Make a Day of It

In planning your trip to browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut for Blue/Green: color, code, context between April 28th and May 6th take some time out of your schedule to visit a few other exhibitions going on in the area.

A short 15-minute drive from browngrotta arts, the Westport Arts Center’s current exhibition HandMade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art features a diverse array of work from 15 leading female fiber and textile artists, including Ghada Amer, Anna Betbeze, Ligia Bouton, Orly Cogan, Lesley Dill, Terri Friedman, Sermin Kardestuncer, Sophia Narrett, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Judith Scott, Beverly Semmes,  Rosemarie Trockel and Margo Wolowiec. The exhibition also features work by three browngrotta arts artists, Chiyoko Tanaka, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Norma Minkowitz. Curated by Elizabeth Gorayeb, the Executive Director of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc—a New York-based non-profit committed to art historical research—the exhibition examines the role of women in reshaping what has historically been considered “fine art.” Additionally, the exhibition demonstrates how fiber and textile materials allow artists such as Faith Ringgold and Sophia Narre to examine topics such as race, gender and sexuality. HandMade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art will be on view at the Westport Arts Center through June 2nd. For more information visit the Westport Arts Center website HERE.
Ala Ebtekar, Zenith V, 2014, acrylic over cyanotype on canvas, four panels 60 1/4 x 30 1/4 in. each. © Ala Ebtekar. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai.

Ala Ebtekar’s Zenith V at Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition. Photo: Katonah Museum of Art

Next stop, the Katonah Museum of Art’s exhibition Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and Islamic Tradition. The exhibition looks at a group of artists of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent whose work engages the diverse forms of Islamic visual tradition to explore religion, culture and socio-political issues today. The title of the exhibition “Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and the Islamic Tradition” was inspired by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar’s essay The Breath of Miraj. Akhtar’s The Breath of Miraj conveys the manner in which Islam and its history can inspire creative life to become a “long, winding journey.” While making the pieces included in the exhibition, artists utilized some of the century-old forms that define Islamic art, such as calligraphy, miniature painting, geometric patterning, textiles and architecture. Long, Winding Journeys: Contemporary Art and Islamic Tradition will be available for viewing until June 17th, for more information on the exhibition visit the Katonah Museum of Art’s website HERE.
Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, b. 1938), Untitled from the series Sots Art, 1975-1990, Gelatin silver print hand-colored with aniline dyes on paper at Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era

Boris Mikhailov (Ukrainian, b. 1938), Untitled from the series Sots Art, 1975-1990, Gelatin silver print hand-colored with aniline dyes on paper at Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era

Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era will be on view until May 20th at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. The provocative exhibition probes into the consequences of innovation in science, technology, mathematics, communications and design during the Cold War. The exhibition juxtaposes the art made during the Cold War in opposition to state-sanctioned Socialist Realism with artifacts from the nuclear and space programs to explore the triumphs and tragedies unleashed by humankind as it gained the power to both leave the Earth and to destroy it. Produced from the 1960s to the 1980s, the items on view in Hot Art in a Cold War address themes of international supremacy and hegemonic power during a turbulent period marked by the ever-escalating competition for nuclear supremacy and the space race. “The Bruce Museum prides itself in being a museum of both art and science and in finding the interconnections between the two,” states Dr. Daniel Ksepka,  Bruce Museum Curator of Science and co-curator of Hot Art in a Cold War. The exhibition allows visitors to  “see how the triumphs of the space program and anxieties about nuclear arms were captured by period artists. Likewise, many of the scientific objects are works of art in their own right. The elegance of Sputnik, for example, is as striking and undeniable as its impact on the space race.” For more information on Hot Art in a Cold War: Intersections of Art and Science in the Soviet Era visit the Bruce Museums website HERE.
Last but not least, the Wilton Historical Society’s new permanent exhibition Connecticut History, Wilton’s Story is now available for viewing. Through artifacts and objects, the Wilton Historical Society aims to shine a light on Wilton’s roots and connections, as well as the evolution of the town since the colonial period. For more information on  Connecticut History, Wilton’s Story visit their website HERE or call the Wilton Historical Society at 203-762-7257.

 

 

 

 

 


Who is new in Blue/Green: code/color/context — Micheline Beauchemin and Polly Barton

Blue/Green: color/code/context opens at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut on April 28th (1 pm to 6 pm). Featured in the exhibition are more than 50 artists, including two new to browngrotta arts, Micheline Beauchemin of Canada and Polly Barton from the US.

