Category: Commentary

Books Make Great Gifts 2016

Another year of widely divergent books. Art, biology, history and biography are all represented in the answers we received to the questions we asked of artists that work with browngrotta arts: What books cheered you? Inspired you? Provided an escape?

Dona Anderson, wrote that she is reading Herbert Hoover: A Life by Glen Jeansonne (NAL, New York, 2016) who calls Hoover the most resourceful American since Benjamin Franklin. “I recently had a birthday and remember that my mother went to vote on the day I was born, November 6th, and she voted for Herbert Hoover. Consequently, I started to think about what the political atmosphere was like then — as ours was so crazy and even more so now. When I went to the library in October, the Hoover book was brand new and it appealed to me.” Rachel Max is reading Materiality, edited by Petra Lange-Berndt (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2015), one of the latest additons to the Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series. It’s a fantastic series. Each volume in the series focuses on a specific theme and contains many thought-provoking essays from theorists and artists. Materiality not only addresses key geographical, social and philosophical issues, but it also examines how artists process and use materials in order to expand notions of time, space and participation. As the publisher notes, “this anthology focuses on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes.” Max has also been dipping into the diaries of Eva Hesse. “They are extremely private and were never meant for publication. But, as a huge fan of her work it is interesting to read her thoughts,” Max writes.

Gyöngy Laky recommended, highly, Daughters of the Samurai, A Journey From East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura (W.W. Norton, New York, 2016). “This book is a fascinating biographical history chronicling the lives of three young Japanese girls sent to America in 1871 by the just barely 22-year-old Empress, Haruko. Their mission was to become educated and to bring back to Japan western ideas to advance the role of women and to help Japan adopt western knowledge and technology. Haruko […”something of a prodigy: reading at the age of three, composing poetry at five, studying calligraphy at seven and plucking the koto (a stringed instrument) at 12] had earlier married the 16-year-old Emperor who ascended the throne in 1868. He had adopted the name, Meiji, or Enlightened Rule—to usher in the beginning of a new era. The new era was a plunge into modernization. Sending three young girls to the West turned out to be more enlightened than expected. Sutematsu Yamakawa, 11; Shige Nagai, 10 and Ume Tsuda, the youngest, a tender, 6, remained in the U.S. for 10 formative years and then changed the future and subsequent history of Japanese women forever.

Nimura’s skillful crafting of a can’t-put-it-down narrative of their experiences on two sides of the Pacific is a vividly rich visual, as well as historical, account. She produced for the reader, through captivating descriptions illuminating the startling differences between these two very different cultures, the contrasting worlds we could easily visualize.

Stacy Shiff, Pulitzer Prise-winning author of Cleopatra wrote: “Nimura reconstructs their Alice-in-Wonderland adventure: the girls are so exotic as to qualify as ‘princesses’ on their American arrival. One feels “enormous” on her return to Japan.” It is just this Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of their story that caught my imagination. As in Louis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is the environment and the material culture that sets the stage for remarkable events. The tangible aspects of two vastly contrasting cultures – intellectually, technically, behaviorally and in terms of the accoutrements of every day life, express well the often conflicting, peculiar and unexpected events in the girls’ lives. The girls move from Japanese clothing, furniture and customs to western style and then back again feeling more comfortable in western settings than in their birth homes kneeling on the floor and lavishly swathed in yards and yards of embroidered silks.

In the late 19th century the US was bursting with inventions and change. Planning begun in the 1850s for the Chicago World’s Fair was well under way, ushering in the Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth, design innovation and expansion of popular culture. A startlingly appropriate time for the girls’ cultural experiment to take place. Nimura, who moved to Japan for three years with her Japanese/American nesei husband, was adept at utilizing her keen sense of design and broad knowledge of the two disparate material cultures. She skillfully brought to life the vast differences between the two civilizations through masterful and insightful descriptions of clothing, hairstyles, furniture, interiors, architecture as well as the cities in which they existed. This, combined with her extensive research, presents the reader with many insights into the relations between the two countries and their intertwined histories through the lives of these exceptional girls and their extraordinary adventures.

As Miriam Kingsberg of the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote, “Daughters… is, perhaps, less a story of Japanese out of place in their country, than of women ahead of their time.” Laky adds that while she was a professor of art and design at the University of California, Davis, she encouraged her students to study abroad. “This book illustrates how education and experience in a foreign country enhances understanding of other cultures and peoples – perhaps more important today than in the 1870s and 80s. I believe travel also greatly inspires creativity.”

