The Grotta Collection Opens at bga November 2nd: Who’s New

Our Fall exhibition, Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch opens at browngrotta arts in Wilton, CT on November 2nd. The exhibition highlights significant works of fiber and dimensional art by more than 40 artists collected by Sandy and Louis Grotta.

Thomas Hucker,  Ledge Table
Thomas Hucker, Ledge Table, black palm wood with Holly inlay (gloss laquer finish), split oak, stained black (oil finih), egg shell lacquer, 201517″ x 42″ x 42″

The Grotta Collection represents nearly 70 years of arts patronage and a unique kinship fostered by the Grottas among pioneering contemporary craft makers in the fields of textile art, sculpture, furniture and jewelry. The Grottas are long-time patrons of Museum of Arts and Design and the American Craft Museum in New York. The private collection is housed in an architecturally significant home designed by Richard Meier in the 1980s known as The Grotta House. Among the 40 artists whose work is included in the exhibition, browngrotta will showcase five artists, new to browngrotta arts — Thomas Hucker, Dominic DiMare, William Wyman, Bill Accorsi and Toshiko Takeazu. These artists work in various craft media and their work is showcased in the Grotta collection. Here’s a preview:

Thomas Hucker is a studio furniture maker in Jersey City, NJ. He trained with fifth-generation German cabinetmaker Leonard Hilgner and also Jere Osgood at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. In 1990, he studied product design at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. Hucker’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2016, he received the Furniture Society’s Award of Distinction. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the American Craft Council.

Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare
Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare , (a memorial to his father, the wand symbolizes an oar) paper, paint, Hawthrone wood, Golden Pheasant feathers, silk, bird bone, bone ring and fish, gold and gold leaf, quote by Robert Merrick, 13″ x 3.5″ x 2″, 2003

Dominic Di Mare received acclaim for pioneering dimensional weaving in the 1960s, cast paper in the 1970s, and mixed-media sculpture from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Among his most alluring sculptures are carved hawthorn branches with delicate feathers, beads, paper, and horsehair,” wrote the San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design in his 2018 retrospective. These are simple materials, but in Di Mare’s hands they were transformed into intensely poetic works.” The son of a Sicilian-American fisherman who grew up on the water in Monterey, California, Di Mare’s work features related symbols, fish and hooks and lines and water. He is an American Craft Council Gold Medal recipient. His work is represented in numerous museum collections, ranging from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Plate with daughter Lisa,  William Wyman
1ww Plate with daughter Lisa, William Wyman, ceramic, 8” diamter, 1961,

William Wyman began his career as a professional potter in 1953. He established Herring Run Pottery in 1962, with fellow potter, Michael Cohen. Wyman is known for a series of stoneware slab built vessels. In the 1960s Wyman dipped his smaller slab vessels in multiple glazes creating patterns of flowing colors. In 1965, after time spent in Honduras, he began to create undecorated, unglazed geometric-driven structures inspired by Mayan ruins which he called “Temples.” His work is in a number of museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New Hampshire, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PennsylvaniaSmithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

Bill Accorsi was a college athlete, planning to become a football coach, when on a class trip he saw a Matisse exhibit. He says that was his first exposure to art, and it started him on a different journey, as he eventually became an largely self-taught artist himself. Now, at age 88, he can look back on a lifetime of creating outsider art and folk art. His sculptures—some in metal using wire, buttons and beads, others in wood—show people and animals in poses that are whimsical and fun. Often his figures merge into each other as jigsaw puzzles. Bright and pastel colors are an important feature of his work. He is an award-winning author/illustrator of 10 books, including Apple, Apple, Alligator; 10 Button Book; 10 Color Book; Friendship’s First Thanksgiving and a book on Rachel Carson.

Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu
1tt Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu, ceramic vase with blue and black highlights, signed with double T mark on bottom (partially covered by glaze), 15” x 5” x 5” , c. 1960

Toshiko Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, on 17 June 1922. She moved to Honolulu in 1940, where she worked at the Hawaii Potter’s Guild creating identical pieces and practicing glazing. She attended Saturday classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1947–1949)[5] and attended the University of Hawaii. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1951), where she befriended Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. Takaezu earned an award after her first year of study, acknowledging her as an outstanding student in the clay department. In 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Zen Buddhism, tea ceremony and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which influenced her work. While studying in Japan, she visited Shoji Hamada, an influential Japanese potters. She taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey for 25 years. Her work is part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among many others. She is a recipient of the Gold Metal of the American Craft Council and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. 