 

Details of Totem aux Millefleurs Bleues by Micheline Beauchemin and Synapse by Polly Barton

Details of Totem aux Millefleurs Bleues by Micheline Beauchemin and Synapse by Polly Barton

Beauchemin began her career making stained-glass windows but early on turned to weaving and embroidering spectacular wall hangings in vibrant colors, including blues and greens. traveled and studied in Japan, China, India, North Africa, the Canadian Arctic and the Andes, adding depth and mystery to the love of light, water, wings and nets that is evident in her body of work. She created a number of important commissions throughout Canada, including an acrylic curtain for the Grande Salle of the Théâtre Maisonneuve at Place des Arts in Montréal (1963-1967) a curtain for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa (1966-1969), tapestries for Queen’s Park in Toronto (1968-1969), the Hudson’s Bay Company in Winnipeg (1970) and the Canadian pavilion at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka, Japan. She participated in the 10th Lausanne Biennial, was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and was awarded the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. A book about Beauchemin, her life and works, Micheline Beauchemin: Je rêvais de tapisseries à la grandeur des cathédrales, à la largeur de nos rivières (roughly, I dreamed of tapestries, as wide as rivers, throughout cathedrals) can be purchased through our website at http://store.browngrotta.com/books/

 

Polly Barton is a US artist known for adapting the ancient weaving technique of ikat into contemporary woven imagery. She has provided an ikat of silk, Pillar of Cloud, for Blue/Green: color/code/context. As a young artist, Barton worked as a personal assistant to Helen Frankenthaler. She cites that experience as a formative one, where she learned firsthand the inner drive, resilience, and intention necessary for an artist. The year also introduced her to the challenges and rewards of the New York art world. In 1981, she moved to Kameoka, Japan and lived in the religious heart of the Oomoto Foundation to study with master weaver, Tomohiko Inoue. In Kameoka, she practiced tea ceremony, calligraphy and Noh Drama with Oomoto’s master teachers. Barton has shown her woven ikats on both coasts. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Mint Museum among others.

 

Blue/Green: color/code/context opens on April 28th for just 10 days. The 140-page color catalog will be available on the 28th at browngrotta.com.
Details: Opening and Artists Reception, Saturday, April 28th, 1-6 pm; Sunday April 29th – Sunday May 6th, Hours: 10-5 pm. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php; 203-834-0623.

 


First Look: Blue/Green: color/code/context, April 28th – May 6th at bga, Wilton, CT

Blue Green exhibition Marian Bijlenga

30mb Dutch Blue (Oval), Marian Bijlenga
camelhair, fabric, stitched
35” x 35”, 2006, photo by Tom Grotta

For this year’s Art in the Barn exhibition, we asked artists to enter a blue or green period of their own and send us a work that conveyed one of the many meanings, connotations and moods of these colors. The result is Blue/Green: color/code/context, an exhibition of remarkably diverse works from more than 50 artists from 15 countries. Marian Bijlenga of the Netherlands, for example, has created an enigmatic wall work inspired by Dutch blue china fragments. The work is inspired, she says,  by the patterns of Chinese porcelain and the Japanese philosophy of the reuse of broken tiles and her collection of Dutch blue shards, collected in Amsterdam.

Ceramic Blue Green exhibition

Yasuhisa Kohyama
51yk Kaze
ceramic
14.75” x 11.5” x 4.75”, 2017

Yasuhisa Kohyama has created, Kaze,  a ceramic with a grey-greenish cast, hand built and wood fired in an anagama kiln. “With the properties of the shigaraki clay and its inclusions of feldspar and silica, the high heat, the atmosphere in the kiln and the falling of the wood ash on the pots all present, warm colors as well as attractive markings can be captured on the surface of the clay,” Kohyama explains. “The blue-green and red-orange colors develop in the mid-section of the kiln; In the back of the kiln, a heavily reduced atmosphere creates rich dark gray and brown colors.”

Tapestry Blue Green exhibition

4gp Thin Green Horizon
Gudrun Pagter, sisal, linen and flax
45.25” x 55”, 2017

The Green Horizon is the striking abstract tapestry created by Gudrun Pager of Denmark for the exhibition. “Perhaps it is the horizon between heaven and sea, or between heaven and earth – or the line between heaven and earth?” Pagter muses. “The thin, horizontal line is made with many shades of blue and green thin linen. The main color is blue, but the thin, green horizon is essential to the whole picture.”

