Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Highlights from SOFA Chicago 2011, Part I

Flying to Chicago for SOFA, The International Exposition of Sculpture Objects and Functional Art, has become an annual pilgrimage for me. I look forward all year to a jolt of inspiration and a heavy dollop of introspection about my own direction. This year’s show felt quite reminiscent of last year’s, with lots of repeating artists represented and seemingly the exact same work appearing in at least one instance. My major impression was that the work was very similar but scaled back. There were far fewer enormous glass sculptures and overall the prices seemed commensurately lower. The red dot representation this year was also lower in my estimation.
wingsSome of my favorite artists from last year’s show presented similar work this year. The adult-sized glass wings by Mathieu Grodet and Tanya Lyons, exhibited by Galerie Elena Lee in Montreal, shrank from last year to child-sized this year. Sometimes size matters, as these just didn’t carry the same sense of awe as those last year, and none sold that I saw, despite similarly scaled down pricing.
miltenberger birdhousemiltenberger chairI wished I could lift the top off Janis Miltenberger’s exquisite lampworked birdcage, exhibited by Thomas R. Riley Galleries from Cleveland. I don’t think many people realize the level of detail in these pieces and that they come apart to allow viewing of the interior. They always make me want to pull out the borosilicate glass and work more sculpturally on the torch.
valien boothThere were also artists that weren’t present last year, like the masterful Bertil Vallien. Hawk Galleries from Columbus presented a huge space filled with his incredible cast glass sentinels, heads and boats. Go to the gallery link to view the catalog from his current solo show.
valien sentinelSeeing his work promted me to press my friend that attends the show with me to bequeath her Vallien sculpture, won as a prize in an art quilt competition, to me in the event of her untimely passing before me, well her elder. Cast glass is another potential direction I debate exploring.
brock bookEmily Brock‘s wonderfully detailed glass dioramas were perfectly presented in a dark space with spotlights so that they seemingly floated. This piece, Telling Stories, combines kiln-formed, cast & lampworked glass. Habatat Galleries showed a room full of these as part of their immense glass exhibit.
More details coming soon.