Category: Architecture

A Couple Collects: Sandy and Lou Grotta of the Grotta Collection

Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta
Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta

Next month, we will showcase 40 artists whose works part of the remarkable collection of Sandy and Lou Grotta, acquired during their nearly 70-year relationship. “In quality and depth, the Grotta collection of contemporary craft outshines all others, including what is in museums,” writes designer and curator Jack Lenor Larsen. In Artists from the Grotta Collection we will feature important works of fiber, ceramic and wood – just as the Grotta Collection does.

"The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft"
The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft

The Grottas’ acquisitions are housed in an architecturally significant home designed intentionally to showcase their art. The collection and their home are featured in a new book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craftwhich was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta.

Lila Kulka, Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125" x 77", 1989
A couple-themed work by Lila Kulka on of the artists in the Grotta Collection. Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125″ x 77″, 1989, photo by Tom Grotta

A well-regarded interior designer, Sandy Grotta (then Sandy Brown) met her husband, Lou Grotta, at the University of Michigan in 1953. After enrolling in multiple art history courses together, the couple quickly developed a mutual admiration for contemporary architecture which would grow to encompass the work of dozens of renowned craft artists. “In the early 1960s, walking out of the Museum of Modern Art, we stumbled upon the Museum of Contemporary Craft next door, ” she says. “The Museum’s exhibitions, many of whose objects were for sale in its store, caused a case of love at first sight. It quickly became a founding source of many craft purchases to follow. It was the site of our initial sighting of the wonderful walnut wood work of Edgar and Joyce Anderson.” Soon after, the Grotta commissioned the first work of what evolved into their becoming the most important collectors of Joyce and Shorty’s limited output over the next 30 years. The Andersons introduced them to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “[T]he Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” says Sandy, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator going to interior design school and entering the field.” Lou’s interest in modern architecture and Scandinavian art also stems back to his early years as a student at the University of Michigan. In the early 80s Lou reunited with his New Jersey friend from summer camp, Richard Meier, and, despite differing opinions about craft and differences in opinion concerning craft materials, they decided to collaborate on the creation of The Grotta House. Over a span of five years, the three worked together to design and build a house that combined the Grottas’ unique appreciation for contemporary art and Meier’s formal elements of design.

Sauvages Diptych, Stephanie Jacques, willow, 51" x 18" x 12", 2014
Stephanie Jacques’ couple of willow: Sauvages, Diptych, willow, 51″ x 18″ x 12″, 2014, photo by Tom Grotta


Sandy and Lou continue their curation, still seeking dimensional textile art, sculpture and fine craft that enhances their collection. When it comes to aesthetic decisions, Lou says, the two early disagree. “Since day one, we’ve always been blessed with an amazing like/dislike simpatico. On rare occasions when we disagree, we honor the other’s veto power.” The results of that unique creative collaboration are documented in the more-than 300 photographs that make up The Grotta Home, which will be celebrated in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch runs from November 2nd to the 10th at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.

Together Forever, Judy Mulford, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012
This work by Judy Mulford, celebrates partnerships like Sandy’s and Lou’s: Together Forever, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta


The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm; the hours for November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm. TheGrotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft will be available throughout the exhibition and Tom will be available to sign it. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.

See Me, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 11.75" x 22" x 6", 2019
Two heads contribute to a singular vision. Norma Minkowitz, See Me, mixed media, 11.75″ x 22″ x 6″, 2019. photo by Tom Grotta


Anniversary Alert: Six Ways to Pay Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright Who Would be 150 this Year

This year Frank Lloyd Wright would have been 150 on June 8th. The iconic architect continues to influence artists and designers decades after his death (How Today’s Designers Are Influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Principles,” Design Milk, June 8, 2017). He is, rightly, lionized” as Curbed notes, “for launching a modern, multifaceted American architecture.” For us, the iconic Falling Water (1936-1939) in Pennsylvania, which we visited many years ago, remains unforgettable as was our rehearsal dinner at Wright’s Arizona Biltmore (1928)  in Phoenix and each visit we’ve made to the Guggenheim in New York (1959). 

Falling Water, Left to Right: Sandy Grotta, Lou Grotta, Tracy Grotta, Rhonda Brown

 

There are any number of ways to pay homage to Wright in his birthday year. Here are six ways you can Do the Wright Thing:

1) Cover a wall or upholster a chair with a Wright Design. The home design company Schumacher, in collaboration with the Wright Foundation, has revived a collection of geometric-print textiles that the world-famous architect designed in 1955.

Frank Lloyd Wright Design, Schumacher DESIGN 103, BLUE & RED, 176880

2) Visit one of his creations in person — Fodors has compiled 10 suggestions: “10 of the best places to see his spectacular creations.” 

3) Better yet, if you can swing it, take a vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. The architect designed more than 1,000 innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers and museums and hundreds of houses, Afar has compiled seven houses in seven states that can be rented for a week at a time, “Where to vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home.” 

4) Can’t leave home? Use your down time to build your own Frank Lloyd Wright building as a Kirigami model with paper. 

 

Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut and Fold: Available for purchase HERE

5) Another in place activity, examine the plans and an image of Falling Water — once you’ve completed the two-sided puzzle available from the Frank Lloyd Wright Organization shop. 

Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater 2-sided 500 Piece Puzzle: Available for purchase HERE

6) And online, immerse yourself in all things Wright –the general in Curbed’s comprehensive review, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150:  The Curbed guide to the most famous architect in U.S. history, and then highly specific, in Artsy’s “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Lloyd Wright.” Semi spoiler: like us, he was a Japanese art fan!