Fiber Sculpture Gets its Due at MAD in New York

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Basketry, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, Installations, Museums, Sculpture, Tapestry on November 1st, 2014 by arttextstyle

At Long Last Love Update

Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom grotta

Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom Grotta

We visited What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision at the Museum of Arts and Design and discovered the answer is, in part, “collect sculptural and other examples of textile art.” The exhibition celebrates the enduring legacy of its founder Aileen Osborn Webb, highlighting Webb’s advocacy and dedication to skilled makers across America, and featuring objects drawn largely from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Anni Albers, Tikal, 1958, Photo by Eva Heyd

Trude Guermonprez; Banner, 1962 Silk, brass rods; double weave 81 x 28 x 28 in. (205.7 x 71.1 x 71.1 cm) Museum of Arts and Design, Purchased by the American Craft Council with funds from the Valerie Henry Memorial Fund, 1967, 1967.96 Photo Credit: Eva Heyd

Trude Guermonprez; Banner, 1962, Photo: Eva Heyd

The exhibition is especially rich in works from the 50s and 60s, according to Karen Rosenberg in The New York Times. The pioneering fiber works we’ve been touting on arttextstyle are well represented, including textile designs by Studio Jack Lenor Larsen, tapestries by Jan Yoors and Anni Albers, dimensional works by Kay Sekimachi, Lia Cook, Ed Rossbach, Trude Guermonprez and Françoise Grossen, and, one of the ” bigger highlights” according to Rosenberg, “a riotous hand-printed and appliquéd fabric wall hanging by Katherine Westphal.”

Dominic Di Mare Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?

Dominic Di Mare, Where the River Meets the Sea, 1984

The exhibition runs through February 8, 2015. Museum of Arts and Design, 2 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019; 212.299.7777.

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Art on Display and In Print. In The Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi in San Diego

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Basketry, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, Installations, Museums, Paper, Sculpture, Wood on October 27th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Kay Sekimachi, paper tower, photo by Tom Grotta

Kay Sekimachi, paper tower, photo by Tom Grotta

74b PISTASHIO 6

Pistashio Bowl by Bob Stocksdale, photo by Tom Grotta

In the Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, presents an inspiring, retrospective view of work by two of America’s foremost pioneers in wood and textile art. Kay Sekimachi (1926-) and Bob Stocksdale (1913-2003) married in 1972. Seen together, their 50 years of work has a true poetic resonance.

Hailed as a father of American woodturning, Bob Stocksdale revitalized the craft of lathe-turned bowls, beginning in the 1950s. In his exquisite works, he unveiled a compelling beauty in diseased and in rare woods, of which many are now endangered. Serpentine or ellipsoidal shapes— seemingly impossible to turn— are among his innovations. The exhibition features, for the first time on view, an example of his one-of-kind furniture.

Kay Sekimachi is an influential master of complex weave structures in both off-loom and on multiple-harness loom techniques. Transparent marine creatures were the inspiration for the interlocking hangings in monofilament (fish line) that she created in the 1960s. With these majestic pieces she ascended to the forefront of contemporary fiber art during the 1960s and 1970s. Her work is included in the current exhibition Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts through January 4, 2015. Throughout her 60-year career she has created unique works of art in such natural materials as skeletal leaves, hornet’s nest paper and grass. The exhibition includes examples of her translucent sculptural hangings and room dividers, along with other woven forms – accordion-formatted books, vibrant scrolls, seamless nesting boxes and jewelry. The Mingei is at 1439 El Prado, San Diego, California, 92101. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information: ph. 619.239.0003; web address: http://www.mingei.org/exhibition/in-the-realm-of-nature/.

In the Realm of NatureExhibition curator Signe Mayfield has authored a lush 210-page book to accompany the exhibition. In the Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi, available at browngrotta.com features scores of attractive object photos. It includes essays by Melissa Leventon (former Curator-in-Charge of Textiles at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and founding member of Curatrix Group of museum consultants) and John C. Lavine (former editor of Woodwork Magazine and furniture maker.)

