Books Make Great Gifts: 2017, Part 1

Book: What Happened Hillary Rodham Clinton

Book: Vitamin-Clay-Ceramic-Contemporary-Art/dp/0714874604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513259535&sr=8-1&keywords=Vitamin+C%3A+Clay+%2B+Ceramic+in+Contemporary+Art+%28Phaidon%29

Another wide-ranging selection of books selected by browngrotta arts’ artist this year. Mary Merkel Hess: recommends What Happened by Hillary Clinton (Simon and Schuster). “Have you ever wondered what Hillary Clinton’s favorite snack is?,” Mary asks. “Me neither, but now I know. I listened to the audio version of this book read by Hillary herself. Hearing the book in her own voice made it ‘up close and personal.’ Her detailed description of life on the campaign trail, from a feminine perspective in an unusual political year, is fascinating.” Mary also has an art book on her list: Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art (Phaidon). “For those of you who enjoy a book of luscious photography in coffee table size,” says Mary, “this is for you. Vitamin C is a medium-specific survey of more than 100 ceramic artists nominated by international art world professionals. A disclaimer: My son, Matthias Merkel-Hess, is included in this book but I am enjoying the photos and short essays enough that I am reading the other entries too. Some larger lights in the ceramic world like Ai Wei Wei and Betty Woodman are included as well as younger artists.”

Book: Chance-and-Change-by-Mel-Gooding,Chance and Change by Mel Gooding, about the nature artist Herman de Vries (Thames & Hudson) “is a wonderful book,” says Lizzie Farey. “It appraises De Vries’s work with beautiful images and argues that a proper contemplation and experience of nature is essential to living in any meaningful sense.”

Book: Oryx and Crake“Today’s world is so utterly filled with alternative facts and a reality of denial that for reasons unexplainable,” Wendy Wahl writes, “I decided to immerse myself in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy. While not new on the literary scene, I recently finished the first book, Oryx and Crake (Anchor), and am absorbed in The Year of the Flood (Anchor) which will be followed by Book: MaddAddam (The Maddaddam Trilogy)MaddAddam (Anchor) to close 2017. Atwood brilliantly takes us on an idiosyncratic journey with her keen wit and dark humor combining adventure and romance while forecasting a future that is at once all too recognizable and beyond envisioning. I highly recommend this environmental, philosophical and spiritual work of science fiction as a parallel view of the current global crossroads.”

Scott Rothstein recently receivedBook: Jangarh-Singh-Shyam-Enchanted-Collection Jangarh Singh Shyam: The Enchanted Forest Paintings and Drawings from the Crites Collection, by Aurogeeta Das (ROLI), a “truly remarkable” book from the collector of this work, who Scott knows from Delhi. You can read more about the show here: http://artfoundout.blogspot.com/2017/10/jangarh-singh-shyam-enchanted-forest.html, and read a great interview with the collector here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh1JhXAebGc.

Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎“I’m reading a poem book by Japanese poet in Japanese….it is wonderful and strong,” says Tamiko Kawata. Sorry, not in English!!! “ It’s title is Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎 (Kodansha Bungei Bunko). “I hope someone will enjoy.”

Book: The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the AirNancy Moore Bess’s contribution is The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, Elisa Urbanelli (University of California Press). It is the 2007 catalogue from the traveling exhibition of the same name. “Perhaps you saw it when it was at Japan Society,” she writes. “I missed it at the deYoung, but I was lucky to catch it shortly thereafter at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The book is an inspiring documentation of her life, work, values and sense of community. There are drawings, which I had never seen before, photos of her with her early work and with friends. And then the stunning photographs of her later work. When the deYoung opened its new (and very controversial) building in 2005, over a dozen of her pieces were installed at the base of the tower. They are lit in such a way as to reveal how important shadows are to complete each piece. The photographs in the book really capture the installation. Buy the book and then come see the work in person! Prepare to stay a while and take it all in. Recently friends visited – Leon Russell from Seattle and Nancy Koenigsberg from New York. Both are now living with the book! Ruth died in 2013, but she is still revered in San Francisco – both for her artwork and for her commitment to children and the community. So wish I had met her! My great loss.”

Book: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis“The book that moved me and opened my eyes to a world that I knew superficially was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance,”writes Kyomi Iwata. “This book explained in a way why people chose the current political leader. I had a casual conversation with a Southern lady during our visit to the William and Mary College Art Museum in Williamsburg, Va this spring. She was a stranger who was holding the book and saying she did not like the book. It was the reading recommendation from her book club. At the end of our brief encounter though, we both agreed that knowing something which is not familiar is a worthwhile read. This book emphasized the importance of education and getting out from a familiar situation even though it is scary sometimes. The author felt this way and eventually went to Yale Law School. Afterwards he came back to the community to help others. Oh yes, he is a white man.”