Additional artists included in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch are Naomi Kobayashi, Norma Minkowitz, Sara Brennan, Stéphanie Jacques, Axel Russmeyer and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. See the full artist list here: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. The exhibition at browngrotta arts runs from November 2nd through November 10th, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd from 1 pm to 6 pm. The hours November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm.


Art & Text Opens — Reception at the Wilton Library on October 11th

On Art and On Life Dana Romeis
8dr/r On Art 9dr/r On Life Dana Romeis, silk and cotton, 24″ X 24″, 1991

Through November 7th, browngrotta arts is participating in Art & Text, an inaugural collaboration of 13 libraries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Each library within the consortium will highlight one or more artists, whose work reflects their unique perspectives on the exhibition’s theme.  Throughout the County, Art & Text runs from September 1 through December 31, 2019, with shows running from one week to 3 months, depending on a library’s individual calendar. Through mixed media, ranging from sculpture and painting to graphics, each library’s exhibition aims to promote awareness of visual arts in the libraries of Fairfield County, as well as foster a connection between the community it serves and the arts.
browngrotta arts provided works by nine artists who use text in their art in a a number of different ways, including embroidered words, collaged newspapers and sculptured works made of the Congressional Record.

The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi
50nk The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi, washi paper, koyori thread, india ink, cotton, 20″ x 12.5″ x 2″, 2009

One of the works included is by Naomi Kobayashi who incorporates strips of calligraphy into her weavings. In a an ideal Art & Text plot twist, author William Bayer was inspired by Kobayashi’s work. In his book Hiding in the Weave, the protagonists have to deconstruct a weaving to find a clue to solve a mysterious death. Other artists presented through browngrotta arts include Dana Romeis, who is an artist and interior designer from St. Louis, Missouri. She has a background in art and textiles. From an early age, Dana has been drawn to the intricacy of design. She is particularly fond of the quote, “God is in the details” by Mies van der Rohe. In On Life and On Art,  she has incorporated text into her weavings.

The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt
The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt, nails, twime, encaustic, 12″ x 9″ x 4″

Kate Hunt is from Montana and has recently relocated to Mexico. She says of newsprint, her chosen material: “Newspaper as a construction material is cheap and easy to obtain. It forgives easily. I love the color and feel and its changes in color over time. The size range is equal to that of wood. Texture and density are adjustable. The audience has a history and experience with newspaper that they bring to each of my pieces resulting in a dialog that transcends anything that I thought of as an artist.”

35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28" x 25" x 4", 2009
35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28″ x 25″ x 4″, 2009

Japanese artist Toshio Sekiji intertwines strips of paper from various cultures, rewriting messages and imaging a harmonius confluence of disparate cultures, languages and nationalities – different than the facts on the ground. California artist, Ed Rossbach, was a relentless experimenter. He learned all manner of textile techniques from double weave to bobbin lace making and then applied them to unusual materials with striking results. It the work in Art & Text, Rossbach has used throwaway materials – annual report pages – to create a vessel that looks like a colorful vase. Judy Mulford is also from California. Her work, which often includes gourds, celebrates women and the family. In this case, words about family life and celebration are spelled out in thread using a button-hole technique.

17da Undulating Surface #7, Dona Anderson
wire armature, pattern paper and polymer, 16″ x 17.5″ x 15″
2010

An unusual sculpture by Washington state artist Dona Anderson is included. Anderson uses everyday materials in her works. Her vessel in Art andText is made from dressmaker patterns and the instructions can still be read on its sides. Like Ed Rossbach, Sylvia Seventy was part of California’s fiber movement of the 60s and 70s. She began making vessels of handmade paper then, a process she continues. Her vessels are whimsical incorporating everything from feathers and pins to beads and googly eyes. In this work she has included text telling the viewer to consider the back – where may artist secrets can be found.

Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy
21ss Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy molded recycled paper, vintage cotton embroidered fabric, wax, wire, beads, waxed carpet thread 3.5” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2016

The opening of Art & Text at the Wilton Library takes place on Friday, October 11th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. The Library is at: 137 Old Ridgefield Rd, Wilton, CT 06897. A majority of the works are available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library.  Media Sponsor: The Wilton Bulletin.


Art Assembled September

There are so many reasons to absolutely love the fall season. We share some spectacular pieces by five inspiring artists, as we are gearing up for the launch of The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft next month, which was designed and photographed by Tom and which features dozens of browngrotta arts’ artists.

We started the month with Carolina Yrarrázaval. Her artwork evokes harmony in every piece of fiber she touches. “Throughout my entire artistic career, I have devoted myself to investigating traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques, trying to adapt them to my creative needs. Abstraction has always been present as an aesthetic aim, informing my choice of materials, forms, textures, and colors.”

Carolina Yrarrázaval
18cy Memoria Andina. Photo by Tom Griotta
Carolina Yrarrázaval 18cy Memoria Andina linen and cotton 54.25” x 25.25”, 2019

We continue with Dawn MacNutt, a source of inspiration to many. A native of the Canadian province Nova Scotia, incorporates an assortment of natural materials, such as twined willow, seagrass, and copperwire, into each life-size sculpture. By crafting these column-like figures, MacNutt masterfully captures the beauty and frailty of the human form.”Through many years of working, the way of creating my sculptures has changed, but two things remain constant: The work is inspired by the human form, and it derives from weaving. The forms are irregular and more universal than specifics. I hope they reflect the beauty of human frailty.”

Dawn MacNutt
35dm Praise South
inflorescence and reed, 19.5” x 5.5” x 3.5,” 2007 

47dm Praise North
willow, 24.75”x 13”x 5.5,” 2018
Dawn MacNutt 35dm Praise South, inflorescence and reed, 19.5” x 5.5” x 3.5,” 2007; 47dm Praise North, willow, 24.75”x 13”x 5.5,” 2018

Aleksandra Stoyanov, also known as Sasha, was our third artist in September. She once told us that her Influence began as a child as she was not very healthy. She spent a lot of time in the hospital, and this further influenced her understanding of people and life itself. “When I keep threads in my hands I feel that they are ground, the grass, that there is life in them. The feeling of thread in my hands is the first appeal for me to begin working on a new piece.”

Aleksandra Stoyanov
9as Reflection
wool, plexiglas
8” x 8.125” x 3.375, 2004
photo by Tom Grotta
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 9as Reflection wool, plexiglas 8” x 8.125” x 3.375, 2004

Chiyoko Tanaka once told us that the act of weaving, as the weft threads accumulate one by one, is a representation of time passing away; texture acting as the locus of the present time. It was such a profound way of explaining that, “Placing the fabric on the ground, I trace out the ground texture and surface of the fabric. The act of tracing is a transformation of time coherence into space, and grinding is the transformation of space coherence into time.” 

Chiyoko Tanaka
68cht Mud-Dyed Cloth - Ocher. White Mud Dots,
handwoven ramie, mud-dyed rubbed with stone and
mud dots, 21.375” x 46.5” x 3,” 2018
photo by Tom Grotta
Chiyoko Tanaka, 68cht Mud Dyed Cloth-Ocher. White Mud Dots, handwoven ramie, mud dyed rubbed with stone and mud dots, 21” x 46.5” x 3”, 2018

We wrapped up September with Jiro Yonezawa and his warm tones that fit perfectly with the fall colors appearing now all over the world. Of this series of work, Yonezawa has said that the curves have the movement of wind. As it blows through the forest, you can hear the rustling of the leaves as it passes by all living creatures.

Jiro Yonezawa
90jy Meteorite, Bamboo, steel, urushi laquer, 9” x 15” x 11”, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta
90jy Meteorite, Jiro Yoezawa, Bamboo, steel, urushi laquer , 9” x 15” x 11”, 2019

“For anyone who lives in the oak-and-maple area of New England, there is a perennial temptation to plunge into a purple sea of adjectives about October,” says Hal Borland. We look forward to this October and all the wonderful artists we will feature in New This Week, stay tuned!