The Box Project, edited by Lyssa C.Stapleton (Cotsen Occasional Press, Los Angeles, 2016), “is one of the very best catalogs I have ever seen and not only the precious book binding!,” wrote Heidrun Schimmel. “I´m still reading the important essays again and again…and I´m learning again and again…” The Box Project is a limited edition book. It will be available at browngrotta.com next week. John McQueen wrote that The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books, Vancouver, 2016), will change your next walk in the woods. “Trees will never seem the same again. This is a scientific study on how trees communicate with each other among many other things that I, for one, never thought about.”

Currently, Jane Balsgaard is reading The Wind is my Mother: The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman by Marcellus “Bear Heart” Williams and Molly Larkin (revised edition, Berkeley Publishing Group, New York 2012) and Diary of an Stupid Man, by Uschi Tech, published in Denmark by Forlaget Helle.
It is a sad and exciting story about a typical lonely man in today’s Denmark, she wrote. “Written in a wonderful language – so one can just imagine him, by reading it and it is just as sad as StonerMary Merkel-Hess has three recommedations. “I heard Cornelia Mutel read from her book, A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland (University Of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2016), last March just after it was published” she writes. “I bought it immediately. Connie Mutel is a trained scientist but in this book she has written a very personal account of climate change occurring in her own small woodland here in Johnson County, Iowa. She has woven stories of her own life into observations of the possibly irreversible changes that are happening around us. It is a beautifully written and thoughtful book, but not a hopeless one. She ends with a discussion of things that we can do and strategies for our policymakers.”
Her second recommendation is Food Power: the Rise and Fall of the American Postwar Food System by Bryan L. McDonald. Bryan is Merkel-Hess’s son-in-law, a history professor at Penn State and long-time student of security issues. This book details how the unprecedented abundance of food mid-century was used to advance U.S. goals and values around the world. That food can influence global policy is an issue that Merkel-Hess never considered until now, but one she found fascinating.
The third book, is one for the Sinophiles and academically inclined among us, is The Rural Modern: Constructing the Self and State in Republican China by Kate Merkel-Hess. Merkel-Hess has another academic connection: Kate is her daughter and also a history professor at Penn State. This book about rural reform in China before the Communist revolution documents a desire for modernity rooted in Chinese rural traditions and institutions. Merkel-Hess found it interesting that American foundation money and the YMCA were involved in these early modernizing efforts.
We also have two limited-edition, artist-designed books to highlight: Judy Mulford: 80 Chairs by Judy Mulford and Marian Bijlenga: Miniatures, An autobiographical archive reflecting 30 years of work by Marian Bijlenga. In each case, the artist has created a reflective work — celebrating a full and accomplished career. The books are available at http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/books.php.

As always, enjoy!


Art: Antidote to an Edgy Election

No matter on what side of the political divide you sit, it’s been a long 16 months. And for some of us, the next 16 months will likely feel even longer. In our house we’re hunkering down – old movies, dinners with friends, letter writing and getting to all those to dos, like organizing our art books – and a news ban, at least for the next few weeks. We’re also aiming for an art fix. We are going out in search of what’s inspired, exhilarating, thought provoking. The markets are holding steady; why not invest in art? Surround yourself with what brings you joy. Here are four works that brought us feelings of peace, gratitude, tolerance and awe.

Lenore Tawney, The Path, Tapestry

Lenore Tawney, The Path, Tapestry. Photo Tom Grotta

Lenore Tawney’s The Path II, is meditative and reflective of a passage she marked in a favorite book: “[t]he spiritual path, the path of purification, of emancipation, of liberation, is a path where we change our inner nature.”

37ts Vertical to Horizontal and Vice Versa, Toshio Sekiji. Photo by Tom Grotta

37ts Vertical to Horizontal and Vice Versa, Toshio Sekiji. Photo by Tom Grotta

yagi

Mariyo Yagi, Nawa Axis for Peace Project 2014

In his “fugue weavings” like Vertical to Horizontal and Vice Versa, Toshio Sekiji, imagines a harmonious confluence of disparate cultures, languages and nationalities, so different than the facts on the ground. Mariyo Yagi’s art is infused with concern about the Cosmos. “Art is committed to the energy of human life,” she says. In creating her sculptures she has been informed by the study of nawa –– which means a spiral cord, which for Yagi provides a link between earth and heaven and all living things, creating a spiritual loop from DNA to the cosmos. Enlightening and innovative, Anda Klancic’s work combines creative use of machine-embroidered lace technique with experience from other disciplines, including photography. In Aura, Klancic says, “I wanted to show the vital energy in the human species: that the light, connected from man to the earth and the universe, has the rhythm of breath, of life.”

