Category: Eco-Art

Anniversary Alert: 30 Years of Catalogs – 30 Days to Save

From November 30th to December 31st, buy three or more browngrotta arts catalogs and save 10% on your order. In addition, for each sale made during that period, browngrotta arts will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation https://www.icaf.org.
browngrotta holiday sale
In its 30 years promoting contemporary decorative art, browngrotta arts has produced 47 catalogs, 45 of which are still available. Readers have been appreciative: Artist, collector, curator, Jack Lenor Larsen, wrote that “… catalogs produced by browngrotta, and the photography therein, have become so superior, they are an important part of our literature.” Lotus Stack, formerly Curator of Textiles at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, noted that our publications, “consistently engage much more than readers’ minds.”
All of our volumes are heavy on images. Some highlight work by one or two artists, including Lenore TawneyEd Rossbach and Kay Sekimachi. Others, like Beyond Weaving, International Contemporary ArtTextiles, Influence and Evolution and Green from the Get Go, offer insights on materials, themes and influences. Here’s your chance to explore an artist or an era, fill any gaps in your collection or order a full set (a special discount applies to the purchase of all 45).
Our catalogs fall into four loose categories: those about individual artists, those that take a geographic perspective, those designed around a specific artistic theme, and survey publications, that look at a grouping of artists or work over a period of time.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
On Individual Artists
The most detailed views of an individual artist are found in our Monograph Series of which there are three: Lenore Tawney: Drawings in Air; Lia Cook: In the Folds, Works from 1973-1997; Ethel Stein: Weaver and our Focus catalog, Jin-Sook So. Each includes an essay, describing the origin of their artistic practice. Drawings in Air also includes excerpts from Tawney’s journals.
In addition to the Monographs and Focus series, we have created 18 catalogs chronicling a series of exhibitions we have held featuring two or three artists each. These include: Markku Kosonen, Mary Merkel-Hess, Claude Vermette, Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Hisako Sekijima; The British Invasion: Maggie Henton and Dail Behennah; Helena Hernmarck and Markku Kosonen; Mary Giles and Kari Lonning; Karyl Sisson and Jane Sauer; Dorothy Gill Barnes and John Garrett; Mary Merkel-Hess and Leon Niehues; Gyöngy Laky and Rebecca Medel; Glen Kaufman and Hisako Sekijima; Three California Basketmakers: Marion Hildebrandt, Deborah Valoma, Judy Mulford; Sara Brennan tapestry and Mary Giles fiber sculpture; Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi: Books, Boxes and Bowls; Adela Akers and Sylvia Seventy.

browngrotta holiday catalog special

Geographic focus:
We work with artists in several countries and have compiled their works in seven catalogs that provide viewers a sense of how contemporary art textiles have evolved in various locales. These include three exploring Japanese textiles and basketry: Sheila Hicks Joined by seven friends from Japan; Traditions Transformed: Contemporary Japanese Textiles & Fiber Sculpture; and Japan Under the Influence: Japanese basketmakers deconstruct transition, which features Hisako Sekijima and the artists she has influenced. It also includes A Scandinavian Sensibility, featuring 15 artists (an exhibition that traveled to the North Dakota Museum of Art), From Across the Pond, featuring artists from the UK, Advocates for the Arts: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection and one international volume: Beyond Weaving: Contemporary ArtTextiles.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Thematic:
For several exhibitions we asked artists to consider a particular material, approach or influence. This list of catalogs includes: Plunge, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, Stimulus: Art and Its Inception, On Paper, Wired, featuring works made of metals and Art of Substance, which won an AIA design award, and which highlights large-scale works.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Survey publications:
Our first survey publications, 10th Wave Part 1: New Baskets and Freestanding Sculpture and 10th Wave Part 2: New Textiles and Fiber Wall Art, which provided “states of the art” reviews, were produced in 1997, 10th Wave III: Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture followed in 2009. In between and since we have published Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now – a look at fiber from the 60s to the present, 25 for the 25th; Artboombaby boomer artists reflect on their art; Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture and this past year, Still Crazy After All These Years: 30 years in art.
Take this opportunity to stock up! (Call us for a special price on the full set of 45 catalogs 203-834-0623.)

Anniversary Lookback: Hisako Sekijima at browngrotta arts

For our 30th Anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years of Art, Hisako Sekijima provided us Structural Discussion VI, a work made in 2016. In 1994, the first year Sekijima showed with browngrotta arts, we sold another work from the Structural Discussion series, #312, which she had made 30 years before in 1987. Even as she addresses a single theme, Sekijima’s use of varied materials and approaches makes the results of these explorations remarkably diverse.

