Since 1993, SOFA Chicago has been one of the highlights of the city’s arts calendar, drawing galleries from the world over (in 2019, more than 25,000 were in attendance) to Navy Pier in a celebration of sculpture objects and functional art, including fine and decorative art, fiber arts and design. In 2020, SOFA evolves to a virtual event, but one that’s no less vibrant: Intersect Chicago. Nov. 6 to 12 (plus a special VIP Preview Nov. 5), the event will feature a diverse lineup featuring 105 galleries from 23 different countries (including Chicago’s own 65GRAND and Carl Hammer Gallery; a different focus on each day, from Outsider Art to Ceramic and Craft; and a schedule of programming from presentations and virtual tours to SOFA Salons on art- and design-related topics. As Intersect Chicago makes its debut, Intersect Art and Design Managing Director Becca Hoffman reflects on taking the event virtual and what she’s most excited for attendees to discover.
SOFA has been a beloved tradition in Chicago for decades. What can art lovers expect from Intersect Chicago?
For our inaugural virtual edition of Intersect Chicago, we have envisioned a daily dedicated focus meant to highlight the breadth and depth of art work on view and the dynamic group of cultural partners we are working with—glass art, contemporary art, ceramic arts and crafts, design, Outsider Art, fiber art, and public art and sculpture.
Daily, visitors to our site will have the opportunity to tune into a wide variety of live presentations from partners like the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Kohler, the Mint Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Design Museum of Chicago, Corning Museum of Glass and much more; while getting to peruse viewing rooms of 105 galleries from 23 countries. Through our robust programming, we plan to highlight the intersection of these different fields and display how they can live in harmony.
Chéri-Cherin "Thermometre de la vie kinoise"
How does pivoting to a virtual event change your approach to programming?
The virtual pivot necessitates an increase in programming—live talks, exhibition tours and studio visits hosted by our robust network of global cultural partners will drive visitors back to the site not just to check these programs out, but also to explore our galleries’ viewing rooms.
Hamed Ouattara "Luxe TV furniture"
You recently produced the successful Intersect Aspen. What did you learn from that event?
I think the biggest takeaways from Aspen were: the need for increased programming; the lack of urgency in the online space; and the fact that the virtual art fair world allows for the world to feel like a smaller place, bringing galleries together from distinct corners of the globe without the concerns of transport and costs.
Hans Op de Beeck "The Frozen Vanitas"
What are you most excited about in terms of programming?
There are so many things I am excited about in terms of programming: The guided tour and talk with Samantha DeTillio and Beth Lipman, whose show is on view at the Museum of Arts and Design; hearing from a series of artists participating in the current exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts—The Power of Paper; the talk on designing and building a new museum about the Kohler Art Center’s new art preserve, with Director Sam Gappmayer and Associate Curator Laura Bickford discussing the project with the Denver-based architect Michael M. Moore of Tres Birds, moderated by journalist and critic Mary Louise Schumacher; a window into the contemporary quilters of Gee’s Bend; and The Desire for Transparency, the curated exhibition of contemporary artists working in glass conceived by Paul Laster and Renée Riccardo. And much more!
Vince Palacios "Abraded Vessel - Red"
Photography by: From top, courtesy of: Intersect Aspen; Primae Noctis Art Gallery; OOA Gallery; Galerie Ron Mandos; ODD ARK • LA