Dispatches: Italy

Carter looks at the reverse sides of Raphael’s portraits of Agnolo Doni and his wife, Maddalena Strozzi, at Room 41 Uffizi Galery in Florence

We visited Italy earlier this month. It was an orgy of art and wine and fine food. Much of what we saw was traditional and magical — Fra Angelico, DaVinci, Bernini, Michelangelo.

Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum, Carter, Carol and Rhonda
Reviewing work for the 1980s in Milan, Triennale di Milano Design Museum

We made time for the contemporary, too — in Milan, the Triennale di Milano Design Museum was a highlight (https://www.triennale.org/en/). We walked down memory lane — cutting edge lighting, furniture and objects from the 60s, 70s, 80s and later.

Wendy Wahl, Period Dress

Venice, of course, meant the Venice Biennale and its satellite exhibitions. First Stop, PersonalStructures at the Palazzo Bembo, and exhibition “in the context of the Venice Biennale,” mounted by the European Culture Center (https://ecc-italy.eu/exhibitions/2019art). Peering into a warren of small rooms, we found Wendy Wahl’s Period Dress.

American Pavilion, Martin Puryear
Martin Puryear’s Swallowed Sun (Monstrance and Volute) 

Then Tom and Carter visited the Biennale central site; admirably illustrating this year’s theme – May You Live in Interesting Times (https://www.labiennale.org/en/art/2019). Tom and Carter headed straight to the American Pavilion, featuring Martin Puryear. We are big fans – loved his solo show at MoMA in 2008. He’s a maker of big baskets in a some ways. Works of fiber were on display in several pavilions.

Work from Finland’s Pavilion
Carter in the Venezuelan Pavilion Venice Biennale

Carter and Tom liked what they saw at the Venezuelan and Finnish pavilions in particular.

Alexandra Bircken, Angie, Venice Biennale
Alexandra Bircken, Angie

They were taken by German artist Alexandra Bircken’s work in the Arsenale and Korean artist Suki Seokyeong Kang’s experiments with space.

Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang
Work by Suki Seokyeong Kang

Our only disappointment — Federica Luzzi was not in Italy when we visited, but in Japan where she is participating in a solo show at the LADS Gallery, as part of a an international exchange through the City of Osaka.


Process Notes: Aleksandra Stoyanov

Aleksandra Stoyanov small woven sculpture
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 9as Reflection wool, plexiglas, 8” x 8.125” x 3.375, 2004
photo by Tom Grotta

We recently corresponded with Aleksandra Stoyanov, known as Sasha, about her practice and influences. Here is what we learned:
On Influences Sasha began drawing in childhood. She was not very healthy as a child. She spent a lot of time in the hospital and this influenced her further understanding of people and life itself. 

Aleksandra Stoyanov, JUDGES wool, sisal
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 5as JUDGES wool, sisal, 91” x 60”, 1998. Photo by Tom Grotta

Her mother sent Sasha to a Art School in Odessa to study drawing. Afterschool she attended Odessa Theater Art College where she studied stenography, graphic arts, painting and theater. Her first great art inspiration in college was her teacher Leon Alshits. He gave her an understanding of composition and the understanding that objects can speak with the same significance as a man and that objects have their own biographies. Studying in Theatrical college altered Sasha’s vision of the world she lived in. Among other things, Sasha was inspired by both Medieval Art and especially taken with black-and-white photography. 

Aleksandra Stoyanov, Personal space wool, linen, silk
Aleksandra Stoyanov, Personal space wool, linen, silk tapestry, 63” x 208.7” 2004


After college Sasha worked in theater production but was disappointed. She left the theater and began experimenting with threads. Sasha loved playing with threads. Feeling a thread for Sasha was feeling a living material. The feeling of thread as a live material and a desire to draw with it brought Sasha to develop her own technique. She began working on a small, simple frame loom working in bright colors.

Aleksandra Stoyanov, From Chaos to Reality
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 2as From Chaos to Reality, 103″ x 101″, 2003


In the 90s, Sasha  and her husband Yan Belinky, packed up and left Odessa to get away from the anti-semitism there that was growing worse. They chose Israel as a better environment to bring up their daughter and give her a motherland. They had no idea what to expect since there was no internet. They just picked up and flew to Israel.

