13 November 2006

First of all, it scores as an acronym: SOFA

Perhaps the most difficult thing about SOFA seems almost entirely ironic; there's too much to see there. Another year brings THE THIRTEENTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION OF

The place to be this weekend was Navy Pier's Festival Hall, where thousands of objects were on display for the throngs of people who attended SOFA, and what they found (other than absolute over stimulation) was probably something similar to what I discovered.

How enjoyable is to be in the company of strangers who are as equally excited about being somewhere? And how much more enjoyable is it when you realize it's not the latest Will Ferrell movie (not that there's anything wrong with that), or surrounded by screaming fans of the latest boy band, or even a sweltering day at a theme park like Great America? I know I don't have a lot of faith in humanity as a whole, but the people of Chicago surprised me this weekend at SOFA. Not only were they cool appreciators of art (some of them were almost works of art themselves), but we had to STAND IN LINE to PURCHASE TICKETS to enter the show. And upon entering, our dreams of languishing from booth to booth at our leisure quickly faded.

So next time SOFA rolls around, I can assure you of this much, the people are almost as enjoyable as the objects.

Now, about those objects.

I'm sorry to say that due to my complete overwhelmed state I neglected to write down any of the artists’ names or names of pieces that I enjoyed. Rest assured, they know who they are. And you must rely on my excellent descriptions of their handiwork as representative of their personage.

First of all, let me say at word about the pieces in general. While very few things caught our selective eyes, I must say, it was quite impressive just to see all of the pieces and consider the vast hours of work, sweat and thought that went into each piece. Seriously, the level of craft and labor was exceptionally high. That fact was prevalent everywhere you looked and you could feel it weigh you down as you walked in the door. This was not just some art show, this was serious art.

The Objects that Linger in My Mind’s Eye:

Marble busts, chiseled in homage to greek mythology and cubism. Surprising, simple, clean, striking, they were whimsical and beautiful.

The daintiest china you’ve ever seen marvelously lit to show its translucency, with elegant and delicate patterns painted on. It would be like drinking tea out of an eggshell.

Ceramic cubes with different color glazes set in a grid.

A modern Chinese scabbard with detailed metal base, two glass pieces with a beautiful photographic image above which a sword rests.

Intricate and tightly strung beaded representations of fabric from the artist’s sentimental collection. A mod, square pattern was exceptional both in concept and color.

A beautiful cabinet with rounded corners, made with different types of wood to give depth and texture.

Pastel ceramic impressionistic flowers laid side by side on a metal grid.

Giant glass paperweights with precise and symmetrical patterns embedded. One was a pink lotus, I think.

Elegant figures with arms folded; I especially liked the brick path that leads up to the figure’s chest.

SOFA is an experience worth the effort and time. As an artist, it is a way to assess what trends are getting noticed (I observed my own interests: collage style, symmetry vs. frenzy and a mixing of mediums and supplies). It is also a way to assure one’s self that there are many other people out there in the world doing things that inspire others. You can easily be one of them. It is just a matter of doing the work, making the objects and finishing the pieces.