Category: Art Textiles

Catalog Lookback: Fan Favorites, an online exhibition

Portraits of Hisako Sekijima, Gyöngy Laky, Mary Merkel-Hess and Kay Sekimachi
clockwise: Hisako Sekijima 1994 solo exhibition at browngrotta arts. Gyöngy Laky 1993 preparing on a piece for her two-person exhibition at browngrotta arts. Our first meeting with Mary Merkel-Hess 1990 at her exhibition at the NY Armory. Kay Sekimachi in her closet selecting works for her 1992 two-person exhibit with Bob Stocksdale at browngrotta arts. Photos by Tom Grotta

In our 50 catalogs, we have showcased the work of 172 different artists. Four of these artists, however — Mary Merkel-Hess, Kay Sekimachi, Hisako Sekijima and Gyöngy Laky —  we have repeatedly chosen as a focus. Each has been the subject of more than one catalog — solo or two-person or special grouping  — and each has been featured in several of our themed survey publications. These artists explore different materials or forms, creating objects and works for the wall.  That willingness to innovate and reinvent has made them continuously collectible for those who acquire works in breadth and for those who pursue the work of individual artists in depth as well.

Details of works by Mary Merkel-Hess
Details of Mary Merkel-Hess’ paper sculptures on and off the wall. Photos by Tom Grotta

Mary Merkel-Hess’s work was the subject of one of our first catalogs in 1992 (#2) Mary Merkel-Hess. The work in our first solo exhibition of her work was brilliantly colored — vessels of green, indigo, cornflower, red and bronze — but our catalog technology was strictly black and white. Despite the noncolor depiction in the small catalog, the lyrical works of papercord and reed were popular and sold out. Her work was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that year — one of the first contemporary baskets to enter the Museum’s collection. The success of that exhibition spurred us to host a second show, work by Merkel-Hess and Leon Niehues, in 1996 (#15). Merkel-Hess threw us a curve, though, by skipping the color that we considered her hallmark and producing, instead, a show of work made of translucent white papers — gampi, kobo, abaca, flax — some of it tinged with gold.  These works turned out to be as popular as those in color. Since then, her works have become larger and more sculptural and her recognition has grown while her popularity with collectors has remained a constant.  Her work will be part of Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades (#50), in September of this year. 

Details of works by Kay Sekimachi
Details of baskets and sculptural weavings by Kay Sekimachi. Photos by Tom Grotta

In catalog (#3) Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi, also 1992 and still black and white, Kay Sekimachi’s work made its first appearance, coupled with wood bowls turned by her husband, Bob Stocksdale. Sekimachi has reinvented her practice several times in her lengthy career. She studied weaving with Trude Guermonprez in San Francisco and Jack Lenor Larsen at Haystack in Maine in the 50s. By the 60s she was working with complicated 12-harness looms to create ethereal hanging sculptures of monofilament, then a new material. They were featured in MoMA’s Wall Hangings exhibition in 1963, Deliberate Entanglements at UCLA in 1971 and the Lausanne Biennial in 1975 and 1983. Sekimachi was also part of the contemporary, nonfunctional basket movement with other California artists in the 1960s and 1970s.  This body of work included small woven baskets and woven paperfold-like boxes made of antique Japanese papers. For our exhibition in 1992, she created gossamer flax bowls and patched pots of linen warp ends and rice paper. For our our 1999 exhibition, (#24) Bob Stocksdale Kay Sekimachi: books, boxes and bowls, she created woven boxes and books, and bowls in typical Japanese ceramic shapes that she formed using Stocksdale’s turned bowls as molds. Still the subject of museum recognition and collector acclaim, Sekimachi continues to work at 94, weaving intimate, abstract weavings reminiscent of drawings in pen and ink. 

