Art Jewelry Lovers Unite at SOFA Chicago 2015

The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design show, at Chicago’s Navy Pier, is not only a mecca for art lovers but also a great source of inspiration for retail jewelers. With 70+ exhibitors, most from the gallery world (one exception: Jerusalem-based pearl jewelry maker Yvel), the juried fair offers jewels, paintings, and photography to a crowd of some 36,000 collectors and enthusiasts.

Between the CONNECT student design competition featuring up-and-coming talents, special exhibits (e.g., “Shattering Expectations: The Art of Mosaics in the 21st Century”), an annual lecture series, and dealer presentations highlighting emerging and established artists, there is no shortage of things to see and experience at SOFA, which is in its 22nd year.

For jewelry lovers, however, the merchandise will be the real draw. Gallerists with a major jewelry presence include Dolce in Telluride, Colo.; Szor Collections in Dallas; projects+gallery in St. Louis; the Aaron Faber Gallery in New York City; Palette Contemporary Art & Craft in Albuquerque, N.M.; and Pistachios in Chicago.

Pistachios owner Yann Woolley will bring the works of 10 jewelry artists including Pat Flynn, Emanuela Duca, and Elizabeth Garvin. Styles will feature both precious materials (Duca, for example, uses 18k gold) and craft elements such as Flynn’s iron-and-diamond-dusted creations. The point, Woolley says, is to show the best examples of artistry in the jewelry realm. “The style and design must be completely original to me, and the pieces must be durable enough to withstand daily activities,” she adds, citing artist Karen Gilbert, who works with Pyrex. “The jewelry has to have character, and the artist must be doing something that stands out.” 

Top: Necklace in oxidized sterling silver with recycled skateboard and enamel paint; $2,500; Tara Locklear, Raleigh, N.C.;;

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