Book: Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher RothkoRachel Max has been reading Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher Rothko. “Rothko’s meditative sensitivity and use of colour inspires me and this is a personal and engaging analysis of his father’s work. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Rothko and Music and of the emotional power of Rothko’s paintings and its parallels to music. Music was hugely important to Rothko and his son draws similarities between Mozart’s melodies and his father’s transparent textures, clarity, and purity of from in order to give what he calls greater expression – for both artist and composer alike nothing was added unnecessarily. Rothko’s application of paint and varnish allows us to see layers which would otherwise be concealed. He also draws comparisons between their artistic power to convey complex feelings and to what he describes as the coexistence between ecstasy and doom. He also describes how they both had the paradoxical ability to create an intimate and yet grand space. Christopher Rothko doesn’t draw the line at Mozart, he makes comparisons to Schubert’s shifts in tone and of the interplay between Rothko’s pigments, and to the relationship between Rothko’s sense of space with Morton Feldman’s use of silence. Rothko wanted his paintings to affect us in the same way he felt that music and poetry does – an absolute means of expressing what perhaps cannot be explained in words, “ she writes. “I grew up surrounded with music. The relationship between music and weaving is something I have been exploring and this particular essay resonated with me, but the others are equally personal and thought provoking.” Rachel has also been given copies of
From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira) and Books Make Great Gifts: Rooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine StealeyRooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine Stealey (Schiffer) and she can’t wait to read them!

At browngrotta arts we are awaiting our on-order copy of Books men great gifts: From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira)From Tapestry to Fiber Art: The Lausanne Biennals 1962-1995 with text by Giselle Eberhard Cotton, Magali Junet, Odile Contamin, Janis Jefferies, Keiko Kawashima, Marta Kowalewska, Jenelle Porter (Skira). We have on good authority that it is a beautiful book. We are also looking forwarded to wandering through the re-issue of Book Make Great Gifts: Anni Albers On WeavingAnni Albers’ On Weaving (Princeton University Press) (shhhhh, it’s still under the tree!). Enjoy!


Art Assembled: New this Week November

 

 Lead Relief Mary Giles lead, iron, wood 23.75” x 56 .75”” x 2”, 2011

Lead Relief
Mary Giles
lead, iron, wood
23.75” x 56 .75”” x 2”, 2011. Photo: Tom Grotta

We kicked off November’s New This Week with Mary Giles’ Lead Relief. “In Giles’ work, one will find the traditional basketry technique coiling alongside contemporary materials of waxed linen, copper, and iron,” notes the Textile Center. Giles’ uses both her basketry and sculpture as a means to express her concerns about the environment and human condition. Giles’ concern about the growing population is visible in works such as Lead Relief. In 2013, she was named Master of the Medium by the James Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian Institution.

 

Sinuous, Randy Walker, found steel, cotton cord, nylon thread, 28” X 30" x 20”, 2003

Sinuous Horse, Randy Walker, found steel, cotton cord, nylon thread, 28” X 30″ x 20”, 2003. Photo: Tom Grotta

Sinuous Horse, is an example of how Walker, uses fiber as his medium to endlessly explore the possibilities of a single strand of thread. In Sinuous Horse, Walker used pieces of salvaged steel to create the bone-like structure of a horse. Walker then used nylon thread and cotton cord to form the curves of a horses body. “My work straddles precariously on several boundaries: solidity and transparency; structural stability and collapse; visibility and invisibility,” notes Walker “I strive to create work that primarily engages our sense of sight by contemplating how light can define structure, surface, and color.”

Kundalini Rising II, Pat Campbell,
rice paper, reed and wood, 24” x 14” x 6.5”, 2009. Photo: Tom Grotta

Delicately crafted of rice paper, reed and wood Pat Campbell’s Kundalini Rising II also made an appearance in November. The technique Campbell uses to create her rice paper sculptures is derived from those used to created Japanese shoji screens. Rice paper provides Campbell with the transparency she desires in creating a simple but spectacular piece of work. The thin nature of rice paper also allows Campbell to easily shape reed, wood, and paper cord necessary for her sculptures.

Fog Break, Mary Giles, waxed linen, iron, brass, 11” x 26” x 9”, 2011

Fog Break, Mary Giles, waxed linen, iron, brass, 11” x 26” x 9”, 2011. Photo: Tom Grotta

We concluded November with Fog Break, another impeccable piece by Mary Giles. When working with coiled forms such as Fog Break Giles uses waxed-linen, iron and brass. Giles individually cuts and hammers each piece of iron and brass and then torches the metal to alter the color. “By torching the metals I am able to alter the colors in varying degrees enabling me to blend them from darks to brights,” explains Giles. “I use this blending to interpret the colors, textures and light that I see in the natural settings.”

 

 