Details of works by Gyöngy Laky
Details of of sculptures on and off the wall by Gyöngy Laky. Photos by Tom Grotta

In 1993 we produced our first catalog featuring Gyöngy Laky’s work (#5) Leon Niehues and Gyöngy Laky. The exhibition included 13 vessel shapes and one wall work. In 1996, we visited Laky’s complex construction again (#16) Gyöngy Laky and Rebecca Medel. “I think of myself as a builder of sketches in three dimensions,” she said of her textile architecture. The 1996-1997 exhibition featured Laky’s three-dimensional words, an important aspect of her oeuvre. The two versions of the word “No” or “On” illustrated the myriad ways in which such themes are deftly articulated by Laky. Affirmative No. 1 was made of brightly colored, coated telephone wire, piled and sewn. Affirmative No. 2  was much larger — the “O” made of branches still covered with bark, the “N” made of pieces of stripped, unfinished wood. The catalog also contained an image of That Word.  Now in the collection of the federal court in San Francisco, it spells out “ART” in larger-than-life, 3-d letters made of orchard prunings that are seven feet tall. Laky has continued creating word sculptures that combine natural and manmade materials, as disparate as bleached cottonwood branches, plastic army men and construction bullets of metal. In 2008, The New York Times Magazine commissioned her to create titles for its environmental survey, “The Green Issue.” The works that resulted were awarded a Type Directors Club Award. Laky will have two works in Volume 50: a large vessel-shaped sculpture and a type-related, free-standing arrow.

Details of works by Hisako Sekijima
Details of Bark basket sculptures in varying materials by Hisako Sekijima. Photos by Tom Grotta

Last, but certainly not least is Hisako Sekijima, whose innovation and artistry seem to know few bounds. We have focused on her work in three catalogs — (#8) Hisako Sekijima/1994; (#19) Glen Kaufman and Hisako Sekijima/1998; (#30) Japan Under The Influence: Innovative basketmakers deconstruct Japanese tradition/2001. Bark and vine become fabric and thread, framing and nails as Sekijima conducts her experiments in volume and void. The first catalog of Sekijima’s work (#8) included works in wide variety of materials — cherry bark, kudzu vine, cedar, willow, hackberry, bamboo. We were particularly pleased when The New York Times made the 1994 exhibition and the variety of work included the subject of a full-page article in its Connecticut section. They turned to her work again in The New York Times Magazine, including a work of kudzu vine in an article on the uses of the invasive species. We visited Sekijima’s work again in 1998, pairing her pieces, this time of zelikova, apricot, hinoki, walnut and palm hemp bark, with jacquard weavings by Glen Kaufman featuring photographic images of Kyoto. In 2001, we combined works by seven basket artists in Japan: Under the Influence, Innovative basketmakers deconstruct Japanese tradition #30). Sekijima was included, as were four of her students from Japan — Norie Hatekeyama, Kazue Honma, Noriko Takamiya and Tsuroko Tanikawa— each of whom had, like their teacher, had mastered Japanese basketmaking tradition, only to give it a twist. Sekijima wrote in Japan Under the Influence, that Kay Sekimachi (also featured in the catalog) was one of the American artists whose “new notions of basketmaking” and “new forms” had a decisive impact on her as she studied basketmaking in the late 70s. “Since then,” she wrote, “Sekimachi has always been one of my teachers at a distance. Her work has always reminded me of a Japanese respectful expression orime tadashii, which literally means, ‘one’s kimono preserves neat lines of folding which connotes integrity of behavior.’” Sekijima’s work, A Line Willow IV is part of our September exhibition. Like the works these artists have produced over nearly three decades, A Line Willow IV,  represents a line innovative art making that is knotless, homogeneous and flexible. 

See more at our September exhibition, Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades (#50).


Catalog Lookback: Cross Currents: Water/ Art/Influence an online exhibition

Moby Dick underwater
What Lies Beneath, is a mixed media sculpture created to submerge Moby Dick by Herman Melville underwater, 2016. Photo by Lawrence Labianca

Rippling, roiling, teeming with life…Deep, dark, waiting to be explored…Water has long been a potent influence for the artists we exhibit, artists who explore its mystery and majesty in widely divergent ways. Cross Currents: Water/Art/Influence is an online exclusive exhibition on Artsy that features works reflecting rivers, oceans and life aquatic. It highlights three catalogs we have published, Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, vol. 38; Plunge: explorations from above and below, vol. 43 and Blue/Green: color/code/context, vol. 44 and several artists for whom water has been an inspiration. The multifaceted exhibition combines sculptures, tapestries, installation works, paintings and ceramics. Each work resides at the intersection of the maker’s fascination with a variety of nautical and natural themes and the artmaking process. 