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Don’t Miss: Anne Wilson’s Performances and Thread Lines at The Drawing Center in New York

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, Installations, Sculpture, Tapestry on October 25th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Anne Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by tom Grotta

Anne Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by Tom Grotta

We watched one of the Anne Wilson’s mesmerizing weaving in situ performances at The Drawing Center on Thursday. Titled To Cross (Walking New York), the performance was conceived when Ms. Wilson discovered that The Drawing Center’s SoHo building was originally built in 1866 for the Positive Motion Loom Company. In it, the artist uses the main gallery’s four central columns as a weaving loom. Four participants walk around the 12-foot columns, carrying a spool of thread to form a standard weaving cross (a method used to keep warp threads in order). The effect is meditative as the walker/weavers slowly move in a deliberate pattern and ethereal as shadowy figures are viewed through the threads of the work in progress. When concluded, the result will be a 5- x 34-foot foot sculpture: a colorful cross composed of innumerable strands of thread. There are three performances remaining: Sunday, October 26th, 12:30-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, November 1st, 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 2nd, 12:30-5:30 p.m. Find more information on those at: http://www.drawingcenter.org/en/drawingcenter/20/events/21/public-programs/879/Anne_Wilson_Performance/. If you can’t get to The Drawing Center for one of the performances, there’s a vimeo, http://thebottomline.drawingcenter.org/2014/09/30/anne-wilson-to-cross-walking-new-york-2014/, but by all means, go and see the exhibition, Thread Lines, as it is well worth a trip.

Lenore Tawney Drawing Center installation, UNION OF WATER AND FIRE linen weaving and pen and ink drawing. Photo by Tom Grotta

Lenore Tawney Drawing Center installation, UNION OF WATER AND FIRE linen weaving and pen and ink drawing. Photo by Tom Grotta

On display through December 14, 2014, the exhibition contains a thoughtful combination of works by 16 artists who engage in sewing, knitting and weaving to create works that “activate the expressive and conceptual potential of line and illuminate affinities between the mediums of textile and drawing.” As the catalog essay by curator, Jessica Kleinberg Romanow, explains, the exhibition joins the pioneers, including Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks and Louis Bourgeois, “who first unraveled the distinction between textile and art” and “a ‘new wave’ of younger practitioners who have inherited and have expanded upon their groundbreaking gestures.”

Sheila Hicks Drawing Center installation of her miniatures. Photo by Tom Grotta

Sheila Hicks Drawing Center installation of her miniatures. Photo by Tom Grotta

The combination, wrote Karen Rosenberg in The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/17/arts/design/thread-lines.html?ref=design&_r=0, “sets up some smart intergenerational conversations.” The Drawing Center is in Soho at 35 Wooster, New York, New York; 212.219.2166; info@drawingcenter.org; http://www.drawingcenter.org.

Anne Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center. Photo by Tom Grotta

Anne Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center. Photo by Tom Grotta

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At Long Last Love: Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present Opens at ICA, Boston

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, In the News, Installations, Museums, Sculpture, Tapestry on October 8th, 2014 by arttextstyle
fiber, sculpture, opening, ICA

Fiber: Sculpture 1960 — present opening, photo by Tom Grotta

It looks as if 2014 will be the year that contemporary fiber art finally gets the recognition and respect it deserves. For us, it kicked off at the Whitney Biennial in May which gave pride of place to Sheila Hicks’ massive cascade, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column. Last month saw the opening of the influential Thread Lines, at The Drawing Center in New York featuring work by 16 artists who sew, stitch and weave. Now at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the development of abstraction and dimensionality in fiber art from the mid-twentieth century through to the present is examined in Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present from October 1st through January 4, 2015. The exhibition features 50 works by 34 artists, who crisscross generations, nationalities, processes and aesthetics. It is accompanied by an attractive companion volume, Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present available at browngrotta.com.

Fiber, Sculpture, book, ICA

There are some standout works in the exhibition — we were thrilled to see Naomi Kobayashi’s Ito wa Ito (1980) and Elsi Giauque’s Spatial Element (1989), on loan from European museums, in person after admiring them in photographs. Anne Wilson’s Blonde is exceptional and Ritzi Jacobi and Françoise Grossen are represented by strong works, too, White Exotica (1978, created with Peter Jacobi) and Inchworm, respectively.

