Search Results for "pioneers"

Artsy’s Take on Textile Pioneers and Ours

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5" x 44.5", 1970

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5″ x 44.5″, 1970

Last fall, Artsy compiled information and slide shows on 10 artists the author, Sarah Gottesman, viewed as pioneers. Click HERE to read Artsy’s article. We have our own nominees for such a list, including Ed Rossbach who experimented with materials and techniques in the 60s, creating bobbin lace from plastic tubing and vessels of cereal boxes and tubing, and Lia Cook, who has combined weaving, painting, photography and digital technology, focusing on the history and meaning of textiles, shattering restrictive theories about craft, art, science and technology in the process. Gyöngy Laky has experimented in sculpture of twigs and wood, hardware and wire — creating vessels, forms, wall work and typography. Kay Sekimachi created ethereal monofilament weavings in the 70s and 80s, bowls and towers of paper after that, and continues, at age 90, to create elegant weavings of lines and grid that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin.
Intensity Tera Data woven cotton and rayon 50.5” x 332”, 2014 23lc Neural Networks woven cotton and rayon 81” x 51”, 2011 27lc Intensity Su Data Encore woven cotton and rayon 52” x 40”, 2014

Intensity Tera Data, woven cotton and rayon, 50.5” x 332”, 2014
Neural Networks, woven cotton and rayon, 81” x 51”, 2011
 Intensity Su Data Encore, woven cotton and rayon, 52” x 40”, 2014

You can learn more about these and other artists through our catalog, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now , which profiles 15 pioneering fiber artists who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture and 15 artists born in 1960 or after, who have continued that innovative approach.
Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013


Don’t Miss: Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers at the Japan Society in New York

Naomi Kobayashi, Kyoko Kumai and Takaaki Tanaka installation

We had the chance to attend the opening of Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition last month (which coincided with the addition of the Japan Society’s headquarters to the Landmark Preservation Commission’s roster of buildings in New York) http://www.japansociety.org/page/
programs/gallery. The exhibition is significant in scale — 15 artists, some with room-size installations — and in the comprehensive portrait it provides of the practice of textile art in Japan today. The materials, techniques and sensibility of the pieces varies widely. “During the past decade,” writes in her essay for the exhibition catalog,  Hiroko Watanabe, a professor at Tama Art University and one of the participants in the exhibition, “the unique softness and flexibility of fabric — qualities shared by no other material — have inspired these artists to move beyond mere mastery to create daring, original works that hold the promise of still more impressive advances in the years to come.” There are five related lectures and workshops coming up in November and December:

LECTURE
Mastermind in Textile: An Evening with Dai Fujiwara
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30 PM;
WORKSHOP
Free-Form Saori Weaving Workshop
Sunday, November 20, 10 AM
Sunday, November 20, 1 PM
WORKSHOP
Irresistible Colors: Shibori-Dyeing Workshop
Saturday, December 3, 1 PM
WORKSHOP
Nature’s Inspiration: Embroidery Workshop
Saturday, December 10, 1 PM
WORKSHOP
Nature’s Inspiration: Embroidery Workshop
Saturday, December 10, 1 PM
All at the   Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, New York (212) 832-1155.

If you cannot get to New York, or you just want to learn more, there is a catalog, Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers, produced by Yale University and available from browngrotta arts http://www.browngrotta.com/
Pages/b45.php
. There’s also a free Fiber Futures app with images and artist statements  http://itunes.apple.com/kz/app/fiber-futures-japans-textile/id464150856?mt=8, and a video tour by Nihon NY,  on the exhibition, Episode 18,  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE1X279oDVo.


Art Out and About: US

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliffe 

Our 2020 “Art in the Barn” exhibition series is not until next Spring but there are plenty of exciting exhibitions featuring some of our favorite browngrotta arts’ artists to check out this Winter season. Below is a round up of 10 must-see shows in the US:

John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.
John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.

Washington, D.C.
Connections: Contemporary Craft
at the Renwick Gallery
On view – indefinitely
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The exhibition explores the underlying current of craft as a balancing, humanistic force in the face of an evermore efficiency-driven, virtual world. The installation highlights the evolution of the craft field as it transitions into a new phase at the hands of contemporary artists, showcasing the activist values, optimism, and uninhibited approach of today’s young artists, which in some way echoes the communal spirit and ideology of the pioneers of the American Studio Craft Movement in their heyday. Includes artist Lia Cook, Toshiko Takaezu, Ed Rossbach, John McQueen, Peter Voulkos.
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum 

Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC. (212)(202) 633-7970 https://americanart.si.edu