Sail Cloth Art by Grethe Wittrock
Artica, Grethe Wittrock, sail cloth, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Judy Mulford’s meticulously detailed sculptures, inspired by her home at the beach in California, join Grethe Wittrock’s Arctica, a sculpture made from a repurposed sail from the Danish Navy. Debra Sachs‘ water studies evoke a sense of movement by distorting a static grid using the color blue as akin to a living thing, like the rivers and the oceans, shallow to deep, static to moving. Lawrence LaBianca creates experiences in which water is an integral part. In Skiff, an antique telephone receiver links viewers to sounds of a rushing river. Twenty-four Hours on the Roaring Fork River, Aspen, CO, is a print created by Drawing Boat, a vessel filled with river rocks that makes marks on paper when it is afloat. For What Lies Beneath/Moby Dick Book, LaBianca lowered an encased copy of Moby Dick into the water to capture an image. “I love the images that Melville created in Moby Dick, he says, “the idea of something greater below governed by forces deep within a person’s soul. What Lies Beneath/Moby Dick Book draws a continuum with the idea of something great below. It also is comical and slightly absurd.” Karyl Sisson works with found objects — clothespins, zippers, tapes — to create sea creature-like sculptures. In creating Haystack River Basket, Dorothy Gill Barnes was moved by the natural forms created of tree roots sculpted by rushing water.

River teeth basket by Dorothy Gill Barnes
Haystack River Basket, Dorothy Gill Barnes, early river teeth, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta

In all, the work of 21 artists will be included in Cross Currents. Some are moved by water as a natural force, for others there is a more spiritual connection, still others are interested in how Man is impacting our oceans and rivers — in each case the results are thought provoking and intriguing. One-half of the works will appear on Artsy on June 8th, the reminder will be added on June 15th: https://www.artsy.net/show/browngrotta-arts-cross-currents-water-slash-art-slash-influence.


Our Spring Exhibition at browngrotta arts moves to September

New Date: September 12 to 20, 2020: Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber for Three Decades

Catalog cover for upcoming catalog: Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber for Three Decades
Catalog cover for upcoming catalog: Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber for Three Decades

Optimistic as we are about June — when we’d tentatively rescheduled our Spring exhibition — as being the time when we’ll have passed the illness apex and be able to go out and about once more, we’ve decided a new date in September makes more sense. We’re afraid that masks and gloves and disinfectant will still be de rigeur in June and they will impact viewers experience of the art. Air travel restrictions may still be be in place, which means fewer artists in attendance and and fewer out-of-town visitors.

Lija Rage, Dail Behennah, Gyöngy Laky, Blair Tate, Annette Bellamy
Lija Rage, Dail Behennah, Gyöngy Laky, Blair Tate, Annette Bellamy

An exciting exhibition: Both impacts would be unfair as Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber for Three Decades has shaped up to be an exciting show. It features significant works by Lia Cook, Gyöngy Laky, Aleksandra Stoyanov and Grethe Sørenson. Works by well-known but new-to-the-gallery artist, James Bassler, are included in addition to striking installations by Annette Bellamy and Agneta Hobin and new approaches by Tim Johnson, Kari Lønning, Carolina Yrarrazával and Dail Behennah. Strong works by Chiyoko Tanaka, Neha Puri Dhir and Adela Akers are among other offerings from the more than 60 artists participating.

Fiber Optic installation by Włodzimierz Cygan, Traps,  2019
Fiber Optic installation by Włodzimierz Cygan, Traps, 2019

So, in 2020, our Spring show will become a Fall show. The Artist Reception and Opening will be onSaturday, September 12th. We’ll welcome you all then with whatever precautions are appropriate.

In the meantime, online: As a run up to September, we’ll be presenting a series of online exhibitions on Artsy highlighting artists and catalogs from our archives:

May 11th: Catalog Look back: California Dreaming Vols. 26, 20, 6 and more

June 8th: Catalog Look back: Cross Currents – Arts Influenced by Rivers and the Sea Vols. 38, 35 and more

July 13th: Catalog Look back: Fan Favorites — Sekimachi, Sekijima, Laky and Merkel-Hess,Vols. 24, 19, 2, 3, 8, 5, 15, 16, 19 and more

August 10th: Catalog Look back: Cataloging the Canon – Tawney, Stein, Cook, Hicks and So Monographs: 1-3; Focus: 1, Vols. 13, 28

Until then, we’ll keep posting content on arttextstyle and our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Stay safe and well! We’ll see you in in person in September and online between now and then.


browngrotta arts Joins 1st Dibs

browngrotta arts installation
Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Ed Rossbach, Naoko Serino, Michael Radyk, Luba Krejci, Adela Akers. Photo by Tom Grotta