Anda Klancic FiberOptic, textile sculpture

Anda Klancic FiberOptic, textile sculpture

Have you other works to recommend? Let us know.


It’s Never Too Early: How to Buy Art in Your 20s

Lizzie Farey, Deborah Valoma and Stéphanie Jacques

Lizzie Farey($1,800), Deborah Valoma($1,700) and Stéphanie Jacques($1,200). Photo by Tom Grotta

Thanks to the DIY movement and a mass of online and cable design and decor resources, we’ve never had more encouragement to create environments that inspire and invigorate. Art can be an essential element of such an environment and investing in art need not be a bank breaker. Domino, a curated site that encourages readers to “bring your style home,” offers several tips for buying art in your 20s, including not buying too big and not being afraid to invest http://domino.com/how-to-buy-art-in-your-twenties/story-image/all. We at browngrotta arts have a few additional thoughts:

6tt INYO (95-2), Tsuruko Tanikawa, brass and iron wire, coiled and burned, 7.5" x 6.5" x 14", 1995

INYO (95-2), Tsuruko Tanikawa, brass and iron wire, coiled and burned, 7.5″ x 6.5″ x 14″, 1995 ($1,200)

1) Think objects: If you are in your first apartment or are fairly certain that a move is in your future, Ceramics, Art Baskets, Glass sculptures can be easier to place in your next home than a large wall piece may be.

Naomi Kobayashi Red & White Cubes

Naomi Kobayashi Red & White Cubes ($1,000 each)

2) Invest for impact: Prints are generally less expensive than originals, editions less expensive than a one off. And you will find that some mediums are, in general, priced more accessibly than others. Art textiles and fiber sculpture are an example. Work by the best-known artists in the field go for under a million dollars, compared to tens of million dollars for paintings by well-recognized artists.  You can start small with works in fiber, ceramics and wood, and create a small, but well-curated, collection. Consider Naomi Kobayashi, a Japanese textile artist whose work is in the permanent collection of many museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and whose work can be acquired for $1000.  Or an up-and-coming artist like Stéphanie Jacques from Belgium, whose masterful multi-media works address issues of gender and identity, and begin at prices below $1500.

GRAY WITH BLACK, Sara Brenan, wool & silks linen, 12.5” x 19”, $1,900 photo by Tom Grotta

GRAY WITH BLACK, Sara Brenan, wool & silks linen, 12.5” x 19”, $1,900 photo by Tom Grotta

3) Take advantage of digital placement: Reviewing art online is a great way to expose yourself to a wide variety of work, and develop your personal aesthetic. Once you’ve found a work that appeals, digital placement can give you a greater level of confidence before you press “Buy.” At browngrotta arts, we ask clients to send us a photo of the space the propose to install the work. We can digitally install the piece, to scale and with shadow, so you have a sense of how will work there.

32pc CONSTRUCTION III, Pat Campbell, rice paper, reed, 8" x 7.5" x 5.5", 2002

32pc CONSTRUCTION III, Pat Campbell, rice paper, reed, 8″ x 7.5″ x 5.5″, 2002

4) Document: If the work you purchase has appeared in a book or a catalog, make sure you get a copy. Ask the seller for any information he/she has on the artist for your files. On each artist’s page on browngrotta.com, you can find a list of publications in which the artist’s work appears. The documentation is good to have for insurance and appraisal purposes and you can watch as the artist’s cv —hopefully — expands in the next several years.

5) Buy for love: It’s great to learn 10 years down the road that a work of art you purchased has appreciated and is worth more than you paid for it. We’d argue, though, that if you’ve enjoyed owning it for 10 years, and thought each time you looked at it, “I really love that piece,” you’ll have gotten your money’s worth, and enriched your life in the process.