Bamian by Sheila Hicks
Bamian Sheila Hicks (American (lives and works in Paris), born in 1934) 1968 Wool and acrylic yarns, wrapped * Charles Potter Kling Fund and partial gift of Sheila Hicks © Sheila Hicks * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts
Women Take the Floor 
On view through May 3, 2020
An exhibition of more than 200 works that challenge the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists – advocating for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. Includes Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks, Olga Amaral, Kay Sekimachi, Toshiko Takaezu
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: (617) 267-9300 mfa.org

Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds
From Off the Wall: Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds, 1978. Resist-dyed cotton. San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Off the Wall: American Art to Wear
On view through May 17, 2020  Delight in the astonishing inventiveness and techniques of a generation of mixed-media artists who pioneered a new art form designed around the body. Coming of age during the dramatic cultural shifts of the 1960s and 70s, the artists in this distinctively American movement explored non-traditional materials and methods to create adventurous, deeply imaginative works. Includes Norma Minkowitz and Katherine Westphal 
Philadelphia Museum of Art 
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (215) 763-8100
https://philamuseum.org

White Pinwheel by Ethel Stein
Ethel Stein,White Pinwheel, 1990 cotton, satin damask weave; woven on a loom with a drawloom attachment fabricated by the artist 87.6 x 83.8 x 2.2 cm (34 1/2 x 33 x 7/8 in.)

Chicago, Illinois
Weaving beyond the Bauhaus
On view through Feb 17, 2020
Presented on the centenary of this foundational organization, Weaving beyond the Bauhaus traces the diffusion of Bauhaus artists, or Bauhäusler, such as Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students across America. Through their ties to arts education institutions, including Black Mountain College, the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Yale University, these artists shared their knowledge and experiences with contemporary and successive generations of artists, including Sheila Hicks, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler, shaping the landscape of American art in the process.
Art Institute Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
(312) 443-3600
https://www.artic.edu

In Poetry and Silence Lenore Tawney installation
In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney Installation view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2019
Courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
On view through March 7, 2020
This series of four exhibitions explores Lenore Tawney’s (1907–2007) life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work. Read more about the Tawney exhibits in our earlier blog here: http://arttextstyle.com/2019/12/18/lenore-tawney-gets-her-due/  
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC)
608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: 920.458.6144
jmkac.org

Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta
Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

Racine, Wisconsin
It’s Like Poetry: Building a Toshiko Takaezu Archive at RAM 
On view through July 26, 2020
RAM’s archive now numbers over 30 works, including Toshiko Takaezu’s (1922-2011) most expansive grouping, the installation comprised of 14 “human-sized” forms, the Star Series. Significantly, the museum’s holdings span the range of Takaezu’s working career—with a double-spouted pot from the 1950s being the earliest and the Star Series (1999-2000) being the latest. 
Open Storage: RAM Showcases Ceramic, Fiber, and Regional Archives 
On view through August 30, 2020
Arranged as a series of artist solo showcases, Open Storage also highlights the earliest kinds of work given to RAM—textiles and works on paper. While ceramic works and art jewelry currently number as the two largest types of contemporary craft represented, examples of textiles, prints, drawings, and works on paper were among the very first gifts of artwork to the museum in the 1940s. This exhibition features the work of 12 artists—Sandra Byers, Gibson Byrd, John N. Colt, Theodore Czebotar, Lillian Elliott, Joseph Friebert, Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Jean Stamsta, Merle Temkin, Murray Weiss, and Beatrice Wood—through multiple examples of their work. 
Racine Art Museum
441 Main Street, Racine, WI 53403
Phone: (262) 638-8300
https://www.ramart.org

Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 22, 2019–January 2021). Alan Shields, J + K, 1972. Photograph by Ryan Urcia


New York, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019
On view through January 2021
The exhibition foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. This exhibition provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to artists, including abstraction, popular culture, feminist and queer aesthetics, and recent explorations of identity and relationships to place. Together, the works demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art. Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will include over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson. More on this exhibition in our previous post: http://arttextstyle.com/dispatches-making-knowing-craft-in-art-1950-2019-at-the-whitney/
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600
https://whitney.org

Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

New York, New York
Taking a Thread for a Walk
On view through April 19, 2020
True to its title, this exhibition takes a thread for a walk among ancient textile traditions, early-20th-century design reform movements, and industrial materials and production methods. Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, this show highlights the fluid expressivity of the medium. More about this exhibition in our earlier blog: Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York 
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400
https://www.moma.org

Lia Cook in front of Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA
Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA

Los Angeles, California
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985
On view through May 3, 2020 Featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. This is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Includes artist Lia Cook
Museum of Contemporary Art
Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 626-6222
https://www.moca.org 

Please check with each art institution for directions and hours.          


Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliff

To much fanfare, New York City’s beloved Museum of Modern Art reopened on Oct 21, 2019 after undergoing major renovations over the summer to expand to more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

The museum’s Department of Architecture and Design organized the inaugural exhibitions reexamining the role of both disciplines as “integral to the interdisciplinary conversation with the visual arts” — an approach we have ascribed to at browngrotta arts for over 30 years.

Of particular interest to arttexstyle is the textile exhibition titled Taking a Thread for a Walk, which is a whimsical play on Paul Klee’s pedagogical lesson that “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” This exhibition is on view at The Philip Johnson Galleries on the museum’s third floor through April 19, 2020.   

Taking a Thread for a Walk, according to MoMA’s official press release, “looks at how successive generations developed new material and constructive languages from the 1890s through the 1970s, highlighting the flexibility of textiles, a medium that continues to defy easy categorization. The installation ‘takes a thread for a walk’ among ancient textile traditions, early 20th-century design reform movements, adventurous combinations of natural and new synthetic fibers in industrial production, through to the emergence of a more sculptural approach to textile art in the 1960s and 70s. Textiles and the adjacent practices of architecture, painting, drawing and sculpture have long had a close affinity, especially in the 20th century, when there was a concerted move to emphasize the underlying unity of all art forms and to connect modern art with industry and daily life. Woven artifacts appeared at the forefront of ongoing debates around abstraction, the total work of art, and the fusion of art with technology, challenging the widespread marginalization of textiles as ‘women’s work.'” Many of the pioneers in this narrative have been women, chief among them Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Florence Knoll and Sheila Hicks. Also featured are  recent acquisitions by Monika Correa (India), Aurèlia Muñoz (Catalonia), and the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, making clear the medium’s global relevance.

Upon entering the exhibition, we were greeted by a large scale sisal sculpture Yellow Abakan 1967–1968 by Magdalena Abakanowicz whose monumental works were often misperceived as a “feminine’ craft.” For more than half a century, Magdalena Abakanowicz produced critically acclaimed, poetic sculptures about the fraught and fragile condition of being human, shaped by her experiences growing up during WWII and living through the Soviet domination of Poland. According to MoMA, “Abakanowicz and many artists of the Eastern Bloc were drawn to craft and textile traditions as expressive mediums less regulated by Soviet censorship. Yellow Abakan‘s form is determined by the drape of the textile, which is coarsely woven from sisal, an industrial plant fiber used to make rope. The scarred seams and anatomical appendages lend the work a figural quality, something Abakanowicz continues to explore in large-scale sculptures cast in hardened fiber. Yellow Abakan was among works by several Polish weavers included in

Wall Hangings, a 1969 MoMA exhibition showcasing the work of international contemporary fiber artists. Abakanowicz’ work was first exhibited in the US by gallerists Anne and Jacques Baruch of Chicago. The Baruch’s work with fiber artists from Eastern Europe is the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.

Directly across and in stark contrast in size is a beautiful raffia basket by Ed Rossbach Raffia Lace Basket, 1973. Rossbach was a relentless experimenter and according to MoMA “his career began in with ceramics and weaving in the 1940s, but evolved over the next decade into basket making. He is best known for his innovative and playful baskets made from nontraditional materials such as plastic and newspaper.” Rossbach was also featured in our recent exhibition Artists from The Grotta Collection which is now extended online on Artsy. 

linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Another highlight of the exhibition is a linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965. Hicks is one of the several modern craft and dimensional art artists who are part of The Grotta Collection. Hicks’ work is featured in browngrotta arts’ catalog, Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan, which documents an exhibition Hicks curated at bga in the 90s, one of several bga exhibitions in which Hicks’ work has been included.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Also of interest is a curious framed coptic rounded tapestry from the 6th-8th century titled Christ enthroned by an unknown designer. There is a loom on the left by Anni Albers labeled Structo ArtCraft 750 loom c. 1952 and to the right is a sculpture by Aurèlia Muñoz and Antoni Gaudi’s Study of a catenary arch for the Gaudí crypt at Colonia Güell, 1996. And directly above is a 3-panel digital video projection titled Warping Threading Weaving Drawing, 2014 by Simon Barker and Ismni Samanidou.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Poorly

Another section of the exhibition featured a collection of woven textiles and in the foreground we were delighted to see a mesmerizing wall hanging by Jack Lenor Larsen, Interplay Casement Fabric, 1960, made of rovanna saran microfilamant. An international textile designer, author and collector, Larsen has long played an influential role in textile arts and has been an important mentor and supporter of browngrotta arts. “I think of interior fabrics as something to be in, not just to sit on or look at. Objects are out: the surround is in, and how we feel and relate to space is everything,” Larsen is quoted from 1978 on the MoMA art label. Behind these collections of soft fabrics is Halyard armchair, 1950 by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner who was commissioned by Lou and Sandy Grotta to design several pieces for their home, The Grotta House. Anni Albers’ popularity is well represented in the exhibition, too, with 18 works ranging from 1926 to 1983 including screenprints, design drawings and tapestry. 

