Drew Graham takes a break from packing.
Martin Janecky's blown glass sculptures in repose.
The unglamourous side of an art expo takes place when one has the least amount of energy. Coffee and energy drinks are needed.
The art expo provides the final meal for the show - Connie's pizza.

With the show back in the truck and on its way back to Washington, DC, planning for the opening of the Washington Craft Show moves up the list of tasks to be completed. And after, shows at Art Miami/Art Basel. 

2 comments:

Unknown said...

this is so interesting, gives a picture of the process in full, and a whiff of the difficulty in putting on a show at SOFA!

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Very nice, thanks for the information.