Françoise Grossen, Kathleen Mangan, Inchworm, fiber sculptureICA

Françoise Grossen and Kathleen Mangan in front of Grossen’s Inchworm sculpture at the opeing of Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present opening at the ICA

Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present will tour nationally to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (January 30 – April 5, 2015), the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (May 8, 2015 – August 2, 2015) and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (August 22, 2015 — November 29, 2015). You can also see Innovators and Legends, which has traveled across the country in the last two years, at 108 Contemporary, Tulsa Oklahoma in January 2015. And not to be outdone, browngrotta arts will open Influence and Evolution next April 24, 2015 in Wilton, Connecticut. Influence and Evolution will also celebrate experimenters in fiber while exploring how the use of textile materials and techniques has evolved, showing early works — from the 60s, 70s and 80s — by Sheila Hicks, Ed Rossbach, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Françoise Grossen, alongside work created after 2000 by both influencers like Ritzi Jacobi, Naomi Kobayashi and Ferne Jacobs and by a later generation of artists, including Stéphanie Jacques, Gizella Warburton and Naoko SerinoInfluence and Evolution, will run through May 3, 2015 and will be accompanied by a full-color catalog.

 

 Jenelle Porter, Glenn Adamson, Musuem of Arts and Design, photo by Tom Grotta

ICA Mannion Family Senior Curator Jenelle Porter explained in the conversation with Glenn Adamson, Director, Musuem of Arts and Design, photo by Tom Grotta

Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present aims to create a sculptural dialogue, an art dialogue — not one about craft, ICA Mannion Family Senior Curator Jenelle Porter explained in an opening-night conversation with Glenn Adamson, Director, Museum of Arts and Design. On that score, we think it succeeds — go and see for yourself. Let us know what you think.

And watch this space for more about Influence and Evolution.

Jenelle Porter, Ed Rossbach, fiber

ICA Mannion Family Senior Curator Jenelle Porter in front of Ed Rossbach weaving photo by Tom Grotta

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Dispatches: Art and Nature in South Jersey

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Basketry, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, In the News, Installations, Museums, Paper, Sculpture on September 28th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs

Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs

We traveled to Southern New Jersey for the opening of Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs at the Stockton College Art Gallery in Galloway, New Jersey, near Atlantic City. The works, created over the last 25 years, feature observations and navigations of the artists’ daily environment.

3 OBLONG BOOKS by Debra Sachs, Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs photo by tom Grotta

3 OBLONG BOOKS by Debra Sachs, Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs photo by tom Grotta

They reflect the spirit of the artists’ partnership, general influences, and mutual interest in the South Jersey industrial/natural world. The artists have approached the gallery “like a playground for artists…filling the space with objects recovered from the attic and stripped off walls.”

Stockton College

Stockton College, photo by tom Grotta

It’s a large space in the center of the well-kempt Stockton College campus, which rumor has it, is soon to become a University (choose Parking Lot 6 and look for signs that say PBA (Performing Arts Building).

Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs, photo by Tom Grotta

Going Solo And Tandem, Selected Works by Marilyn Keating and Debra Sachs, photo by Tom Grotta

Sachs’ and Keatings’ works are installed thoughtfully, leading viewers to see shared references, examine where their approaches differ and appreciate their collaborative works. There is an Artists’ Talk on October 16th, at 11:30 a.m. The exhibition runs through November 9, 2014. For more information, visit: http://intraweb.stockton.edu/eyos/page.cfm?siteID=230&pageID=5.

Mission B & B Cape May NJ

Mission B & B Cape May NJ, photo by tom Grotta

We stayed an hour away in charming Cape May, New Jersey at a truly memorable B&B, The Mission Inn http://www.missioninn.net. Quite a contrast to the Victorians that make up most of Cape May’s architecture, the Mission Inn was built in 1912 by Nelson Z. Graves inspired by his turn of the century business trip to the Pacific Coast. It’s an authentic example of California Spanish Mission architecture. Its stained glass window, Flemish gable and pergola veranda, exposed wood-beamed ceilings contribute to the warm feeling of this al fresco house. Kayaking, beaching combing and window shopping were all fine. Sachs and Keating also recommend the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife refuge, near Atlantic City, as a must visit for bird lovers.

Cape May NJ Beach View

Cape May NJ Beach View, photo by tom Grotta

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Art Events: Must-See NYC Exhibition Opens at the Drawing Center This Month

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Commentary, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, In the News, Installations, Tapestry on September 8th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Sheila Hicks, COMPRESSE II, linen, 14" x 26", 1967, photo © Tom Grotta

Sheila Hicks, COMPRESSE II, linen, 14″ x 26″, 1967, photo © Tom Grotta

Thread Lines opens at New York’s Drawing Center next week on September 19th and runs through December 14th. Blouin ArtInfo declares it one of Fall’s NYC’s “Must-See Shows,” noting, “There’s been a lot of buzz around textile-based artworks lately, with some exemplary pieces making their way into major museum surveys — a great example being Sheila Hicks’s cascading fiber column piece in the last Whitney Biennial.” (Editor’s Note: Not a moment too soon!!) Hicks is one of 16 artists in the exhibition,

