SOFA chicago – ooooooooh

Here it comes, this weekend!  The Sculptural Objects and Functional Art Show in Chicago – SOFA, one of the world’s more foremost fairs of contemporary art and design, will be at Navy Pier November 4 – 6, 2011. And for the second year in a row, they will share the Pier’s Festival Hall with The Intuit Show of Folk & Outsider Art.

Here is a sampling of some of the artists who will be attending this year:

Jun KanekoJun Kaneko, ceramic sculpture

Tanija and Graham CarrTanija and Graham Carr, leather sculpture

John KileyJohn Kiley, blown glass sculpture

More than 60 international art dealers and galleries will be featured this year. You will be awed and amazed by the variety and quality of art at this show.

Go to the SOFA Website to view preview pictures.


i would so wear spider silk

The Art Institute of Chicago is celebrating the opening of their redesigned galleries of African Art and Indian Art of the Americas.

Spider silk from MadagascarGolden Textile at the Art Institute of Chicago, photo courtesy of

This incredible fabric was conceived and created by Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley.  Silk thread was collected from over one million Golden Orb spiders to create the work of art. It has been referred to as the “Eight Wonder of the World”, and it is only here in Chicago through October.

spider silk from madagascarSpider Silk from Madagascar, image courtesy of AIC

Peers and Godley drew upon the work of a French missionary, Jacob Paul Camboue, whose work in the 1880’s and 1890’s had limited success. Before that, the only known spider-silk textile was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900.  That work has since been lost.

© Courtesy of Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley© Courtesy of Simon Peers and Nicholas Godley

Over 70 people worked to collect spiders from webs on telephone wires, using long poles. They had to be collected during the rainy season, which is the only time when they produce silk.

Here are links to some great articles, and also a You Tube video:

real web art

It can be a form of art to create a spider’s web, using chain, glass, paint, yarn . . . imagine the materials you can use to convey this form.  Emil (Rocky) Fiore creates art using the fragile spiderweb itself.

Emil FioreEmil Fiore

Fiore was working with stained glass about 35 years ago when he started to experiment with capturing webs. He has perfected the process, using only a piece of glass, varnish, and aluminum paint.

Emil FioreEmil Fiore

The docks in Palisades Park, New Jersey, like most structures on the water, are full of intricate spiderwebs. Fiore was issued a permit by the park to collect webs.  He never harms a living spider, but often his pieces will include the prey trapped in the sticky threads. Rocky’s website is:, and you can view and purchase pieces.


a web for wednesday

Artist Jim Hodges from New York was appointed senior critic and acting director of graduate studies in sculpture this year, at Yale University School of Art.

Jim HodgesJim Hodges

Hodges’ spiderwebs made from chain were featured at the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) show in 2007, with CRG Gallery.

Jim HodgesJim Hodges, A Model of Delicacy, 1992

A Model of Delicacy is made of white brass chain, silk and wire. Another piece of Hodges’, made up of six webs similar to the ones above, sold at Sotheby’s New York, May 2011, for $1,082,500.

Jim HodgesNo Betweens,1996
sculpture | silk, cotton, polyester, and thread

Of course, a world-renowned artist does not limit himself to webs alone.  He is featured in galleries world wide with many diverse works.  See more  of his work, as represented by the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London:

oooh, tuesday’s spider is shiny!

Michael Turner is a UK artist who sculpts with stainless steel, applying various finishes to get various patinas.

Michael TurnerSpider :: Polished and Painted

Turner finds inspiration in nature, creating sculptures including those of insects, animals and sea life.

Michael TurnerOwl :: Heat-treated and polished

Polish, paint and heat are all used to obtain the different finishes, creating something unique every time he forms a new sculpture.

Michael TurnerDragon :: Polished and Painted

See more of Turner’s work on his website:

it’s spider week on the blog!

My close friends know my fear of spiders.  I know they are useful and beautiful creatures, so I’m really working on it.  I can truly appreciate them out in nature, but can’t abide them in my house or crawling on me.  (horrors!)  My favorite spider is the black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia).  I can enjoy these beauties because they stay outside, usually always on their web, and never terrify me by scuttling across the floor.

Black and Yellow Garden SpiderBlack and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia), from the Illinois State Museum Spider Collection

I have uncovered an interesting bunch of spiders in the art world, too.  Today we’ll start with my favorite, the massive and horrifying Maman, by Louise Bourgeois.

MamanLouise Bourgeois, Maman

Mama Spider is over 30 feet high, and she carries a sac with 26 marble eggs. I like the photo above because you can see the sculptural detail.  But I also love the way she looks so monstrous in the photo below. Both photos were taken next to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

MamanLouise Bourgeois, Maman

Louise Bourgeois was a French-born American artist who only recently passed away in 2010.  She gained fame late in life, but did become a respected and influential artist, with many major international shows and awards.  A tiny, gruff, outspoken woman, Bourgeois created art around the themes of sexuality, feminism, and vulnerability. Read a NY Times article about her interesting life:

Once I was beset by anxiety but I pushed the fear away by studying the sky, determining when the moon would come out and where the sun would appear in the morning. -Louise Bourgeois

finger painting

New York artist Judith Braun produces some beautiful work with fingertips and charcoal or pastels.

Judith BraunJudith Braun, Symmetrical Procedures

Judith BraunJudith Braun, Symmetrical Procedures

“Abstraction keeps the images free to be anything, while the symmetry resolves that fluidity into something, like liquid energy crystallizing. This crystal metaphor is further reflected in the carbon medium that, under heat and pressure, becomes a diamond.  I like to think I’m drawing with diamond dust.” – Judith Braun

Judith BraunJudith Braun, Symmetrical Procedures