Monthly archives: October, 2009

Sneak Peek 10th Wave III Catalog: Essay by Akiko Busch

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Writer Akiko Busch has drafted an essay for the catalog 10th Wave III: Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture, which is being printed this week. Busch is the author of The Uncommon Life of Common Objects (Metropolis Books), Geography of Home: Writings on Where We Live (Princeton Architectural Press) and, most recently, Nine Ways to Cross a River: Midstream Reflections on Swimming and Getting There from Here (Bloomsbury). A former writer for Metropolis Magazine, Busch writes about culture and design for a variety of publications. She is a regular contributor to the Considerings column in American Craft Magazine. About the work in the 10th Wave III, Busch writes,

“And what so many of these pieces suggest, of course, is the ease with which the narrative capabilities of the fiber arts converge with more abstract expression. Meaning need not always be so literal. The woven form has an inherent ambiguity; it can be about containing and letting go at once.”

The 164-page color catalogs can be ordered from http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/catalog.34.html beginning October 30, 2009.


Knitted, Knotted, Netted at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, NJ

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We attended the opening of Knitted, Knotted, Netted at the Hunterdon Museum of Art in Clinton, New Jersey last week. The Museum is a picturesque venue, presenting changing exhibitions of contemporary art and design in a 19th century stone mill that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town of Clinton offers speciality shops featuring antiques, quilts, country furnishings and, intriguingly in one case, “Things We Like.”

Norma Minkowitz, Kazue Honma, Noriko Tanikawa, Hisako Sekijima

Norma Minkowitz, Kazue Honma, Noriko Tanikawa, Hisako Sekijima

Knitted, Knotted, Netted includes work by 12 artists. The techniques highlighted in Knitted, Knotted, Netted have ancient lineages and have seen a resurgence through their use by contemporary artists. Each of these methods involves the looping of a thread or cord, differentiating them from braiding and weaving, in which elements may interlace but not necessarily loop through each other. The artists in this exhibit employ the techniques of the title in diverse ways and in widely differing materials, varied in size, shape and color. The two- and three-dimensional artworks in the exhibit use not only plant and animal materials but also industrial and synthetic materials, creating looped structures never envisioned in earlier contexts. The highlights for us: the work by the four artists represented by browngrotta arts, of course — three strong works by Norma Minkowitz and a work of edgeworthia bark by Hisako Sekijima, grouped with works by two of her students, Kazue Honma and Noriko Takamiya — and also, The Crowded Planet series by Carol Westfall. Westfall says that the series is composed of hundreds of tiny “men,” the stick figures we drew as children. “If you take the top two arms and pull them together you create the kanji character for man, nin or jin or hito,” she explains. “I compress all these tiny ‘men’ together and form the ball which is This Crowded Planet.”

Carol Westfall's The Crowded Planet Series

Carol Westfall's The Crowded Planet Series

The exhibit, at 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton, NJ, 908-735-8415, continues through January 24, 2010.

 


10th Wave III: Online– The next best thing to being there

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Our first online exhibit, the10th Wave III: Online, opens today. The exhibit is a carefully curated selection of works presented in installation shots, images of individual works and detail photos. Approximating the in-person experience, viewers can “walk” through 26 images of the exhibit installed; click to view each of the 125 works in the show more closely, focus in on images of dozen of details and click to read more about each of the artists in the exhibition. “Images of individual works of art online are commonplace,” says Tom Grotta, president of browngrotta arts. “We have tried, instead, to give viewers a sense of the work in space, combined with the option of looking more closely at the pieces that interest them, just as they would have if they were visiting the exhibit in person.”

The artists in the 10th Wave III are experimenting with forms and techniques in novel and surprising ways, exploring new relationships among structure, design, color, and pattern.” They work in a wide range of materials from silk, stainless steel and rubber to recycled raincoats and linen to tree bark, safety pins and telephone books. Among the artists in the online exhibition are Lewis Knauss, Lia Cook, Gyöngy Laky from the US, Sue Lawty from the UK, Ritzi Jacobi from Germany, Jin-Sook So from Sweden, Carolina Yrarrázaval from Chile and Hisako Sekijima and Jiro Yonezawa from Japan.

The 10th Wave III: Online runs through December 20, 2009.


Guest Post Alert:

THE VOCABULARY FOR DEFINING BEAUTY

photo Nancy Moore Bess

photo Nancy Moore Bess

Nancy Moore Bess has penned her fifth and last Guest Post this year, The Vocabulary for Defining Beauty. To read it, with our thanks, click Guest Posts above.

 


Check Out: “Has Conceptual Art Jumped the Shark Tank?” in the NYT

Don’t miss this week’s New York Times Op Ed by Denis Dutton: “Has Conceptual Art Jumped the Shark Tank?” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/opinion/16dutton.html?pagewanted=1&em.
Dutton is a professor of the philosophy of art at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and the author of The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, who takes a skeptical look at the long-term investment value of conceptual artwork.

