Category: Art

Process Notes: Aleksandra Stoyanov

Aleksandra Stoyanov small woven sculpture
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 9as Reflection wool, plexiglas, 8” x 8.125” x 3.375, 2004
photo by Tom Grotta

We recently corresponded with Aleksandra Stoyanov, known as Sasha, about her practice and influences. Here is what we learned:
On Influences Sasha began drawing in childhood. She was not very healthy as a child. She spent a lot of time in the hospital and this influenced her further understanding of people and life itself. 

Aleksandra Stoyanov, JUDGES wool, sisal
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 5as JUDGES wool, sisal, 91” x 60”, 1998. Photo by Tom Grotta

Her mother sent Sasha to a Art School in Odessa to study drawing. Afterschool she attended Odessa Theater Art College where she studied stenography, graphic arts, painting and theater. Her first great art inspiration in college was her teacher Leon Alshits. He gave her an understanding of composition and the understanding that objects can speak with the same significance as a man and that objects have their own biographies. Studying in Theatrical college altered Sasha’s vision of the world she lived in. Among other things, Sasha was inspired by both Medieval Art and especially taken with black-and-white photography. 

Aleksandra Stoyanov, Personal space wool, linen, silk
Aleksandra Stoyanov, Personal space wool, linen, silk tapestry, 63” x 208.7” 2004


After college Sasha worked in theater production but was disappointed. She left the theater and began experimenting with threads. Sasha loved playing with threads. Feeling a thread for Sasha was feeling a living material. The feeling of thread as a live material and a desire to draw with it brought Sasha to develop her own technique. She began working on a small, simple frame loom working in bright colors.

Aleksandra Stoyanov, From Chaos to Reality
Aleksandra Stoyanov, 2as From Chaos to Reality, 103″ x 101″, 2003


In the 90s, Sasha  and her husband Yan Belinky, packed up and left Odessa to get away from the anti-semitism there that was growing worse. They chose Israel as a better environment to bring up their daughter and give her a motherland. They had no idea what to expect since there was no internet. They just picked up and flew to Israel.

Aleksandra Stoyanov tapestry, From the First Person I
Detail of Aleksandra Stoyanov tapestry, From the First Person I, wool, sisal, silk, cotton threads, 49.25” x 55.6”, 1999 From the First Person II is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Tom Grotta

In Israel, Sasha learned from Zilli Landman how to work on large looms for her tapestry. Landman helped her refine her technique for weaving on these large looms.

4as FORWORD, Aleksandra Stoyanov, brown paper and thread, , 106.5″ x 45.5″

Sasha began making her own handmade threads from the wool of the Avassi sheep. Sasha makes all of her threads from their wool, which she says are the only sheep whose wool has the texture she prefers. She dyes the wool in large batches to create the palette for her works.
Sasha’s color palette has completely changed since moving to Israel.  She fell in love with the colors of the burnt summer dessert. Sasha has found that grey-brown hues can suggest more colors and be more expressive than bright colors. Burnt trees, grass and rocks have been the main colors of her palette ever since. 


Art Assembled: New this Week in July

We always want our blog to be a place for textile and fiber artists and collectors to be inspired, and a place to see and learn from the best. We started the summer off hot and July was no different. We kicked off the month of July with artist Lija Rage. She is influenced by many different cultures. She is particularly interested in drawings of ancient cultures on the walls of caves in different parts of the world. Eastern culture with its mysterious magic, drawings of runes in Scandinavia, Tibet and the mandala, Egyptian pyramid drawings. 

Lija Rage wall sculpture
3lr My Sun For Everyone, Lija Rage, bamboo, copper wire, fabric 46.5” x 58.75” x 1.25”, 2018

“Currently, I am interested in new technologies and their use in contemporary fiber art. Textile and fiber art for me are types of modern art that use fiber as their medium. It is the type of art that borders the four fine arts types with the same high requirements and tasks. I believe in its development in the modern world.” Lija Rage New This Week featuring My Sun For Everyone, by Lija Rage.

