Last night was the opening of the 13th annual SOFA (Sculpture Objects and Functional Art) at the Park Avenue Armory. There’s usually great people watching.
SOFA fans tend to be less conformist than the contemporary art crowd who–with the exception of artists and art students–often adhere to a rigorous all black, designer-driven, altogether safe dress code. SOFA regulars wear big necklaces. They gravitate to loud colors. They don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s something of a relief. Last night I came across a pair of women who call themselves the “Idiosyncratic Fashionistas” and blog about their eccentric fashion exploits.
SOFA features the generally under appreciated and undervalued ranks of artists toiling in the fields of jewelry, ceramics, textiles, wood and so on. Yet to me, the fair is a place to discover objects which are at least as inventive, and often better constructed, than some work found at art fairs.
There is generally very little overlap between the SOFA and contemporary art crowd, although I did catch up with art adviser Todd Levin who was lusting after a Sam Maloof wooden chair, while I pined for a minimal Richard DeVore bowl.
While there were found plenty of stands which I found far too commercial for my tastes, others contained masterful surprises. A few of my favorite things: Stefano Marchetti’s metal necklaces at Charon Kransen and Koike Shoko’s creamy white vegetal ceramics at Joan Mirviss.
I wanted to scoop up and take home the entire stand belonging to London-based dealer Katie Jones, featuring Japanese artists working in metal, glass, ceramics and textiles. The surfaces of Koji Hatakeyama’s cast bronze vessels–abstract designs emerging from the chance of chemical reactions–were divine.
As usual, the Beacon-Hudson based Ornamentum gallery assembled a terrific presentation of conceptual jewelry, including a solo show of miniature metal sculptures — brooches I suppose–cast in wax underwater by Ruudt Peters.
Sienna Patti, proprietor of the adventuresome Sienna jewelry gallery, brought an installation by Tina Rath, Wanderlux, which combined sculpture and jewelry.
SOFA is the kind of show where even journalists can shop. I surprised myself by pointing to a paper thin ceramic cup at Galerie Besson, mottled rust and slate gray with a feather-like pattern. Before I could contain myself, the words “I’ll take it” popped out of my mouth. The piece, I think called Winged, cost $350 and is the work of Irish artist Deirdre Hawthorne. It is sitting beside my desk as I type.