Another Literary Dynasty, 2011
6 parts, 33 x 46 x 38 cm
Bleached Madrone Burl
Sarah Myerscough Fine Arts
SOFA NYC: The Best Bits from Mark Lyman, Leslie Ferrin, Sienna Freeman, David Revere McFadden
Interviews by Cappi Wiilliamson
The Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair impressed fair-goers from April 20-23rd at the Park Avenue Armory. Visitors traveled through a celestial mise-en-scene created by architect David Ling into a world of glasswork, silverwork, sculpture, porcelain, wood, and, in all things, beauty and invention. Gallerists and dealers from as far away as Tel-Aviv and London and as near as Hudson, New York brought their most cutting-edge wares in the world of contemporary decorative arts: a Jean-Francois Thierion stoneware vase comes under the same roof as a Kent Townsend zircote coffee table and a David Bielander pearl brooch. The fair asked us to transcend labels like “furniture” and “jewelry” and question the very definition of art. Here, we talk with the curators and gallerists redefining contemporary arts and design at this year’s SOFA NYC.
Leslie Ferrin is the owner of Ferrin Gallery. This year, the gallery presented Covet, an installation of new works by ten top ceramicists including Molly Hatch, Kurt Weiserand Sergei Isupov. From simple updates of content and cultural perspective to recreations in new technology, Covet artists reinterpret historic museum artworks in collaboration with curators from the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and others.
How did the COVET project come about, and what do you hope that it achieved?
COVET was originally inspired by conversations between Museum of Fine Arts Boston curator, Emily Zilber and designer/artists Molly Hatch about the direct relationship between contemporary artists and historic artworks in museum collections. Starting in summer of 2011, a formal dialog began between artists and the museum curators responsible for specific artworks or collections. The exhibition will present new artworks inspired by the curator/artist conversations about content, context, social history and patronage. The project has exceeded all our expectations. With Adrienne Spinozzi working with Alice Frelinghuysen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the artists have been given full access to information about the works they reference both in person and through the use of their online digital material. The same has been true at all the other museums and with curators involved with the project. They've each opened their offices, storage and helped our artists develop a deeper involvement with the material that inspires them. At SOFA New York, we preview just the first artworks to be produced in the project, our summer programs in the Berkshires will involve more artists and works in all mediums. Our programming taking place during the fair will bring artists and curators from throughout the country to a series of talks, panels and conversations and gives the public an opportunity to participate in the process and explore their own "covetousness.
The COVET project is intended to look at historical artworks through the interpretations of the contemporary artists who are inspired by them. Talk about some of your own favorite historical artists/artworks. Who or what has inspired you?
The inspiration for COVET began with the dialog begun between Molly Hatch and curator Emily Zilber about the powerful John Singer Sargent family portrait of the Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882. The painting is prominently on view in the newly opened American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, positioned between the two large scale 19th century Japanese porcelain vases in the painting. It was one of those moments when it became clear that the relationship established by the installation and placement of the Japanese vases portrayed in the painting on either side, was exactly what were doing in the present with our artists producing both two and three dimensional works. It turns out that several of the artists we were working with felt the same way and were inspired to produce new works based on the painting and the concept of two and three dimensions. At SOFA you will see a photograph by Bill Wright that references the actual painting through subject and content and works by Molly Hatch that use other paintings in the collection and features sculptural figures as silhouette.
Can you discuss one or two of the pairings to be presented, and what makes them especially interesting.
Look at the work of Giselle Hicks, whose work is informed conceptually by European still life paintings, she "covets" the beauty of the temporal moment expressed in the paintings, the careful detailed paintings of flowers that were once alive, captured in their best moment by the painter. She produces works that are equally beautiful and capture the spirit in those paintings, in real life moments in three dimensions through ceramic still life artworks. Also see how Molly Hatch is exploring engravings through her plate series and her paintings with three dimensional figures in silhouette.
What are you most interested to see at SOFA this year?
How we solve the problem of how to present all the incredible work we have in an installation that makes sense to the viewer. Sienna Patti, my co-curator and director of a gallery that specializes in contemporary jewelry said last night "we should have done headsets for people to hear the artists talk about their work", I answered "great idea, let's tape the artists during their in-booth conversations and then for the summer, we'll have the dialog captured at the gallery for our artBerkshires program."