Tamiko Kawata safety pin wall art
34tk Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood 11″ x 11″ x 3″, 2014

We continued the month with works from Tamiko Kawata. Discarded materials are important to Tamiko Kawata, not only for environmental issues but also to reflect his current life. Her choice of materials and interpretation are influenced by the differences experiences between life in America and Japan where she grew up.

“Safety pins function variously as thread, yarn, clay or truss in my work process. I found them soon after I arrived from Japan, out of the necessity to shorten all-too-long American clothing. I noticed their smooth texture and their head- and tail-like details. In the beginning, I found ways to interlock them, as if weaving. I found constructing systems as I went along, using only the inherent structural properties of the pins, and now can create anything from “drawings” to three-dimensional, self-standing works.” Tamiko Kawata New This Week featuring Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood.

Wendy Wahl Encyclopedia art
32ww CE/EB #4, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica and Comptons pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011.
27ww EB ’62 vol. 17-18, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011

One thing you could count on as a child was never having to look at an encyclopedia during the Summer and Wendy Wahl made sure of it! She continues to wow us with her use of this material, and she pushes them into a contemporary extreme, somewhere between art and object.
“My art has always been a protest against what I have met with in weaving. I started to use rope, horsehair, metal and fur because I needed these materials to give my vision expression and I did not care that they were not part of the tradition in the field.” Wendy Wahl New This Week featuring work from Wendy Wahl.

Kiyomi Iwata Ogara Choshi
21ki Fungus Three, Kiyomi Iwata, Ogara Choshi are gathered. The surface is embellished with gold leaf and French embroidery knots, 6.5” x 8” x 7.5”, 2018

We wrapped up the month with artist Kiyomi Iwata. In her work, she explores the boundaries of East and West through absence and presence, void and volume.

Fungus Three is made from ogarami choshi. Even though they are all created in the same manner, the elements are all different shapes and tones. The individual pieces are gathered together to make one large bundle. This was inspired by a saying I heard: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’  This seems a good thought to keep in mind during these trying times.” Kiyomi Iwata  New This Week featuring work from Kiyomi Iwata


Dispatches: Philadelphia

Philadelphia skyline from the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum

There are no end to art and historical treasures in Philadelphia and Rhonda had a chance to meet up with some good friends and take in a few last week. The Philadelphia Art Museum is a wonder and its annex, the Perelman Building, houses two intriguing exhibits: Souls Grown Deep: Artists of the African American South and The Art of Collage and Assemblage through September 2nd. Souls Grown Deep combines and extraordinary collection of textile art, sculpture, and painting acquired from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.

Roman Stripes Variation Quilt, 1970, Loretta Pettway(born 1942)

With remarkable inventiveness, generations of quilters from Gee’s Bend, Alabama have created arresting compositions of color and form from worn-out clothes and other repurposed fabrics. Provocative mixed-media paintings and found-object sculptures by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley and others are displayed amongst the quilts, whose subjects and materials echo with the painful history of the American South and the conditions of life for many who live there. The collage exhibition includes works by Joseph Cornell, a personal favorite, and other less-expected names including Romare Bearden, Bettye Saar and Pablo Picasso.

Protecting Myself the Best I can (Weapons by the Door), 1994, by Lonnie Holley (American, born 1950), 2017-229-24.
Lonnie Holley/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio/Art Resource (AR), New York

We found artfulness of another kind at the National Constitution Center’s new permanent exhibition, Civil War and Reconstruction: The Battle for Freedom and Equality. Some interesting textiles are on display, including a fragment of the flag that Abraham Lincoln raised at Independence Hall, 1861 (From the Collection of the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia on loan from Gettysburg Foundation) and an embroidered potholder that reads, “Any Holder but a Slaveholder.” We also appreciated the Anti-Slavery Alphabet from 1847.

