CHSO — November 2010
Change Language:
The Radar Art
Jessica Cochran

Objects of Affection

With the imminent mayoral change of guard, Chicagoans are feeling particularly thoughtful about their city, and rightfully proud of its art, architecture and cultural gems. So continues Chicago’s storied tradition of art fairs, with the 17th SOFA CHICAGO exposition set to hit Navy Pier with 110 booths of sculptural objects and functional art November 5-7. And, now, with SOFA’s debut co-production of the Intuit Show of Folk and Outsider Art, SOFA proves that, like Chicago, it’s always on the make.

According to SOFA director Mark Lyman, this year’s expo is better than ever, with dealers from 10 countries in spite of the economy.“We have a reputation for producing a great audience, from students to artists, in addition to our buying core,” he says.

There’s definitely something for everyone at SOFA. Visitors can avail themselves of more than 30 lectures designed to demystify the art on display, or take in special exhibits such as Advocates for the Arts, featuring the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz, known for her brooding Agora sculptures in Grant Park.More of a live action type? Check out the Hot Glass Roadshow, featuring glass-blowing demonstrations.Serious collectors won’t want to miss the VIP of fierings, complete with backof- the-house museum tours and a lunch-withthe- artist program.

The biggest draw, of course, is the art: Visitors can expect world-class pieces from exhibitors around the globe. One not-to-miss highlight is Chicago’s Perimeter Gallery, mounting ceramics by local talent Vanessa Smith.Emblematic of the technical ability on display throughout the fair, Smith’s Woven Reef Column is intricate and gorgeous, radiating energy with folds of its pure white surface.If you love glass, Lyman suggests visiting the Chihuly presentation at Israel’s Litvak Gallery.New exhibitors are also sure to excite.Freshman Suppan Contemporary will show design objects like Red Spoon Chair—a seductive chair in sultry red lipstick—by upand- comer Philipp Aduatz.“It’s a must-see,” says Martin Suppan.

The Intuit Show adds an entirely new dimension of creativity to the event.According to Cleo Wilson, executive director of Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, the show is as much about “introducing a broader spectrum of people to the field of outsider art” as it is about sales.With world-class dealers like Carl Hammer Gallery, American Primitive Gallery and Hill Gallery on site, attendees can expect an eye-opening overview. Chicago is a hub for outsider art, so, fittingly, the show boasts live top local galleries in the fair, including Russell Bowman Art Advisory. Bowman presents a selection of “masterworks in the offeld,” ofering wares created by Reverend Howard Finster, known for his colorful and spirited portraits laced with biblespeak, and legendary New Orleans artist Sister Gertrude Morgan, famous for depicting herself in fantastical, divinely inspired scenes.

For hardcore collectors, SOFA offers pleasure and a little pain. “For some visitors, it’s about discovery,” says Lyman.“For others,” he jokes, “collecting is an affiction.”