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Opinion

Art Society and Glass Club view world art galleries in Chicago

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November 14, 2014

Thursday was a long day for members of UW-River Falls Art Society and Glass Club, as they traveled from 10 a.m. to around 6 p.m. in university vans from River Falls to Chicago, Illinois, for the 21st annual art event called Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (SOFA).

Upon arrival, the groups made their way to the Getaway Hostel in Lincoln Park, an upscale neighborhood within the “Windy City,” whose streets are lined with cute coffee shops and 1920s style brownstone apartment complexes.

An invite-only gallery opening was held on Thursday night for the artists and prospective art buyers, but opened to the public at 11 a.m. Friday.

Most students slept-in before taking the “L” rail system downtown. The event was held in the enormous Festival Hall on Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier. Over 60 art galleries from around the world had smaller versions of their galleries set up in the hall, displaying thousands of art works collectively. There were also demonstrations and lectures given by various well-known artists throughout the weekend.

UWRF’s glass Professor Eoin Braedon was one of the hundreds of artists exhibiting at SOFA. His Celtic-influenced sculptures were displayed in the K. Allen Gallery from Sister Bay, Wisconsin.

He gave a glassblowing demonstration for an audience on Friday afternoon, and was assisted by Tyler Pelton and Harley Hotchkiss, who are both working towards Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in glass.

Micah Carithers, a physics major and studio glass student, was overwhelmed by the amount of art that was on display.

“It’s really awesome to get to see all these different works of art by artists you look up to and possibly get the chance to talk to them,” Carithers said. “There’s so much to look at it’s almost a sensory overload, but seeing so much different glass and ceramic work gives you new ideas for work that you could make.”

On Friday night, students were invited to attend the third annual Glass Blowers Ball hosted by Ignite Glass Studios on the west side of the city. Among the attractions were a live band, demonstrations by famous glass artists, a fire dancer named “Gonzo,” fancy hors d’oeuvres, and an open bar, all for a mere $20. Students also used this as a chance to do some networking.

“It was great to get to introduce myself and talk with these artists I look up to in a more informal setting,” said UWRF student Tyler Pelton. “There were also students from Canada we were sitting by and other art schools, and it was cool to meet other students interested in the subject. Also, the fire dancers were so intense.”

Many of the students attended the expo on Saturday as well, and had a chance to explore Chicago a bit. Some students visited the historic Lincoln Park Zoo as well as Cloud Gate — more commonly called “The Bean” — and a few stuck with the weekend’s art theme and toured the Chicago Institute of Art.

Though sad to return to the daily grind on Monday, the members who attended all thought it was a more than worthwhile excursion.

Both Glass Club and Art Society will try and attend again next year, and welcome students from all areas of the university to join. You do not have to be in art classes to participate in these organizations.

Molly Kinney is a journalism student with a political science minor. She enjoys reading, camping, music, art and exploring new cities in her free time. In the future, she would love to travel the world and cover politics for NPR.