Anniversary Alert: 30 Years of Catalogs – 30 Days to Save

From November 30th to December 31st, buy three or more browngrotta arts catalogs and save 10% on your order. In addition, for each sale made during that period, browngrotta arts will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation https://www.icaf.org.
browngrotta holiday sale
In its 30 years promoting contemporary decorative art, browngrotta arts has produced 47 catalogs, 45 of which are still available. Readers have been appreciative: Artist, collector, curator, Jack Lenor Larsen, wrote that “… catalogs produced by browngrotta, and the photography therein, have become so superior, they are an important part of our literature.” Lotus Stack, formerly Curator of Textiles at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, noted that our publications, “consistently engage much more than readers’ minds.”
All of our volumes are heavy on images. Some highlight work by one or two artists, including Lenore TawneyEd Rossbach and Kay Sekimachi. Others, like Beyond Weaving, International Contemporary ArtTextiles, Influence and Evolution and Green from the Get Go, offer insights on materials, themes and influences. Here’s your chance to explore an artist or an era, fill any gaps in your collection or order a full set (a special discount applies to the purchase of all 45).
Our catalogs fall into four loose categories: those about individual artists, those that take a geographic perspective, those designed around a specific artistic theme, and survey publications, that look at a grouping of artists or work over a period of time.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
On Individual Artists
The most detailed views of an individual artist are found in our Monograph Series of which there are three: Lenore Tawney: Drawings in Air; Lia Cook: In the Folds, Works from 1973-1997; Ethel Stein: Weaver and our Focus catalog, Jin-Sook So. Each includes an essay, describing the origin of their artistic practice. Drawings in Air also includes excerpts from Tawney’s journals.
In addition to the Monographs and Focus series, we have created 18 catalogs chronicling a series of exhibitions we have held featuring two or three artists each. These include: Markku Kosonen, Mary Merkel-Hess, Claude Vermette, Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Hisako Sekijima; The British Invasion: Maggie Henton and Dail Behennah; Helena Hernmarck and Markku Kosonen; Mary Giles and Kari Lonning; Karyl Sisson and Jane Sauer; Dorothy Gill Barnes and John Garrett; Mary Merkel-Hess and Leon Niehues; Gyöngy Laky and Rebecca Medel; Glen Kaufman and Hisako Sekijima; Three California Basketmakers: Marion Hildebrandt, Deborah Valoma, Judy Mulford; Sara Brennan tapestry and Mary Giles fiber sculpture; Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi: Books, Boxes and Bowls; Adela Akers and Sylvia Seventy.

browngrotta holiday catalog special

Geographic focus:
We work with artists in several countries and have compiled their works in seven catalogs that provide viewers a sense of how contemporary art textiles have evolved in various locales. These include three exploring Japanese textiles and basketry: Sheila Hicks Joined by seven friends from Japan; Traditions Transformed: Contemporary Japanese Textiles & Fiber Sculpture; and Japan Under the Influence: Japanese basketmakers deconstruct transition, which features Hisako Sekijima and the artists she has influenced. It also includes A Scandinavian Sensibility, featuring 15 artists (an exhibition that traveled to the North Dakota Museum of Art), From Across the Pond, featuring artists from the UK, Advocates for the Arts: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection and one international volume: Beyond Weaving: Contemporary ArtTextiles.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Thematic:
For several exhibitions we asked artists to consider a particular material, approach or influence. This list of catalogs includes: Plunge, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, Stimulus: Art and Its Inception, On Paper, Wired, featuring works made of metals and Art of Substance, which won an AIA design award, and which highlights large-scale works.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Survey publications:
Our first survey publications, 10th Wave Part 1: New Baskets and Freestanding Sculpture and 10th Wave Part 2: New Textiles and Fiber Wall Art, which provided “states of the art” reviews, were produced in 1997, 10th Wave III: Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture followed in 2009. In between and since we have published Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now – a look at fiber from the 60s to the present, 25 for the 25th; Artboombaby boomer artists reflect on their art; Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture and this past year, Still Crazy After All These Years: 30 years in art.
Take this opportunity to stock up! (Call us for a special price on the full set of 45 catalogs 203-834-0623.)

30 Years of Japanese Baskets, Hisako Sekijima and Friends, Part 2

Poster from this year's Basketry Exhibition

Poster from this year’s Basketry Exhibition

“In Japan,” writes influential basketmaker Hisako Sekijima,”the idea of making ‘non-utilitarian baskets’ is still not so properly appreciated  even after 30 years!!”  Undaunted, for three decades, Sekijima and a loosely organized group of 80 or so other artists have continued to pursue what she calls contemporary basketmaking, but the Victoria & Albert Museum terms a “journey of radical experimentation,” maintaining a website, newsletter and mounting an annual exhibition in the process. For the 30th anniversary of this exhibition at the Yamawaki Gallery, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, this fall, Sekijima wrote text to refresh insider artists’ vision and to expand the understanding of outsiders, artists and their audience. The statement below is adapted from that text.

 

Contemporary Basketry Influences
Ed Rossbach’s Baskets as Textile Art lead to a surge of contemporary basketmaking in 1970s.  The notion of baskets, as stated well in its title, has been spreading and stimulating basketmakers’ creative minds beyond US, to other countries in the world. In Japan, basketmakers have committed significantly to this worldwide, challenging trend in the last 30 years. Their output has been found in show catalogs as well as international publications, for example, those published by browngrotta arts.
I can explain first, why this notion of baskets is new and also, why it was taken up with interest by a wide range of makers. Prior to the 70s, baskets had been discussed either in terms of ethnology/folk culture or in relation of certain local traditional connoisseurship in tea ceremony, flower arrangement and daily life style design. In Rossbach’s book baskets were re-evaluated beyond those local cultural and historical confinements. That is, baskets were abstracted in their formal or conceptual expressive possibility. Baskets came to be challenged from various angles without consideration of conventional requirements. More recent results of this challenge include exploration of new material/structure, or of new spatial expression of linear elements.