NYT portrait of Hisako Sekijima

Portrait of Hisako Sekijima at her first solo exhibition with browngrotta arts in 1994; baskets of Kudzo vine, walnut, cedar, cherry bark, hackberry shavings and willow bark. Photo by Tom Grotta. The exhibition was reviewed in The New York Times, “Cherishing the Space and the Forms that Define It,” Bess Liebenson, July 1994.

Sekijima writes below about her many-year basket journey in Japan where, she explains, “making non-utilitarian baskets is not so properly appreciated after these 30 years!!” Her journey has included a collaboration with other basketmakers in Japan who have prepared an exhibition and catalog each year for 30 years. Information about that group and its anniversary will form Part 2 of this series of posts and will appear in an upcoming arttextstyle.
Sekijima featured in <em>The New York Times</em>

Sekijima featured in The New York Times

“In the 40 years I have been working with baskets, my concerns have extended beyond basket topics toward sculptural ones. Not only I have used rather common basket materials including tree barks, vines, splints of bamboo or woods, but also I have chosen extended concepts of vessel forms with negative spaces and linear constructions.  Both of my aesthetic and technical ideas such as revaluing negative space and examining the natural property of materials are illustrated in my explorations into the nature and history of basketmaking. It brings me a deeper understanding of physical rules of interplay among materials’ property, constructing method and a form, while it brings me a tactility or real touch of abstract ideas of numbers/counting, time, order, and etc. With coordination of hands, spirits and sense, physical experiences and conceptual ones come together in baskets.

Over the years, basketmaking has continued to inspire my inquiry into how and why human beings are motivated to make objects as well as how object-making forms and develops makers’ way of looking at things in general. As I explored baskets, I came better understand the interaction of human beings and our natural environment. My interest is not confined to representing personal inner imagery, but is widened to research the function of human hands and intellect through our interaction with nature.
Sekijima’s Structural Discussions

On the wall: Structural Discussion IV & V, plaited and woven cedar, 1997-98 from left to right: Structural Discussion VI, plaited cedar and walnut, 2016; Multiple Axis II, looped chamaecyparis (cyprus) and cedar, 2013; Structural Discussion I, plaited cedar, walnut, ginkgo, 1987; From 2 to 3 Dimensions V, plaited and folded walnut.

In 1994, when I was invited to show at browngrotta arts for the first time, basket #312 was among the first sales. It was entitled Structural Discussion and made in 1987, same year browngrotta had opened. Around that time, I concluded my classification of baskets into six primary types: looped, knotted, plaited, coiled, warp/weft woven and twined. Since 1987, visions of structural concepts have continued to return to me and have resulted in varying expressions. A set of two square baskets, #434 and #435, Structural Discussion IV and V made in 1997 and 1998, shows the comparison of plaited structure and warp/weft structure. You see in IV oblong negative spaces put in parallel to the edges, while in V they appear sideways at a 45-degree angle to the edges. IV shows the nature of warp/weft structure; V that of plaited structure. I find it interesting, that as you look at the edges of negative spaces, you see the structural elements behave in the same way in both. How things look depends on where or what you look at: either as a part or as a whole? Different names might be given, or might not.
Structural Discussion I, which I also made in 1987, uses plaited cedar, walnut, ginko and willow to highlight angles and openings. 2 to 3 Dimensions and Structural Discussion VI I made in 2016. VI is a basket in a basket that can be shifted to highlight one angle and then another. For 2017, I plan to create another piece in this discussion, to join browngrotta arts in expressing myself being ‘still crazy about it after 30 years!’”
-Hisako Sekijima

23 Artists Can’t be Wrong — Kudos for our 30th Anniversary Catalog

Our 30th Anniversary Catalog Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art
was our most ambitious by far. Our 46th catalog, is the largest (196 pages), with the most photographs (186), featuring the most artists (83) and the most artworks (111). So naturally, we are pretty pleased that clients and artists are excited about it, too. We’ve sold a record number of copies since the release a few weeks ago, and it isn’t even listed on Amazon yet. Many of the artists—23 in fact—have written us raving about the catalog.“

New Age Basket No.4 by John Garrett, collected and artist made parts; copper sheet and wire; found; paint; rivets, 16” x 15” x 15”, 2009

“Very handsome,” pronounced John Garrett who has two works in the exhibition. Kiyomi Iwata, whose piece Southern Crossing Five is included in the exhibition, applauded the catalog as “meticulously photographed and printed” and acknowledged the passion that went into it, describing it as a “real work of love.” British artist Dail Behennah praised it as “…beautiful, full of interest and inspiration.”

