Monthly archives: November, 2012

November 26th: Our Online Exhibition Opens With an Offer for CyberMonday

On Monday, November 26th, browngrotta arts will present an online version of our 25th anniversary exhibition,Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture at The comprehensive exhibition highlights browngrotta arts’ 25 years promoting international contemporary art. Viewers can click on any image in the online exhibition to reach a page with more information about the artists and their work.

“Some works in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture reflect the early days of contemporary textile art and sculpture movement,” says Tom Grotta, founder and co-curator at browngrotta arts. “There are also current works by both established and emerging artists, which provide an indication of where the movement is now and where it may be headed.”

Since Monday the 26th is CyberMonday this year, sales of art, books, catalogs, videos or dvds placed online or by telephone that day will be discounted 10% (excluding tax and shipping). In addition, bga will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation for each sale made from November 24th through December 31, 2012. Visit For more information call Tom at 203.834.0623 or email us at

Looking Forward/Looking Back: Randy Walker

Woven Corncrib Copyright Randy Walker 2008

Ten years ago, I wound a spool of thread around a bent-up steel tomato cage for no reason at all. The idea of using thread to make art never entered my mind. I was just playing.

Trained as an architect, I thought in terms of solid things made from serious materials like concrete, glass, wood and steel. I had no affinity for textiles of any kind. Thread was soft, formless and barely visible. It also came in colors, which any sophisticated architect would be suspicious of. Furthermore, I found it difficult to handle, and I was surely not using it for what it was intended.

As I continued to wrap the deformed metal frame, a surface began to emerge. Not a solid surface, but an intricate, transparent one that allowed the entire volume of the cylindrical shape to be seen at once. As the lines of thread multiplied, their color intensified and light played off them. It was magical. I realized that textiles were none other than surfaces like the one I was making, only more solid. I became fascinated with the idea of an in-between surface, neither solid nor completely transparent.

6rw Skimmer, Randy Walker, old cheese curd skimmer, nylon thread, steel base, 67.5″ x 21.5″ x 15.25″, 2008

Pleased with my three-dimensional creation, I went to the sewing store and bought an entire shelf of this thread. I searched for other things to wrap and found saw blades and kitchen sieves, a badminton racquet, scythes, and all manner of rusty implements to be ideal for my fibrous interventions. With each framework, I had to invent a way of adapting the fiber, and it was unknown and exciting territory.

I eventually discovered the work of Naomi and Masakazu Kobayashi, and from there browngrotta arts. I realized that browngrotta represented a small yet international community of artists that were pushing the traditional boundaries of textile arts. It was a place where art, craft, sculpture and architecture merged, unbounded by narrowly defined categories.

Randy Walker Skimmer detail

Over the years, I have continued to search for objects and spaces for my artistic investigations in thread. My explorations have led me to investigate the possibilities of fiber as a workable medium in architectural settings. At this large, public scale, I have used found objects and spaces that include an abandoned corncrib, concrete grain elevator, a historic wrought iron bridge and urban water fountains. Using fiber in the public realm challenges accepted notions of permanence and process traditionally associated with public art. I find that I must invest time not only in my art making, but in the research and development of fiber technology. On a more philosophical level, fiber has caused me to reflect deeply on what I am trying to do as an artist, and where my work is taking me.

Most of the time I am up to these challenges, but I have set out on a lonely and meandering artistic path. browngrotta is for me a beacon. I have only to look through these artists’ work to remind me of the unlimited and largely unexplored potential of this medium.

Randy Walker
November 2012

Looking Forward/Looking Back: Tamiko Kawata

Tamiko Kawata installations

Safety pin has been my primary medium for some time.  It functions variously as thread, yarn, clay or truss in my work process.  Safety pins entered my life soon after I arrived from Japan, out of the necessity to shorten the all-too long American clothing.

In the beginning, I made simple flat pieces, finding ways to interlock the pins as if weaving.  Each piece was an experiment and each piece took me to another unexpected stage.  Slowly and naturally I found constructing systems as I went along, using only the inherent structural properties of the pins, and I can now create from anything from drawing-like works to three-dimensional self-standing works and jewelry forms.

In 1999, I was given the opportunity to install these works outdoors.  It is a challenging and exciting practice, to expose this very domestic, usually hidden thing,  to the open, rough environment of nature, where it must face all kinds of weather and is susceptible to damage and decay.  Working outdoors gives me another angle to express my concept.

White City Detail by Tamiko Kawata, photo by Tom Grotta

I like to use materials suitable for expressing my belief in respect for common people and small lives, and things that reflect my feelings toward the American life that I have happily adopted.  The impact of the differences between these two countries, in the lifestyles and the philosophies is so great that it still preoccupies my mind, even though I have lived longer here than I lived in Japan.  Unconsciously, I continually connect two cultures.

I like to interweave these thoughts through my works… it is my diary in visual form.

Tamiko Kawata

September 2012