In his editorial, Dutton questions whether conceptual art, i.e., work we admire not for skillful hands-on execution by the artist, but for the artist’s creative concept, has staying power. Human beings have a permanent, innate taste for virtuoso displays in the arts, observes Dutton, while the appreciation of contemporary conceptual art depends not on recognizable skill, but “on how the work is situated in today’s intellectual zeitgeist.” Dutton’s prediction: “Future generations, no longer engaged by our art ‘concepts’ and unable to divine any special skill or emotional expression in the work, may lose interest in it as a medium for financial speculation and relegate it to the realm of historical curiosity.” Not to worry. “There are plenty of prodigious artists at work in every medium, ready to wow us with surprising skills,” concludes Dutton. We agree.


Guest Post Alert

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Nancy Moore Bess writes on Japan and its influence on her work.

Click “Guest Posts” to read the entire post.


Catch the Wave: The 10th Wave III opens today

MATERNAL GRANDMOTHERS.jpg The opening of the 10th Wave III at Artifact Design Group, 2 Hollyhock Lane, Wilton Connecticut is from 3:30 to 7:30 this Friday the 9th of October. The exhibition features work from more than 40 artists from Europe, Asia, Canada, the US and the UK. Also featured in the exhibition are new furniture designs by Gregory Clark. The show will run through November 28, 2009. Hope you’ll get a chance to stop by!

For more information check the Events and Calendar Pages on our website: www.browngrotta.com.


Guest Post Alert

October 4, 2009

Carving Foam For Fiber Sculpture

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Click the Guest Posts tab to read about Nancy’s exploration of carved industrial foam in her recent work.


Gold Medal Winner: Katherine Westphal

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postcard and weaving of Katherine Westphal by Ed Rossbach

The American Craft Council has announced that Katherine Westphal has been selected to receive the 2009 Gold Medal, for consummate craftsmanship. Thirty-nine other artists have been awarded a Gold medal, including artists Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, Dale Chihuly, Jack Lenor Larsen and Ruth Duckworth. Artists selected must have demonstrated extraordinary artistic ability and must have worked 25 years or more in the discipline or career in which they are being recognized.
Katherine was born in 1919. She studied painting, intending to be a commercial artist. In 1946, she was hired to teach design at the University of Washington in Seattle. It was there she met and married fellow faculty member, and later ACC Gold Medalist, Ed Rossbach. In 1950, the couple moved to Berkeley and Westphal began working with textiles. For eight years she designed commercial fabrics. In the mid-60s she accepted what she thought was a short-time assignment teaching industrial design at the University of California, Davis. She stayed 13 years, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1979. From 1997 to 2001, the couple’s work was featured in museums across the US in a traveling exhibition, The Ties That Bind, Fiber Art by Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal from the Daphne Farago Collection.

Westphal has concentrated on surface, pattern and decoration in textiles, quilts and clothing, as well as baskets. The use of fractured and random images became a signature of her work. Her collages combined bold images and bright colors. In the catalog for the OBJECTS USA exhibition in 1970, she wrote, “I was trained as a painter. I see things from that viewpoint. I build up; I destroy. I let the textile grow, never knowing where it is going or when it will be finished. It is cut up, sewn together, embroidered, quilted, embellished with tapestry or fringes, until my intuitive and visual senses tell me it is finished and the message complete.”

UNTITLED KIMONO

UNTITLED KIMONO

Shortly after the color copier was introduced, while others were still concentrating on standard office applications, Westphal recognized the technology’s creative potential. She used heat transfer paper to imprint images onto paper and cloth, combining photographs that she had taken herself with found images, altering them, then tearing, cutting, rearranging and stitching them back together. Jo Ann Staab described the process in Surface Design in 1999, “She would also deliberately move an image while the copier was running, so that the print was blurred, or the movement was traced into a new image. It was magic. She took these images and incorporated them into her textile designs, her handmade books, and even her woven designs. One day I saw her working with an image of boisterous tennis star John McEnroe with his signature mop of red curls wrapped in a headband. She had abstracted and silhouetted an action pose and was setting up a diagonal repeat on sheets of copy paper taped together. I said, ‘Oh, that’s John McEnroe, I can tell because of his hair.’ She responded, ‘Oh, I don’t know who it is, I just liked the movement in this image – it’s from one of those sports magazines.’ Later the image emerged in a highly technical Jacquard weave repeat that Katherine produced as part of the Jacquard Project sponsored by the Rhode Island School of Design; row upon row of McEnroe figures pushed to a completely different level of abstract design meticulously rendered in multi-harness brocade.”

Westphal’s inventive approach has influenced myriad artists. As Ken Johnson, wrote of her and her husband, in the New York Times in 1998, “The permissions extended by Mr. Rossbach and Ms. Westphal have inspired generations of craftsmen. For each, weaving is a conservative discipline against which to react by using improbable materials, techniques or, occasionally, images. You don’t think about how beautifully or skillfully their works are made, but rather how inventively they play off conventional expectations.”