Capricious Plaiting by Kazue Honma, paper mulberry plaiting, 56 x 43 x 20cm, 2016

Cordis prize winner Jo Barker felt it was “really stunning seeing the range of work included in the recent exhibition” and was “really proud to be a part of it.”  Gyöngy Laky, whose sculptures are included in the exhibition, found the selection of work for the catalog was “so strong and so creative.” She should know, she’s been in 11 of our catalogs!

Kazue Honma, a basketmaker
who has spent her career radicalizing the field of traditional Japanese basket making wrote “I am very proud of this book including my work. You made me keep going all these years. I cannot say my thanks enough to you.”

Dark Horizon by Adela Akers. linen, horsehair and metal, 23″ x 24″, 2016

Several of the artists appreciated Janet Koplos’ insightful essay, including Adela Akers, whose tapestry, Dark Horizon is included. She wrote “ Wonderful review of the work and your work during all these years by Janet Koplos. Loved her analysis and description of my piece.” The text is “superb” wrote Dona Anderson, whose work, Otaku is featured. “I really enjoyed reading Janet Koplos’ introduction and her appreciation of your contribution to our field,” wrote Karyl Sisson. Ritzi Jacobi, whose sculptural tapestry, Rhythmic, is found on page 59, noted the comprehensive look at browngrotta arts’ history that Koplos took in her essay, “after all these years the catalog gives one a great impression of your activities and preferences.”

Otaku by Dona Anderson, reeds, thread and paint, 17″ x 18′ x 15″, 2015

Learn for yourself where we’ve come from and what our artists are up to by ordering your own copy of
Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art HERE

 


Artist in the House: Jane Balsgaard from Denmark

 

Browngrotta arts’ artist Jane Balsgaard recently visited the gallery on her way to the opening of Plunge: explorations from above and below at the New Bedford Art Museum. Balsgaard, a native of Denmark, has been very busy lately. In addition to participating in both Plunge and our 30th Anniversary Exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art, Balsgaard has just completed a lofty commission for the Hotel Bretagne located in Hornbaek, Denmark.

Jane Balsgaard working

Jane Balsgaard holding “Deck,” a new piece she made while visiting browngrotta.
Photo by Tom Grotta

For the Hotel Balsgaard was commissioned to create something to adorn a 29.5 ft wall facing the Hotel’s staircase. Gallery Hornbaek owner, Susanne Risom, saw Balsgaard’s work as a solution to the immense design dilemma. Balsgaard’s installation, titled Waterfall, consists of 18 reliefs, one sculpture, and one relief in the ceiling, all made with natural materials.

"Waterfall" by Jane Balsgaard

Looking down Jane Balsgaard’s “Waterfall” at the Hotel Bretagne.

The reliefs, varying in length, stretch down the length of the wall creating a straightforward course for the eye to follow. In a statement for Gallery Hornbaek, which assisted in arranging the commission, Art Historian Johan Zimsen Kristiansen explains that the “in the transition between pins, a number of small harmoniously matched fractures and character, along with transparent dots or bubbles of colored paper, all contribute to creating the falls’ dynamics,” and connect the once problematic space.

"Wilton Boat" by Jane Balsgaard

Jane tediously working on “Wilton Boat.”

During her visit at browngrotta arts in Connecticut, Balsgaard worked on a new piece called Wilton Boat, a 12.5” x 11” x 1.5” sailboat made from glass and natural materials, which she sourced fro her yard in Denmark and ours in Wilton.

You can see Jane Balsgaard’s newest works in in browngrotta arts’ online exhibition Cross-Currents: Art Inspired by Water and at the Plunge exhibition through October 8th and of course, by booking a stay at the Hotel Bretagne.


Art Televised: Mary Merkel-Hess on PBS’s Craft in America

Craft in America

Mary Merkel-Hess on PBS series Nature, Craft in America

This month, the PBS series, Craft in America, will premiere its episode titled “Nature,” which features profiles on internationally acclaimed artists who use dimensional art to explore nature’s marvels. Among these visionaries is fiber artist Mary Merkel-Hess, a participant in browngrotta arts’ upcoming exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art, slated to run from April 22nd through April 30th at the browngrotta arts’ barn/gallery in Wilton, Connecticut.