Wendy Wahl Blue Green exhibition

37ww Changing Tides
Encyclopedia Britannica pages
27” x 42”, 2018

Encylopedia Britanica pages are the material Wendy Wahl uses to express our  station in  time, recognizable as they are as  a   part  of  a  particular  collective  consciousness. Wahl’s Changing Tides is made of 275  pages of the 1988 Encyclopedia Britannica Annual of World Data, the only book in Wahl’s collection of EB volumes that contained blue paper. The pages were cut into seven sections, for each of the continents, contemplatively scrolled and compressed into 1925  whorls to symbolize the reality of rising water around the globe. These four are just a sampling of the more than 70 works that will be on display in the Blue/Green: color/code/context exhibition and in the companion catalog, which will be available at www.browngrotta.com after April 28th. To visit Blue/Green: color/code/contexthere are the details:  Saturday, April 28th, 1-6 pm: Opening and Artists Reception

Sunday April 29th – Sunday May 6th, Viewing Hours 10-5 pm.
For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php; 203-834-0623.
This year’s exhibition is co-sponsored by Litchfield Distillery.

HandMade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art

Norma Minkowitz’s Excavation in the foreground, Carolina Yrarrázaval’s tapestries in the background.

Norma Minkowitz’s Excavation in the foreground, Carolina Yrarrázaval’s tapestries in the background.

Last Friday, the Westport Arts Center opened up its new exhibition, Handmade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art, which includes three artists, Chiyoko TanakaCarolina Yrarrázaval and Norma Minkowitz, represented by browngrotta arts. The exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Gorayeb, the Executive Director of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc., a New York based non-profit committed to art historical research. Handmade also features work by Ghada Amer, Anna Betbeze, Ligia Bouton, Orly Cogan, Lesley Dill, Terri Friedman, Sermin Kardestuncer, Sophia Narrett, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Judith Scott, Beverly Semmes,  Rosemarie Trockel and Margo Wolowiec, all of whom utilize fiber and textile in their art.

Chiyoko Tanaka’s Sienna A and B at the Westport Art Center.

Chiyoko Tanaka’s Sienna A and B at the Westport Art Center.

Textile and fiber objects have traditionally not been incorporated into the male-dominated pantheon of “Fine Art.” As a medium, fiber is “weighted with gendered, socio-political signifiers that are imparted onto the final work of art. To put it plainly, fiber is feminine,” explains Gorayeb. “Weaving, embroidery, knitting and sewing are thought to be the domain of women, whose productions in these areas have long been relegated to the status of ‘decoration.’” However, since fiber art enjoyed a period of avant-garde popularity in the 1970s, the value of what was typically known as “women’s art” has gained currency. This shift in values in contemporary art culture has driven the art world to redefine and reassess the inclusivity of “Fine Art.”
Lesley Dill’s Exhilaration. Dill’s work addresses the power of language as it relates to the psyche.

Lesley Dill’s Exhilaration. Dill’s work addresses the power of language as it relates to the psyche.

In addition to the artists featured in the exhibit, artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Françoise Grossen and Sheila Hicks have continuously pushed “Fine Art” to be more dynamic. Faith Ringgold, a renowned activist and artist whose work is included in Handmade, was recently honored by Yale University as a Chubb Fellow. In making her story quilts, which are inspired by traditional Tibetan thankgas, Ringgold combines painted canvas, fabric piecework and handwritten texts. Throughout her work, Ringgold’s explores topics revolving around race and gender. In Wedding on the Seine, featured in Handmade, Ringgold tells the story of a fictional woman fleeing her wedding ceremony in fear that her marriage will interfere with her dreams of becoming an artist.
Sophia Narrett, whose work showcases contemporary erotic ideas, fantasies and fears, also has work featured in Handmade. Narrett, whose intricately embroidered wall hangings look as if they were painted with thread, does not allow the traditionally domestic aspect of embroidery limit her creativity. In a recent article in The New York Times, “Some of the Most Provocative Political Art is Made With Fibers,” (Leslie Camhi, March 14, 2018) Narrett says: “Embroidery and its implicit history help specify the tone of my stories, one characterized by obsession, desire and both the freedoms and restraints of femininity.”  By using a needle and thread to explore sexuality, Narrett’s work subverts what is traditionally considered a feminine medium.
301 balls (Diptych), 2017 Cotton thread, coal from Soma, Turkey, fabric 36 × 37 in, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