Sheila Hicks Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Wait, there’s more! On the sixth floor of the museum is another exhibition Surrounds: 11 Installations, showcasing for the first time 11 watershed installations by living artists from the past two decades, all drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition includes Hicks’ monumental Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013–14) that “playfully and subversively challenges notions of architecture as permanent, solid, and tectonic.”

Be sure to go and see this abundance for yourself. Taking a Thread for a Walk is on view through April 19, 2020. The MoMA is located at 11 West 53 Street, New York. Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm. For more information, visit MoMA.org


Fiber Art Up and Comers

Paniers-liens III, Séphanie Jacques
carved wood (ash), white willow, hemp rope, red, wool, 21.25” to 43.25” x 15.5” x 17.75”,2011.
Paniers-liens II, Stéphanie Jacques
carved wood (ash), white willow, hemp, rope, red wool, 22” x 17.25” x 17.25”, 2011

Earlier this year, we compared Artsy‘s list of fiber art pioneers and ours (see also Craft in America’s Pioneering Women in Craft). In the years since contemporary fiber first gained international attention, a group of younger artists have continued to experiment. Numerous artists from a decade or two or three later are identified as continuing innovations in this field, including Rosemary Troeckel, Lesley Dill, and Ernesto Neto and more recently, Sophie Narrett and Orly Cogan.

Of the artists that work with browngrotta arts, we’d point to five who continue to redefine the practice. Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium, combines clay, wood, photography, knitting and basketmaking to create works that reveal what is unseen.

Macramé Black Shell n.1, Federica Luzzi, cotton cord, wax, graphite, 13” x 12” x 6.5”, 2008

Federica Luzzi of Italy, uses fiber to illustrate natural phenomena. Her current series of elegant macramés were born of conversations with researchers at the National Institute of Nuclear Physics in Frascati, Italy about concepts of dark matter, antimatter, nuclear, subnuclear physics and the particle accelerator.

Transición, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, alpaca; metallic yarns and silver leaf; moriche palm fiber, silk, 56" x 24.25”, 2018

Transición, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, alpaca; metallic yarns and silver leaf; moriche palm fiber, silk, 56″ x 24.25”, 2018

Eduardo Portillo and Maria Dávila from Venezuela take an experimental approach to all aspects of their work — sourcing, technique and materials. The artists spent several years in China and India studying sericulture, or silk farming, and since then their research has taken them worldwide. In Venezuela they established the entire process of silk manufacture: growing mulberry trees on the slopes of the Andes, rearing silkworms, obtaining threads from other locally sourced fibers, coloring them all with natural dyes and designing and weaving innovative textiles. This works include woven “mosaics” from their Indigo series. More recently, the couple has been incorporating copper and bronze into their work, using textiles as inspiration for works that are cast in bronze. The couple was awarded with a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship in 2017. Sue Lawty from the UK, has used her prodigious weaving skills to weave lead, and for the last few years, has created assemblages comprised of literally thousands of tiny stones, a pixilated ‘cloth’ of sorts.


Art Lives Well Lived: Katherine Westphal and Ethel Stein

katherine Westphal at Home

Katherine Westphal Portrait 2015 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

We lost two fine artists and friends this month when Ethel Stein passed away at 100 and Katherine Westphal died at home in Berkeley, California at 99.