We Told You So: Fiber Art Continues to Trend

22sh/r Color Alphabet Tapestry by Sheila Hicks, wool, silk, 6’ x 6’, 1982. Photo by Tom Grotta

22sh/r Color Alphabet Tapestry by Sheila Hicks, wool, silk, 6’ x 6’, 1982. Photo by Tom Grotta

Last year we predicted that fiber art’s new-found popularity would continue into 2015. You need not take just our word for that — take the Wall Street Journal’s. Earlier this month, the paper identified fiber as the “Art World’ New Material Obsession,” http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-art-worlds-new-material-obsession-fiber-1439565675 and dubbed Sheila Hicks and Françoise Grossen “overlooked masters.” The short piece quotes Sheila Hicks, “I always joke that fiber is my alphabet. I can say an unlimited range of things.” (The Hicks’ work featured here, Color Alphabet Tapestry (1982), is an ideal example.) The New York Time’s review of Françoise Grossen’s long-awaited US survey exhibition, “Françoise Grossen, a Fabric Artist Inspired by Other Fields,”

FROM THE MERMAID SERIES IV, Francoise Grossen, poly, metal, paper, braided, 16" x 72" x 72"

FROM THE MERMAID SERIES IV, Francoise Grossen, poly, metal, paper, braided, 16″ x 72″ x 72″

http://www.nytimes.com/
2015/08/07/arts/design/
review-francoise-grossen-a-fabric-artist-inspired-by-other-fields.html, adds additional context. The author, Martha Schwendener, quotes Grossen describing the approach of pathmaking fabric artists of the 60s, “First we broke with the rectangle, then we broke with the wall.” Interested in learning more? The contemporary art fabric movement is discussed (and illustrated) in our recent catalogs, Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, with essays by Jo Ann C. Stabb and Lesley Milar, MBE and Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now with an Essay by Ezra Shales, PhD

Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture...then and now catalog cover artwork by Federica Luzzi

Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now
catalog cover artwork by Federica Luzzi

http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/catalogs.php.


Press Notes: browngrotta arts in the news

July issue of selvedge cover

July cover of selvedge magazine

We are excited to be featured in the July issue of selvedge magazine. We have long been fans of the UK magazine, which is artfully designed with lush photos and creative illustrations, and, like browngrotta arts, economical in its use of capital letters. We have a large collection of back issues, stockpiled for reference and inspiration.

Issue 10 A ROCK AND A SLOW PACE: Sue Lawty Interview pages 62-65 MUTUAL ADMIRATION: Bamboo has inspired artists worldwide by Nancy Moore Bess pages 66-71

Issue 10
A ROCK AND A SLOW PACE: Sue Lawty Interview
MUTUAL ADMIRATION: Bamboo has inspired artists worldwide by Nancy Moore Bess

Issue 10 was a particular favorite, not surprisingly, with an insightful profile of Sue Lawty, “A rock and a slow pace” followed by an update on bamboo artwork by Nancy Moore Bess, “Mutual Admiration: Bamboo Has Inspired Artists Worldwide.” But we also loved the piece on fashion drawings in the letters of Jane Austen, “Detailed statements” in the Romance issue (34) and the introduction to Indian embroidery in Issue 00. The magazine is a great source of information about what’s current and what’s past in textile art and design, interiors, fashion — around the world. Founded by Polly Leonard in 2003, selvedge is intentionally produced “with the time, thought and skill” required in textile practice. The magazine ably succeeds in its aim of “see[ing] the world through a textile lens, but cast[ing] our eye far and wide looking for links between our subject and achievements in other fields from architecture to archeology”— in this case, as far as Wilton, Connecticut.

page 31 July Selvedge magazine

page 31 July Selvedge magazine. Pictured works by Lia Cook, Marian Bijlenga, Sara Brennan, Kay Sekimachi, Noriko Takamiya, Nancy Moore Bess, Keiji Nio, Birgit Birkkjaer, Lenore Tawney

As we were preparing our Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do Two of a Kind exhibition in 2014, selvedge sent Rhonda Sonnenberg to interview us for a piece. Sonnenberg has written about fiber artists for some time, including Kate Anderson, Lisa Kokin and Fran Gardner, and we’ve talked shop with her at SOFAs in years past. Over the couple of hours she was in Wilton, we discussed with her the changes we have seen in the field in our two-dozen plus years promoting art textiles and we talked about some of the artists we were watching with interest. The conversation was a good prelude to our show that followed in 2015, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, in which we highlighted work by 15 of the newer-to-the field artists whose work we admire. The selvedge article, “Consuming Fibre,” features photographs of work by many browngrotta artists. You can buy a copy online, through the Selvedge store at: http://www.selvedge.org/shop/64-ageless.