We are excited to be joining the group of exclusive dealers and galleries on the online marketplace 1st Dibs this month. In 2001, 1st Dibs was founded by Michael Bruno after a visit to Paris’s legendary antiques market, Marché Aux Puces. From its origins with a few hand-selected dealers, 1st Dibs has become a global destination for those who must have ‘first dibs’ on treasures — from around the world — that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Jolanta Owidska tapestry
4jo Jolanta Owidska, MARGARET VIII, flax, sisal and wool, 57″ x 39″, 1977. Photo by Tom Grotta


“Most people want authenticity in their lives, and most especially in their homes,” says CEO, David Rosenblatt. “Home is the expression of one’s personality and interests. The objects in our marketplace are different than what everyone else has. Our customers don’t want their homes to look like a page out of a catalog or be the same furnishings you can buy in a furniture store.”

Micheline Beauchemin small gold textile
5mb Gold Laugh, Micheline Beauchemin, metallic and acrylic thread, cotton, 25.25” x 21.25” x 2.25”, 1980-85. Photo by Tom Grotta


Accordingly, browngrotta arts’ presence on 1st Dibs will begin with a few dozen carefully curated works by respected artists from the US, Europe and Asia, including Adela Akers, Jolanta Owidzka, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and Ethel Stein. A number of these works share a mid-century sensibility. All reflect the clean and contemporary aesthetic for which browngrotta is known.

Blair Tate Tapestry
2bt Jaiselmer, Blair Tate, linen, cotton rope and aluminum, 73″ x 39″, 1999


As we have discovered at browngrotta arts, the audience for art is global and they want to explore — and purchase– art on their own time. “It’s the way people want to buy.” Rosenblatt says. “It works across all time zones and allows us to create lots of advantages for our buyers and sellers that don’t exist in an advertising model.”


All 5 million of 1st Dibs’ customers can find something truly unique and different on the site — art or one-of-a-kind objects and design — and now, they’ll fine unique works from browngrotta, as well. Find us there at https://www.1stdibs.com/dealers/browngrotta-arts/?search=browngrotta%20arts and in 1st Dibs’ weekly online magazine, Introspective: https://www.1stdibs.com/introspective-magazine/richard-meier-grotta-house/.


browngrotta arts: A Favorite of Insomniacs and Those Stuck at Home

Browsing browngrotta.com
Browsing browngrotta.com

As we all hunker down and prepare to do things in new — and safer — ways, we wanted to remind you that browngrotta arts has been offering art content online for many years. Check us out in your down time:


browngrotta.com

Find Images of hundreds of works, Artist Statements and Video Links.

Our website, blog, Facebook and Artsy pages
Our website, blog, Facebook and online exhibit

arttexstyle.com

Learn more about How Artists Work in our Process Notes posts, about Artsy Locations and Exhibitions in our Dispatches posts and Read Like an Artist by checking out Books Make Great Gifts roundups. More popular posts: Two on Stitching on the Silver Screen — about movies that feature knitters and weavers and stitchers.

browngrotta arts Facebook Page

Every Monday we post a video link.
Some worth revisiting or viewing for the first time: The house favorite award-winning “Textile Magicians” about five Japanese contemporary fiber artists who live in the cedar forests near Kyoto. See it here: https://vimeo.com/139602030.
“Visionaries: Season 2, Episode 10” featuring Kay Sekimachi, Jack Lenor Larsen , Forrest Merrill on art and innovation on PBS: https://www.pbs.org/video/visionaries-anoopg/.

Online Exhibitions

Take a virtual tour — this month we’ve created an online exhibition for Asia Art Week New York, “Transforming Tradition: Contemporary Japanese and Korean Art” on our You Tube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPzR-5EXyGI

Stay Well, Stay Home and Stay Inspired!


Asia Art Week NY – Transforming Tradition: Japanese and Korean Contemporary Craft Part II

In honor of of Asia Art Week 2020 this March, browngrotta arts has collated contemporary works by 12 artists born in Japan and Korea for an online exhibition, Transforming Tradition: Japanese and Korean Contemporary Craft. The works include ceramics, weavings, baskets and sculptures made of paper and silk.