A native of the Midwest, Mary Merkel-Hess’ home state of Iowa represents the creative force behind many of the art pieces she fashions. By drawing inspiration from the area’s prairie elements, including its vast fields of grass, corn, shrubs and herbs, she creates dimensional art pieces that translate her experiences and familiarity with the Midwest and its unique aesthetics. In fact, many of her abstract pieces are inspired by the images she captures and masterfully replicates from the prairie garden surrounding her home and workshop.

In Chephren's Temple

In Chephren’s Temple, Mary Merkel-Hess

Working with fiber and other materials, such as paper, wood, reed, and acrylic paint, Merkel-Hess creates what she refers to as “Landscape Reports,” fiber vessels that provide a sense of place and containment for the viewer to experience and enjoy. Her process involves building upon layers of paper with careful insertion of reed or cord, creating a mold that is then shaped and painted. Her fiber sculptures illustrate Iowa’s abundance of tall grass, fields and open green space, allowing others to bring a piece of the Midwest, as well as Merkel-Hess’ inspirational prairie garden, to their home.

Airing Friday, April 21, 2017, “Nature” will highlight Mary Merkel-Hess’ creative process, as well as that of other artists, sculptors and woodcarvers whose dimensional artwork challenges audiences to reassess their relationship to the natural world. Check you local PBS listings. You can view more samples of Merkel-Hess’ fiber artwork at http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/hess.php.


Art Assembled: Featured in January

We had four New This Week selections in January, including evocative sculptures of black willow and recycled aluminum plate and two works that offer commentary on current events.

Christine Joy January New this Week

40cj Smoke Ring, Christine Joy
willow with black encaustic, 23″ x 22″ x 12″, 2014

Christine Joy sources, harvests and then transforms willow into dramatic sculpture. Smoke Ring represents a new direction for Joy, she says, “more looseness and movement on the edge, visually, of coming apart, more exploration of added color to give unity and emotional depth.”

Merja Winqvist January New this Week

11mw Water Lily, Merja Winqvist
recycled aluminum plate, 26” x 25.75” x 1.75”, 2016

Merja Winquist of Finland has created a stylized and shimmering Water Lily of recycled aluminum.

Ceca Georgieva January New this Week

14cg The Iron Curtain, Ceca Georgieva
burrdock burrs, 19” x 16” x 5” 2016

In Iron Curtain, a sculpture of burdock burrs, by Ceca Georgieva of Bulgaria, a figure seeks escape from a web of red threads. The work is about Georgieva’s generation, who remained n Eastern Europe after World War II on the Red side―the Communist side―of the Iron Curtain. “As children,” she says, “we proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, and we believed whatever we were told to believe. Our future was programmed and seemed to be clear and beautiful. When cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain and news from the West slowly filtered into the country, we learned about beat poetry, rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans and Coca-Cola. We started to feel the lack of freedom and the desire to go out and to live without fear of restriction and deprivation. Then the wall fell down. Now, 25 years later, we are still in front of the half-open curtain, making efforts to get rid of the red iron threads.”

Norma Minkowitz January New this Week

66nm Are We The Same?, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 12” x 28” x 26.375”, 2016

Are We the Same? by Norma Minkowitz, also addresses societal change, in this case, assimilation. “My thought was about our society and how, as time goes on, we intermingle and intermarry, ” says the artist, “and at the end we are a combination of many different genes and DNA and perhaps are eventually blended in some way.” Enjoy our selections.


Art Al Fresco: Gyöngy Laky and Chris Drury Create Environmental Art

Chris Drury, The Wandering, Environmental art installation drawing

Chris Drury, The Wandering

In May, Chris Drury began work on The Wandering, an environmental work of art commissioned by the State of Western Australia for the site of the new Perth Stadium, sited on the south bank of the Swan River, overlooking the city to the west. “The work is a meandering dry-stone wall which emerges from a stone whirlpool on the isthmus of the lake to the south, winds its way north in a series of loops, and descends again into the earth on the higher ground, “ says Drury. It appears to have no beginning or end, arising from the high ground in the north and plunging into the stone whirlpool to the south (or vice versa). The wall is 190 meters long and covers a distance of 90 meters as the crow flies.