301 balls (Diptych), 2017
Cotton thread, coal from Soma, Turkey, fabric
36 × 37 in, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

“As visitors to a gallery or museum, we are expected to engage with works of art though the act of looking. We consider the final product of the artist’s creation, but rarely do we think of the tactile experience of the artist’s process,” explains Gorayeb. “Fiber art — works of art created from wool, silk, cotton, flax and other forms of textiles — present us with a dynamic, multi-sensory experience.” It is because of this tactile experience and physical commitment that Narrett prefers embroidery over painting, “when an object is developed by human hands for hundreds of hours, it leaves a quality in the surface that can be sensed,” she notes.

By embracing textile and fiber art, female artists have forever reshaped contemporary art. As seen in both Faith Ringgold and Sophia Narrett’s work, fiber art allows artists to examine topics such as race, gender and sexuality while also providing the viewer with a multi-sensory experience that connects them with the artist. Handmade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art will be on view at the Westport Arts Center until June 2, 2018. For more information on the exhibit and the Center’s hours visit https://westportartscenter.org/exhibitions/.

Art Lives Well Lived: Katherine Westphal and Ethel Stein

katherine Westphal at Home

Katherine Westphal Portrait 2015 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

We lost two fine artists and friends this month when Ethel Stein passed away at 100 and Katherine Westphal died at home in Berkeley, California at 99.

We had been promoting Katherine Westphal’s work and that of her husband, Ed Rossbach (who died in 2002), since the 1990s. We visited Ed and Katherine at their home before Carter was born. (For those of you familiar with browngrotta arts that was a quarter of a decade ago.) Their home, and Katherine’s studio in particular, was a wonder – chockfull of items they had collected from their travels that pleased and inspired them, decorated with murals by Katherine on several walls. Though her studio appeared chaotic, Katherine had an encyclopedic knowledge of what was where. “That reminds of a piece of gift wrap I picked up in Tokyo in the 1950s,” she would say, and then pull a slim typing paper box from a stack of others that looked the same, finding there the images she was referencing.
Katherine worked for decades creating printed textiles, ceramics, quilting, tapestry, jacquard woven  textiles, artwear and basketry structures. “Variously using direct drawing and painting, batik wax resist, and shibori, she also pioneered color xerography and heat transfer printing on textiles,” Jo Ann C. Stabb, former faculty member at UC, Davis wrote in 2015 (“Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane,” Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2015). “Throughout her career, beginning with the batik samples she made for the commercial printed textile industry in the 1950s, she [ ] incorporated images from her immediate world: street people in Berkeley, Japanese sculpture, Monet’s garden, Egyptian tourist groups, Chinese embroidery, images from newspaper and magazine photos, and her dogs…anything that struck her fancy wherever she happened to be at the moment – and she could put any or all of them into a repeat pattern.  Her wit and whimsy [were] legendary and her lively approach also inspired her husband to combine imagery onto the surface of his inventive baskets and containers.”
Ethel Stein Portrait

Ethel Stein Portrait 2008 by Tom Grotta courtesy of browngrotta arts

We were close to Ethel Stein as well, having begun representing her work in 2008 after a dinner at her home where her charming dog joined us at the table. When Rhonda was sick several years later, Ethel drove, at 93, from New York to Connecticut with a meal she had made us. Rhonda’s mother, a mere 83 then, was visiting and we told her that same vitality is what we expected of her in her 90s. (So far mom has complied.)
Tom was able to prepare a monograph of Ethel’s work, Ethel Stein: Weaver, with an introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen, an essay by Lucy A. Commoner and a glossary by Milton Sonday, which has become our best-selling volume. In her essay, “Ethel Stein, A Life Interlaced With Art, Lucy Commoner, then-Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, describes the evolution of Ethel’s knowledge of textile techniques and ways in which she was able to advance those techniques through her own explorations. “Ethel Stein’s work is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity belied by its extraordinary technical complexity. The basic humility and humanity of the work and its relationship to historical techniques combine to give Stein’s work a meaning far beyond its physical presence.”
Ethel Stein Exhibition

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chciago Art Instittute

Six years later, Ethel’s work received the wider recognition it deserved. We were thrilled to attend the opening of her one-person exhibition, Ethel Stein, Master Weaver, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. “Ethel Stein is an artist who only now, at the age of 96, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves from the broader public,” the Institute wrote. “Stein’s great contribution to weaving is her unique combination of refined 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.” There were photos of her at work, a video and a dinner after with family members and supporters of the museum and crowds of visitors to the exhibition — a well-deserved tribute.