 

The 90s
In 1999, at Yokohama Art Museum, an exhibition, Weaving the Worldpresented a term, “contemporary art of linear construction” to link a wide range of artistic expressions from artists including John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Hisako Sekijima, Kyoko Kumai along with Martin Puryear, Richard Deacon and Oliver Herring. This new context resulted in a fresh look of sculptural works which were not carved nor molded but made of linear substances. Baskets and fiber arts spoke clearly there.
 Red/White Revolving, Noriko Takamiya, paper constructions, 6" x 7" x 6", 2010

Red/White Revolving, Noriko Takamiya, paper constructions, 6″ x 7″ x 6″, 2010

 

The Present
More recently, in April 2017, I saw Women Artists in Post-War Abstraction at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, another show affirming the dawn of contemporary textile arts as an abstract expression. Under the category of “Reductive Abstraction” were combined works by Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks and Kay Sekimachi.  Well expressed by the works in the exhibition was these artists’ eager search for abstract expression, which they did by depriving textile techniques of conventional functions, materials and pictorial patterns. Though Rossbach was not there in the show featuring “women artists,” I was sure his new attitude toward baskets was rooted in the same soil.

 

Our Basketry Exhibition Group
Through 1980, I explored basketmaking, especially focusing on the interplay of material and structural mechanism.  And I started a class to introduce a conceptual approach to basketmaking in Japan. Some of my students from that period have been presiding over an annual basketry show since then to cultivate a new ground in Japan. The first show was held at Senbikiya Gallery, Chuo-ku Tokyo in 1986.The objective was then, and still is now, to generate mutual learning and promotion. In Japan, compared with the government-supported field for traditional art bamboo basketry and mingei folk basketry, the field for the contemporary basketry remains small and still not well known. The group avoided forming a so-called art/craft association or exclusive school of a core artist. I knew that in the Japanese cultural climate such attempts had seen quick rise and fall in a short time, for the exclusive/authoritative nature of organizations tends to distort its original ideal. It is a shared regard that binds our group and the conviction that each should be a leader to oneself and to the group, besides being a creative basketmaker.

 

Fuhkyoh Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17" x 16" x 6.5", 2002, stainless steel wire

Fuhkyoh,
Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17″ x 16″ x 6.5″, 2002, stainless steel wire

Cooperative Administration
We’ve aimed to keep the group healthy and growing.  A kind of standing committee is organized for each exhibition. Administrative jobs and budgets are shared equally and paid accordingly among the participants. Besides entry fees, the sales of the catalog and a 10% commission from sold works cover the costs. Often we win an invitational support or a subsidiary discount of the rental fee from galleries or art schools. Over time, the regular participants have learned to create show announcements and catalog booklets by computer and to set up a job grading for payment to the respective participants for contributed works. And all of the participants are now able to submit their own pages in digital data to a catalog editor. Each participant has individual pages of work and a statement of intent in the catalog.
For new entries, anyone can submit a portfolio one year in advance. These are reviewed by all of the exhibitors during the ongoing show.  Considerations are made not only for the work but also for the administrative contributions. It is not a juried show, but each participant should be responsible to preserve or better the quality of the show both aesthetically and operationally. Eighty artists have participated over the years — about 30-40 artists participate each year. Participants have included Noriko Takamiya, Kazue Honnma, Tsuruko Tanikawa, Chizu Sekiguchi, Hisako Sekijima,  Shoko Fukuda, Masako Yoshida, Shigeru Matsuyama, Rittsuko Jinnouchi, Nobuko Ueda, Haruko Sugawara.
Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, paper mulberry plaiting, 56 x 43 x 20cm, 2016

Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, paper mulberry plaiting, 56 x 43 x 20cm, 2016

 

Into the Future
Long-time participants such as Noriko Takamiya, Kazue Honma, Tsuruko Tanikawa and me have adopted our own co-operational, open system to keep the show going. We have been careful that this group activity not be for the benefit of exclusive members but should promote independent creative minds through basketmaking. Besides the annual exhibition, Kazue Honma’s editorship of Basketry News Letter and Noriko Takamiya’s handling of our website have been instrumental in keeping this loose group intact. The long list of topics include not only international exhibitions but also iworkhops, technical analysis into structure, experiments/researches of plants, accomplishments in archaeological reproduction and social commitments in developing countries.This year 350 people attended the exhibition, including art writer Janet Koplos and Scandinavian artists, Ingrid Becker and Kristin Opem and Professor Wu, Pei-shan, and students from the Textile Section of the Graduate Institute of Applied Arts of Tainan National University of Arts.

 

 

We wish Sekijima and her fellow artists another creative and inspiring 30 years!

Art Assembled: New This Week October

 

Yellow, Blue and Black, Gudrun Pagter, sisal, linen/flax, 42.5” x 95”, 2017

We started off October with Yellow, Blue and Black, a tapestry made by Danish artist Gudrun Pagter. When making tapestries, Pagter draws inspiration from architecture, using lines and shapes to achieve spatial tension. “I am engaged in a constant process of exploring the picture through a highly disciplined structuring of geometrical form elements and lines through a restricted color spectrum,” states Pagter. The expansive gray line in Yellow, Black and Blue not only creates a sense of movement but also “transforms a two-dimensional plane into a three-dimensional space.” Despite the name, there are actually many colors in Yellow, Black and Blue; Pagter mixed in light pink and yellow linen threads with the yellow sisal, deep green flax with the blue sisal and blue and black flax with the black sisal. Incorporating other colors into Yellow, Black and Blue helped Pagter to bring the tapestry to life.

