SOFA CHICAGO Makes Art And Artists Accessible

Steve Linn's Swoop, Soar, And Surprise.  Photograph courtesy of Steve Linn

Steve Linn’s Swoop, Soar, And Surprise. Photograph courtesy of Steve Linn

All too often, art is unapproachable. Walk through a museum and the works are impressive, but it’s difficult to understand the artist’s inspiration. What was the artist trying to say?

A SOFA Visitor Admires Rik Allen's Maximus Planar Scopic Reflector

A SOFA Visitor Admires Rik Allen’s Maximus Planar Scopic Reflector

SOFA CHICAGO is different. The 20th annual fair celebrating Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design took over the east end of Navy Pier last weekend. As I wandered through the exhibit hall, not only was the art accessible, so were the artists.

I spoke with Steve Linn, a fascinating sculptor who lives in France. He explained the motivation and inspiration for his “Swoop, Soar, And Surprise,” a piece dedicated to the life and work of the late Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

“It’s all about Niemeyer,” Linn said of the sculpture. “He was an amazing man. His career spanned 80 years and died last December at the age of 104, and he was still working, with several projects.”

Linn said he used curves as the basis of “Swoop” as an homage to the buildings Niemeyer designed, and, “because curves are the essence of Brazil.”

Niemeyer’s work, itself, was inspired by curves of another sort—the female form.

“Swoop” uses white glass to represent the white reinforced concrete common to Niemeyer’s designs.

Michael Glancy And His Sansanian Star XThe lower half of “Swoop contains an interesting codex of its own—a language created specifically for the work that spells out O-S-C-A-R N-I-E-M-E-Y-E-R in a typeface developed by two young Brazilian graphic designers who, like Linn, were students of the architect’s work.

Further down the exhibit hall, I happened upon Michael Glancy, an artist who specializes in intricate glass and metal sculptures. Glancy uses blown and plate glass, copper, bronze, silver and gold as his media.

It’s incredibly intricate work. Glancy shrugged.

“It keeps me off the streets,” he said, with a laugh.

Boreal Inner Star X By Michael Glancy

Boreal Inner Star X By Michael Glancy

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Author: Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan is a writer and photographer, and a former resident of the West Loop. He can be reached at

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