We had been promoting Katherine Westphal’s work and that of her husband, Ed Rossbach (who died in 2002), since the 1990s. We visited Ed and Katherine at their home before Carter was born. (For those of you familiar with browngrotta arts that was a quarter of a decade ago.) Their home, and Katherine’s studio in particular, was a wonder – chockfull of items they had collected from their travels that pleased and inspired them, decorated with murals by Katherine on several walls. Though her studio appeared chaotic, Katherine had an encyclopedic knowledge of what was where. “That reminds of a piece of gift wrap I picked up in Tokyo in the 1950s,” she would say, and then pull a slim typing paper box from a stack of others that looked the same, finding there the images she was referencing.
Katherine worked for decades creating printed textiles, ceramics, quilting, tapestry, jacquard woven  textiles, artwear and basketry structures. “Variously using direct drawing and painting, batik wax resist, and shibori, she also pioneered color xerography and heat transfer printing on textiles,” Jo Ann C. Stabb, former faculty member at UC, Davis wrote in 2015 (“Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane,” Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2015). “Throughout her career, beginning with the batik samples she made for the commercial printed textile industry in the 1950s, she [ ] incorporated images from her immediate world: street people in Berkeley, Japanese sculpture, Monet’s garden, Egyptian tourist groups, Chinese embroidery, images from newspaper and magazine photos, and her dogs…anything that struck her fancy wherever she happened to be at the moment – and she could put any or all of them into a repeat pattern.  Her wit and whimsy [were] legendary and her lively approach also inspired her husband to combine imagery onto the surface of his inventive baskets and containers.”

Ethel Stein Portrait

Ethel Stein Portrait 2008 by Tom Grotta courtesy of browngrotta arts

We were close to Ethel Stein as well, having begun representing her work in 2008 after a dinner at her home where her charming dog joined us at the table. When Rhonda was sick several years later, Ethel drove, at 93, from New York to Connecticut with a meal she had made us. Rhonda’s mother, a mere 83 then, was visiting and we told her that same vitality is what we expected of her in her 90s. (So far mom has complied.)
Tom was able to prepare a monograph of Ethel’s work, Ethel Stein: Weaver, with an introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen, an essay by Lucy A. Commoner and a glossary by Milton Sonday, which has become our best-selling volume. In her essay, “Ethel Stein, A Life Interlaced With Art, Lucy Commoner, then-Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, describes the evolution of Ethel’s knowledge of textile techniques and ways in which she was able to advance those techniques through her own explorations. “Ethel Stein’s work is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity belied by its extraordinary technical complexity. The basic humility and humanity of the work and its relationship to historical techniques combine to give Stein’s work a meaning far beyond its physical presence.”

Ethel Stein Exhibition

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chciago Art Instittute

Six years later, Ethel’s work received the wider recognition it deserved. We were thrilled to attend the opening of her one-person exhibition, Ethel Stein, Master Weaver, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. “Ethel Stein is an artist who only now, at the age of 96, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves from the broader public,” the Institute wrote. “Stein’s great contribution to weaving is her unique combination of refined traditional weaving techniques, possible only on a drawloom and used by few contemporary weavers, with modernist sensibilities influenced by Josef Albers, who trained in the German Bauhaus with its emphasis on simplicity, order, functionality, and modesty.” There were photos of her at work, a video and a dinner after with family members and supporters of the museum and crowds of visitors to the exhibition — a well-deserved tribute.

Ed Rossbach Katherine Westphal

Katherine Westphal Ed Rossbach

These artists and their lengthy careers, raise the question, is fiber art a key to longevity? Ethel Stein continued to weave even after she was discovered and lauded at 96. When we visited Katherine Westphal in Berkeley in 2015 we found her still drawing or painting every day in a series of journals she kept, something she continued to do until just a few weeks before her death. Lenore Tawney died at 100, Ruth Asawa and Magdalena Abakanowicz each at 87. Helena Hernmarck tells us that she knows several fiber artists who are 100. So those of you who are practitioners — keep it up!


Textiles At Tate Modern in London

These are exciting days at the Tate Modern in London for fans of art textiles. You’ll find fiber works by important artists in several different galleries.

Beyond Craft, in the Boiler House, curated by Ann Coxon features three pioneers, Lenore Tawney, Olga de Amaral and Sheila Hicks, who experimented with different weaving techniques, often looking to historical or indigenous textiles for inspiration. De Amaral and Hicks were particularly inspired by the technical brilliance of Peruvian weavings made before European colonization. The Museum notes that many artists in the 1960s were using weaving and knotting to create innovative hangings and sculptures, integrating traditional craft techniques into fine art practice. “The 1960s saw several high-profile exhibitions of ‘fiber art’: textile techniques used to create unique art objects without a practical function. These three artists were among those who attempted to collapse the hierarchy that sets fine art above craft. While this distinction has not entirely disappeared, in recent years fiber art has become a source of inspiration for a new generation of artists and curators and the artists displayed here are receiving fresh consideration.”