 

Black 15 Boxes Steel mesh, electroplated gold, gold leaf, painted acrylic and patinated thread, 43" × 65" × 3", 2016

Black 15 Boxes Steel mesh, Jin-Sook So, electroplated gold, gold leaf, painted acrylic and patinated thread, 43″ × 65″ × 3″, 2016

Jin-Sook So’s Black 15 Boxes immediately grabs the viewers eye with its grid-like structure. In Black 15 Boxes So creates a grid pushing each of the 15 electroplated gold boxes off the wall, giving them a two-dimensional quality which flattens the boxes without completely altering the perspective. While the ability to peek inside So’s boxes and bowls captivates the viewer, the material’s ability to look like paper, silk and steel bend the viewer’s perception.

 

 

, Biagga (Sea Wind), Ulla-Maija Vikman, painted viscose and linen, 67 x 71 in, 2010

Biagga (Sea Wind), Ulla-Maija Vikman, painted viscose and linen, 67 x 71 in, 2010

When making Biagga (Sea Wind) Ulla-Maija Vikman was inspired by her material, linen. The vertical threads create their own natural rhythm complemented by their horizontal patterns. Vikman paints and repaints the threads two or three times in order to get the tones she desires. Vikman always hangs her work off the wall to give the impression of a free fall. The slightest breeze or draft moves will move the threads, altering the light and form of the piece, having a kinetic effect that brings the work to life.

 

 Left: White Shell Tongue n. 1, Federica Luzzi ,two fine art prints on “baritata” paper, 66.875” x 24.75” x 1.25”, 2006 Right: White Shell Tongue n. 2, Federica Luzzi, 78.625” x 32.75” x 1.25”, 2006

Left: White Shell Tongue n. 1, Federica Luzzi ,two fine art prints on “baritata” paper, 66.875” x 24.75” x 1.25”, 2006 Right: White Shell Tongue n. 2, Federica Luzzi, 78.625” x 32.75” x 1.25”, 2006

Federica Luzzi’s work focuses on nature, specifically leaves, bark and plant seeds. Above all, Luzzi is fascinated with plant seed, it is for that reason all of her work features the title Shell. “I am interested in their small and sinuous shapes, which assure their mobility from trees, and in their vital capacity of shutting themselves until the moment they mysteriously wake up, the seeds like ‘sleeper beauties,’ ” states Luzzi. The White Shell Tongue prints were born after a variety of conversations with researchers at the National Institutes of Physics in Frascati about the concepts of dark matter, antimatter, nuclear, subnuclear physics and the particle accelerator. The prints “suggest a primordial voice, speaking in a language now unknown to us but original, a pure, reductive writing externality, with wrappings and empties shells,” Luzzi explains. The vertical loom and tapestry art tools allow Luzzi to work with vegetal fibers from their frame to three-dimensionality.  Luzzi’s works are presented like a dimensional installation as if they are fragments of a galaxy: macrocosm and microcosm together.

 Federica Luzzi’s work focuses on nature, specifically leaves, bark and plant seeds. Above all, Luzzi is fascinated with plant seed, it is for that reason all of her work features the title Shell. “I am interested in their small and sinuous shapes, which assure their mobility from trees, and in their vital capacity of shutting themselves until the moment they mysteriously wake up, the seeds like ‘sleeper beauties,’ ” states Luzzi. The White Shell Tongue prints were born after a variety of conversations with researchers at the National Institute of Physics in Frascati about the concepts of dark matter, antimatter, nuclear, subnuclear physics and the particle accelerator. The prints “suggest a primordial voice, speaking in a language now unknown to us but original, a pure, reductive writing externality, with wrappings and empties shells,” Luzzi explains. The vertical loom and tapestry art tools allow Luzzi to work with vegetal fibers from their frame to three-dimensionality.  Luzzi’s works are presented like a dimensional installation as if they are fragments of a galaxy: macrocosm and microcosm together.

Art Out and About: Exhibits in the US and Abroad

Lia Cook's work on display at Coded Threads: Textiles & Technologies

Lia Cook’s work on display at Coded Threads: Textiles & Technologies, Photo: Lia Cook

Art of interest can be found across the US and abroad this winter. Out West, Lia Cook and browngrotta art’s friend Carol Westfall are both featured in Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology in the Western Gallery at Western Washington University. The fourteen artists in the exhibition were chosen for their use of new textile technologies. Despite the fact that technology is changing lives and art rapidly, the earliest textile techniques are still practiced (basket weaving, indigo dying, etc.) The exhibition recognizes the importance of maintaining a connection to the past while seizing the opportunities that lie ahead with innovative textiles technology. Artists are now using spider silk, nanotechnology, biocouture, smart textiles (conductive threads, fiber optics) and Arduino microprocessors as materials for their work. The creation and use of these materials have fostered collaborative relationships between scientists, artist, and engineers. For example, Lia Cook works in collaboration with neuroscientists to investigate the natural response to woven faces by mapping the responses in the brain. She uses DSI (Diffusion Spectrum Imaging of the brain) and TrackVis software to view the structural neuronal connections between parts of the brain and then integrates the resulting “fiber tracks” with weaving materials to make up the woven translation of an image. Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology is on display in the Western Gallery at Western Washington University until December 8th. Do not miss the chance to glimpse at the future of textile art!

Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen 

Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen, Photo: Jennifer Falck Linssen

If you’re in the Midwest make sure to go see Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen before it closes at the Talley Gallery in Bemidji, Minnesota on October 27th. “The impetus for Flow began one cold January week when Wisconsin artist Jennifer Falck Linssen escaped the frozen north for the lush green vegetation and mild temperatures of the Florida coast,” notes Laura Goliaszewski, the Talley’s Gallery Director. As Linssen was kayaking and hiking, she noticed the large population of birds making their new homes along the coast. Linssen began to consider how the diverse landscapes and climates of Florida and Wisconsin serve the seasonal needs of birds. A series of swooping, swerving wall sculptures that send viewers’ eyes aloft is the result.

Are We The Same?, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 12” x 28” x 26.375”, 2016, Photo: Tom Grotta

Of Art and Craft, on display in the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library, on the East Coast, explores the division between Art and Craft. The exhibition displays creations of glass, clay and fiber, which are all traditionally considered “craft materials.” However, the talent and skill present in all of the resulting pieces without a doubt make the pieces art, in the view of the exhibition’s curators. The exhibition features clay sculptures from Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong, Susan Eisen, and Phyllis Kudder Sullivan; glass work from Kathleen Mulcahy, Josh Simpson, and Adam Waimon; as well as fiber explorations by Emily Barletta, Ellen Schiffman and browngrotta arts artist Norma Minkowitz. Minkowitz, a resident of Westport, CT, has seven pieces featured in the exhibition, all of which use a variety of materials. Minkowitz’s piece in the exhibition Goodbye My Friend exemplifies her commitment to conveying the intimacy and imperfection of the human hand. “The interlacing technique that I use makes it possible for me to convey the fragile, the hidden, and the mysterious qualities of my work, in psychological statements that invite the viewer to interpret and contemplate my art,” explains Minkowtiz. Minkowitz is set to give a talk at the Flinn Gallery on November 5th at 2pm. Of Art and Craft will be on display at the Flinn Gallery from October 26th through December 6th.

This Way and That, 2013, Gyöngy Laky. Cut and assembled manzanita wood painted with acrylic paint and secured with trim screws. Photo: Bruce M. White© Lloyd Cotsen, 2016

This Way and That, 2013, Gyöngy Laky. Cut and assembled manzanita wood painted with acrylic paint and secured with trim screws. Photo: Bruce M. White© Lloyd Cotsen, 2016

The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, which was previously at the Racine Art Museum, is currently on display in the Textile Museum at The George Washington University Museum. Art collector Lloyd Costen challenged 36 international fiber artist to create a piece of work in the parameters of an archival box. 10 browngrotta arts artist have work on display in The Box ProjectHelena HernmarckAgenta HobinKiyomi IwataLewis KnaussNaomi KobayashiNancy KoenigsbergGyöngy LakyHeidrun SchimmelHisako Sekijima and Sherri Smith. The exhibition will be on display at The George Washington University Museum through January 29th.

Essence Iki at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter in Denmark, Photo: Yuko Takada Keller

 

 

Out side the US, Essence Iki at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter in Denmark, celebrates 150 years of diplomatic cooperation between Japan and Denmark. Browngrotta arts artist Jane Balsgaard is one of six artists featured in the exhibtion, three from Denmark and three from Japan. Featured are objects, room dividers and Balsgaard’s majestic, airbound boats of paper. The exhibition will be on display at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter until December 11th

Open Form, Laura Ellen Bacon, willow, 2016, Photo: Matthew Ling

Open Form, Laura Ellen Bacon, willow, 2016, Photo: Matthew Ling

BBC Woman’s Hour Craft Prize nominee Laura Ellen Bacon also has a solo exhibition on display at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford, UK. The exhibition, titled Rooted in Instinct demonstrates the process Bacon goes through when crafting a new sculpture or installation while also displaying a variety of Bacon’s new thatching, weaving and knotting techniques. Once an old seed warehouse, The National Centre for Craft & Design is the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the exhibition, celebration, support, and promotion of national and international contemporary craft and design. Rooted in Instinct will be on display until January 14th.

In Lodz, Poland, at the Central Museum of Textiles, this winter will see an exhibition of the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz and, in January, a solo exhibition of the work of Włodzimierz Cygan that will include his luminous Tapping series made of optical fibers. For more information, watch the Museum’s website HERE