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

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

Mainstream attention began with the coverage of Sheila Hicks‘ inclusion

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what’s ahead in 2015?

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

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

Sonia Delaunay Tate Modern

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

Mariette Rousseau Vermette Portrait by Tom Grotta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art Events: Must-See NYC Exhibition Opens at the Drawing Center This Month

Sheila Hicks, COMPRESSE II, linen, 14" x 26", 1967, photo © Tom Grotta

Sheila Hicks, COMPRESSE II, linen, 14″ x 26″, 1967, photo © Tom Grotta

Thread Lines opens at New York’s Drawing Center next week on September 19th and runs through December 14th. Blouin ArtInfo declares it one of Fall’s NYC’s “Must-See Shows,” noting, “There’s been a lot of buzz around textile-based artworks lately, with some exemplary pieces making their way into major museum surveys — a great example being Sheila Hicks’s cascading fiber column piece in the last Whitney Biennial.” (Editor’s Note: Not a moment too soon!!) Hicks is one of 16 artists in the exhibition,

UNION OF WATER AND FIRE, Lenore Tawney, linen, 38" x 36", 1974, photo ©Tom Grotta

UNION OF WATER AND FIRE, Lenore Tawney, linen, 38″ x 36″, 1974, photo ©Tom Grotta

which also includes work by Lenore Tawney and Robert Otto Epstein. Including work from the mid-1960s to the present, Thread Lines will feature 16 artists who sew, stitch and weave to create works “that activate the expressive and conceptual potential of line and illuminate affinities between the mediums of textile and drawing.” The exhibition also includes a site-specific performance work by Anne Wilson, conceived when she discovered that The Drawing Center’s SoHo building was originally built in 1866 for the Positive Motion Loom Company. The performance, which takes place over the course of two months, will use the main gallery’s four central columns as a weaving loom and will result in the fabrication of a five by thirty-four foot sculpture: a colorful cross composed of innumerable strands of thread. Performance times can be found here: . The Drawing Center
is at 35 Wooster Street, New York, NY, 10013; for more information: telephone: 212.219.2166; fax: 888.380.3362; email: info@drawingcenter.org.


Woven Work/Woven Words — Hiding in the Weave Hits the Shelves

 

THE FLOW OF WATER 6
Naomi Kobayashi, paper and thread, 12.5” x 22.375” x 2”, 2008, photo by Tom Grotta

THE FLOW OF WATER 6
Naomi Kobayashi, paper and thread, 12.5” x 22.375” x 2”, 2008, photo by Tom Grotta

Three years ago, browngrotta arts facilitated correspondence between artist Naomi Kobayashi and author (and collector) William Bayer about the artist’s technique of weaving paper strips with thread. Bayer envisioned a character in a novel weaving a message into her work, which another character would deconstruct to de-code. Naomi provided technical advice — yes, it could be done and the message could be read, if the weaver used oil-based ink. Flash forward to 2014.

Hiding the Weave by William Bayer

Hiding the Weave by William Bayer

Bayer’s book, Hiding in the Weave, is off the word processor and on the shelves. Written from the perspective of 18-year-old Joel Barlev, a senior at Delamere, a school geared to talented young artists, the novel plays off themes typically found in classic boarding school novels — requited and unrequited romance, alienation, rebellion, sexuality, moral dilemmas and evolving maturity. Joel, a gifted ceramic artist, finds himself falling in love with Liv Anders, a talented weaver, who observes: “You gouge your pots to show your pain to the world. I hide my pain in the weave.”  It turns out there is something more tangible hidden in one of Liv’s abstract weavings, and when tragedy strikes, Joel and his two best friends, Justin and Kate, feel compelled to uncover it. Naomi Kobayashi’s work graces the cover; her art informs the content. Get a copy at browngrotta.com.


Some Observations: On Light and Air

Recently I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art specifically to spend time immersed in the imagination of James Turrell whose retrospective covers fifty years of work exploring light, sky, perception, color, shape and architecture. http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/james-turrell-retrospective.   The meditative quality of this exhibition encourages the viewer to be a considered observer and allow what they see and perceive to be altered by their physical experience with the work.  Ultimately the transformative and ephemeral qualities of light exist in the mind of each person.  The artist gives us the opportunity to bathe our senses in illusion and reflection.

