Monthly archives: February, 2018

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, 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: 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: 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 ( 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…