CWA at SOFA Chicago 2016

by Jeff Bernstein
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Those who were able to attend SOFA Chicago November 6-9, 2016, had the opportunity to visit with friends, see a considerable amount of wood art in multiple booths, and take in CWA's special exhibition, "WHY WOOD? Contemporary Practice in a Timeless Material".

Abmeyer + Wood, Adam Blaue, Blue Spiral 1, Heller, Kirsten Muenster Projects, Okay Spark, Traver, and Xylem Galleries exhibited new work from many wood artists. There were also secondary market wood pieces on exhibit and for sale. Although sales were not brisk, some did occur. Of note, there was a great deal of interest in wood.

Two wood-centered presentations were among the many engaging talks and panels at SOFA. A panel discussion related to the CWA exhibition featured curator Jennifer-Navva Milliken and artists Humaira Abid, Christian Burchard, and Katie Hudnall. A presentation entitled "Predictable Unpredictability" was presented by artists Pascal Oudet and Christian Burchard. There were multiple wood artists giving booth talks in galleries and in the CWA exhibition space. And finally, there were many artists, organized through the local AAW chapter, who volunteered their time for woodturning demonstrations.

CWA again presented a biennial exhibition at SOFA. This is a tremendous endeavor, undertaken by many, resulting in a unique offering of wood art today. "WHY WOOD? Contemporary Practice in a Timeless Material" was well received and generated many positive reviews for the quality of work presented and for the professional-looking, museum-quality installation. Works from 27 artists were displayed from approximately 100 entries. The level of interest from artists is an encouraging sign of the field. SOFA organizers were particularly supportive of the CWA exhibition and in fact chose to broadcast from the CWA exhibition space for a local TV interview.

Jennifer-Navva Milliken curated this year's exhibition. Judy Chernoff, outgoing CWA President, oversaw and coordinated the exhibition. CWA Administrative Assistant, Emilie Hogue, provided assistance. The 44-page exhibition catalogue was put together and edited by Rachel Beaver and Judy Chernoff. Copies of the catalogue will be distributed to all CWA members. Al Miotke and Binh Pho, Chicago CWA members, helped receive pieces shipped from all over the world. The exhibition set-up and presentation were superbly executed by John Beaver, artist and incoming CWA President, and Jennifer-Navva Milliken. And the packing and take down of the booth were done by CWA members John Beaver, Koji Tanaka, Ron Gerton, Judy Chernoff, and Jeff Bernstein.

On the Friday night of SOFA weekend, CWA had a dinner at a downtown Chicago restaurant, Tre Soldi. Initially reserved for 34 people, the attendee number maxed out at 56. While enjoying very good food, a brief business meeting took place. Outgoing CWA President, Judy Chernoff, reviewed briefly the status of CWA, which is currently in excellent shape. There is a very active Board with several new members. The treasury is solvent. Two events were highlighted from the past year - member gatherings in Charleston, SC, and in Athens and Atlanta, Georgia. And two pieces of work have been purchased for two museums with CWA grant funds. A vote was taken for the new Board with the election of John Beaver as CWA's new President. John graciously agreed to take on the presidency and presented a few remarks thanking Judy for her phenomenal service to CWA over the past three plus years serving as President.

The highlight of the CWA dinner was the presentation of the CWA Lifetime Achievement Award to Fleur Bresler. Fleur has been an amazing patron and supporter of the field with tremendous sponsorship of artists and art organizations. In appreciation, a special plaque, commissioned by CWA from Koji Tanaka, was presented to Fleur.

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To view a PowerPoint presentation of additional photos from the CWA exhibition and larger versions of the photos above, please click on the link below.
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Click here for photos of the CWA exhibition