By  on June 7, 2007

NEW YORK — Jewelry and art clashed last weekend here at the Sculpture Objects and Functional Art New York show that featured 59 international fine art galleries, 12 of which housed contemporary jewelry displaying ceramic, glass and decorative textile objects.

The crowd was an eclectic mix of artists, shoppers and purveyors.

Mark Lymon, who started SOFA New York in 1998 as an offshoot of the bigger Chicago show he founded in 1994, wanted to support young artists working with original materials in innovative ways.

"People think of jewelry as one thing," said Lymon. "But there are so many viewpoints. These artists are making jewelry that isn't after a certain style, but their own ideas. It's not necessarily based on gems or metals, but it's about the thought and vision they are presenting."

Highlights of the show included Melanie Bilenker's ebony and resin pendants of a woman's silhouette that she threaded with her own hair. They were priced from $2,500 to $3,200 and were represented by the Sienna Gallery in Lenox, Mass. Gallery owner Sienna Patti noted the difference between jewelers and the craftspeople, like Bilenker. "We represent artists working with ideas that are prevalent in jewelry," she said.

Also seen at the Sienna Gallery were stainless steel rose brooches by Lola Brooks, whose clients include actresses Holly Hunter and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Ed Faber of New York's Aaron Faber Gallery presented one of his newest clients, Spanish artist Enric Majoral, who sold six pieces on the show's opening night.

"People want to own things that are an expression of who they are," said Faber. "Everyone here is trained as an artist and took their vision and translated it into wearable jewelry."

Majoral works only with precious gems and metals, like black diamonds and 18-karat gold. His pieces run from $800 to more than $10,000.

But innovation appeared in many forms at SOFA. Ellen Reiben of the Jewelers' Werk Galerie in Washington featured Shari Pierce's painted cardboard necklaces, titled "Cardboard Democracy," that Reiben hung on the wall.

"It's taking a material like cardboard and treating it like anything else, like gold or silver," said Reiben.Regarding accessories as art, Stefan Friedemann of the Ornamentum Gallery in Hudson, N.Y., displayed Dutch artist Ted Noten's acrylic handbags, which sell from $15,000 to $20,000. One bag contains golden pills and the other, called the Meat Bag, holds a frozen pork chop.

"We nicknamed it the 'Survivor Bag,'" said Friede­mann. "It is air-sealed so the meat is probably still good, if you had to [eat it]."

Many artists roamed the show to shop or glean inspiration from the works; one of them was Barbara Silverstein of Massachusetts.

"I am a jewelry designer and I'm browsing and seeing friends' works so I can call them and tell them how beautiful it is," Silverstein said.

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