Sunday, April 18, 2010

Got off the sofa and went to SOFA

I went to SOFA NYC on Friday. Sienna Gallery generously offered show passes to members of Sienna featured the work of Tina Rath, a mixed media installation, Wanderlux. Her work was reminiscent of the plant life and crustaceans that encrust the piers and moorings around the San Francisco Bay.

The work was an assemblage of small silver tendrils haloed in animal fur clustered together next to wood carved into mussel like forms. Enamel, pearls, and draped, deep green ruffled ultra suede were all secured on a variety of rectangular light wood boxes on two adjacent walls. Some of the boxes opened, gold leaf and additional wooden forms where tucked inside. Jewelry objects were camouflaged among the groups, for the purpose of the show these were fixed in place.

Tina Rath explained the entire piece from conception to completion took two years with the help of 5 assistants. While is was impressive to see the accumulated minutiae the work didn't seem to break any new ground in the jewelry objects or as an installation. The choice of rectangular boxes as platforms for the piece didn't add any resonance and seemed disconnected to the overall idea. I was reminded of modular Ikea wall units. Wanderlux is an intriguing title with it's play on wanderlust, to wander and explore the world and lux from luxury, but without an interpreter Rath's inner meaning isn't fully communicated in this piece.

Sienna Gallery's sable of artists tend toward referencing historical jewelry and much of the work is a delicate, "wearable" size for art jewelry especially in comparison to the work represented by Charon Kransen. If jewelry is a means to display your personality, much of the work shown there would loudly proclaim your devotion to Boldness. Kransen's booth was a minefield of creativity.

Ruudt Peters spoke about his artistic life with a humorous, enlightening presentation that was the high point of the day. He approaches his work with rigorous curiosity and exhaustive experimentation, directed by his core concern, the alchemy of life.

Conspicuously missing from the show this year where two prominent jewelry galleries,
Jeweler's Werk Galerie in Washington D.C. and Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, MA. , an unfortunate sign of the contracted economy .

It was good to run into fellow New Jersey Metal Arts Guild members Susan Sloan who was represented by Aaron Faber Gallery, Stevie B. and Tabitha Mitchell. The SOFA show provides a great opportunity to meet people, artists and gallerists who share your passions, which makes it easy to fall into conversations about processes, materials or one's own creative impulses, finding a verbal shorthand where no interpreters are required.

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