Art News: Publications

A number of interesting and varied press reports, books and catalogs have crossed our desk at browngrotta arts in the last couple of months. The truly glorious Spoken Through Clay,  Native Pottery of the Southwest: The Eric S. Dobkin Collection, edited by Charles S. King (Museum of New Mexico Press) is one example. The volume documents 300 vessels in the Dobkin collection in large-scale, meticulously corrected color photos, a collection that has a “unique and distinctive focus on aesthetic of the vessel.” King has organized the works into several sections: Dreamers, Traditionalists, Transitionists, Modernists, Visonaries, Transformists and Synchronicity. The Navajo artists — mostly Pueblo — provide uniques insights into the works.
The catalog from Ane Henriksen’s recent exhibition in Denmark, Ane Henriksen in collaboration with Jens Søndergaard, is another.  Visual artist and weaver Ane Henriksen returned to Museum Thy in Denmark in June, with “a handful of great pictures,” inspired by the painter Jens Søndergaard’s works. The catalog chronicles that exhibition. For a number of years, Ane Henriksen has worked with image theories, including at the National Workshops at the Old Dock in Copenhagen. For 25 years, she has lived in Thy and created woven pictures inspired by nature and culture there. Highlighting work by Sara Brennan, James Koehler and Ann Naustdal among others, the Coda 2017 catalog is the third Coda volume published by the American Associate of Tapestry. It also includes informative
essays by Lesley Millar, Alice Zrebiec and other authors.
Several recent magazines have also featured browngrotta arts’artists including Fiber Art now’s Summer 2017 article, “Marian Bijlenga: Creator and Curator” by Jamie Chalmers. Chalmers notes that Bijlenga’s works dissect individual elements and disperse them while still maintaining an order to the arrangement. “[T]he incisions in the work reinforce the notion of scientific intervention and have echoes of the natural architectural work of Andy Goldsworthy, someone Biljenga’s cites as an influence.” In the September/October 2017 issue of Crafts magazine from the UK, Laura Ellen Bacon’s elegant work of willow is the subject of a feature, which notes that she has created a new work of Flanders Red willow, “about movement and vigor and trying to show how the material is being worked,” for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize, for which Crafts noted in its July August issue, she is a finalist.
In the fall 2017 issue of Interweave Crochet, Dora Ohrenstein explains how Norma Minkowitz has established crochet “as a legitimate tool for artistic expression ”recognized by the 31 major museums that have acquired her work, including the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in her article “Norma Minkowitz: A Life in the Fiber Arts.” And online in “Randy Walker: Thread Held in Tension,” textileartist.org shares “what fires Randy’s imagination…how his background in architecture has shaped his artistic vocabulary…and how he puts together his subtle, yet mind-blowing installations.” Look for them.

Art Assembled: New this Week in September

Currents, Nancy Koenigsberg, coated copper wire, 29" x 29" , 2016

Currents, Nancy Koenigsberg, coated copper wire, 29″ x 29″, 2016

September was quite the busy month for browngrotta arts. Summer officially ended and fall is here and as beautiful as ever. Owners and Curators Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown went on an art-filled adventure to South Africa (to read about click here). In addition to our “New this Week” posts, we have also started posting “Art Live!” videos every Monday. There is a wealth of video contents available online that allows you to see artworks up close and learn about the artist. Some Art Live! videos feature interviews with artists, while others allow you to visit exhibitions or view the details of a particular piece. Still, others feature a close-up, 360-degree view of a single work.

Green Sow Sow, Michael Radyk, cotton, jacquard, 52" x 66" x 1", 2017

Green Sow Sow, Michael Radyk, cotton, jacquard, 52″ x 66″ x 1″, 2017

We started off September with Nancy Koenigsberg’s Currents, a square coated copper wire piece. The wire Koenigsberg uses for her work allows her to explore space. The delicate nature of the wire allows Koenigsberg to create lace-like layers. “The layers allow for transparency, the passage of light, and the formation of shadows,” notes Rhonda Brown in    Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in Art. The intertwining of the wires creates a complex fabric and variety of light and shadow.

Next up we had Michael Radyk’s tapestry Green Sow Sow. In his recent series, Corduroys, Migrations and Featherworks, Radyk drew inspiration from featherworks in Peru and Africa, cut corduroy structures from Peter Collingwood’s The Technique of Rug Weaving and the concept of migration. However, for Green Sow Sow Radyk drew inspiration from a conversation he had with Lousie Mackie, former Curator of Textiles and Islamic Art at the Cleveland Museum of art, about fakes and forgeries. The conversation inspired him to create a “forgery” of his own work by re-imagining two dimensions of work he had previously done.

Tonal Fifths, Rachel Max, dyed cane, plaited and twined. 25" x 21" x 7.5", 2017

Tonal Fifths, Rachel Max, dyed cane, plaited and twined. 25″ x 21″ x 7.5″, 2017

Tonal Fifths by Rachel Max was also featured this month. Max’s artwork challenges the relationship between containment and concealment, lines and shadow, and movement and space. Max constructs her forms with a combination of lace and basketry techniques. These techniques help her to creates an intricate, open weave fabric of interlinked lines. Max’s current work (such as Tonal Fifths) investigates the similarities between weaving and music. The musical composition of Max’s works are based on two or more themes which she works to weave together through her art.


Dispatches: Art South Africa

Zebra

Zebra Pilanesburg Nature Reserve. Photo by
Tom Grotta

We had the opportunity to spend nine days in South Africa this month — Johannesburg, Capetown, Stellenbosch. A glorious country; a splendid trip and lots of art to write about. The big news, of course is the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art.
https://www.afar.com/magazine/get-the-inside-scoop-on-cape-towns-new-zeitz-mocaa?category=overview&guide=21&email=art@browngrotta.com&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Kindness of Strangers&utm_term=Daily Wander Newsletter


We missed the opening (long story) — but we’ve got images for you anyway. We did get to visit the Silo Hotel which is part of the amazing complex designed by Thomas Heatherwick.http://www.cnn.com/style/article/thomas-heatherwick-zeitz-silo-museum/index.html We also visited the Southern Guild Gallery next door and also its location in Johannesburg, where we were particularly taken by work by Porky Hefer and David Krynauw.

Porky Hefer

Porky Hefer’s Mud Dauber Sleeping Pod wall sculpture at the Southern Guild Gallery Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Tom Grotta

We visited other galleries, including Kim Sacks in Jo’Burg, Kalk Bay Modern and Artvark, greatly appreciating Mark Hilltout’s works photo of woven metal and Yda Walt’s photo provocative appliques on our gallery tours.