Peruvian by Lenore Tawney
Peruvian by Lenore Tawney, linen double weave , 86″ x 18″, circa 1962-83
Lenore, like many artist of the 1960s, was drew inspiration for her weaving from indigenous Peruvian weavings. Photo credit: Tom Grotta
Lekythos by Lenore Tawney, linen; woven, knotted, 50” x 31-3/4” x 1-3/4”, 1962,
Photo: George Erml

In Magdalena Abakanowicz, also in the Boilerhouse, viewers can explore Abakanowicz’s stitched cloth sculptures inspired by biological systems, organic matter, and regeneration. “Made at a time of political tension between the Soviet Union and Poland, Abakanowicz has said the work ‘could be understood as a cry from behind the Iron Curtain’,” says the Museum notes. (That was the time frame in which Anne and Jacques Baruch brought Abakanowicz’ work to the US, the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.)

Embryology by Magdalena Abakanowicz, burlap, cotton gauze, hemp rope, nylon and sisal, 2009
Photo: Tate Photography

Elsewhere in the Boilerhouse is a work by El Anatsui, who completely transforms the most pedestrian materials into art. By flattening bottle tops and stitching them together into a shimmering metal cloth, he turns familiar disposable objects into something that appears precious and alters them in the viewers’ eyes. Taking a similar approach to the mundane, Sheela Gowda from India has created a room-sized installation made of car bumpers and handwoven human hair, an observation on “the coexistence of ritual and superstition alongside modern urban and economic transformation.”

Ink Splash II by El Anatsui, aluminum and copper, 9.35 ft x 12.24 ft, 2012
Photo: Tate Photography

Want to know more? Visit the Museum’s website to see images and to read New Yarn, Tate, etc. Essay: Textiles and Art by Kirsty Bell: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/new-yarns


browngrotta arts Returns to SOFA Chicago, November 5-8th

627mr PapelionIidae, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette wool, steel, 54” x 54” x 16”, 2000

627mr PapelionIidae, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
wool, steel, 54” x 54” x 16”, 2000

After a few-year hiatus, browngrotta arts will return to the Sculpture, Objects, and Functional Art Exposition at the Navy Pier in Chicago next month. We’ll be reprising our most recent exhibition, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, with different works for a number of artists, including Naoko Serino, Kay Sekimachi, Anda Klancic, Ritzi Jacobi, Randy Walker, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Lenore Tawney. Other artists whose work will be featured in browngrotta arts’ exhibit are Magdalena Abakanowicz, Adela Akers, Lia Cook, Sheila Hicks, Masakazu Kobayashi, Naomi Kobayashi, Luba Krejci, Jolanta Owidzka, Ed Rossbach, Sherri Smith, Carole Fréve, Susie Gillespie, Stéphanie Jacques, Tim Johnson, Marianne Kemp, Federica Luzzi, Rachel Max, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Michael Radyk and Gizella K Warburton. SOFA will publish a related essay, Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane by Jo Ann C. Stabb,
on the origins of the contemporary fiber movement.

1cy AZUL Y NEGR Carolina Yrarrázaval rayon, cotton 116" x 40.5”, 2003

1cy AZUL Y NEGR
Carolina Yrarrázaval
rayon, cotton
116″ x 40.5”, 2003

Now in its 22nd year, SOFA CHICAGO is a must-attend art fair, attracting more than 36,000 collectors, museum groups, curators and art patrons to view museum-quality works of art from 70+ international galleries. After a nationwide competition, SOFA CHICAGO recently placed #7 in the USA Today Reader’s Choice 10 Best Art Events.New this year, SOFA CHICAGO will unveil a revamped floorplan created by Chicago architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture. The re-envisioned design will create a more open and cohesive show layout, allowing visitors to explore the fair in a more engaging way. Changes include a new, centrally located main entrance where browngrotta arts’ booth, 921, will be located. Cheryl Noel of Wrap Architecture adds, “The most effective urban contexts contain distinct places within the larger space, corridors with visual interest and clear paths with fluid circulation. We believe this new floorplan will capture the spirit of the art and be an expression of the work itself, exploring form and materiality, with the same level of design rigor applied.”

1rw SAW PIECE NO.4 (AUTUMN) Randy Walker, salvaged bucksaw, steel rod, nylon thread 42" x 96" x 26", 2006, Photo by Tom Grotta

1rw SAW PIECE NO.4 (AUTUMN)
Randy Walker, salvaged bucksaw, steel rod, nylon thread
42″ x 96″ x 26″, 2006, Photo by Tom Grotta

On Friday, November 6th, from 12:30 to 2:30, Michael Radyk will be at browngrotta arts’ booth to discuss his Swan Point series, Jacquard textiles created to be cut and manipulated after being taken off the loom, in which Radyk was trying “to bring the artist’s hand back into the industrial Jacquard weaving process.” SOFA opens with a VIP preview on Thursday, November 5th, from 5 pm to 9 pm. The hours for Friday and Saturday are 11 am – 7 pm; and 12 to 6 pm on Sunday the 8th. SOFA is in the Festival Hall, Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue Chicago, IL 60611. Hope to see you there!