Ed Rossbach Katherine Westphal

Katherine Westphal Ed Rossbach

These artists and their lengthy careers, raise the question, is fiber art a key to longevity? Ethel Stein continued to weave even after she was discovered and lauded at 96. When we visited Katherine Westphal in Berkeley in 2015 we found her still drawing or painting every day in a series of journals she kept, something she continued to do until just a few weeks before her death. Lenore Tawney died at 100, Ruth Asawa and Magdalena Abakanowicz each at 87. Helena Hernmarck tells us that she knows several fiber artists who are 100. So those of you who are practitioners — keep it up!


Art Out and About: Patrick Dougherty at the Ackland Art Museum

 

Step Right Up at the Ackland Art Museum. Photo by Emily Bowles Raised in North Carolina and an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sculptor Patrick Dougherty returned to his roots to create Step Right Up for the Ackland Art Museum last October. Internationally acclaimed for his monumental environmental works, Dougherty has produced over 280 large scale stick sculptures all over the world. You’ll know one of Dougherty’s sculptures when you see one. “Some cling to pylons or walls, or roll across the tops of trees; others emerge from a lake, seeming to balance on the surface of it without making a single ripple,” explains Daniel Wallace of Garden & Gun. “His sculptures do impossible things. They could be homes for giants or trolls, the first shelters built by prehistoric men, Gaudí-esque mazes, giant vines, remnants of alien visitations, windblown towers, jokes. They are fun, joyous, friendly, inviting, and public, very public: art conceived by one, built by many, shared by all.”

Dougherty working on Step Right Up. Photo: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What separates Step Right Up from Dougherty’s other installations is that it is in his hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dougherty earned his B.A. in English from the UNC in 1967 and later returned to study art history and sculpture. Before he began using sticks as his medium, Dougherty sculpted with clay. However, while using clay Dougherty was unable to achieve the scale he desired for his sculptures. While studying at UNC, Dougherty developed the idea of using sticks as his medium. Dougherty found that using sticks allowed him to bend and extend long lines, he could create his own monumental three-dimensional drawings. In order to effectively use sticks to create sculptures, Dougherty had to gain a better understanding of how shelter builders, such as birds and beavers, build their homes. “Sticks have an inherent method of joining…and that tangling allows you to hook them together,” Dougherty explains.

 

Unknown, Iranian, Caspian Region, ca. early 1st millennium B.C., Animal-shaped Pouring Vessel, earthenware, Overall: 8 3/4 x 12 x 6 3/16 in. (22.3 x 30.5 x 15.7 cm) Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of Osborne and Gratia B. Hauge in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Sherman E. Lee, 91.21 © Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dougherty often does not know what he is going to build until after he arrives at the installation site. Once he arrives, Dougherty has to source both volunteers and materials. For his exhibition Step Right Up at the Ackland Art Museum Dougherty was able to source his materials—maple and gum saplings—from Duke Forest and Triangle Land Conservancy, organizations Dougherty has had long relationships with throughout his career. Dougherty chooses to enlist the help of volunteers on his projects because he finds it interesting how varying types of characters can come together to create one piece. Dougherty’s creative process has three steps: 1) Structural formation—building the basic shape, 2) Appliqué—appliquéing a look onto the surface of the piece and 3) Cosmetic—fixing up and making it habitable for people to enjoy from both the inside and outside. In creating Step Right Up for the Ackland, Dougherty was inspired by the Ackland’s collection of ancient animal pouring vessels. The vessels, which usually have an animal head from which water is poured, typically have traditional tops. Dougherty liked the idea of having a mixed shape and applied it to his sculpture in Step Right Up.

“I think that part of my work’s allure is its impermanence, the life cycle that is built into the growth and decay of saplings,” explains Dougherty. “The line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years. Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season.” Bounded to the installations organic material and outdoor setting, Dougherty’s Step Right Up is a temporary installation. The installation is expected to be on view through August 31, 2018 at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit: https://ackland.org/exhibition/patrick-dougherty-stickwork-ackland/.