Yasuhisa Kohyama ceramic
42yk Ceramic 42, Yasuhisa Kohyama, ceramic, 17.3” x 15.8” x 6.1” 2006


Several ceramics by Yasuhisa Kohyama, are included in Transforming Tradition. Kohyama is a renowned Shigaraki potter who uses ancient techniques to explore new forms. He gained widespread attention in Japan in the 60s when he built one of the first anagama kilns since medieval times. Collectors and museums have been quick to acquire his works, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Gardiner Mueum of Art in Toronto, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Art and Craft in Hamburg and the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Shiga, Japan. Kohyama’s work graces the cover of Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century by collectors Alice and Halsey North and curator Joe Earle.  

95jy Ecdysis; Jiro Yonezawa 27″ x 8″ x 5.75”, 2019

Bamboo sculptures by Jiro Yonezawa are also part of browngrotta arts’ exhibition. Yonezawa has been recognized with the Cotsen Prize, a commission from Loewe to work in leather and inclusion in the prestigious Japan Nitten National Fine Arts Exhibit. Yonezawa has explained his work: “Bamboo basketry for me is an expression of detailed precision. These baskets represent a search for the beauty and precision in nature and a way to balance the chaos evident in these times.”

Gold Leaf wall sculptures by Chang Yeonsoon
21-23cy Chunjeein-1, 2 & 3, Chang Yeonsoon abaca fiber, pure gold leaf, eco-soluble resin, 33” x 7.125” x 6.75”, 2019

Korean artist Chang Yeonsoon, who creates ethereal works of starched indigo, was Artist of the Year at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul in 2008. She was a finalist for the Loewe prize in 2018. Her work has also been acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; she is the first South Korean artist in that collection.

Soul of a Big Blue Bowl b y Jin-Sook So
53jss Soul of a Big Blue Bowl, Jin-Sook So steel mesh cloth, gold, silver, painted acrylic and steel thread 39” x 32” x 6”, 2015


For 35 years, Jin-Sook So, also of Korea, has been creating dimensional works — sculptural vessels and wall pieces — from stainless steel mesh to international acclaim.

You can view Transforming Tradition: Japanaese and Korean Contemporary Contemporary Craft Online by visiting browngrotta arts’ You Tube channel at: https://youtu.be/uPzR-5EXyGI . You can see each individual work in the exhibition on Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/show/browngrotta-arts-transforming-tradition-japanese-and-korean-contemporary-craft and learn more about the artists included by visiting arttextstyle http://arttextstyle.com and browngrotta arts’ website: http://www.browngrotta.com

Artists included:
Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan)
Jiro Yonezawa (Japan)
Masakazu Kobayshi (Japan)
Naomi Kobayashi (Japan)
Kyoko Kumai (Japan)
Kiyomi Iwata (Japan/US)
Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan)
Keiji Nio (Japan)
Hisako Sekijima (Japan)
Toshio Sekiji (Japan)
Jin-Sook So (Korea)
Chang Yeonsoon (Korea)

about browngrotta arts
browngrotta arts represents the work of more than 100 international contemporary textile and fiber artists. The firm has published 49 art catalogs and placed art work in dozens of private and corporate collections in the US and abroad, as well as in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum. browngrotta arts’ website, http://www.browngrotta.com, and its blog, http://arttextstyle.com, are destination sites for art consultants, interior designers, collectors and practitioners.


Asia Art Week – Transforming Tradition: Japanese and Korean Contemporary Craft Part I

In honor of of Asia Art Week 2020 this March, browngrotta arts has collated contemporary works by 12 artists born in Japan and Korea for an online exhibition, Transforming Tradition: Japanese and Korean Contemporary Craft. The works include ceramics, weavings, baskets and sculptures made of paper and silk.

Kayoryi thread and paper towers by Naomi Kobayashi
55nk Untitled, Naomi Kobayashi, , Naomi Kobayashi, kayori thread, paper, 99″ x 54″ x 5″ (x2), 2006
Masakazu Kobayashi Sound Collage N99
22mk Sound Collage N99, Masakazu Kobayashi, silk, rayon, and aluminum, 55” x 115” x 5”, 1999


Notable in the exhibition are paper sculptures by Naomi Kobayashi and an elegant silk thread assemblage by her late husband, Masakazu Kobayashi. The couple often collaborated, working on installations that combined elements created by each of them. “These works express a shared vision and such common themes as the tranquility of nature, the infinity of the universe and the Japanese spirit,” Masakuzu once explained. “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.”