The Resurgence of Interest in Fiber Sculpture and Art Textiles Will Continue in 2015

Last year was an extraordinary one for those of us who appreciate contemporary art fiber and art textiles. More than 10 exhibitions opened in the US and abroad. In October, the art newspaper reported that “textiles are gaining international stature in art museums” and further that “[c]ommercial interest is on the rise,” quoting art advisor Emily Tsingou: “Textile [art] has entered the mainstream.” Soft Fabrics-Have Solid Appeal. Below is a roundup of exhibitions and reviews from last year and a guide to what to expect in 2015.

Mainstream attention began with the coverage of Sheila Hicks‘ inclusion

Sheila Hicks, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column, 2013-14 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York). Photograph by Bill Orcutt

in the Whitney Biennial in March and was followed by coverage of the restoration of her remarkable 1960s tapestries at the Ford Foundation in New York Sheila Hicks Tapestries to Again Hang at Ford Foundation. In June, the Art Institute of Chicago’s textile galleries reopened, featuring 96-year-old Ethel Stein’s work, in Ethel Stein, Master Weaver.art institute of Chicago logo

September saw three fiber-related exhibitions; the Museum of Arts and Design opened What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision (closes

Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom grotta


February 8, 2015),Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen, Katherine Westphal and others Museum of Art Design installation of What Would Mrs Webb Do?, Photo by Tom grotta

February 8, 2015), which featured significant textiles from the permanent collection by Anni Albers, Kay Sekimachi, Katherine Westphal, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen and Trude Guermonprez, while The Drawing Center’s: Thread-Lines offered Anne Wilson creating fiber art in situ

Ann Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by tom Grotta

Ann Wilson’s In Situ Performance at the Drawing Center, photo by Tom Grotta

together with a collection of works by Lenore Tawney, Louise Bourgeois and others. Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featured a series of large photographic weavings by Aleksandra Stoyanov of the Ukraine

Aleksandra Stoyanov Tefen Open Museum exhibition traveled to Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, photo copyright Tefen Open Museum

Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, curated from the 2013 “Aleksandra Stoyanov” Tefen Open Museum, Israel exhibition. photo copyright Tefen Open Museum

and now Israel, described as “warp and weft paintings.”

In October, Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston with works by 34 artists including

Fiber: Sculpture 1960 — present opening, photo by Tom Grotta

Fiber: Sculpture 1960 — present opening, photo by Tom Grotta

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Ritzi Jacobi and Naomi Kobayashi. The Boston Globe called the exhibition “[s]plendid, viscerally engaging…groundbreaking;” the exhibition catalog (available at browngrotta.com) was pronounced by Blouin art info, “an amazing resource for anyone interested in learning more about the medium.” Art Info – Art in the Air Fiber Sculpture 1960 Present October also saw a survey of the work of sculptor and poet, Richard Tuttle, at the Tate in London, Richard Tuttle: tuttle.tate.modern
I Don’t Know, Or The Weave of Textile Language in which Tuttle investigated the importance of textiles throughout history, across his remarkable body of work and into the latest developments in his practice. Tate Modern – Richard Tuttle I Don’t Know or Weave Textile Language

Throughout the year, Innovators and Legends, with work by 50 fiber
Innovators.Legends
artists, including Adela Akers, Nick Cave, Katherine Westphal and Sherri Smith toured the US, exhibiting at museums in Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky. The fiber fanfest culminated at Art Basel in Miami Beach in December, where Blouin’s Art Info identified a full complement of fiber works and textiles in its listing, “Definitive Top 11 Booths, “ including Alexandra da Cunha’s compositions of mass-produced beach towels and various colored fabrics at Thomas Dane Gallery, a Rosemarie Trockel embroidered work at Galerie 1900-2000, marble and dyed-fabric pieces by Sam Moyer at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen and woven paintings by Brent Wadden at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Blouin Art info – The Definitive Top-11 Booths at Art Basel Miami Beach.

And what’s ahead in 2015?

More auctions and exhibitions that include fiber sculpture and art textiles are scheduled for 2015. Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present will

wexner.center.logo
open at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio on February 7th and travel to the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa in May. BCA_color_studyInnovators and Legends will open at contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma in February, as well. In April, the Tate in London will open The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay, which will show how the artist

Sonia Delaunay Tate Modern

Sonia Delaunay Prismes electriques 1914 Centre Pompidou Collection, Mnam / Cci, Paris © Pracusa 2013057

dedicated her life to experimenting with color and abstraction, bringing her ideas off the canvas and into the world through tapestry, textiles, mosaic and fashion.

