A Gathering of Galleries, SOFA 2011, The 18th Annual Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Fair

For glass collectors there is only one place to be the first weekend of every November... at SOFA Chicago. This year was no exception; Festival Hall at Navy Pier was filled with galleries, artists, collectors, museum curators, patrons and just plain appreciators.

For members of AACG (Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass) the weekend started early on Thursday, November 3rd with an amazing tour of three local collectors' homes. First we visited Rosalie and Joe Dixler’s major collection of African Art assembled over 45 years of travels in Africa. Chuck and Julie Kaplan then shared their love of collecting all sorts of objects, such as French Art Deco glass, Robj porcelain, Bakelite radios, beaded Victorian evening purses and even Pez dispensers with us. We concluded with a visit to Chickie and Steve Rosen’s  home to see their fabulous contemporary glass collection.

Thursday evening SOFA officially opened with a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception and the chance to visit your favorite gallery/artists. Not only were all the major American Craft Galleries present but galleries from as far away as Israel and Australia were represented as well. World class artists such as Davide Salvatore, Tim Shaw, Bertil Vallein and Rick Beck were available to discuss their works. One of the most outstanding exhibitions was a collection of glass vessels called “Primitive-Elegant.“ The 18 vessel collection was the result of a collaboration between Preston Singletary and Dante Marioni who had been friends since high school. Therefore it came as no surprise that 30 years later these two virtuosos of glass would produce a standout collection combining Preston’s reverence for tradition with Marioni’s contemporary touches. Probably the largest and most dangerous work at SOFA was Susan Taylor Glasgow’s “Communal Nest”, a circle of glass and metal rods approximately 12 feet wide surrounded by broken glass chards with a glass chair in its center. 

Should one need a break from all the wonderful galleries and artists, there were many other activities available. Lectures were held throughout the weekend on a wide variety of subjects concerning Fiber, Jewelry, Glass, Ceramics and Wood collecting. An especially interesting lecture was given by Timothy Burgard, Curator of American Art at the deYoung Museum, on the relevance of glass in American Art. The American Craft Council had a display of the work of it’s Gold Medalist Artists from 1994-2010. The Corning Museum of Glass brought along its portable hot shop and provided glass blowing demonstrations throughout the day by major glass artists. The AACG put on an Ice Cream Social for it’s members and auctioned off a wonderful Dan Daily piece. And if all that were not enough, there was lots of original hand crafted exquisite jewelry to buy. If all this appeals to you, don’t feel that you missed out. There will be another SOFA come November 2012. Be there!

[Eva Klein]