Chris Drurys The Wandering being built

Chris Drury The Wandering under construction, photo by Chris Drury

This structure, however, is no ordinary wall, for it will be built as a Cornish dry-stone hedge, which is a growing, living thing: a miniature ecosystem and biodiverse habitat. In the UK some of these walls have stood for a thousand years because they are constructed with an earth infill, allowing plants to grow and give rise to habitat for insects etc, eventually binding the structure together. Here in Perth, I adapted the work to the Western Australian climate by planting the wall with indigenous drought-resistant plants, which will be irrigated.” You can see more images on Drury’s website: http://chrisdrury.co.uk/the-wandering/.

Gyöngy Laky Rope-Polcenigo-Caneva Italy

Gyöngy Laky Rope-Polcenigo-Caneva. photo by: Francesca Giannelli (6/12/16)

In May, Gyöngy Laky was a Special Guest at Humus Park, International Biennale V of Land Art, with a collaborating artist, Paul Discoe, northeast of Venice, Italy. Humus Park is Italy’s most important Land Art event. The Land Art is an artistic form using natural materials. Some of its numbers: 13 days, 3 locations, more than 80 artists from 13 countries all over the world, 8 art schools and academies involved. Laky was there for two weeks working onsite. “ Arriving in magical Polcenigo I heard its water symphony… beautiful, clean blue/green water flowing everywhere,” Laky says. “The sound was intoxicating and it explained the verdant green foliage all around. The sun was warm and bright. It was an awe-inspiring place. And, later when it rained and rained, it was still beautiful and I understood even more about the invigorating water gushing from the mountains.” Laky and Paul Discoe, who she invited to be her art partner, very quickly agreed on a project. “We both have worked extensively with trees and materials from trees,” explains Laky, “and we also both share a deep interest in shimenawa – rice straw ropes used in the Shinto religion to adorn sacred places. We found a magnificent tree overlooking the water and reflecting in it. We wanted to honor it. We decided to make rope from the hay provided to adorn the tree. It occurred to us that we were engaged in making something that was, probably, similar to what the ancient inhabitants of that lake dwelling site most likely made also. Rope making with plant fiber dates back to prehistoric times. We were connecting with the land and its history in, yet, another aspect.” See the artists at work at Humus Park on video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vwJg1ZYATw&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop. You can also see — and own — smaller scale works by Gyöngy Laky and Chris Drury in Green for the Get Go: International Basketmakers, at the Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey through June 26, 2016. All the works are for sale and we have additional works on our website. For more information: http://www.morrismuseum.org/current-exhibitions/.

Gyongy Laky Pordenone-wheelbarrow Italy

Gyongy Laky Pordenone, photo by Pat van Boeckel, Rerun Produkties, Holland


Art in the Barn 2016: Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid-Career, Wilton, CT, April 30th – May 8th

photo includes work by Merja Winqvist, Jiro Yonezawa and Włodzimierz Cygan

photo includes work by Merja Winqvist, Jiro Yonezawa and Włodzimierz Cygan

In less than two weeks, browngrotta will open its 2016 Art in the Barn exhibition, Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid Career. This year’s exhibition brings together “baby boomers,” 33 artists born between 1946 and 1964, who are mid-way into their lives of making art. We’ve asked them to provide us work that is reflective; work that tells us where they’ve come from or where they hope to go; work that illustrates influences, roads not taken, and the like. Or, work that reflects on being a boomer, perhaps— part of the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time and the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve. It was a generation that created music and literature in the 60s and art — including fiber art — to describe the change this generation was determined to bring about.

14cg The Iron Curtain, Ceca Georgieva, Burrdoch burrs,19" x 16" x 5", 2016

14cg The Iron Curtain, Ceca Georgieva, Burrdoch burrs,19″ x 16″ x 5″, 2016

The results are contemplative and thought provoking. Ceca Georgieva’s sculpture, The Iron Curtain, reflects her life in a Communist and post-Communist state. Karyl Sisson’s In Stitches, harkens back to her family’s past in New York’s Fashion industry — her grandmother made hats and beaded bags in New York’s lower East side; her mother spent 25 years as a buyer for the specialty store Bonwit Teller. For Lewis Knauss, this stage of his career means seeing unrealized ideas (sketches, notes, photos) and failed work in a new light. “I am happier with chaos,” he says, “the way I need to give up a bit more control of the outcome, flaws and in nature, the beauty of disaster. I guess it is acknowledging the approaching wall. I enjoy working at my pace rather than a deadline enforced one, allowing things to just happen, evaluating the outcomes as I finish each work. Keeping and discarding.” The Artist’s Opening for Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid-Career is Saturday, April 30th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hours of the exhibition from May 1st through May 8th are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — just call if you’d like to come by earlier or later: 203.834.0623. browngrotta arts’ contemporized 1895 barn is at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. For more information and a complete list of artists visit browngrotta.com: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. A catalog, Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid-Career will be available from browngrotta.com after May 1st.