UNION OF WATER AND FIRE, Lenore Tawney, linen, 38" x 36", 1974, photo ©Tom Grotta

UNION OF WATER AND FIRE, Lenore Tawney, linen, 38″ x 36″, 1974, photo ©Tom Grotta

which also includes work by Lenore Tawney and Robert Otto Epstein. Including work from the mid-1960s to the present, Thread Lines will feature 16 artists who sew, stitch and weave to create works “that activate the expressive and conceptual potential of line and illuminate affinities between the mediums of textile and drawing.” The exhibition also includes a site-specific performance work by Anne Wilson, conceived when she discovered that The Drawing Center’s SoHo building was originally built in 1866 for the Positive Motion Loom Company. The performance, which takes place over the course of two months, will use the main gallery’s four central columns as a weaving loom and will result in the fabrication of a five by thirty-four foot sculpture: a colorful cross composed of innumerable strands of thread. Performance times can be found here: . The Drawing Center
is at 35 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10013; for more information: telephone: 212.219.2166; fax: 888.380.3362; email: info@drawingcenter.org.

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Art Out and About: Exhibitions Across the US

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Basketry, Exhibitions, Fiber Sculpture, Galleries, Installations, Paper, Sculpture, Tapestry on August 2nd, 2014 by arttextstyle

Coast-to-coast cultural opportunities to enjoy in August and through to November.

Traced Memories by Adela Akers, photo by Tom Grotta

Traced Memories by Adela Akers, photo by Tom Grotta

San Francisco, California
Adela Akers: Traced Memories, Artist-in-Residence
Through August 31st
Wednesdays–Sundays, 1–5 pm, plus Friday nights until 8:45 pm
Artist Reception: Friday, August 29, 6–8:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco de Young/Legion of Honor
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, California
https://deyoung.famsf.org/programs/artist-studio/august-artist-residence-adela-akers-traced-memories
Textile artist Adela Akers has moved her studio to the de Young for a month. Visitors to the new studio will learn how each choice in her art-making process contributes to the unique character and quality of her work. Throughout her residency, Akers will invite visitors to engage in hands-on activities that explore her creative process—from inspiration and research to preparation of the materials she has selected to convey her concept to creation and final presentation of the finished artworks. Akers’s work has been influenced and informed by pre-Columbian textiles and, most recently, paintings by women of the Mbuti people of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journeying from one point to another has been a physical and transformative reality in her life, increasing her self-confidence and expanding her vision of the world. Akers feels fortunate to have made these geographical voyages and to have experienced country living’s broad horizons and quiet strength, the power of nature and the palpitating rhythm of cities.

Athena by Nancy Koenigsberg, photo by Tom Grotta

Athena by Nancy Koenigsberg, photo by Tom Grotta

Brockton, Massachusetts
Game Changers: Fiber Art Masters and Innovators
Through November 23rd
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street
Brockton, MA
http://fullercraft.org/press/game-changers-fiber-art-masters-and-innovators/
“Game changers” are artists, past and present, who continuously revisit traditional techniques and materials while developing revolutionary approaches in the realm of fiber art. Every work in the exhibition was chosen to showcase the individual practice of each invited artist. These creators epitomize the dynamism and fluidity of work in fiber. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Olga de Amaral, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Mary Bero, Nancy Moore Bess, Archie Brennan, John Cardin, Lia Cook, John Garrett, Jan Hopkins, Mary Lee Hu, Lissa Hunter, Diane Itter, Michael James, Naomi Kobayashi, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gyongy Laky, Chunghie Lee, Kari Lonning, Susan Martin Maffei, John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Michael F. Rohde, Ed Rossbach and Kay Sekimachi.

Midland Museum Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, photo by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Midland Museum Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, photo by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Midland, Michigan
Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture
Through September 7th
Alden B. Dow Museum
Midland Center for the Arts
1801 West Saint Andrews Road
Midland, Michigan
http://www.mcfta.org/ab-dow-museum-announces-summer-exhibitions-press-release/
The works by eight artists featured in Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, including Jennifer Falck Linssen, were designed and executed as alternative approaches to sculptural form, in which the line dissolves between traditional basketry and contemporary sculpture. A selection of artists from across America inquisitively open our eyes to new alternatives in basketry and fiber-based sculptural form. The craftsmanship is superb, the creative and technical finesse is complex while the vision is beyond today yet with inspiration from long-revered fiber traditions.