Aleksandra Stoyanov tapestry, From the First Person I
Detail of Aleksandra Stoyanov tapestry, From the First Person I, wool, sisal, silk, cotton threads, 49.25” x 55.6”, 1999 From the First Person II is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Tom Grotta

In Israel, Sasha learned from Zilli Landman how to work on large looms for her tapestry. Landman helped her refine her technique for weaving on these large looms.

FORWORD, Aleksandra Stoyanov
4as FORWORD, Aleksandra Stoyanov, brown paper and thread, , 106.5″ x 45.5″

Sasha began making her own handmade threads from the wool of the Avassi sheep. Sasha makes all of her threads from their wool, which she says are the only sheep whose wool has the texture she prefers. She dyes the wool in large batches to create the palette for her works.
Sasha’s color palette has completely changed since moving to Israel.  She fell in love with the colors of the burnt summer dessert. Sasha has found that grey-brown hues can suggest more colors and be more expressive than bright colors. Burnt trees, grass and rocks have been the main colors of her palette ever since. 


Art + Identity: Cultural Influence

Figurative twig sculptures by Dawn MacNutt
Dawn MacNutt Praise North and South for art + identity: an international view

In our Spring 2019 exhibition Art + Identity: an international view, we asked artists to provide us work that reflected on identity. The 60+ artists took an expansive view, as you can imagine, but a few themes emerged. One of those was the influence of other cultures which these artists acquired by visiting and study.  For Dawn MacNutt, the influence for her works, Praise North and Praise South, was classical Greek sculpture she saw first in a museum and then in Greece. “The sculpture and architecture of ancient Greece has been a major influence on my vision” says MacNutt. “I first encountered pre-classical Greek sculpture in the hallways of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as a teenager in the 1950s. When I visited Greece 40 years later, the marble human forms resonated even more strongly.  The posture and attitude of ancient Greek sculpture reflects forms as fresh and iconic as today… sometimes formal … sometimes relaxed.” Praise North and Praise South reflect the marble human forms, “columns, caryatids …  sometimes truncated … ” found outdoors as well as in museums in Greece. They were inspired by two study and work trips to Greece that MacNutt made just before and after the millennium, 1995 and 2000.

Contemporary African ceramic textile art by Nnenna Okore
1no Ashioke, Nnenna Okore, burlap, ceramic, 28” x 35” x 4”, 2007


Nnenna Okore grew up and studied in Nigeria. Common within her body of works is the use of ordinary materials, repetitive processes and varying textures that make references to everyday Nigerian practices and cultural objects. “… [M]uch like impermanent earthly attributes, my organic and twisted structures mimic the dazzling intricacies of fabric, trees, barks, topography and architecture,” says Okore. “All my processes are adapted or inspired by traditional women’s practice, the African environment, third-world economies and recycled waste.” Also, informing her aesthetics are familiar sounds of sweeping, chopping, talking and washing, processes that reflect the transience of human labor and its inevitable mark on the material world.

Horsehair weaving by Adela Akers
Adela Akers The Grid, 2008 Linen, horsehair, paint, metal foil 45” × 38”

The weavers of South America are an influence for many artists. Research into the textiles of ancient Peru and Peruvian artists’ techniques informed Adela Akers‘ earlierwork. “Their inventive use of structure and pattern has inspired my work to this date.,” she says.

 Carolina  Yrarrázaval tapestry from Chile
Carolina Yrarrázaval Memoria Andina, 2019 Linen and cotton 54.25″ × 25.25″

Carolina Yrarrázaval has always been fascinated by the strong people of the Andes “who live in harmony with nature, surrounded by a beauty that often turns into a harsh environment.” The remarkable community of the Precolumbian era were preservers of ancient traditions,” she says. An eclectic set of cultural influences attracted Katherine Westphal. She had what one writer called “magpie-like instincts,” buts he called herself a tourist, gathering experiences and images and memories — “then it all pops out in my work – someone else’s culture and mine, mixed in the eggbeater of my mind…,” she told her oral biographer.

art + identity catalog
art + identity: an international view; a browngrotta arts exhibition catalog

You can purchase a copy of the catalog Art + Identity: an international view at browngrotta.com.


