Monthly archives: February, 2011

News Flash: browngrotta arts and artists get good press

The last couple of months have seen browngrotta arts and the artists whose work we represent make the news in periodicals online and around the world.  Lia Cook’s work graced the cover of the December 2010 issue of Textil Forum, published in Germany, as part of a fascinating article by the artist, “An investigation: Woven Faces and Neuroscience”
http://www.
exacteditions.com/
exact/browse/573/
911/7936/2/44?dps=on
(more on that project in an upcoming post).The January issue of the always striking online magazine Hand/Eye included a piece on our singular business/life model, “Living with Art,” by artist and writer Scott Rothstein

http://handeyemagazine.com/content/browngrotta-arts. The related slideshow features dozen of art works on display in our barn/gallery/home. (You can read more by Scott Rothstein on his blog, http://artfoundout.blogspot.com, in American Craft magazine and elsewhere.) Meanwhile, the January/February of the UK Crafts magazine includes images from Lizzie Farey’s solo exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/crafts-magazine/latest-issue.

The January issue of Artist Magazine from Taiwan has a several-page article about Norie Hatakeyama by Ming-Whe Liou, with photos by Tom Grotta. We can’t tell you what it says — but it looks good. http://www.artist-magazine.com/magazine/index.php.
Last, but certainly not least, the cover of the Spring 2011 issue
of The Journal of Wealth Management, features Tom Grotta’s photo
of Christine Joy’s willow sculpture, Bundle
http://www.iijournals.
com/toc/jwm/13/4
.

 


Dispatches: Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth, UK

Calculus, by Sue Lawty, 2m x 3m, natural stone on gesso. photo by John Coombes

 

 

 

Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution, opens February 12th at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and runs through April 9, 2011.  The exhibition, which was curated by artist Helen Carnac for Craftspace, “considers how the practice of contemporary craft making embraces similar values and philosophies to those supported by the Slow Movement.  Both think through where things are made, by whom and the importance of provenance. They ask us to slow down, perhaps not literally but certainly philosophically, and to reflect on other and perhaps more thoughtful ways of doing things.”  Taking Time features 19 international artists, makers and designers, including Sue Lawty, Matthew Harris, Heidrun Schimmel and Sonya Clark, whose making practice and work connects with these ideas. In different and sometimes overlapping ways they examine the world through making and in places quietly ask questions about global and local conditions that we find ourselves in today. The exhibition aims to show that contemporary craft practice and its methodologies can generate a modern and timely response to current social debates.

Sue Lawty provided in-progress images and described the process of making of Calculus, her work large and meticulously crafted work for the Taking Time exhibition on her V&A blog  http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1395_lawty/wordpress last January. In making the work, she wrote, “hundreds and thousands of decisions were wrestled and questioned in researching, collecting, sorting, selecting, organising, ordering, laying out, composing… The process is by its nature, a meditative and slow affair. I found myself considering how each tiny found fragment of rock laid out in each single row, echoed the minute subtle nuances and individualities embedded in all the rows of all the fragments of woven cloth I’d encountered in the V&A stores. Each unique mark and decision of infinitesimal difference subscribing to the language of the whole.”

The Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery was home to another fascinating installation, Labelled, by Dail Behennah, from February 2009 to May 2010  http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/lookingin_lookingout.pdf.

Labelled-by-Dail-Behennah

Labelled was made of 490 suspended enamel labels, hung in three layers forming a circle over 2m wide. Each enamel was printed with a label from natural history specimens within the Museum’s collections. These specimens were collected and intended for study. The labels were written by curators and collectors over the centuries and record various details about the specimens. One of the core aims of Labelled was to provoke viewers into thinking about why we collect and what can be learned from these specimens. The collections have a genuine scientific importance and are studied to help understand species and habitats in the past as well as in the present. The glittering enamels Behennah used reflected the preciousness of the natural world and different species. The circle was punctuated by red labels, which indicated an endangered or extinct species and reminded viewers of the fragility of the natural world.