The next day on a non-stop eastbound flight traveling in the morning from Los Angeles to Boston I was seated on the north side of the airplane and could view the magnificent snow covered Rocky Mountains below rising from the earth with the suggestion of a world without grief.

photo by Wendy Wahl

photo by Wendy Wahl

 
In the minutes that followed I found myself focused on the carbon footprint that air travel leaves and thinking about the best way to balance my personal footprint. Knowing for the moment “I am where I am” my gaze returned to the framed light as we swiftly moved above the fruited plains. I watched until somewhere over the Great Lakes the image through the oval-edged window changed into another remarkable illuminated landscape.

photo by Wendy Wahl

photo by Wendy Wahl

As a commercial airline passenger for over four decades I have encountered a wide range of situations and had experiences that touch on almost every imaginable emotion. Each flight has a unique dimension heightened by the sounds, sights, smells and physical proximity of the other passengers in a tightly enclosed space. The curious activity of moving at fast speeds from one environment to another, around and about what has become a very small sphere in a short period of time, stimulates thought about place, perception and the possibility of portals. Having flown on Pan Am, Continental, Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Laker Airways, Peoples Express, Southwest, British Airways, Hawaiian Air, TWA, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Aero Mexico, China Air, Alitalia, Air India, Lufthansa, Air France, JetBlue and a number of puddle jumpers – I’m feeling that of all these, Virgin America has created an illusion of a different sort for air travelers through the use of color and light.

VirginAmericaPlane1

Wendy Wahl
March 2014


Guest Post: David Ling at Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine

David Ling Haystack Blog

photo by David Ling

Nestled into the stoney evergreen clad ledge that seems to slip effortlessly into the atlantic off the coast of Deer Isle Maine, Haystack was to prove a desirable radical contrast to New York City, business and routine.

1000 miles, six ferries, two weeks of glass workshop, 42 haystack meals (in addition to the 10 lobster rolls en route)  no cell connection and barely any online connection, the contrast was complete.

photo by David Ling

photo by David Ling

Initially drawn to haystack for its architectural and landscape setting as well as the reputation I heard over the decades of serving collectors and working with the artisans, I wanted to experience haystack for myself.The link between my architectural practice and haystack is glass. I love glass. With my Modernist Bauhaus background, I grew to appreciate and love glass. Starting with Paul Scheerbart, Bruno Taut, and  the Crystal chain letters, glass took on utopian mythical proportions. Studying in Crown Hall, Mies’ glass temple to architectural education, I loved watching how the translucent glass captured light and became a filter for experiencing nature. Later, after starting my own practice, I created glass windows, glass floors, glass ceilings, glass roofs, glass furniture all using

photo by David Ling

photo by David Ling

tempered, laminated, annealed, acid etched, sandblasted, fractured glass in my work. But that’s where the similarities end. The very physical act of working with glass was to prove radically different from using glass in my architectural practice. I discovered that the very process of blowing glass requires teamwork, physical participation. Working with glass I found, required both focus and a peripheral awareness of my collaborators, heat –and not just any heat but adjusting heat with time in the air, contact with the stainless steel marver, water and wood. I found the luminous fluid quality of molten glass mesmerizing. Streams, puddles and droplets of liquid light.

In contrast to the flat planar architectural applications of glass, I learned through experimentation how glass could take on other qualities in its molten state: elastic, malleable, impervious, explosive, optical. I also started relearning how to experiment, explore and return to a childlike curiosity.

photo by David Ling

photo by David Ling

While I’m not sure how haystack will affect my future work, I am compelled by not just glass itself but how light and water play with glass. On a personal level I rediscovered child like playfulness, learning to experiment and embracing trial amd error. Collaborating with my classmates was a balletic choreography involving heat and light.

Our instructor Bo Yoon was instrumental in opening my eyes to the unique qualities of glass, not just technique.

As a class, we collectively produced a glass boat, a tree draped in glass strands, mini glass grenades, water filled glass prisms and lenses. One of the most interesting thrusts of Bo’s class and when I was most interested in was the combination of the qualities of glass interacting with water and light. With my rudimentary skills and overwhelming help from Bo, teaching assistants and fellow classmates I produced a diving bell helmet out of class. With an unobstructed view of the underwater world I could bob in the Atlantic coastal waters, listening to my own breathing and waves amplified by the buoyant glass bubble.

David Ling Architect
davidlingarchitect.com