UK Basketry Revisited at the Ruthin Craft Centre

Propius, Lizzie Farey, willow
Propius, Lizzie Farey, willow
© Lizzie Farey

Works by a notable group of artists are on exhibit in Basketry: Function & Ornament at the Ruthin Craft Centre in the UK through October 13, 2019. The exhibition, curated by Gregory Parsons, looks at current practice of some 30 makers from throughout the UK including bg artists Lizzie Farey, Dail Behennah, Tim Johnson, Rachel Max and Laura Ellen Bacon. Basketry: Function & Ornament brings together functional vernacular work from various parts of the country, alongside pieces that are sculptural and ornamental, providing “a survey of a craft that has been somewhat sidelined in times of great technological advances, yet offers a sustainable answer to so much of our modern day throw-away habits.”

Keeping Time Baskets
Keeping Time Baskets,
© Tim Johnson, 2019

Tim Johnson’s artistry is represented by baskets from his “Keeping Time” series. “These ‘keeping time’ baskets, like all baskets, take time to make,” he says. “The twining, folding and stitching that holds them together marks increments of being, a declaration of presence, the makers time is kept in the work, a trace of activity. “

Thatched and piled textile structures date back to Neolithic times, Johnson says, providing insulation and weather protection in our ancestors garments and shelters. “In the ‘keeping time’ series I am happy to work in this tradition and relate the basket’s captured spaces to the containment of ancient clothing and architecture.”

Ventus, Lizzie Farey, willow
Ventus, Lizzie Farey, willow
© Lizzie Farey

The other artists in Basketry: Function & Ornament include influential makers Lois Walpole and Mary Butcher, the remarkable Irish basketmaker Joe Hogan and Lise Bech along with Mandy Coates, John Cowan, Mary Crabb, Jane Crisp, Jenny Crisp, Alison Dickens, Rosie Farey, Eddie Glew, Charlie Groves, Stella Harding, Peter Howcroft, Anna King, Annemarie O’Sullivan, Sarah Paramor, Dominic Parrette, Polly Pollock, Ruth Pybus & David Brown, Clare Revera, Lorna Singleton and Maggie Smith.
RUTHIN CRAFT CENTRE
THE CENTRE FOR THE APPLIED ARTS
PARK ROAD, RUTHIN
DENBIGHSHIRE
LL15 1BB
OPEN DAILY
10.00AM – 5.30PM
ADMISSION FREE


Happy Summer Hiatus!

Stonington Maine
Stonington Maine, photo by Rhonda Brown

At browngrotta arts we have a boatload of projects in the works for Fall. To concentrate on those — and on a couple of great trips we have planned — arttextstyle is taking the month of August off — to recharge our batteries and do some big picture thinking. We’ll be back in September with new posts, ideas, information and loads of luscious artwork.
Happy Summer!!


Art Assembled: New this Week in July

We always want our blog to be a place for textile and fiber artists and collectors to be inspired, and a place to see and learn from the best. We started the summer off hot and July was no different. We kicked off the month of July with artist Lija Rage. She is influenced by many different cultures. She is particularly interested in drawings of ancient cultures on the walls of caves in different parts of the world. Eastern culture with its mysterious magic, drawings of runes in Scandinavia, Tibet and the mandala, Egyptian pyramid drawings. 

Lija Rage wall sculpture
3lr My Sun For Everyone, Lija Rage, bamboo, copper wire, fabric 46.5” x 58.75” x 1.25”, 2018

“Currently, I am interested in new technologies and their use in contemporary fiber art. Textile and fiber art for me are types of modern art that use fiber as their medium. It is the type of art that borders the four fine arts types with the same high requirements and tasks. I believe in its development in the modern world.” Lija Rage New This Week featuring My Sun For Everyone, by Lija Rage.

Tamiko Kawata safety pin wall art
34tk Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood 11″ x 11″ x 3″, 2014

We continued the month with works from Tamiko Kawata. Discarded materials are important to Tamiko Kawata, not only for environmental issues but also to reflect his current life. Her choice of materials and interpretation are influenced by the differences experiences between life in America and Japan where she grew up.