The Seashore by Keiji Nio
25kn The Seashore, Keiji Nio, polyester, aramid fiber 48” x 48,” 2019

Keiji Nio’s interlaced wall work is inspired by a haiku, Rough Sea of Sado, from Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho’s haiku series. In it, Basho describes the deep blue waves of the Sea of Japan as they are reflected in the night sky and the light blue waves hitting the beach. The work incorporates ribbons on which Nio has screened images from the sea and tiny pebbles from the shore. Nio is a faculty member at the Kyoto University of Art & Design, who combines industrial and natural materials in his works to make statements about nature and man’s relationship to the world.

You can view Transforming Tradition: Japanaese and Korean Contemporary Contemporary Craft Online by visiting browngrotta arts’ You Tube channel at: https://youtu.be/uPzR-5EXyGI . You can see each individual work in the exhibition on Artsy: https://www.artsy.net/show/browngrotta-arts-transforming-tradition-japanese-and-korean-contemporary-craft and learn more about the artists included by visiting arttextstyle http://arttextstyle.com and browngrotta arts’ website: http://www.browngrotta.com

Artists included:
Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan)
Jiro Yonezawa (Japan)
Masakazu Kobayshi (Japan)
Naomi Kobayashi (Japan)
Kyoko Kumai (Japan)
Kiyomi Iwata (Japan/US)
Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan)
Keiji Nio (Japan)
Hisako Sekijima (Japan)
Toshio Sekiji (Japan)
Jin-Sook So (Korea)
Chang Yeonsoon (Korea)

about browngrotta arts
browngrotta arts represents the work of more than 100 international contemporary textile and fiber artists. The firm has published 49 art catalogs and placed art work in dozens of private and corporate collections in the US and abroad, as well as in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum. browngrotta arts’ website, http://www.browngrotta.com, and its blog, http://arttextstyle.com, are destination sites for art consultants, interior designers, collectors and practitioners.


Lives Well Lived: Glen Kaufman (1932 – 2020)

leaf, 48” x 24” x 1” 1990
13gk Pulguk-sa, Kyong-Ju, Glen Kaufman, silk damask, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf, 48” x 24” x 1” 1990
12gk Yoshikawa, Noto, Glen Kaufman
silk damask, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf, 48” x 24” x 1” 1990
13gk Pulguk-sa, Kyong-Ju, Glen Kaufman
silk damask, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf, 48” x 24” x 1” 1990
photo by Tom Grotta

We were saddened to learn of the loss of talented artist and educator Glen Kaufman last month. Born in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin in 1932, Kaufman attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, where he met his wife and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in 1954. Following his Air Force service, he enrolled at Cranbrook Academy of Art, earning an MFA degree in Weaving & Textiles in 1959. In 1960, he received a Fulbright Scholarship and attended the State School of Arts & Crafts in Copenhagen. Upon returning to the US, he worked as a designer for Dorothy Liebes in New York City. He returned to Cranbrook Academy as educator, heading the Fibers Department until 1967. In 1967, he was hired by Lamar Dodd as associate professor of Art at the University of Georgia, where taught for over 40 years. He was an honorary member of the Surface Design Association for life and elected into the American Craft Council College of Fellows in 1988. His papers, dated from 1957-2011, were donated to the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian in 2015. The papers primarily document his travels and student work through biographical material, journals, printed materials, and artwork. Included are 15 travel journals, two sketchbooks, biographical material, professional correspondence, teaching files, photographs of Kaufman and works of art, works of art including sketches and weaving samples, two handwoven knotted pile rug samples and printed material. An oral biography of Kaufman with curator Josephine Shea is found on the Smithsonian situate: https://www.aaa.si.edu/download_pdf_transcript/ajax?record_id=edanmdm-AAADCD_oh_366203.

anhattan/New Jersey View
Glen Kaufman, handwoven silk twill, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf, 10” x 30” x 1”, 1997
8gk Manhattan/New Jersey View
Glen Kaufman, handwoven silk twill, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf
10” x 30” x 1”, 1997
photo by Tom Grotta

From 1983 on, Kaufman divided his time between homes in Athens, Georgia and Kyoto, Japan.. “I have set about creating my work in a foreign place – Kyoto – for half of each year since 1983,” he wrote. “The images in my work can be seen as shadows cast on shoji screens or glimpses of a world seen through a personal window.