Art Assembled: New This Week February

 

Inspired by her lifelong love of human condition, Dawn MacNutt’s work remains centered on the “beauty of human frailty. Witnessing small, yet meaningful human interactions, such as seeing people experience pain, love and joy, has had a lasting impact on MacNutt’s work. To obtain material for her work, MacNutt utilizes the nature around her, using willow harvested from the ditches and lanes around her home in Nova Scotia. 

Praise, Dawn MacNutt, inflorescens and reed, 19”x 4”x 5”, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta

Praise, Dawn MacNutt, inflorescens and reed, 19”x 4”x 5”, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta

Made solely from paper, Cube Connection 09 showcase Noriko Takamiya’s non-traditional basketry techniques. Despite choosing differing methods, Takamiya still feels connected to ancient basketmakers. “I find myself in the same situation,” explains Takamiya. “Even if the resulting objects are different, the ancient basketmakers and I do the same thing, which is to seek the techniques and materials to develop into one’s own work.”

Cube Connection 09, Noriko Takamiya paper, 4” x 13” x 7”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

Cube Connection 09, Noriko Takamiya
paper, 4” x 13” x 7”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

In 1975, Kyoko Kumai began using metallic materials such as stainless steel filaments in her sculptures. The malleable nature of the stainless steel allows it to be woven, twisted or bundled to create sensuous forms in order to express aspects of wind, air and light. “Thin pieces of stainless steel wire create a richly expressive fabric that does not stand solidly, cleaving the air,” explains Kumai. “It has its own language fluttering above the floor; breathing and melting into the air.” 

Kyoko Kumai, 32kk Memory stainless steel filaments 41” x 19” x 19”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Memory, Kyoko Kumai,
stainless steel filaments
41” x 19” x 19”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Ex Claim! by Gyöngy Laky is sure to grab your attention. Made using G.I. Joes and bullets, the piece serves as Laky’s personal examination of our complex relationships with the world around us. Laky’s works often have underlying themes of opposition to war and militarism. Born in Hungary in 1944, the physical and emotional effects of war impacted Laky from a very young age. In her opinion, “We are smart enough to have moved beyond war as a means of dealing with problems by now.”

Ex Claim! commercial wood"; 2014; G.I. Joes; acrylic paint; "bullets for building (trim screws), 64” x 21” x 7”". Photo by Tom Grotta.

Ex Claim!, Gyöngy Laky,
commercial wood”; 2014; G.I. Joes; acrylic paint; “bullets for building (trim screws),
64” x 21” x 7”. Photo by Tom Grotta.

 

 

 


Text/iles: On Art that Includes Words and Text.

January 21 – May 6, 2018
Written languages are just one of the many ways human beings attempt to communicate with one another. In Text Message: Words and Letters in Contemporary Art, currently on exhibit at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin, contemporary artists, recognizing the power and complexity of the written word, utilize text—individual letters or words—to explore theoretical, social, symbolic, and aesthetic concerns.

Sampler (Jacket)

2 Laws, Barbara Brandel, Sampler (Jacket), 1995, dyed cotton, silk, and wool
Photo by Jon Bolton, Racine Art Musuem.

Bird Brain

Bird Brain, John McQueen, woven willow twigs, waxed string, 2002, photo by Tom Grotta. On close inspection, the names of various birds are legible.

OLL KORRECT

OLL KORRECT, Gyöngy Laky, apricot, finished pine, vinyl-caoted steel nails, 1998

The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt, nails, twine, encaustic and Congressional Record pages.

paper collage

Torso, Miriam Londoño, paper collage, 2011

The exhibition includes works that use words, letters, and script to convey meaning. Tangible three-dimensional objects made of fiber, clay, polymer, paper, and metal along with two-dimensional works on paper underscore how contemporary artists recognize the power and complexity of the written word. John McQueen and Gyöngy Laky are among the 77 artists whose work is included. The exhibition ends on May 6, 2018. For more information, visit: https://www.ramart.org/content/text-message-words-and-letters-contemporary-craft. To pique your interest, here are some images of art by various artists who incorporate or reference text in their work.

Heidrun Schimmel

was du weiß auf schwarz besitzt (text/textile), Heidrun Schimmel, cotton and silk, 2009, photo by Tom Grotta. Not literally text, but stitching that feels like a message to be deciphered.