Also in April, the Museum of Arts and Design will host Pathmakers:

Lenore Tawney in her Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958. Courtesy of Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Photo by David Attie

Lenore Tawney in her Coenties Slip studio, New York, 1958.
Courtesy of Lenore G. Tawney Foundation; Photo by David Attie

Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today, featuring work by Sheila Hicks,  Lenore Tawney and Dorothy Liebes http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/pathmakers.

In June, the Toms Pauli Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland will celebrate the International Tapestry Biennials held there from 1962 to toms.pauli.logo1995 and display work by the Polish textile artist and sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, in an exhibition entitled, Objective Station.

Also this summer, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Baie St Paul in Musée.d'Art.ContemporaindeBaie.StPaul

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

Quebec, Canada will examine the work of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, who participated in five of the Lausanne Biennials.

From April 24 – May 3, 2015, browngrotta arts will host Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now at our barn/home/gallery space in Wilton, Connecticut. In its 27-year history, browngrotta arts

InfluenceandEvolutionAdhas highlighted a group of artists – Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach and others – who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture. The influence of their experiments has been felt for decades. Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now, will explore that impact and examine how artists have used textile materials and techniques in the decades since, by juxtaposing works by artists who rebelled against tapestry tradition in the 60s, 70s and 80s,

Françoise Grossen, From the Mermaid Series IV, 1983, photo by Tom Grotta

Françoise Grossen, From the Mermaid Series IV, 1983, photo by Tom Grotta

including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lia Cook, Kay Sekimachi and Françoise Grossen, with works from a later generation of artists, all born after 1960, through whom fiber sculpture continues to evolve. These artists, including María Eugenia Dávila and Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela, Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium and Naoko Serino of Japan, work in a time when classification of medium and material presents less of a constraint and fiber and fiber techniques can be more readily explored for their expressive potential alone.

“It is rare to find so many inventive, compelling works in one show, and it astounds that many are so little known,” wrote Kirsten Swenson in Art in America, about Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, in October 2014. Art in America Magazine – reviews: Fiber Sculpture 1960-present. This spring, in Influence and Evolutionbrowngrotta arts will offer dozens more significant works of fiber art for collectors to appreciate and new audiences to discover — more than two dozen works by fiber pioneers and another 30 more recent fiber explorations. We hope you will visit the exhibition, order the catalog or both. Please contact us for more information about what’s in store. art@browngrotta.com


Art on Display and In Print. In The Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi in San Diego

Kay Sekimachi, paper tower, photo by Tom Grotta

Kay Sekimachi, paper tower, photo by Tom Grotta

74b PISTASHIO 6

Pistashio Bowl by Bob Stocksdale, photo by Tom Grotta

In the Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, presents an inspiring, retrospective view of work by two of America’s foremost pioneers in wood and textile art. Kay Sekimachi (1926-) and Bob Stocksdale (1913-2003) married in 1972. Seen together, their 50 years of work has a true poetic resonance.

Hailed as a father of American woodturning, Bob Stocksdale revitalized the craft of lathe-turned bowls, beginning in the 1950s. In his exquisite works, he unveiled a compelling beauty in diseased and in rare woods, of which many are now endangered. Serpentine or ellipsoidal shapes— seemingly impossible to turn— are among his innovations. The exhibition features, for the first time on view, an example of his one-of-kind furniture.

Kay Sekimachi is an influential master of complex weave structures in both off-loom and on multiple-harness loom techniques. Transparent marine creatures were the inspiration for the interlocking hangings in monofilament (fish line) that she created in the 1960s. With these majestic pieces she ascended to the forefront of contemporary fiber art during the 1960s and 1970s. Her work is included in the current exhibition Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Massachusetts through January 4, 2015. Throughout her 60-year career she has created unique works of art in such natural materials as skeletal leaves, hornet’s nest paper and grass. The exhibition includes examples of her translucent sculptural hangings and room dividers, along with other woven forms – accordion-formatted books, vibrant scrolls, seamless nesting boxes and jewelry. The Mingei is at 1439 El Prado, San Diego, California, 92101. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information: ph. 619.239.0003; web address: http://www.mingei.org.

In the Realm of NatureExhibition curator Signe Mayfield has authored a lush 210-page book to accompany the exhibition. In the Realm of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi, available at browngrotta.com features scores of attractive object photos. It includes essays by Melissa Leventon (former Curator-in-Charge of Textiles at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and founding member of Curatrix Group of museum consultants) and John C. Lavine (former editor of Woodwork Magazine and furniture maker.)