In these ‘window views’ I have struggled to achieve a synthesis of my two worlds – tile roofs in Asia; skylines of cities and towns in America. Images of architecture in gold or silver leaf float behind grids on silk panels both large and small,” Kaufman wrote. His work in the US and Japan involved photographs and gold leaf, which he used to capture the architecture of each locale and to reveal aspects of these differing worlds. A grid motif, present in most of these pieces, reflects the prevalence of the grid in Japanese architecture.”The grid fragments the image and at the same time provides a familiar framework, allowing the viewer to perceive the entire image, yet concentrate on the small square.

32gk SHIMOGAMO SCROLLS: STUDIO VIEW II, Glen Kaufman
photo collage, screen print and impressed silver leaf on handwoven kasuri silk, 70” x 17”, 2002
32gk SHIMOGAMO SCROLLS: STUDIO VIEW II
Glen Kaufman
photo collage, screen print and impressed silver leaf on handwoven kasuri silk
, 70” x 17”, 2002
photo by Tom Grotta


“The work evolves from my photographs, photographs that are transformed into strong black-and-white images that express the reality of the subject. These strongly contrasting images are printed onto a silk fabric by screening a special paste over a grid. Subsequently, gold or silver leaf is impressed into the cloth. When the excess leaf is removed, the grid is revealed and the image floats on a surface behind the window grid.The metal leaf I use has inherent reflective qualities that vary depending on the type, color, thickness, and weave of the ground cloth. The reflection of light on the leaf and silk – which changes depending on the light source and the time of day – give an inner life and dynamic visual energy to these works.”

Kaufman’s work appeared in more than 60 solo exhibitions in New York, Boston, Kyoto, Berkeley, Tokyo, Sapporo, Honolulu, San Francisco, Osaka, Nagoya, Seattle, Seoul, Busan, Atlanta and more than 130 group exhibitions in North America, Europe and Asia. His works are in the permanent collections of more than 20 museums, including the Museum of Art and Design, NY; The Art Institute of Chicago; Ba Tang Gol Art Center, Seoul; The Cleveland Museum of Art; Juraku Museum, Kyoto, Japan; Long House Foundation, San Francisco; H.M. de Young Museum, San Francisco; and the Smithsonian Institution, Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC.


Art Assembled: New in January

January was a great month for us at browngrotta arts. The new year has brought forth even more spectacular art work into the fold, which we know you’re going to enjoy.

Marianne Kemp, Vibrant Conversation, horsehair, cotton, linen, 49” x 70” x 6 “, 2018
Marianne Kemp, Vibrant Conversation, horsehair, cotton, linen, 49” x 70” x 6 “, 2018

Marianne Kemp specializes in weaving with horsehair. She is passionate about exploring unconventional weaving techniques in her art. That passion, combined with her craftsmanship, is clearly visible in the work she creates. Some, almost-mathematically precise, creations challenge viewers to become introverted and still. Other work is more extroverted and playful, displaying an exuberant cheerfulness. In either case, her work attracts the eye and stimulates an urge to touch (though you need to resist it!).

Gold Laugh, Micheline Beauchemin, metallic and acrylic thread, cotton, 25.25” x 21.25” x 2.25”, 1980-85
5mb Gold Laugh, Micheline Beauchemin, metallic and acrylic thread, cotton, 25.25” x 21.25” x 2.25”, 1980-85.

Canadian artist Micheline Beauchemin was a major figure in visual arts, best known for monumental tapestries and theatre curtains, as well as works of embroidery and stained glass, costumes and paintings. As a weaver, her repertoire of materials included unique combinations of hand-spun wool, silk and other natural fibers, as well as nylon, aluminum, and gold and silver threads. “I do not seek to represent the forest, pure joy or fear;” Beauchemin has said, “[ ] I want my tapestries to be the forest, pure joy or fear.” 

Lizzie Farey, 18lf Orbiculus, willow, wire, 31.25” x 31, 2018
Lizzie Farey, 18lf Orbiculus, willow, wire, 31.25” x 31, 2018.

Says Lizzie Farey about her work, “I have a fascination with living things and natural form. For me, willow has become a medium for an interaction with nature that is deeply personal. Using willow, birch, heather, bog myrtle and many other locally grown woods, my work ranges form traditional to organic sculptural forms.”

The Seashore, Keiji Nio, polyester, aramid fiber, 48” x 48,” 2019
25kn The Seashore, Keiji Nio, polyester, aramid fiber, 48” x 48,” 2019.