Behennah says she was always interested in the idea of the collector’s cabinet which aimed to collect and preserve knowledge. “Without natural history collections in museums, and their associated information, we would not know which species are threatened, on the verge of extinction or already extinct,” says Behennah. “Some, such as the dodo and passenger pigeon, may live on in folklore, but species of insignificant-looking insects or fish can disappear without trace if they have not already been recorded, classified and labelled by collectors in the past, and preserved in museums today.” It was Behennah’s hope that the installation would engender debate about museums and their role, as well as debates surrounding species diversity and conservation. “These are important topics,” Behennah notes, “especially now that we are appearing to witness climate change and habitat movement and reduction.” The Museum’s website still includes additional information, including and interview with Behennah, images of the installation process and some of the specimens and more. http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/lookingin_lookingout.pdf

An example of an enamel label, of the sort Dail Behennah prepared for her installation work, Labelled. A large part of the value of a museum is contained in its labelling and scholarship, a fact that is generally not acknowledged. Each of the 490 enamels in Labelled is printed with a label from natural history specimens within the Plymouth City Museum’s collections.

The Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery is at Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AJ.


Who Said What: Andy Warhol

Looking for inspiration?  Apparently, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
I’d asked around 10 or 15 people for suggestions… Finally one lady friend asked the right question, ‘Well, what do you love most?’ That’s how I started painting money.”  Andy Warhol

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Art into Type: Books We Talked Up in 2010

Last year saw several books published that we recommended to clients and purchased for family and friends.  Among these were Handcrafted Modern: At Home with Mid-century Designers by Leslie Williamson, a collection of photographs of beautiful, iconic, and undiscovered mid-century interiors, including the homes of Russel Wright, George Nakashima, Harry Bertoia, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eva Zeisel, among others. Williamson’s photographs show these creative homes as they were lived in by their designers: Walter Gropius’ historic Bauhaus home in Massachusetts; Albert Frey’s floating modernist aerie on a Palm Springs rock outcropping; and Wharton Esherick’s completely handmade Pennsylvania house, from the organic hand-carved staircase to the iconic furniture.

Another favorite volume of ours was 3-D Typography. We added “text” to the title of this blog so that we could cover two things we are passionate about: art that involves text and interesting books.  3-D Typography, which includes work by Gyöngy Laky and dozens of other artists who have created lettering out of everything from shopping carts and toilet paper to toothpaste and pinched flesh, fits both criteria.  The book’s creation was serendipitous.  The authors, Jeanne Abbink and Emily CM Anderson looked at three-dimensional type in the course on a redesign of American Craft magazine in 2007. There’s a 3D Typography Book blog, too at: http://www.3dtypographybook.com.  If you enjoy the book as much as we have, check out the blog, including Bavarian pretzel alphabet.

Long overdue was the first comprehensive survey of modern craft in the United States, Makers: A History of American Studio Craft, by Janet Koplos and Bruce Metcalf.  Makers follows the development of studio craft–objects in fiber, clay, glass, wood, and metal–from its roots in 19th-century reform movements to the rich diversity of expression at the end of the 20th century. More than 400 illustrations — including two photographs by Tom — complement this chronological exploration of the American craft tradition. Keeping as their main focus the objects and the makers — including Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Katherine Westphal, François Grossen, Lia Cook, Warren Seelig, Arturo Sandoval, Gyöngy Laky, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Clare Zeisler, Anni Albers, Lillian Elliott, Helena Hernmarck, Norma Minkowitz and Trude Guermonprez — the authors offer a detailed analysis of major works and discuss education, institutional support and the philosophical underpinnings of craft.

Another very special volume from 2010 is Written Weed, by Marian Bijlenga, published by Hein Elferink. This exquisite book includes 111 paste-ups / collages by the artist made of dried leaves, grasses and seeds. The images are like handwriting, Chinese characters, the letters of an alphabet. In order to emphasize the graphic quality of these works, the book is published in black/white. Only 400 copies were produced; each is numbered and signed. You can order it from browngrotta arts for $185.00

Though it was written in 2009, I didn’t discover The Bird Catcher, by Laura Jacobs, until last year. I loved it and ordered copies for several friends.  It’s a tender story of grief and healing in the big city.  But it was the detailed description of the protagonist’s window displays for a high-end department store and the evolution of her closest friend’s craft gallery — including a display of elegantly crafted goblets — that I most appreciated.