An early start for me today as I wanted to have a look around the area around the hotel, Chicago's "Magnificent Mile" of very expensive brand-name shops. The first people I encountered were these unlikely fellows:
Chicago has a LOT of homelessness and I was particularly struck by the dignity and erudition of many of the homeless people I spoke to - often older people, always men, largely African-American - and by the way in which a proportion of them were ex-military. For a country which prides itself on its military - all questions about the rights and wrongs of that aside - this is surprising. Anyway, these guys asked me to take their photograph, which I did, and then charged me $1 each for the privilege. I actually can't believe I fell for it!
Back to SOFA...
It was good to see that Craft Scotland were represented and I had a lovely chat to Angus Ross (the wooden furniture in the centre of the shot below):
my main intention of speaking to Craig Stuart about his Mokumé pieces never happened as I am pleased to say that every time I went to find him, he was deep in earnest discussion with interested parties.
During the day, we went to a number of the SOFA talks, including one on our own exhibit, that of Gothic Jewellery. This was given by Marjorie Simon who did the amazing job of pulling together all the various threads which make up that which we understand as "Gothic" today, managing to make sense of the seemingly contradictory styles of "Goth" music, Victorian Gothic, Renaissance Gothic and the focus on death and transfiguration seen in many of these works.
Marjorie Simon, speaking about Gothic Jewellery
After this, we wandered about for a bit. Strangely, perhaps, for a jeweller, I found myself drawn to a lot of the glass which was in the show: there was a LOT of glass in the show!
Lampworked glass birds by Marc Petrovic
Then it was time for Paul McClure's brilliant talk on his work, "Killer Jewels". I've been a fan of Paul's work for years - it was with great pleasure that I accepted one of his Robert Indiana-inspired "GATC" badges - and he is well-known on Crafthaus, so it was great to hear him speak about the thoughts and motivations behind his thorough researches. It was also strange to find that where I find his work very witty, there is a (deadly) serious intent behind it.
Paul McClure talking about his work
At this point, we broke for lunch and I discovered that I had never actually eaten Mexican food; what passes for Mexican food over here is fatty rubbish with cheap chilli powder to disguise the fact. Madelyn took me to a restaurant where mild spicing, fresh, sour cheeses and crisp vegetables were the order of the day, all served with a tableaux of the "Day of the Dead"!
Then it was back to Navy Pier for more SOFA.
Navy Pier is a very, very odd place. SOFA is held in the conference centre upstairs, whilst downstairs is a funfair, gift shops, cafes and bars and, most out-of-place of all, a fantastic, small museum of stained glass with some marvellous examples of Tiffany stained glass windows:
The glass theme continues when Madelyn and I were invited to the "Glassblowers' Ball", held in the "Ignite" studios in an industrial suburb of Chicago. This was a fantastic event! We had VIP tickets, so it only cost the cab ride out there and we had barbeque, drinks, a Marching band, dancing, performance art AND live glass-blowing. All in the same space. It was interesting and frightening that as people got more drunk, they felt less inhibited about going ever closer to the glowing bubbles of hot glass!
Aaron Wolf-Bose at work
Aaron Wolf-Bose, John Miller and Kimberly Harty all contributed glass "performances" to the evening but Kimberly's was actually "performance art" around the ideas of making glass. She combined a computer which tracked her movements with spinning glass fibres to make a glass version of the map of her movements. It was fairly interesting as a performance and it set me to thinking about how much like dance is a team of working glassblowers.
Kimberly Harty performing "Time and Motion Studies"
We both crashed at about midnight and headed home...
Saturday report tomorrow!