Toshio Sekiji

Shadow Alphabet, Toshio Sekiji, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indian newspapers; postcards; thin, Thai paper (backing); brown and black lacquer; acrylic varnish,  2002, photo by Tom Grotta


HeArt-ists: Creative Couples

Power couples in the art world abound: Pablo Picasso and François Gilot, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Steiglitz. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Joseph and Anni Albers among them (see the In Good Taste, blog post, “12 Prolific Artist Couples,” for more: https://www.invaluable.com/blog/12-prolific-creative-couples/?utm_source=brand&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weeklyblog&utm_content=blog020818). At browngrotta arts we’ve worked with several such couples or with one of such a pair. In honor of Valentine’s Day, a toast to them:
Power Couple Kobayashi's at browngrotta arts

Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi installing Cosmos 98 at browngrotta arts for the opening of Tradition Transformed: Contemporary Japanese textile art & fiber sculpture

Masakazu/Naomi Kobayashi:
Masakazu and Naomi often collaborated on projects in the years before his death. In their collaborations, in the US, Israel, Singapore, France and JapanMasa and Naomi, generally created individual works that were installed together. Masa once explained the impetus behind their cooperative works: “These works express a shared vision and such common themes as the tranquility of nature, the infinity of the universe and the Japanese spirit. Naomi and I work in fiber because natural materials have integrity, are gentle and flexible. In my own work, I search for an equilibrium between my capacity as a creator and the energy of the world around me.”
Power Couple Rossbach/Westphal

Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal in their apartment in Berkley California

Ed Rossbach/Katherine Westphal: Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal were both innovators — he a maker of nonfunctional art baskets; she in her work with xerography and art quilts. The pair loved to travel and images and influences from those visits appear in their work in various ways. Images from the American West, including bison and feathers, appear in both Rossbach’s baskets and drawings and in Westphal’s wall hangings of tapas bark. Westphal made color photocopies of photos she took on their travels through Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and with a heat transfer process, inserted these images into her quilts and wearable art. Rossbach took photo images and reconstructed them with stitching and pins.

Power Couple Marriage in Form

Marriage in Form Set
Bob Stocksdale/Kay Sekimachi, Pistashio wood and Japanese paper with fibers, 1999

Kay Sekimachi/Bob Stocksdale: Kay Sekimachi and her late husband, woodturner Bob Stocksdale, collaborated to create an entire series of work, exhibited across the US as Marriage in Form. Sekimachi used his turned wood vessels as a form to shape her own ber vessels from hornet’s nest paper. Sekimachi applies a base layer of Kozo paper to a wood form, then laminates the hornet’s nest paper. The resulting objects appears delicate and ethereal but is actually stiff and stable.

Power Couple Claude Vermette and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette

Claude Vermette and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, painting and tapestry

Claude Vermette/Mariette Rousseau-Vermette: For several decades, this couple worked in separate studios, in different media, in different ways. Yet, as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Baie St. Paul, Quebec noted when mounting a posthumous retrospective of Vermette’s paintings, ceramics and sculpture and Rousseau-Vermette’s tapestries, they shared “a common spirit, strong affinities and correspondences, links of course emotional and intellectual, the same historical and sociological context and the crossing of an important period of time.”

Debra Sachs_ Marilyn Keating

Debra Sach’s/Marilyn Keating’s joint exhibition, Going Solo & Tandem at the Stockton College Art Gallery, NJ 2014

Debra Sachs/Marilyn Keating: Sachs and Keatings met in the early 1970s when they were students at the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. They were married in 2014. Their works — made spearately and together are showcased at The South Jersey Museum of Curiosities — not a physical location but a website they share (http://www.sjmoc.com/index.htm). Their individual works take different directions. Keating’s is more narrative, including depistions of fish, birds, bugs and dogs. Sachs describes herself as more design oriented. When they collaborate as they have in public commissions like Waders and Flockers 2011 at Stockton College, they divide the work — Keating builds the structure; Sachs completes the designs and paints the surface.
John McQueen/Margo Mensing: This couple, he a sculpture and basketmaker, she a poet and artist whose multimedia installations incorporate sculpture, ceramic and textiles, have exhibited together in New York, Massachusetts and New Zealand. In New Zealand, Mensing carved words into tree trunks.  “Marks made here,” she carved, “are no more than scars on these upstart upstanding trees – as brief as grass.”
Leon/Sharon Niehues: Leon and Sharon Niehues have created baskets together, including a basket-in-a-basket woven for the White House Collection of Contemporary Crafts created during the Clinton Administration. The couple moved from Kansas to the Ozarks in the 70s and learned basketmaking from by a book by the Arkansas Extension Service that explained how to make a white-oak basket from a tree. In his individual work over the last several years, Leon has focused on reinterpretingclassical and traditional forms.
To Love…