Keiji Nio‘s interlaced wall work is inspired by a haiku, Rough Sea of Sado, from Japanese haiku master Matsuo Basho. In it, Basho describes the deep blue waves of the Sea of Japan as they are reflected in the night sky and the light blue waves hitting the beach. The work incorporates ribbons on which Nio has screened images from the sea and tiny pebbles from the shore. Nio is a faculty member at the Kyoto University of Art & Design. He combines industrial and natural materials in his works to make statements about nature and man’s relationship to the world.


Art & Identity: A Sense of Place

In our 2019 Art in the Barn exhibition, we asked artists to address the theme of identity. In doing so, several of the participants in Art + Identity: an international view, wrote eloquently about places that have informed their work. For Mary Merkel-Hess, that place is the plains of Iowa, which viewers can feel when viewing her windblown, bladed shapes. A recent work made a vivid red orange was an homage to noted author, Willa Cather’s plains’ description, “the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed,” a view that Merkel-Hess says she has seen.

Micheline Beauchemin Golden Garden detail
Micheline Beauchemin 3mb Golden Garden nylon cord, metalic thread, sisal and plexiglass 42” x 10.5”, circa 1966-68

The late Micheline Beauchemin traveled extensively from her native Montreal. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, all influenced her work but depictions of the St. Lawrence River were a constant thread throughout her career. The river, “has always fascinated me,” she admitted, calling it, “a source of constant wonder” (Micheline Beauchemin, les éditions de passage, 2009). “Under a lemon yellow sky, this river, leaded at certain times, is inhabited in winter, with ice wings without shadows, fragile and stubborn, on which a thousand glittering lights change their colors in an apparent immobility.” To replicate these effects, she incorporated unexpected materials like glass, aluminum and acrylic blocks that glitter and reflect light and metallic threads to translate light of frost and ice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila Triple Weave
Triple weave Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila silk, alpaca, moriche, metalliic yarns, copper, natural dyes, 71” x 48.25”, 2016


Mérida, Venezuela, the place they live, and can always come back to, has been a primary influence on Eduardo Portillo’s and Maria Davila’s way of thinking, life and work. Its geography and people have given them a strong sense of place. Mérida is deep in the Andes Mountains, and the artists have been exploring this countryside for years. Centuries-old switchback trails or “chains” that historically helped to divide farms and provide a mountain path for farm animals have recently provided inspiration and the theme for a body of work, entitled Within the MountainsNebula, the first work from this group of textiles, is owned by the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

Birgit Birkkjærs  Ode for the Ocean
Birgit Birkkjær, 65bb Ode for the Ocean, linen and stones, shells, fossils, etc. from the sea 30” x 30” x 4,” 2019

Birgit Birkkjaer’s Ode for the Ocean is composed of many small woven boxes with items from the sea — stones, shells, fossils and so on — on their lids. ” It started as a diary-project when we moved to the sea some years ago,” she explains. “We moved from an area with woods, and as I have always used materials from the place where I live and where I travel, it was obvious I needed now to draw sea-related elements into my art work.”

Polly Bartons Continuum I, II, III detail
4pb Continuum I, II, III, Polly Barton, silk, double ikat, 19” x 52” x 1.75,” 2018

“I am born and raised in the Northeast,” says Polly Barton, “trained to weave in Japan, and have lived most of my life in the American Southwest. These disparate places find connection in the woven fabric that is my art, the internal reflections of landscape.” In works like Continuum i, ii, iii, Barton uses woven ikat as her “paintbrush,” to study native Southwestern sandstone. Nature’s shifting elements etched into the stone’s layered fascia reveal the bands of time. “Likewise, in threads dyed and woven, my essence is set in stone.”

Paul Furneauxs City Trees II and City Lights II detail
1 & 2pf City Trees II and City Lights II, Paul Furneaux, Detail

For Paul Furneaux, geographic influences are varied, including time spent in Mexico, at Norwegian fjords and then, Japan, where he studied Japanese woodblock, Mokuhanga “After a workshop in Tokyo,” he writes, “I found myself in a beautful hidden-away park that I had found when I first studied there, soft cherry blossom interspersed with brutal modern architecture. When I returned to Scotland, I had forms made for me in tulip wood that I sealed and painted white. I spaced them on the wall, trying to recapture the moment. The forms say something about the architecture of those buildings but also imbue the soft sensual beauty of the trees, the park, the blossom, the soft evening light touching the sides of the harsh glass and concrete blocks.”