Mark Hilton and Yda Walt

Mark Hilton Metal Work and Yda Walt appliqué quilts. Photos by Tom Grotta

William Kentridge, Said Mahmoud, Lyndi Sales and Mark Rautenbach were on display at restaurants and wineries we visited (Shortmarket Club, Tokara and Delaire Graff in these shots).


Just as captivating were the vibrant handicrafts — on the streets and in the shops in Woodstock and Bo-kaap and along the coast. The http://www.fodors.com/world/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa/cape-town-and-peninsula/experiences/news/art-lovers-guide-to-cape-town-12123 Simon’s town sculptures.

Simon Town

Simon’s Town Street bead art. Photo by Tom Grotta

A Nigerian embroidery and an antique rattle basket found their way into our suitcase home.

Blanket and Rattle

Nigerian Blanket and Rattle. Photo by Tom Grotta

Art and oogling and eating, aren’t all. The historical stops we made – the Apartheid Musuem, Robben Island, Nobel Square — were moving and insightful ways to urge people remember the past while forging a better future.

Nelson Mandela Garden

Nelson Mandella’s Garden in Robben Island Prison. Photo by Tom Grotta

If South Africa has been on your must- or even maybe-visit list, just go. The people are open and inviting, the wine and food world class and the natural beauty is nonstop.

Scenic View of Table Mountain

Table Mountain South Africa, View from Robben Island. Photo by Tom Grotta


Anniversary Lookback: Hisako Sekijima at browngrotta arts

For our 30th Anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years of Art, Hisako Sekijima provided us Structural Discussion VI, a work made in 2016. In 1994, the first year Sekijima showed with browngrotta arts, we sold another work from the Structural Discussion series, #312, which she had made 30 years before in 1987. Even as she addresses a single theme, Sekijima’s use of varied materials and approaches makes the results of these explorations remarkably diverse.

NYT portrait of Hisako Sekijima

Portrait of Hisako Sekijima at her first solo exhibition with browngrotta arts in 1994; baskets of Kudzo vine, walnut, cedar, cherry bark, hackberry shavings and willow bark. Photo by Tom Grotta. The exhibition was reviewed in The New York Times, “Cherishing the Space and the Forms that Define It,” Bess Liebenson, July 1994.

Sekijima writes below about her many-year basket journey in Japan where, she explains, “making non-utilitarian baskets is not so properly appreciated after these 30 years!!” Her journey has included a collaboration with other basketmakers in Japan who have prepared an exhibition and catalog each year for 30 years. Information about that group and its anniversary will form Part 2 of this series of posts and will appear in an upcoming arttextstyle.
Sekijima featured in <em>The New York Times</em>

Sekijima featured in The New York Times

“In the 40 years I have been working with baskets, my concerns have extended beyond basket topics toward sculptural ones. Not only I have used rather common basket materials including tree barks, vines, splints of bamboo or woods, but also I have chosen extended concepts of vessel forms with negative spaces and linear constructions.  Both of my aesthetic and technical ideas such as revaluing negative space and examining the natural property of materials are illustrated in my explorations into the nature and history of basketmaking. It brings me a deeper understanding of physical rules of interplay among materials’ property, constructing method and a form, while it brings me a tactility or real touch of abstract ideas of numbers/counting, time, order, and etc. With coordination of hands, spirits and sense, physical experiences and conceptual ones come together in baskets.

Over the years, basketmaking has continued to inspire my inquiry into how and why human beings are motivated to make objects as well as how object-making forms and develops makers’ way of looking at things in general. As I explored baskets, I came better understand the interaction of human beings and our natural environment. My interest is not confined to representing personal inner imagery, but is widened to research the function of human hands and intellect through our interaction with nature.
Sekijima’s Structural Discussions

On the wall: Structural Discussion IV & V, plaited and woven cedar, 1997-98 from left to right: Structural Discussion VI, plaited cedar and walnut, 2016; Multiple Axis II, looped chamaecyparis (cyprus) and cedar, 2013; Structural Discussion I, plaited cedar, walnut, ginkgo, 1987; From 2 to 3 Dimensions V, plaited and folded walnut.

In 1994, when I was invited to show at browngrotta arts for the first time, basket #312 was among the first sales. It was entitled Structural Discussion and made in 1987, same year browngrotta had opened. Around that time, I concluded my classification of baskets into six primary types: looped, knotted, plaited, coiled, warp/weft woven and twined. Since 1987, visions of structural concepts have continued to return to me and have resulted in varying expressions. A set of two square baskets, #434 and #435, Structural Discussion IV and V made in 1997 and 1998, shows the comparison of plaited structure and warp/weft structure. You see in IV oblong negative spaces put in parallel to the edges, while in V they appear sideways at a 45-degree angle to the edges. IV shows the nature of warp/weft structure; V that of plaited structure. I find it interesting, that as you look at the edges of negative spaces, you see the structural elements behave in the same way in both. How things look depends on where or what you look at: either as a part or as a whole? Different names might be given, or might not.
Structural Discussion I, which I also made in 1987, uses plaited cedar, walnut, ginko and willow to highlight angles and openings. 2 to 3 Dimensions and Structural Discussion VI I made in 2016. VI is a basket in a basket that can be shifted to highlight one angle and then another. For 2017, I plan to create another piece in this discussion, to join browngrotta arts in expressing myself being ‘still crazy about it after 30 years!’”
-Hisako Sekijima