Midland, Michigan
Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art

Cocoon by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Cocoon by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Through September 7th
Alden B. Dow Museum
Midlands Center for the Arts
1801 West Saint Andrews Road
Midland, Michigan
http://www.mcfta.org/ab-dow-museum-announces-summer-exhibitions-press-release/

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, shaping the country’s social, artistic, and spiritual landscape. Although bamboo is a prolific natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium. There are fewer than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice while learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist brings 38 exceptional works by 17 artists, including Jiro Yonezawa, to U.S. audiences, celebrating the artists who have helped to redefine a traditional craft as a modern genre, inventing unexpected new forms and pushing the medium to groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity.

29ww EB mixed editions #12, Wendy Wahl, Encylodpedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24" x 32" x 1.5",  2011 photo by Tom Grotta

29ww EB mixed editions #12, Wendy Wahl, Encylodpedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011
photo by Tom Grotta

Jamestown, Rhode Island
PAPER-MADE
Through August 30th
Wed. – Sat. 10am – 2pm
Jamestown Arts Center
18 Valley Street
Jamestown, Rhode Island
http://www.jamestownartcenter.org/exhibitions
Paper art is emerging as a global phenomenon. PAPER-MADE explores paper’s transformation from an everyday object into an exquisite three dimensional sculptural artwork. The exhibit’s title PAPER-MADE is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the “ready-made,” since paper is an everyday object. The alchemic transformation from simple paper to art highlights the artist’s creativity and demonstrates the limitless potential of the art form. Eighteen showcased artists, including Wendy Wahl, explore this material’s ephemeral nature and beauty. Each artist explores different qualities of paper, from hand-made paper and paper string, to site-specific installation made of book pages, from Korean joomchi paper to found lottery tickets and archival photographs.

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Woven Work/Woven Words — Hiding in the Weave Hits the Shelves

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Book Recommendations, Books, Commentary, Japanese Art, Tapestry on July 21st, 2014 by arttextstyle

 

THE FLOW OF WATER 6
Naomi Kobayashi, paper and thread, 12.5” x 22.375” x 2”, 2008, photo by Tom Grotta

THE FLOW OF WATER 6
Naomi Kobayashi, paper and thread, 12.5” x 22.375” x 2”, 2008, photo by Tom Grotta

Three years ago, browngrotta arts facilitated correspondence between artist Naomi Kobayashi and author (and collector) William Bayer about the artist’s technique of weaving paper strips with thread. Bayer envisioned a character in a novel weaving a message into her work, which another character would deconstruct to de-code. Naomi provided technical advice — yes, it could be done and the message could be read, if the weaver used oil-based ink. Flash forward to 2014.

Hiding the Weave by William Bayer

Hiding the Weave by William Bayer

Bayer’s book, Hiding in the Weave, is off the word processor and on the shelves. Written from the perspective of 18-year-old Joel Barlev, a senior at Delamere, a school geared to talented young artists, the novel plays off themes typically found in classic boarding school novels — requited and unrequited romance, alienation, rebellion, sexuality, moral dilemmas and evolving maturity. Joel, a gifted ceramic artist, finds himself falling in love with Liv Anders, a talented weaver, who observes: “You gouge your pots to show your pain to the world. I hide my pain in the weave.”  It turns out there is something more tangible hidden in one of Liv’s abstract weavings, and when tragedy strikes, Joel and his two best friends, Justin and Kate, feel compelled to uncover it. Naomi Kobayashi’s work graces the cover; her art informs the content. Get a copy at browngrotta.com.

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Dispatches: Chicago is a Walking Town

Posted in Art, Sculpture on June 19th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Sculptures by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir of Iceland in Grant Park, photo by Tom Grotta

Sculptures by Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir of Iceland in Grant Park, photo by Tom Grotta

Chicago is a terrific town for walking. There is public sculpture everywhere of the most enjoyable kind — kids play on it; adults revel in it and the perspective alters as your vantage point changes.

Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz in Grant Park, photo by Tom Grotta

Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz in Grant Park, photo by Tom Grotta

There are great galleries and museums and entertaining finds around every corner. There are bars and restaurants aplenty — on the river, with patios, with views and truly exceptional food.

Imaginative Signage, Photo by Tom Grotta

Imaginative Signage, Photo by Tom Grotta

We were there for the opening of Ethel Stein: Master Weaver at the Art Institute of Chicago (through November 9, 2014). The weather was ideal, we wandered for hours and found much to amuse and admire, as you can see.