Cardbird II, 1971, Robert Rauschenberg

The exhibition has an ambitious premise, to illustrate how the nation transformed the Constitution after the war to more fully embrace the Declaration of Independence’s promise of liberty and equality. The 3,000- square-foot exhibit brings to life the stories of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman and other figures central to the conflict over slavery. It features the stories of lesser-known individuals, too, in order to shed light on the American experience under slavery, the battle for freedom during the Civil War and the fight for equality during Reconstruction, which many call the nation’s “Second Founding.” Highlighted are the three constitutional amendments added between 1865 and 1870, which ended slavery, required states to respect individual rights, promised equal protection to all people, and expanded the right to vote to African-American men. The exhibition covers, as the Wall Street Journal terms it: “the racially egalitarian society that was briefly wrestled into being after the abolition of slavery, before the ravages of Jim Crow and the hard-fought triumphs of the civil-rights movement.”

Potholder, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

The artfulness is evident in the matter-of-fact way the signage and artifacts give equal time to the efforts made to reach equality and those determined to subvert each of those amendments — including displays about Ku Klux Klan, complete with original robes, which were not white but maroon and heavily ornamented. Also edifying and persuasive is the neutrally presented, but inescapable, evidence that the goals of these amendments are yet to be achieved. An example, noted by one reviewer, is the 13th Amendment. “The interactive displays…show the debates, the drafts, and the redrafting of those amendments and help to explain how the final draft [of the 13th] actually allowed forced labor ‘as a punishment for crime’ … It does not take long to make the connection between the 13th Amendment and the shockingly profitable system of prison labor and prison farms which still exists today.” (Margaret Darby, Exhibit Review: Civil War and Reconstruction Phillylifeandculture.com, May 9, 2019).

Anti-Slavery Alphabet, National Constitution Center, Philadelphia



Dispatches: San Francisco

Carter Grotta, of our browngrotta arts team, traveled to San Francisco last month. We asked him to snapshots of interesting art. Here are some of the highlights!

First the de Young. There, Carter visited the Saxe Collection at the de Young Museum, where he saw an Untitled work of bark and stone by Dorothy Gill Barnes and ceramics by Toshiko Takaezu and Paul Soldner.

Ruth Asawa installation at the deYoung Museum

A great collection of works by Ruth Asawa, San Francisco’s most well-known fiber artist, is also on display at the de Young Museum along with a unique abstract quilt, A Bend in the River, by Joe Cunningham.

A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
A Bend in the River by Joe Cunningham
SFMOCA digital installation

Next SFMOCA. Carter was quite taken by this remarkable digital installation, part of snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks, a unique take on transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks. This work illustrates what it means to engage with the technological advancements of the 21st century to create digital conversations in photographs.

Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench
Magdalena Abakanowicz Four on a Bench

Also housed at the SFMOMA, the sculptures of Magdalena Abankanowicz, like Four on a Bench, are representative of the oppressive historic conditions of her native country, Poland.

Jannis Kounellis Untitled piece of steel
Jannis Kounellis, Untitled

Also at SFMOMA, was this interesting Untitled piece of steel, crucible, tar and rope, by Italian-born artist, Jannis Kounellis, in The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection.

Tanabe Chikuunsai IV bamboo sculpture
Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Also worth a trip, the Asian Art Museum which features an exciting installation by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV — a 4th generation bamboo artist, that seems to have grown organically within the gallery space.

Federal Court House building in San Francisco
Federal Court House Building

What Carter couldn’t see — or photograph at least — was That Word, a larger-than-life sculpture of twigs by Gyöngy Laky which is on loan to the federal courts where photography is strictly prohibited.
You can see That Word, though, even if you can’t take a photograph. Just one of a series of interesting stops in a city that is great for art tourism!


