A recent visit to the SOFA Chicago show (Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design) caused some contemplation of the richness, quality and diversity in craft that we have here in this province.
The show is a prominent one, showcasing galleries from across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand offering fine craft, sculpture, furniture, and jewelry in a variety of mediums. There are many lectures and expert panels, focusing on aspects of the advancement of craft, issues specific to mediums, to collectors, to aesthetics itself. It was truly fascinating to both observe and participate, and listen to discussion about sloppy craft, postmodern craft, fine craft, technologically based craft, craft made by fabricators supervised by the artist, and on and on. The level of the discussion was impressive, as was the relative sophistication of the audience, and their apparent ability to contemplate the deservedly high price of the objects at the show--often reaching many, many thousands of dollars.
A quick tour through Pulse Gallery here in Winnipeg, our small gallery focusing exclusively on Manitoba art and fine craft, reveals an astonishing diversity of offerings at a variety of accessible price points, and a level of craftsmanship and artistry that is worthy of pride. SOFA was wonderful, but it served as a strong reminder that our own Manitoba makers work at a very high level, with admirable artistic concept and skill.