Urban craft fairs are killing the S.O.F.A. show

Background on SOFA:

Chicago’s Navy Pier has a huge art show every year with 100 worldwide galleries showing off their sculptural art called S.O.F.A (Sculpture Objects Fine Art). In the past ten years that I’ve attended the show, it was a source of inspiration, but now the show just seems so dull. Am I just getting older and more picky? Have the shows changed through the years? Here’s an analysis:


Why the SOFA stinks now:

1) Glass, glass, glass.

The show is being overtaken by glass. It’s shiny. It’s transparent. Most of the time it’s usually crappy. Yes, there are some fun optical illusions you can achieve with glass. But at the SOFA show, they rarely couple that with an interesting subject matter. You see the same abstract glass over and over again. I’m sure there’s some innovative stuff done in the glass field. But you ain’t gonna find it at SOFA.

2) Abstract art leaves you empty

There is more and more abstract art in the SOFA show. Yeah, some of it is ok. But I can only see so many blobs and blank fields in one day. Give me something to think about.

3) Expensive

The show always has been expensive. I never went there to shop, but I did go there for inspiration. But it’s unfortunate that there’s been a lack of inspiration there.

4) It’s for old people

Old people like expensive abstract glass.

5) Wood bowls

Oh in addition to the abstract glass, there’s plenty of wooden bowls that sell for over $15,000. Right. I’m gonna have my entire cupboard at home filled with $15,000 wooden bowls to eat my cheese and macaroni.

6) Stodgy gallery owners

If you are in your 20s, good luck trying to get the gallery owners to talk to you. Yes, occassionally they may take the time to explain something to you, but they are there to sell their $15,000 works of art.

7) No cameras or bags

SOFA does not allow any cameras into the show. When you visit their website, there is a popup that says in big capital letters. ” PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT ALLOWED AT THE SHOW!” Ok. ok. whoa baby. They even used an exclamation point. They also do not allow “big purses or bags.” Ok, so check it at the coat check? That’s $2.50 per item. ugh.

8) $15 ticket

You now have to plunk down $15 to enter the show. The line to buy a ticket was about 40 people long (yes, i counted the number of people in line). You’d think for $15 to enter the show, they could add a couple more ticket booths to shorten the line. But I guess they want to protray the idea that the show is elusive and in demand by having long lines. And just to show that they don’t care about the younger audience, they eliminated the student ticket price.

9) Urban craft shows are much better

The past few years there have been fantastic urban craft shows. Artists in their 20s and 30s selling their rawking DIY art projects. When you go to these shows you are just overwhelmed by the great work there. It totally makes you want to go home and make art, unlike the stale SOFA show.

Tomorrow I will tackle why urban craft shows are cool.

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17 years ago

I attended a SOFA show about 7 years ago. It was lame. I remember telling my wife that it’d be ok to check out every 5 years or so. I haven’t been to a SOFA show since. There were maybe two interesting exhibits if that. The rest is the goopy shiny glass you speak of. I also remember that most exhbitors had pieces with multiple colors. This particular market thinks that the more colors you have have in a piece, the better it is. guh.

17 years ago

I bet the reason why the line was 40 people deep is so the rich, hob-snobs can say the following to each other while in line, “Goodness Gertrude, look at this line. The SOFA show certainly is the bee’s knees.” “Yes, Beaumont. This show is the cat’s meow.”

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