Art Assembled: New This Week in June

Summer is finally here and in June, browngrotta arts offered a look at the latest pieces in our collection representing works from around the world. This month, in our New This Week series, we shared some extraordinary pieces by Chang Yeonsoon, Judy Mulford, Lewis Knauss, Pat Campbell and Eva Vargo.
We kicked off the first few days in June with a three-piece work of abaca fiber, pure gold leaf and eco-soluble resin by Chang Yeonsoon, a Korean textile artist who specializes in sculptural fiber works. “I have been studying philosophy and breathing meditation for the last 10 years because I am interested in Oriental philosophy. Chunjeein (天地人) means heaven, earth and human in the East. In the Book of changes (a chinese classic) say that the heaven is a circle, the earth is a square, and the human is a triangle.”

heaven, earth and human sculptures
Chunjeein-1, 2 & 3, Chang Yeonsoon
abaca fiber, pure gold leaf, eco-soluble resin, 33″ x 7.125″ x 6.75″, 2019

Soon after that, we shared a mixed media work, Ancestral Totem by Judy Mulford. “My art honors and celebrates the family” explains the artist. “It is autobiographical, personal, narrative, and a scrapbook of my life. Each piece I create becomes a container of conscious and unconscious thoughts and feelings: a nest, a womb, a secret, a surprise, or a giggle.” This work, which Mulford talks more about in a youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3-YTMWD4JM art + identity interview, features “memory chairs” and buttons that she sourced from family and friends.

Button hole stitched chair sculpture
Ancestral Totem, Judy Mulford, mixed media, 34.5″ x 10.5″ x 10.5,” 2019

Next in our June series was Lewis Knauss‘ work, Thorny of woven, knotted linen, waxed linen and reed. Knauss’ interest in landscape originated during his first teaching appointment in Ohio. The textures and materials of textiles have provided him a medium to explore his memories of place.

Lewis Knauss wall sculpture
Thorny, Lewis Knauss
woven, knotted, waxed linen, reed, 17″ x 16″ x 6,” 2018/19

We aim to keep your creative palettes full, and so we featured Kundalini Rising II by Pat Campbell of rice paper, reed and wood. Campbell’s work aims to promote, not divide, the world’s population ethnically, racially and religiously, specifically to promote globalization and world peace. We at browngrotta arts fully support her work and the meaning behind each piece. Her work combines hope for the future, love of where she came from, and a reminder to viewers to reflect the best in themselves to solve world problems.

Pat Campbell Rice Paper Sculpture
Kundalini Rising II, Pat Campell
rice paper, reed and wood, 24″ x 14″ x 6.5″, 2009

Last, but most certainly not least, we shared No. 55 (Book of Changes), by Eva Vargo of linen, thread, paper strings and gold leaves. A Swedish artist who has lived abroad for a large part of her life, she has been influenced by each country in which she has lived. iFrom the time she began using paper strings and papers from old Japanese and Korean books in her woven works, it has been an exciting journey for her and it is still a path she keeps on exploring.

Eva Vargo Book of Changes
No. 55 (Book of Changes), Eva Vargo
linen, thread, paper strings and gold leaves, 31.75″ x 29.375″ x 1.5″, 2019

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Wishing You the Magic of the Season and an Artful New Year!

Megalith IV & V, Simone Pheulpin, 2001 photo by Tom Grotta



Dispatches: Studio Visits UK

During the end of October and beginning of November, Tom and Carter traveled throughout the UK on a photo adventure, capturing eight artists at work From London to Derbyshire to Chesterfield, Bristol and New Hebden Bridge. They experienced the countryside, the railway system, local cuisine and the graciousness of the artists they visited. Each studio space was unique — from Laura Ellen Bacon’s wee “treehouse” to Susie Gillespie’s compound in a converted cider mill to Chris Drury’s charming cottage. The artists were extremely generous with their time and thoughts. We are hoping to compile the photos in a series of books one day. In the meantime, enjoy a quick view of our extraordinary trip.