“Safety pins function variously as thread, yarn, clay or truss in my work process. I found them soon after I arrived from Japan, out of the necessity to shorten all-too-long American clothing. I noticed their smooth texture and their head- and tail-like details. In the beginning, I found ways to interlock them, as if weaving. I found constructing systems as I went along, using only the inherent structural properties of the pins, and now can create anything from “drawings” to three-dimensional, self-standing works.” Tamiko Kawata New This Week featuring Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood.

Wendy Wahl Encyclopedia art
32ww CE/EB #4, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica and Comptons pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011.
27ww EB ’62 vol. 17-18, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011

One thing you could count on as a child was never having to look at an encyclopedia during the Summer and Wendy Wahl made sure of it! She continues to wow us with her use of this material, and she pushes them into a contemporary extreme, somewhere between art and object.
“My art has always been a protest against what I have met with in weaving. I started to use rope, horsehair, metal and fur because I needed these materials to give my vision expression and I did not care that they were not part of the tradition in the field.” Wendy Wahl New This Week featuring work from Wendy Wahl.

Kiyomi Iwata Ogara Choshi
21ki Fungus Three, Kiyomi Iwata, Ogara Choshi are gathered. The surface is embellished with gold leaf and French embroidery knots, 6.5” x 8” x 7.5”, 2018

We wrapped up the month with artist Kiyomi Iwata. In her work, she explores the boundaries of East and West through absence and presence, void and volume.

Fungus Three is made from ogarami choshi. Even though they are all created in the same manner, the elements are all different shapes and tones. The individual pieces are gathered together to make one large bundle. This was inspired by a saying I heard: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’  This seems a good thought to keep in mind during these trying times.” Kiyomi Iwata  New This Week featuring work from Kiyomi Iwata


Dispatches: Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline from the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum

There are no end to art and historical treasures in Philadelphia and Rhonda had a chance to meet up with some good friends and take in a few last week. The Philadelphia Art Museum is a wonder and its annex, the Perelman Building, houses two intriguing exhibits: Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage through September 2nd. Souls Grown Deep combines and extraordinary collection of textile art, sculpture, and painting acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Roman Stripes Variation Quilt, 1970, Loretta Pettway(born 1942)

With remarkable inventiveness, generations of quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created arresting compositions of color and form from worn-out clothes and other repurposed fabrics. Provocative mixed-media paintings and found-object sculptures by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley and others are displayed amongst the quilts, whose subjects and materials echo with the painful history of the American South and the conditions of life for many who live there. The collage exhibition includes works by Joseph Cornell, a personal favorite, and other less-expected names including Romare Bearden, Bettye Saar and Pablo Picasso.

Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door), 1994, by Lonnie Holley (American, born 1950), 2017-229-24.
Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

We found artfulness of another kind at the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Some interesting textiles are on display, including a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation) and an embroidered potholder that reads, “Any Holder but a Slaveholder.” We also appreciated the Anti-Slavery Alphabet from 1847.

Cardbird II, 1971, Robert Rauschenberg

The exhibition has an ambitious premise, to illustrate how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. The 3,000- square-foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. It features the stories of lesser-known individuals, too, in order to shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” Highlighted are the three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. The exhibition covers, as the Wall Street Journal terms it: “the racially egalitarian society that was briefly wrestled into being after the abolition of slavery, before the ravages of Jim Crow and the hard-fought triumphs of the civil-rights movement.”

Potholder, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

The artfulness is evident in the matter-of-fact way the signage and artifacts give equal time to the efforts made to reach equality and those determined to subvert each of those amendments — including displays about Ku Klux Klan, complete with original robes, which were not white but maroon and heavily ornamented. Also edifying and persuasive is the neutrally presented, but inescapable, evidence that the goals of these amendments are yet to be achieved. An example, noted by one reviewer, is the 13th Amendment. “The interactive displays…show the debates, the drafts, and the redrafting of those amendments and help to explain how the final draft [of the 13th] actually allowed forced labor ‘as a punishment for crime’ … It does not take long to make the connection between the 13th Amendment and the shockingly profitable system of prison labor and prison farms which still exists today.” (Margaret Darby, Exhibit Review: Civil War and Reconstruction Phillylifeandculture.com, May 9, 2019).

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia