Category: Art

Text/iles: On Art that Includes Words and Text.

January 21 – May 6, 2018
Written languages are just one of the many ways human beings attempt to communicate with one another. In Text Message: Words and Letters in Contemporary Art, currently on exhibit at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin, contemporary artists, recognizing the power and complexity of the written word, utilize text—individual letters or words—to explore theoretical, social, symbolic, and aesthetic concerns.

Sampler (Jacket)

2 Laws, Barbara Brandel, Sampler (Jacket), 1995, dyed cotton, silk, and wool
Photo by Jon Bolton, Racine Art Musuem.

Bird Brain

Bird Brain, John McQueen, woven willow twigs, waxed string, 2002, photo by Tom Grotta. On close inspection, the names of various birds are legible.


OLL KORRECT, Gyöngy Laky, apricot, finished pine, vinyl-caoted steel nails, 1998

The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt, nails, twine, encaustic and Congressional Record pages.

paper collage

Torso, Miriam Londoño, paper collage, 2011

The exhibition includes works that use words, letters, and script to convey meaning. Tangible three-dimensional objects made of fiber, clay, polymer, paper, and metal along with two-dimensional works on paper underscore how contemporary artists recognize the power and complexity of the written word. John McQueen and Gyöngy Laky are among the 77 artists whose work is included. The exhibition ends on May 6, 2018. For more information, visit: To pique your interest, here are some images of art by various artists who incorporate or reference text in their work.

Heidrun Schimmel

was du weiß auf schwarz besitzt (text/textile), Heidrun Schimmel, cotton and silk, 2009, photo by Tom Grotta. Not literally text, but stitching that feels like a message to be deciphered.

Toshio Sekiji

Shadow Alphabet, Toshio Sekiji, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Indian newspapers; postcards; thin, Thai paper (backing); brown and black lacquer; acrylic varnish,  2002, photo by Tom Grotta

HeArt-ists: Creative Couples

Power couples in the art world abound: Pablo Picasso and François Gilot, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Steiglitz. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Joseph and Anni Albers among them (see the In Good Taste, blog post, “12 Prolific Artist Couples,” for more: At browngrotta arts we’ve worked with several such couples or with one of such a pair. In honor of Valentine’s Day, a toast to them:
Power Couple Kobayashi's at browngrotta arts

Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi installing Cosmos 98 at browngrotta arts for the opening of Tradition Transformed: Contemporary Japanese textile art & fiber sculpture

Masakazu/Naomi Kobayashi:
Masakazu and Naomi often collaborated on projects in the years before his death. In their collaborations, in the US, Israel, Singapore, France and JapanMasa and Naomi, generally created individual works that were installed together. Masa once explained the impetus behind their cooperative works: “These works express a shared vision and such common themes as the tranquility of nature, the infinity of the universe and the Japanese spirit. Naomi and I work in fiber because natural materials have integrity, are gentle and flexible. In my own work, I search for an equilibrium between my capacity as a creator and the energy of the world around me.”
Power Couple Rossbach/Westphal

Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal in their apartment in Berkley California

Ed Rossbach/Katherine Westphal: Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal were both innovators — he a maker of nonfunctional art baskets; she in her work with xerography and art quilts. The pair loved to travel and images and influences from those visits appear in their work in various ways. Images from the American West, including bison and feathers, appear in both Rossbach’s baskets and drawings and in Westphal’s wall hangings of tapas bark. Westphal made color photocopies of photos she took on their travels through Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and with a heat transfer process, inserted these images into her quilts and wearable art. Rossbach took photo images and reconstructed them with stitching and pins.

Power Couple Marriage in Form

Marriage in Form Set
Bob Stocksdale/Kay Sekimachi, Pistashio wood and Japanese paper with fibers, 1999

Kay Sekimachi/Bob Stocksdale: Kay Sekimachi and her late husband, woodturner Bob Stocksdale, collaborated to create an entire series of work, exhibited across the US as Marriage in Form. Sekimachi used his turned wood vessels as a form to shape her own ber vessels from hornet’s nest paper. Sekimachi applies a base layer of Kozo paper to a wood form, then laminates the hornet’s nest paper. The resulting objects appears delicate and ethereal but is actually stiff and stable.

Power Couple Claude Vermette and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette

Claude Vermette and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, painting and tapestry

Claude Vermette/Mariette Rousseau-Vermette: For several decades, this couple worked in separate studios, in different media, in different ways. Yet, as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Baie St. Paul, Quebec noted when mounting a posthumous retrospective of Vermette’s paintings, ceramics and sculpture and Rousseau-Vermette’s tapestries, they shared “a common spirit, strong affinities and correspondences, links of course emotional and intellectual, the same historical and sociological context and the crossing of an important period of time.”

Debra Sachs_ Marilyn Keating

Debra Sach’s/Marilyn Keating’s joint exhibition, Going Solo & Tandem at the Stockton College Art Gallery, NJ 2014

Debra Sachs/Marilyn Keating: Sachs and Keatings met in the early 1970s when they were students at the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. They were married in 2014. Their works — made spearately and together are showcased at The South Jersey Museum of Curiosities — not a physical location but a website they share ( Their individual works take different directions. Keating’s is more narrative, including depistions of fish, birds, bugs and dogs. Sachs describes herself as more design oriented. When they collaborate as they have in public commissions like Waders and Flockers 2011 at Stockton College, they divide the work — Keating builds the structure; Sachs completes the designs and paints the surface.
John McQueen/Margo Mensing: This couple, he a sculpture and basketmaker, she a poet and artist whose multimedia installations incorporate sculpture, ceramic and textiles, have exhibited together in New York, Massachusetts and New Zealand. In New Zealand, Mensing carved words into tree trunks.  “Marks made here,” she carved, “are no more than scars on these upstart upstanding trees – as brief as grass.”
Leon/Sharon Niehues: Leon and Sharon Niehues have created baskets together, including a basket-in-a-basket woven for the White House Collection of Contemporary Crafts created during the Clinton Administration. The couple moved from Kansas to the Ozarks in the 70s and learned basketmaking from by a book by the Arkansas Extension Service that explained how to make a white-oak basket from a tree. In his individual work over the last several years, Leon has focused on reinterpretingclassical and traditional forms.
To Love…

Color of the Year: Ultraviolet

Conde Nast Traveler has circled the globe, finding places where you can see Ultraviolet, Pantone’s Color of the Year, around the world. Closer to home, we’ve traveled browngrotta’s inventory to bring you artworks that envision violet for you to view: Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz; Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal; Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka; Purple Meets Pink, Axel Russmeyer; Purple & Gold Egg Basket, Chunghi Choo, Detail of Dark, Ulla-Maija Vikman, No. 79, Scott Rothstein and Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson.

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54" x 43" x 9", 1964

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964

Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal, heat transfer photo copy collage drawing, 22" x 30", 1993

Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal, heat transfer photo copy collage drawing, 22″ x 30″, 1993

Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, wool and sisal, 55" x 70", 1992

Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, wool and sisal, 55″ x 70″, 1992

PURPLE MEETS PINK Axel Russmeyer, polyester thread on cardboard bubbins, nylon thread, ribbon, aluminum, 5" (d), 2010.

Axel Russmeyer, polyester thread on cardboard bubbins, nylon thread, ribbon, aluminum, 5″ (d), 2010.

PURPLE & GOLD EGG BASKET Chunghi Choo wire mesh 12" x 12" x 10" 1993

Chunghi Choo
wire mesh
12″ x 12″ x 10″

 Dark, Ulla Vikman, painted viscose and linen, steel, 71" x 16.5"; 180cm x 42cm, 2003

Dark, Ulla Vikman, painted viscose and linen, steel, 71″ x 16.5″; 180cm x 42cm, 2003

#79, Scott Rothstein, hand stiched silk thread on silk ground, in black wood frame with museum glass, 13" x 13", 2000

#79, Scott Rothstein, hand stiched silk thread on silk ground, in black wood frame with museum glass, 13″ x 13″, 2000

Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson, sisal and coconut fibers on blastered acrylic glass, 14" x 11.875" x 1.25", 36 x 30cm, 2006

Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson, sisal and coconut fibers on blastered acrylic glass, 14″ x 11.875″ x 1.25″, 36 x 30cm, 2006



Books Make Great Gifts, Part 2

From Tapestry To Fiber Art The Laussane Biennials 1962-1995 Bokk Spread

From Tapestry To Fiber Art The Laussane Biennials 1962-1995. Pictured works by Mariette-Rousseau Vermette, Cynthia Schira and Lenore Tawney

Two January arrivals to review and one fav from last year to highlight: We were delighted to receive our copy of From Tapestry to Fiber Art: The Lausanne Biennals 1962-1995 by Giselle Eberhard Cotton and you can order it now from browngrotta arts. The book contains many never-before-published images from the Biennials and insightful essays, as well.

At the end of World War II, the art of tapestry experienced a renewal. By organizing the International Tapestry Biennials in 1962, the city of Lausanne, Switzerland became the international showcase of contemporary textile creation. The Lausanne Biennials gradually became more than just an exhibition. but a not-to-be-missed event that bore witness to the extraordinary evolution of an artistic expression that had graduated from a decorative art to that of a truly independent art form. In the 30 years that the exhibitions were held, 600 artists participated, 911 works were exhibited. The book contains many never-before-published images from the Biennials and insightful essays, as well.

Artisans of Israel Book Cover

Aleksandra Stoyanov spread

Artisans of Israel Transcending Tradition. Aleksandra Stoyanov pictured

Another newly published title we’ve enjoyed is Artisans of Israel: Transcending Tradition by Lynn Holstein (Arnoldsche Art Publishers). Intriguing portraits of dozens of artists are featured, from a Bedouin ceramist, Zenab Garbia, who use cross-stitch patterns in her works, to Russian emigre, Aleksandra Stoyanov who creates evocative tapestries, to Gali Cnaani, whose grandparents emigrated to Israel from Romania and Slovakia and who creates hybrid textiles from meticulously modified items of used clothing. The book features studio photos and portraits of workshops and design brands.

This Way In and Out by Gyöngy Laky from the Box Project Exhibition

Both Heidrun Schimmel and Gyøngy Laky had high praise for The Box Project: Works from the Lloyd Cotsen Collectionedited by Lyssa Stapleton (Cotsen Occasional Press, Los Angeles, 2016). “This catalog itself is an art object! The essays answer very important fundamental questions in textile art and the photographs are in high quality,” writes Heidrun Schimmel. “At the risk of being shamelessly self-promoting,” Gyöngy Laky also recommended the catalog/book that accompanied the unusual, traveling exhibition, which includes Laky’s and Schimmel’s work among that of many other artists.

“The five-pound book, “ Laky writes, “is not only a work of art itself with its indigo cloth cover, exquisite binding, gorgeous photography and elegant design, but, also, presents informative, important and engaging scholarly research. In addition to the background on the formation of this unique collection, the essays eloquently discuss the provenance and role of this field and its current manifestations, as well as describe the medium’s place in the contemporary art world context.”
Laky continues, “My participation was one of the most fascinating engagements with a collector commissioning a work that I have ever experienced. Lloyd Cotsen (of Neutrogena) was assembling a collection of works by contemporary artists in an extremely strange way.  He sent a small archival box to each of the 36 internationally acclaimed artists he selected, asking each to create a one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional, work that fit within the confines of the box. The 36 ideas resulted in remarkably diverse works – some residing within the boxes and some emerging from them to be large-scale works of all kinds when installed in a gallery. The Box Project showcases the dynamic, and often surprising, results.
My work for the box, This Way and That, is composed of eight separate small sculptures – four rectangles and four triangles – that can be arranged in a myriad of ways and has been installed in each venue in a different arrangement.
This inventive way of collecting resulted in an in-depth, thoughtful and provocative scholarly treatise associated with an equally intriguing and extraordinary exhibition.  The artworks are compelling demonstrations of the inventiveness and richness of this realm of the visual arts today.”

Crowds lining up for the opening reception of The Box Project at the Fowler Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

The exhibition opened at The Fowler Museum, UCLA, in September, 2016, traveled to the Racine Museum of Art and is now on view through the end of January  2018, at George Washington University (  Additional works by each artist are included in the exhibition.  The Box Project was organized by the Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research with the Racine Art Museum and curated by Lyssa C. Stapleton and Bruce W. Pepich.

Happy New Year: to new beginnings, fresh starts, rewrites and resurrections

Mariyo Yagi’s works, including A Cycle, Infinity, resonate with her nawa principle: spiral energy of movement and human beings together creating a metaphorical rope, all pulling together. What better sentiment for the New Year? We at browngrotta arts wish you all an awesome and abundant year.

For Yagi, nawa unites two principles: na (you) and wa(I). When combined, nawa means “you and I,” representing a single word that signifies human empathy and endurance. In nawa, you and I, face each other beyond difference, thus signifies our creative interaction, to achieve interconnectedness, unity and peace.
Yagi worked for Isamu Noguchi in Japan in 1973-1976. In order to  fully realize her own projects, which are large in scale, Yagi became a licensed  civil engineer and contractor, the first Japanese sculptor to do so. Yagi has found her own global vocabulary, an infinite array of spiraling forms. From 1980 through the present, she has created artscapes in plazas, gardens, fountains, earthworks and other community art works, including a glass spiral at a Venice Biennial collateral event two years ago and a tall spiral. Axis for Peace and two other works at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. She has the ability to transform communities and build environments through her unconventional interactive art practice, which often involves untrained community volunteers. More about Yagi’s work can be found at and at:


Books Make Great Gifts: 2017, Part 1

Book: What Happened Hillary Rodham Clinton

Book: Vitamin-Clay-Ceramic-Contemporary-Art/dp/0714874604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513259535&sr=8-1&keywords=Vitamin+C%3A+Clay+%2B+Ceramic+in+Contemporary+Art+%28Phaidon%29

Another wide-ranging selection of books selected by browngrotta arts’ artist this year. Mary Merkel Hess: recommends What Happened by Hillary Clinton (Simon and Schuster). “Have you ever wondered what Hillary Clinton’s favorite snack is?,” Mary asks. “Me neither, but now I know. I listened to the audio version of this book read by Hillary herself. Hearing the book in her own voice made it ‘up close and personal.’ Her detailed description of life on the campaign trail, from a feminine perspective in an unusual political year, is fascinating.” Mary also has an art book on her list: Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art (Phaidon). “For those of you who enjoy a book of luscious photography in coffee table size,” says Mary, “this is for you. Vitamin C is a medium-specific survey of more than 100 ceramic artists nominated by international art world professionals. A disclaimer: My son, Matthias Merkel-Hess, is included in this book but I am enjoying the photos and short essays enough that I am reading the other entries too. Some larger lights in the ceramic world like Ai Wei Wei and Betty Woodman are included as well as younger artists.”

Book: Chance-and-Change-by-Mel-Gooding,Chance and Change by Mel Gooding, about the nature artist Herman de Vries (Thames & Hudson) “is a wonderful book,” says Lizzie Farey. “It appraises De Vries’s work with beautiful images and argues that a proper contemplation and experience of nature is essential to living in any meaningful sense.”

Book: Oryx and Crake“Today’s world is so utterly filled with alternative facts and a reality of denial that for reasons unexplainable,” Wendy Wahl writes, “I decided to immerse myself in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy. While not new on the literary scene, I recently finished the first book, Oryx and Crake (Anchor), and am absorbed in The Year of the Flood (Anchor) which will be followed by Book: MaddAddam (The Maddaddam Trilogy)MaddAddam (Anchor) to close 2017. Atwood brilliantly takes us on an idiosyncratic journey with her keen wit and dark humor combining adventure and romance while forecasting a future that is at once all too recognizable and beyond envisioning. I highly recommend this environmental, philosophical and spiritual work of science fiction as a parallel view of the current global crossroads.”

Scott Rothstein recently receivedBook: Jangarh-Singh-Shyam-Enchanted-Collection Jangarh Singh Shyam: The Enchanted Forest Paintings and Drawings from the Crites Collection, by Aurogeeta Das (ROLI), a “truly remarkable” book from the collector of this work, who Scott knows from Delhi. You can read more about the show here:, and read a great interview with the collector here:

Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎“I’m reading a poem book by Japanese poet in Japanese….it is wonderful and strong,” says Tamiko Kawata. Sorry, not in English!!! “ It’s title is Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎 (Kodansha Bungei Bunko). “I hope someone will enjoy.”

Book: The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the AirNancy Moore Bess’s contribution is The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, Elisa Urbanelli (University of California Press). It is the 2007 catalogue from the traveling exhibition of the same name. “Perhaps you saw it when it was at Japan Society,” she writes. “I missed it at the deYoung, but I was lucky to catch it shortly thereafter at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The book is an inspiring documentation of her life, work, values and sense of community. There are drawings, which I had never seen before, photos of her with her early work and with friends. And then the stunning photographs of her later work. When the deYoung opened its new (and very controversial) building in 2005, over a dozen of her pieces were installed at the base of the tower. They are lit in such a way as to reveal how important shadows are to complete each piece. The photographs in the book really capture the installation. Buy the book and then come see the work in person! Prepare to stay a while and take it all in. Recently friends visited – Leon Russell from Seattle and Nancy Koenigsberg from New York. Both are now living with the book! Ruth died in 2013, but she is still revered in San Francisco – both for her artwork and for her commitment to children and the community. So wish I had met her! My great loss.”

Book: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis“The book that moved me and opened my eyes to a world that I knew superficially was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance,”writes Kyomi Iwata. “This book explained in a way why people chose the current political leader. I had a casual conversation with a Southern lady during our visit to the William and Mary College Art Museum in Williamsburg, Va this spring. She was a stranger who was holding the book and saying she did not like the book. It was the reading recommendation from her book club. At the end of our brief encounter though, we both agreed that knowing something which is not familiar is a worthwhile read. This book emphasized the importance of education and getting out from a familiar situation even though it is scary sometimes. The author felt this way and eventually went to Yale Law School. Afterwards he came back to the community to help others. Oh yes, he is a white man.”

Book: Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher RothkoRachel Max has been reading Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher Rothko. “Rothko’s meditative sensitivity and use of colour inspires me and this is a personal and engaging analysis of his father’s work. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Rothko and Music and of the emotional power of Rothko’s paintings and its parallels to music. Music was hugely important to Rothko and his son draws similarities between Mozart’s melodies and his father’s transparent textures, clarity, and purity of from in order to give what he calls greater expression – for both artist and composer alike nothing was added unnecessarily. Rothko’s application of paint and varnish allows us to see layers which would otherwise be concealed. He also draws comparisons between their artistic power to convey complex feelings and to what he describes as the coexistence between ecstasy and doom. He also describes how they both had the paradoxical ability to create an intimate and yet grand space. Christopher Rothko doesn’t draw the line at Mozart, he makes comparisons to Schubert’s shifts in tone and of the interplay between Rothko’s pigments, and to the relationship between Rothko’s sense of space with Morton Feldman’s use of silence. Rothko wanted his paintings to affect us in the same way he felt that music and poetry does – an absolute means of expressing what perhaps cannot be explained in words, “ she writes. “I grew up surrounded with music. The relationship between music and weaving is something I have been exploring and this particular essay resonated with me, but the others are equally personal and thought provoking.” Rachel has also been given copies of
From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira) and Books Make Great Gifts: Rooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine StealeyRooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine Stealey (Schiffer) and she can’t wait to read them!

At browngrotta arts we are awaiting our on-order copy of Books men great gifts: From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira)From Tapestry to Fiber Art: The Lausanne Biennals 1962-1995 with text by Giselle Eberhard Cotton, Magali Junet, Odile Contamin, Janis Jefferies, Keiko Kawashima, Marta Kowalewska, Jenelle Porter (Skira). We have on good authority that it is a beautiful book. We are also looking forwarded to wandering through the re-issue of Book Make Great Gifts: Anni Albers On WeavingAnni Albers’ On Weaving (Princeton University Press) (shhhhh, it’s still under the tree!). Enjoy!

Dispatches: Art South Africa


Zebra Pilanesburg Nature Reserve. Photo by
Tom Grotta

We had the opportunity to spend nine days in South Africa this month — Johannesburg, Capetown, Stellenbosch. A glorious country; a splendid trip and lots of art to write about. The big news, of course is the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art. of Strangers&utm_term=Daily Wander Newsletter

We missed the opening (long story) — but we’ve got images for you anyway. We did get to visit the Silo Hotel which is part of the amazing complex designed by Thomas Heatherwick. We also visited the Southern Guild Gallery next door and also its location in Johannesburg, where we were particularly taken by work by Porky Hefer and David Krynauw.

Porky Hefer

Porky Hefer’s Mud Dauber Sleeping Pod wall sculpture at the Southern Guild Gallery Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Tom Grotta

We visited other galleries, including Kim Sacks in Jo’Burg, Kalk Bay Modern and Artvark, greatly appreciating Mark Hilltout’s works photo of woven metal and Yda Walt’s photo provocative appliques on our gallery tours.

Mark Hilton and Yda Walt

Mark Hilton Metal Work and Yda Walt appliqué quilts. Photos by Tom Grotta

William Kentridge, Said Mahmoud, Lyndi Sales and Mark Rautenbach were on display at restaurants and wineries we visited (Shortmarket Club, Tokara and Delaire Graff in these shots).

Just as captivating were the vibrant handicrafts — on the streets and in the shops in Woodstock and Bo-kaap and along the coast. The Simon’s town sculptures.

Simon Town

Simon’s Town Street bead art. Photo by Tom Grotta

A Nigerian embroidery and an antique rattle basket found their way into our suitcase home.

Blanket and Rattle

Nigerian Blanket and Rattle. Photo by Tom Grotta

Art and oogling and eating, aren’t all. The historical stops we made – the Apartheid Musuem, Robben Island, Nobel Square — were moving and insightful ways to urge people remember the past while forging a better future.

Nelson Mandela Garden

Nelson Mandella’s Garden in Robben Island Prison. Photo by Tom Grotta

If South Africa has been on your must- or even maybe-visit list, just go. The people are open and inviting, the wine and food world class and the natural beauty is nonstop.

Scenic View of Table Mountain

Table Mountain South Africa, View from Robben Island. Photo by Tom Grotta

Art Assembled: Art Featured in August

Twister by Norma Minkowitz, fiber, paint, resin, 25.5” x 15” x 10.5”, 1994-2016

Southern Crossing Six by Kiyomi Iwata, Kibiso, silver leaf, indigo-color dye on canvas with pencil drawing, 30” x 33” x 1.75”, 2015

Fossil by Jiro Yonezawa, bamboo, 11″ x 13″ x 17″, 2017

We started off August with Norma Minkowtiz’s Twister, a figure shaped sculpture made from fiber, paint, and resin. In works such as Twister Minkowitz explores her thoughts on the different paths people take in life. “Some of my themes explore making concessions, personal choices, different lifestyles, ways of survival and transitions in nature as well as human nature. I am engaged in creating works that weave the personal and universal together,” explains Minkowitz.

Next up we had Southern Crossing Six by Kiyomi Iwata. Iwata began her new series Southern Crossing Six after he recent move from New York to Richmond, Virginia. The move to the South felt as dramatic as her move from Japan to the United States many decades ago. While Iwata’s move from Japan to the United States was characterized by youthful anticipation and excitement, her move from New York to Richmond was much different. Iwata’s need for adventure was replaced by a desire of comfort of the familiar. The stark contrast between indigo dyed Kibiso silk and silver leaf juxtapose the two different landscapes…

Fossil, a bamboo sculpture by artist Jiro Yonezwa is a true masterpiece. Yonezawa, who studied in Beppu and apprenticed under Masakazu Ono, has been a bamboo basket maker and artists for over 35 years. For Yonezwa, it is the regenerative nature of bamboo which attracts him to the art form. While living in the United States from 1989 to 2007 his artwork became larger, bolder, and more sculptural. Yonezawa finds the process of preparing bamboo strips to weave, and the weaving the strips to be inherently meditative. While going through this process “the cacophony of life dissipates; the sculpture emerges vigorous and vibrant. Form, contrast, balance, and the interplay of space, color and texture” all come together.

Made with thousands of strands of 18-carat gold threads and Japanese silk thread, Grethe Wittrock’s Gold Reserves has a tactile sculptural presence. Like Wittrock’s Nordic Currents series, Gold Reserves also celebrates Danish Design and craftwork traditions. Unknown to many, the Danish national gold reserves were shipped to New York right before the start WWII to be stored in vaults at the Federal Reserve Bank to be kept safe from the Nazis.

Gold Reserves by Grethe Wittrock, custom-dyed Japanese silk yarns, konjaku root starched, various gold yarns, cotton yarn, 63” x 24”, 2008/09

“Although she attempts to retain a sense of the material in its raw state, she pushes it sculptural possibilities,” explains Milena Hoegsberg. Wittrock aims “to ‘respect’ the raw materials ‘energy’ by distilling it ‘to reveal its essence’.” Wittrock tediously chose the color combinations for each group of threads that were to be knotted, taking into consideration where the groups would lay against the brown threads and the texture they would create.

The Nordic Tapestry Opens in Washington Depot, CT

Helena Hernmarck

Helena Hernmarck talking about her work at the opening reception of The Nordic Tapestry Group: Weaving Knowledge into Personal Expression, photo by Tom Grotta

The Nordic Tapestry Group: Weaving Knowledge into Personal Expression opened on Saturday in Washington Depot, Connecticut at the Washington Art Association and Gallery, 4 Bryan Plaza and the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens at One Green Hill. The exhibition extends through September 9th. The Nordic Tapestry group was founded 10 years ago by weavers from Sweden, Iceland and the United States after tapestry artist Helena Hernmarck traveled to Sweden to teach workshops on her weaving technique. Combining traditional Swedish weaving techniques with her own method, Hernmarck is able to achieve powerful photorealistic effects by bundling a variety of hued yarns that combine to create an illusion of depth. With a common passion for textiles, members of the Nordic Tapestry group have a desire to learn more about how Hernmarck’s tapestries are made, how to use light and how to use the different qualities of yarn to create images. The exhibition highlights works by 21 of those students alongside Hernmarck’s works. Hernmarck’s Anemones (1985) dominates one of the exhibition galleries, attractively paired with the more recent and more translucent work, Amaryllis (2014). Holding their own in the large gallery are also Stone Bridge and the impressionistic Morning Haze, by Lis Korsgen, Hernmark’s very accomplished student.

Hernmarck Student Work

The Nordic Tapestry Group: Weaving Knowledge into Personal Expression

In the Washington Art Association building are other works from Face to Face, which reveals the Nordic Tapestry weavers shared passion and ongoing exchange, and celebrates the transfer and evolution of weaving knowledge into personal expression. Through these works, they display their interest in using light and color and exploring the different qualities of yarn to weave images, create space and depth, and to depict three-dimensional forms. Swedish weaving has had a influential history in this country, in exhibitions, in creating art for the United Nations and in the curriculum at Cranbrook. For a very comprehensive look at this influence, including the role Swedish weaving has played in the work of American weaver Lia Cook, read Marion T. Marzolf’s paper, for the Textile Society of America, The Swedish Presence in 20th-Century American Weaving,

The Nordic Tapestry Group

The Nordic Tapestry Group

Art Assembled: A Round Up of July’s New This Week

July seemed to fly by here at browngrotta arts, but we still featured a full complement of New Art This Week. This month we had new pieces from Polly Adams Sutton, Jennifer Falck Linssen, Åse Ljones and Lenore Tawney.

Shady Lane by Polly Adams Sutton

2ps Shady Lane, Polly Adams Sutton
western red cedar bark, dyed ash, wire, cane, 16” x 12” x 9”, 2006 
Photo by Tom Grotta

Polly Adams Sutton’s basket Shady Lane is hand woven from pieces of western red cedar bark. With permission from logging operations, Sutton harvests the bark herself in the spring when the sap is running up from the roots of the trees. During her time spent collecting bark in the woods Sutton mulls over possible new forms she can weave. The manipulative qualities of cedar are the cornerstone of Sutton’s work, allowing her to bend the cedar as she desires.

Lucent by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Lucent by Jennifer Falck Linssen
Katagami-style hand-carved archival cotton paper aluminum, waxed linen, mica, paint and varnish
51 x 16 x 6 in, 2017

Through works like Lucent, Jennifer Falck Linssen explores the “delicacy of nature, the beauty of line, and the transformation of light and space.” By investigating both natural and manmade forms Linssen investigates how patterns lead to the overall strength of an objects, such as the veins in a plant or the structure of a moth’s wings. In her work, Linssen uses the ancient Japanese paper carving technique katagami. Katagami allows Linssen to bridge the gap between “human scale, the minute and intimate, and the vast and grand by freezing a moment in time, immortalizing it in pattern, light, and shadow.” Through these frozen moments, Linssen is sees humanity reflected in nature’s change, rebirth, resiliency and endurance.

Sound on the Fjord by Åse Ljones

Sound on the Fjord by Åse Ljones
hand embroidery on linen tapestry
99.5″ x 65.25″, 2014

Åse Ljones’ hand-embroidered tapestry Sound on the Fjord reflects Ljones’ upbringing on a small rural farm, where sea and nature were close by. Ljones starts her embroidery at either the corner or center of a piece of fabric. From there she takes her time sewing, reflecting along the way. Ljones never sews a wrong stitch, believing that a mistake it often what creates a dynamic space.

Tension by Lenore Tanwey

77t Tension, Lenore Tanwey
india ink drawing; number 9; pen and ink drawing
22.5″ 26.5″ x 1.5”, 10/23/64, Tom Grotta

Tension is one in a series of graph paper and pen-and-ink drawings Lenore Tawney started in 1964 inspired by her study of the Jacquard loom. Later in the 1990s Tawney converted some of the pen-and-ink drawings into thread sculptures in a series titled Drawings in Air. Tawney’s geometric explorations predated Sol Lewitt’s celebrated grid drawings, which were first exhibited by Paula Cooper in 1968. Tawney, whose work shaped the course of fiber art during the second half of the 20th century, is also well known for her tapestries, collages and assemblages.