Untitled Sculpture by Pablo Picasso in Daley Plaza, Photo by Tom grotta

Untitled Sculpture by Pablo Picasso in Daley Plaza, Photo by Tom grotta

River View, photo by tom grotta

River View, photo by tom grotta

Art House, photo by tom grotta

Art House, photo by tom grotta

Cloud Park by Anish Kapoor. Millennium Park, Photo by Tom Grotta

Cloud Park by Anish Kapoor. Millennium Park, Photo by Tom Grotta

Lobby, Macy’s Flagship, Photo by Tom Grotta

Lobby, Macy’s Flagship, Photo by Tom Grotta

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Ethel Stein, Master Weaver Opens at the Art Institute, Chicago on Friday

Posted in Art, Art Textiles, Exhibitions, Installations, Tapestry on June 10th, 2014 by arttextstyle
Ethel Stein on her loom. Photo by Tom Grotta

Ethel Stein on her loom. Photo by Tom Grotta

This week will mark the opening at the of an extraordinary exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago of works by Ethel Stein, a master weaver who, at 96, is at last gaining the wider recognition she so decidedly deserves. Stein has never been overly concerned with promoting or marketing her work, though browngrotta arts has been pleased to document and promote her art since 2008. She has been steadfastly “counter-trend,” as textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen has aptly put it, creating squares of quiet pattern to be placed on walls at a time when other textile artists were emphasizing the sculptural potential of fiber by working in three dimensions. Produced on a drawloom—a type of handloom that incorporates a figure harness capable of controlling each warp thread separately—her work seems deceptively simple, but as one understands the mysteries and complexities of this weaving method historically favored for creating figured textiles, the sophistication and challenge of her work become undeniable.

Ethel Stein's Blue & White Shift. Photo by Tom Grotta

Ethel Stein’s Blue & White Shift. Photo by Tom Grotta

Stein’s work combines traditional weaving techniques, possible only on a drawloom and used by few contemporary weavers, with modernist sensibilities influenced by Josef Albers, who trained in the German Bauhaus with its emphasis on simplicity, order, functionality, and modesty. “As a weaver,” Lucy Commoner, Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, has explained, “Stein’s work is informed by her research in museum textile collections, a rich source of design resource material.” In the 1970s, Stein studied and analyzed textiles in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cooper-Hewitt. At the Cooper-Hewitt, she explored a vast collection, from ancient to contemporary pieces, and, with former Curator of Textiles, Milton Sonday, analyzed through a microscope the woven surfaces of textiles in the collection, which she documented by producing drawings of the structures. “The experience was crucial to Stein’s development as an artist,” writes Commoner, “and stimulated her interest in decoding how these historic textile structures could be produced on a contemporary draw loom. Ethel Stein’s mastery of a variety of historical textile techniques gives her a wide range of artistic expression through the control of color and pattern.” Stein has favored three particular structures with strong historical traditions—damask, double-cloth, and lampas—and it is due to the flexibility of the drawloom that her work appears so meticulously refined yet refreshingly uncomplicated. You can glimpse a bit of her process in this short video by Mark Chamberlin: http://vimeo.com/97457445.

Ethel Stein Vimeo Video

Ethel Stein Vimeo Video

Ethel Stein, Master Weaver, presented in the newly reopened textiles galleries comprised of the Agnes Allerton Gallery and the Elizabeth F. Cheney Gallery, presents drawloom weavings executed by the artist from 1982 through 2008. All works are either already in the collection of the Art Institute or have been promised as gifts. The retrospective installation celebrates in particular Ethel Stein’s generous donation of 34 of her own works two years ago, as well as Leanne Lachman’s promised gift of four additional pieces, which help fill out the picture of Stein’s impressive career. These 38 weavings join a work in five parts, woven in 1982, added to the collection in 1985, courtesy of the Nicole Williams Contemporary Textile Fund.

Ethel Stein Monograph Cover

Ethel Stein Monograph Cover

A catalog prepared by browngrotta arts in 2008, Ethel Stein: Weaver, which includes an introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen and an essay by Lucy Commoner, Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, will be available at The Art Institute and on our website: http://browngrotta.com/Pages/m03.php. The exhibition runs from Friday June 13th through Sunday, November 9, 2014. For more information, visit: http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/ethel-stein-master-weaver-0.

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