Art Assembled: New This Week January

Untitled, Kay Sekimachi, Japanese paper and fiber flex, 4” x 11” x 11”, 1985 95k Silver Metallic, Kay Sekimachi, flax, 4” x 11” x 11”, 2008. Photo by Tom Grotta

Untitled, Kay Sekimachi, Japanese paper and fiber flex, 4” x 11” x 11”, 1985
Silver Metallic, Kay Sekimachi, flax, 4” x 11” x 11”, 2008. Photo by Tom Grotta

We kicked off the new year with pieces by Kay Sekimachi. Sekimachi avoids color in many of her pieces in order to direct more attention to the sculptural qualities of her work as well as the natural properties of her chosen materials. Through her career, Sekimachi has been enamored with antique Japanese paper, using it in a variety of ways to create small pots, large sculptures and bowls, such as she did in Untitled. 

In Forest Floor Lewis Knauss uses linen (waxed and natural), reed, twigs and acrylic paint to convey the natural layers and complexity of our landscape. “Landscape serves as witness to the passage of time and the cycle of life, its disturbing beauty often the result of natural or manmade events–drought, fire, flood.” The meticulous process Knauss goes through while constructing a piece cements his life and presence as a maker. For Knauss, the repetitive acts of knotting and long periods of working silence become a mediation through which he can release his gratitude for the environment.

Forest Floor, Lewis Knauss linen, acrylic paint, reed; twigs, waxed linen, 16” x 16” x 2.5” 2016/2017";

Forest Floor, Lewis Knauss
linen, acrylic paint, reed; twigs, waxed linen, 16” x 16”x 2.5” 2016/201. Photo by Tom Grotta

<em>Ceramic 49</em>, Yasuhisa Kohyama, wood-kiln ceramic, 11.25" x 11" x 6"<br /> <em>Ceramic 50,</em> Yasuhisa Kohyama, wood-kiln ceramic, 18.25" x 10" x 5" Photo by Tom Grotta

Ceramic 49, Yasuhisa Kohyama, wood-kiln ceramic, 11.25″ x 11″ x 6″ 
Ceramic 50, Yasuhisa Kohyama, wood-kiln ceramic, 18.25″ x 10″ x 5″ Photos by Tom Grotta

 

Next up we had two sculptures by Yasuhisa Kohyama. Kohyama pioneered the revival ancient ceramic traditions of Shigaraki by bringing back the use of the anagama, a single chambered tunnel kiln that had not been used since medieval times to create traditional Japanese suemono vessels. Kohyama derives much of his inspiration from nature. “Every time I fire, I’ve come to recognize that I am in Nature; I am a small part of Nature,” explains Kohyama “Intently I watch Nature over and over again; working with clay, inspired by Nature, I am free to allow creation to happen, approaching the experience as the ancients did.”

Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, plaited paper, mulberry bark, 10.5" x 18" x 12.5", 2016

Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, plaited paper, mulberry bark, 10.5″ x 18″ x 12.5″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

This month we also featured Kazue Honma’s Capricious Plaiting, a labyrinth-like woven plaited paper mulberry bark basket. Led by Hisako Sekijima, Honma is one of a group of Japanese basket-makers who has radically experimented with traditional Japanese weaving techniques. Plaiting allows Honma to follow strict rules of geometry while also offering her the freedom to create new shapes. When weaving Capricious Plaiting Honma started at the dark square, then plaited in two different directions, continuously shifting directions at the moments she felt she should.

Golden Red, Adela Akers, Linen, horsehair and metal foil 30" x 21”, 2017

Golden Red,
Adela Akers, Linen, horsehair and metal foil, 30″ x 21”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

In our last New This Week of January, we featured Golden Red by Adela Akers. The reflectiveness of the metal foil coupled with the contrast of the red and blue linen creates a window-like effect.The dimensionality of Akers’ works can be attributed the reflection of light off of both the metal and horsehair. Akers’ background in science strongly influences the materials and process of her work. The mathematical discipline Akers exercises when working contrasts “the organic process (handweaving) and materials (linen & horsehair) that bring work to fruition.”