SOFA West Santa Fe 2010 takes place at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center located on the northeast corner of West Marcy and Grant Avenue from July 8-11.

Santa Fe is enjoying an embarrassment of riches in the art world right now! It began this week with the SOFA West exhibit opening today, July 8 and running through Sunday, July 11 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. These riches include the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, also taking place this weekend, followed by the tenth anniversary appearance of ART Santa Fe from July 15-18. Following shortly will be the 59th Spanish Market, occurring on July 24-25 two weeks from now, SPIN (Silk Painters International) from August 1-6 and the 2010 Indian Market, taking place August 21-22. Even Albuquerque is on it, with Convergence, the biennial fiber extravaganza of the Handweavers Guild, occurring from July 18-25. Add in the terrific summer Santa Fe weather and you have a winning combination for a great experience!

SOFA West Santa Fe 2010

SOFA is an acronym for Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art, and all were in evidence at the preview opening for the western version of this vast exhibition. Originating in Chicago, with a New York and now a New Mexico component, this annual art fair offers a splendid opportunity to see traditional media presented in both classic and cutting edge iterations. And our fresh and still-new Community Convention Center provides an excellent venue for a display of this nature.

The works on exhibit ran the gamut from Diego Romero’s Mimbres-style pottery with comic-book flair to lacy, filigreed wall pieces by Julia M. Barello made from, of all things, dyed X-ray film! Familiar names like Wendell Castle, Viola Frey and Kay Sekimachi were represented, as well as local favorites like Erika Wanenmacher and Rick Dillingham. The scale ran from an enormous metal kimono made by Gordon Chandler to Jan Huling’s intricate petite anime-style figures covered with the tiniest of seed beads (surprisinglyl affordable!). A plethora of woodwork demonstrated the finest of craftsmanship as did a broad array of wildly inventive jewelry, and glass was represented by far more artisans than just pioneer Dale Chihuly.

Lil Goth Girl by Beadist Jan Huling: Lyons Wier Gallery

Gallery participants, as well as the artisans, came from around the globe as well as right down the street. Galleries like browngrotta arts from Connecticut represented as many as 90 artists while Lyons Wier from NYC brought only one. Tai Gallery from the Railyard may be a local institution, but their roster shows off the fabulous basketry skills of far-off Japan; I can only say “wow” after seeing the work by Yufu Shohaku! The Danish Galleri Bruno Dahl’s Lars Calmar showed rough and tough but moving ceramic figures in counterpoint to the refined glass works by Lino Tagliapietra that can be found locally at Holsten Gallery. There is definitely something for every taste!

The Basketry of Yufu Shohaku: Tai Gallery

Educational information abounds as well. In the hallway outside the gallery spaces, a variety of educators were available to entice with offerings for those who wanted to take this experience further into hands-on learning rather than just experiencing with their eyes. And education gave over to reverie at the end of the hall where Morgami Jin was quietly and patiently demonstrating the simplicity and skill involved in Japanese basketry. A series of free lectures takes place daily, with subjects such as “My Hands are My Favorite Tools.” YES!

After viewing this exhibition, I have only two wishes: (1) I wish I had been able to make some of the beautiful things I saw, and (2) I wish the fair would linger a bit longer than one extended weekend, so that more people, both Santa Feans and visitors, could enjoy all of this terrific work! Go see it before it’s gone…