SOFA, So Good
Memo to self: Next time you wrangle an invitation to a VIP preview party, try showing up. By the time I got to the opening gala for the SOFA show last night, the party was in full swing, and the line was three deep at the food table. Judging by the crowd, the fair would appear to be off to a good start. Times being what they are, though, the question is whether a decent gate will translate into decent sales. Kudos, nonetheless, to DMG World Media for staging a well-attended and rousing event.
For those who don’t know, SOFA is an acronym for Sculpture Objects & Functional Art, and that either clarifies things or doesn’t. Now in its 12th year, SOFA provides a platform for craft-based design/art, running a gamut from East to West, and mid-century to still-drying. Janus-faced by nature, the material at the show looks both forward and backward, with cutting-edge formal exploration often wed to traditional forms of artisanship. The offerings at the fair provoke a response, as often negative as positive, but it is hard not to find several things you like a lot.
Not surprisingly, I liked the display of vintage craft design at Moderne Gallery. The section I photographed shows works by George Nakashima, Wendell Castle, James Prestini, David Gilhooly, and an interesting and reasonably-priced wall sculpture by Ed Gerhardt.
Also photogenic, and shown here, are the displays of glass at Heller Gallery. Heller is presenting installations by Lino Tagliapietra and Steffen Dam. Tagliapietra, the consummate master of Venetian glass-blowing techniques, is represented by a few dozen highly colorful and often fanciful vessels. Dam is showing a half-dozen or so ensembles of what look like invertebrates and vegetation encased in glass. These imaginative miniature worlds, which evoke German Wunderkammer and Victorian curio cabinets, are technically innovative and intricately crafted meditations on evolutionary science and beauty, on man’s complex and often conflicting urges to know, collect, classify, wonder, and create.
If you feel an urge to collect, or just to wonder, the fair is running through Sunday, April 19 at the Park Avenue Armory.
From top: Lino Tagliapietra glass at Heller Gallery; the VIP Preview at SOFA; the Moderne Gallery booth; glass installation by Steffen Dam at Heller Gallery; wooden vessel by Bud Latven at del Mano Gallery; "Reincarnation" by Syoryu Honda at Tai Gallery; architect David Ling in front of the VIP lounge he designed. All photos by Larry Weinberg.