Susie Gillespie’s Barn

New Hebden Bridge

Cemetery in New Hebden Bridge by Sue Lawty’s Studio

Photographing the art at dinner in London after photographing Caroline Bartletts studio

Kings Cross London on the way to photographing Rachel Maxs studio

Photographing an outdoor land sculpture by Chris Drury

Carter carrying into the barn a Laura Ellen Bacon Basket for a photographing

Manor Farm Dethick after photographing Laura Ellen Bacon on the way to Gizella Warburtons studio

Leaving Gizella Warburtons studio after a full day photo session

On our way to Dail Behennah studio in Bristol

After dinner in Bristol

Susie Gillespie’s weaving studio for her students


It’s a Mystery — Can You Help Us Solve It?

This arresting tapestry is from the personal collection of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette of Canada. Rousseau-Vermette participated in several of the Biennials of International Tapestry in Lausanne, Switzerland. At the Biennials, artists for all over the world had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and inspiration and, in some cases, traded works of art with one another. Rousseau-Vermette also headed the Fibres Department at the Banff Centre for the Arts from 1980. In 1981, the Banff Centre hosted the third Fibre Interchange, a gathering of experts from the fiber arts world. Noted guests included: Parisian fibre artist Daniel Gaffin; MoMA’s Mildred Constantine; The Whitney Museum’s curator. Patterson Sims and acclaimed American artist Sheila Hicks. The Centre also hosted visiting artists from all over, including Jolanta Owidzka and Magdalena Abakanowicz so Rousseau-Vermette had another chance for art exchange. So, Rousseau-Vermette might have come by this work in either of those ways. The work is 13.25″ by 12″, made of wool and includes an interesting symbol –maybe a signature? — in the right-hand corner. We asked Jolanta Owidzka, but she did not recognize it. Maybe you do??
If you have an idea of who it might be, we’d welcome the information. The first three people to give us a clue will receive a copy of Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection. Please contact us at art@browngrotta.com.

Additional works from Mariette Rousseau-Vermette’s collection include:

Warszawa, Jolanta Owidzka, wool, linen and metallic thread, 90″ x 68″,1967

2ws Untitled, Wojciech Sadley , mixed media, 32” x 24”, 1968


Art Lives Well-Lived: Mary Giles

Mary Giles 1995

Mary Giles Portrait 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta

We were heartbroken to learn of artist Mary Giles’s passing last month. Giles was a light – casting warmth and humor wherever she went. We have been fortunate to represent her work at browngrotta arts for many years and were delighted she could join us in Wilton for our 30th anniversary exhibition last year.

30th Anniversary Portrait

30th Anniversary exhibit artist portrait.
Photo by Tom Grotta

Giles received the James Renwick Alliance Master of the Medium Award in Fiber in 2013. In receiving the award, Giles spoke of her process and her sources of inspiration: “I have always been influenced by place and especially the natural world in those places. In the early 80’s, having taken up scuba diving, I did a series based on sea life called “walking tentacles.” Later, during many trips to New Mexico, I discovered mesa forms as well as Native American kivas and petroglyphs. Those sources dominated my work for over 10 years. Most recently the changing light, colors, and patterns seen from our retirement home on the banks of the St. Croix River in Minnesota have informed by work. My ideas are an accumulation, my sources most often from nature and my pallet is drawn from the colors of earth, water, wood and stone.” You can read the full text of her remarks on arttextstyle: http://arttextstyle.com/2013/05/18/master-remarks-mary-giles/

vessels and wall works

Mary Giles Vessels and wallworks
Photos by Tom Grotta

Giles reveled in the tactile, reflective and and malleable materials. She is represented in the Erie Art Museum’s permanent collection by a meticulously made basket of porcupine quills. The materials she used on the surface of the coiled forms were individually hammered pieces of 12- to 18-gauge wire made of copper, tinned copper, iron, lead or brass. By torching the metals she was able to alter the colors in varying degrees enabling me to blend them from darks to brights, a blending she used to interpret the colors, textures and light that she saw in the natural settings.
Some years ago Giles began creating wall panels that dealt with her concerns about population and explored ideas of density and boundaries. They were not baskets but the figures incorporated were like those that had been featured on her vessels. The first expression of this theme was composed of hundreds of torched copper wire men arranged outwardly from dense to sparse, directly on a gallery wall.

Mary Giles Boulders

3 Mary Giles Boulders
Photo by Tom Grotta

Giles’ work has been displayed in numerous galleries and museums in the United States including the Barbican Centre in London, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Yale Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She represented the U.S. at the International Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland.
She is one of 20 artists featured in a current article in 1st dibs online magazine Introspective: “20 Women Designers Young and Resurgent Stand Side by Side,” which you can read here: https://www.1stdibs.com/introspective-magazine/tag/mary-giles/. Her work is also featured in eight catalogs published by browngrotta arts available on our website: http://store.browngrotta.com/sara-brennan-tapestry-and-mary-giles-fiber-sculpture/.

Recap: Whirlwind Art Week in Wilton at browngrotta arts

VIP Preview

VIP-opening, photo by Carter Grotta

We had record crowds in attendance and a record number of sales at browngrotta arts in Wilton last week for Blue/Green: color/code/context. At our VIP preview event on Friday, we hosted our clients, collectors and art appreciators and our event sponsors from Litchfield Distilleryvenü Magazine and Country Club Homes.

Karl Dolnier parking cars at Blue/Green opening. Photo by Carter Grotta

Artist Dinner record crowds

Artist Dinner after Artist Reception. Photo by Carter Grotta

Saturday we hosted 10 artists from the exhibition (Keiji Nio and family all the way from Japan, Kiyomi Iwata from Virginia, Pat Campbell from Maine, Lewis Knauss, Nancy Koenigsberg, Polly Barton and Tamiko Kawata from New York, Wendy Wahl from Rhode Island and Dawn MacNutt from Nova Scotia) and loads of visitors, too. Sunday and Monday we were busy all day.

SDA Walkthrough record crowds

Surface Design Association Talk. Photo by Carter Grotta

Tuesday we hosted a good crowd of appreciative and knowledgable members of the Surface Design Association.

Designer Talk

Mae Colburn presentation of Helena Hernmarck work at the Architecture and Designer Talk. Photo by Carter Grotta

Wednesday was educational — we presented Material Matter: Integrating Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture into Interiors and Architecture with the help of Mae Colburn from Helena Hernmarck’s studio and some interior shots from Walter Cromwell at Country Club Homes. Those in attendance were eligible to get Continuing Education Credit from the Interior Design Continuning Education Council.

westport arts center

westport arts center

Thursday brought the Westport Arts Council Board and patrons another educated and interested audience.

Ports of cause

Ports of cause fundraiser. photo by Harrison James O’Brien

Friday was Art•Ocean•Energy, an immersive art experience for supporters of Ports of Cause, a 501(c)3 driven to promote, inspire and accelerate innovative and sustainable solutions and practices that reduce the impact luxury living and everyday lifestyles have on our oceans. Those who joined us on Friday, heard Tom speak about our artists’ dedication to sustainable art and art practices and

Arthur Bavelas

Arthur Bavelas talking at Ports of Cause fundraiser. photo by Harrison James O’Brien

Arthur Bavelas, Founder of the Bavelas Group Family Office & Family Office Insights of New York City, speak about How sustainable innovation is driving the blue economy while benefiting our oceans and natural resources. A lively discussion followed. Saturday was a full day as was Sunday. Sunday evening we concluded our 10-day annual opening with a informed and engaged group from the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Hope we’ll see you at browngrotta arts in 2019 at one or more of our annual events. In the meantime, you can find us online at browngrotta.com; talking about events and acquisitions and other art stuff at arttextstyle.com and on Facebook, posting items and images on Twitter and Instagram and videos on the browngrotta arts YouTube Channel.