Sienna Freeman is the director of the Wexler Gallery, who exhibited work from innovative talents such as Vivian Beer, Timothy Schreiber, Philipp Aduatz, David Trubridge, Esque Studio, and more at SOFA NYC this year.
You say that your booth this year is about “the interaction of contemporary design with traditional forms of craft.” How does the juxtaposition of your master glass artists and such contemporary and cutting-edge work as Vivian Beer’s and Philipp Aduatz’s (two artists whose work you’ll be showing) open up this dialog?
By juxtaposing contemporary design pieces with works by master glass artists we hope to illustrate a common thread in visual language. For example, Joel Philip Myers Dr. Zharkov pieces were heavily influenced by his time as a designer at Blenko Glass. Like Joel, Vivian Beer has roots in craft, specifically metal fabrication. Both of their work crosses over into the design world on an aesthetic and functional level. Our booth aims to challenge viewers to broaden their interpretation of the terms associated with this field.
Can you discuss 1-2 pieces you’re excited to be bringing to the fair, and how they reinterpret decorative arts and design?
Philipp Aduatz and Timothy Schreiber have backgrounds in industrial design and architecture, however, their work addresses many of the same questions that traditional studio furniture or craft artists have posed in the past. They both create beautiful functional objects that are also sculptural in nature using innovative new techniques and processes as well as the latest technology.
How does SOFA – and perhaps the art fair in general - validate the importance of contemporary arts and design in today’s marketplace?
Art fairs like SOFA expose works to new audiences with fresh eyes that may not be concerned with categorizing an object as “craft, art or design”. This opens the field to new interpretations for artists, dealers and collectors on an international level.
What other booth, talk, or artist’s work are you most excited to see at SOFA this year?
We are excited to see David McFadden speak during the Covet discussion, as the mission statement of the Museum of Art and Design is very similar to the vision of Wexler Gallery.
Mark Lyman is the President of the Art Fair Company. He produced this year’s SOFA show in NYC, as well as the SOFA Chicago and SOFA West: Santa Fe annual fairs.
What makes SOFA different from the other fairs you produce?
SOFA is the only art fair focused on contemporary studio arts and design-gallery presented. It explores select works by master-level artists.
Speak a little bit about how you curated the fair. What were you looking for in this year's collection of dealers and their objects?
The most interesting, masterful works representing concept and virtuosity with material. We had a dealer-based selection committee to determine presenters.
Talk about the David Ling installation at this year's fair. How did it come about?
We wanted to make the experience of viewing art at the Armory a totally different environment. David’s design does just that. The Armory hall is turned into a work of art itself.
What are you most excited for this year? Are there any particular objects, or booths, you're dying to see?
SO MANY NEW WORKS!! The furniture of Vivian Beers At Wexler Gallery - all the furniture at Zimmerman and Jacobson galleries. Thalen & Thalen raised silver objects. Ferrin and Sienna galleries collaboration "Covet"
David Revere McFadden is Chief Curator and Vice President for Programs and Collections at the Museum of Arts & Design. He participated in a panel discussion titled The Design Continuum: Looking Back to the Future with David Ling (David Ling Architect), Jamie Drake (Drake Design Associates) at the curators breakfast this morning.
What do you think distinguishes this year's fair from previous years?
Each year the SOFA brings together a broader cross section of the art and design community, and has welcomed new technologies (like rapid prototyping) as part of the vocabulary of processes represented. The world of art, craft, and design is a wonderful blur zone, where old hierarchies no long apply, and SOFA this year represents this new artistic diversity.
Why do you think fairs such as SOFA are so important to the contemporary decorative arts community, and to the marketplace? In the age of online auctions, why do we keep coming back?
Fairs are a wonderful resource for new collectors, as they can see a broad range of work in one place. For the seasoned collectors, it is a chance to take the pulse on what is happening in the visual arts, and to discover new and emerging talent.
Is there a booth, talk, or artist's work you’re especially excited to see at SOFA this year?
It would be unfair to single out one booth! I am excited by the live installation by sand painter Joe Mangrum that MAD is presenting as part of its current exhibition Swept Away: Dust, Ashes, and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design at SOFA this year.
For more information pleaes visit the official SOFA site