pictured works by: Birgit Birkkjaer; Grethe Sorensen; Grethe Wittrock; Gudrun Pagter; Mary Merkel-Hess; Tom grotta; browngrotta arts

pictured works by: Birgit Birkkjaer; Grethe Sorensen; Grethe Wittrock; Gudrun Pagter; Mary Merkel-Hess; Tom grotta; browngrotta arts


Press News: Green from the Get Go – browngrotta arts’ 44th catalog is now available.

GreenCover-1We are excited to announce that our 44th catalog, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, is now available at browngrotta.com. The catalog, photographed by Tom Grotta, contains 132 full-color photos of artwork from browngrotta arts’ current installation, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, on exhibit at the Morris Museum, in Morristown, New Jersey through June 26th. Green from the Get Go showcases more than 75 works by 33 artists from Canada, Europe, Japan, Scandinavia and the US — innovators in the genre of 20th-century art basketry as well as emerging talents. These artists take their inspiration from nature and the history of basketry but their inventive works challenge our conceptions of what a “basket” can be. In Naoko Serino’s Generating 12.2, for example, cylinders of spun jute, of varying degrees of transparency, stand in rhythmic, ethereal balance. The artist hopes that “an expression and dialogue will be produced, that the space would be created/generated in which there is a comfortable energy, expressions that will continue to exist in balance with the surroundings.” In Stéphanie Jacques’s Wall / Mur, we get not one basket, but a honeycomb — nearly a dozen basket spheres made of willow. Jane Balsgard’s Barkbaden boat shape is more literal — a willow frame covered in handmade paper — but the result is unexpected.

Naoko Serino Generating 12

The artists in Green from the Get Go, “have a strong connection to the land, whether cultivated fields or wild prairies, marches, or forests,” writes Jane Milosch in her essay, The Entanglement of Nature and Man. “Several cultivate, harvest, and prepare the materials from which they construct their work. They have a respectful awareness of the origin of things, and of the interconnected aspects of nature and ecosystems, which are both fragile and resilient.” In 2011, Milosch, Director, Provenance Research Initiative, Smithsonian Institution and former curator, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, approached browngrotta arts about mounting an exhibition featuring artists working in basket forms. Discussions quickly coalesced around designing an exhibition that would highlight these artists’ processes and techniques and shed light on their intimate connection to nature. Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, the exhibition and catalog, featuring dozens of baskets, vessels and related objects of natural materials — bark, twigs, willow, cedar and bamboo, was the result.

Dona Look Basket #976

The work in Green from the Get Go reveals a heightened sensitivity to the physicality of materials, one that honors the stewardship of nature by the artists’ choice and use of materials. That practice is under challenge, however. For Dona Look, collecting and preparation of the birch bark for her work is weather dependent and labor intensive. That process has grown more difficult as white birch trees, once prevalent in northern Wisconsin, have become harder to find due to climate change. Christine Joy has begun collecting a great amount of red mountain maple, as her neighbors in Montana remove it to protect their homes from forest fires. Mountain maple in it’s first year of growth is a beautiful burgundy and not too branchy, she says, but she did not use it until it was seen as a fire hazard. “The environmental factor of fire affected my material choices,” says the artist.

ChristineJoy.Greenfromthegetgo“These baskets feel complete, and at the same moment they invite human interaction and interpretation,” writes Milosch. Explore them in the catalog (www.browngrotta.com/Pages/c40.php.) and at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey from now until June 26th; www.morrismuseum.org/current-exhibitions/.


Organic Portraits: John F. Cooper at the Morris Museum with Green from the Get Go

John Cooper: Organic Portraits exhibition. Photo by John Cooper

John Cooper: Organic Portraits exhibition. Photo by John Cooper

From March 19th to June 26th, the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey will exhibit Organic Portraits: John F. Cooper in conjunction with Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary BasketmakersPhotographer John F. Cooper’s Organic Portraits series and his book of the same name are the result of a creative project that has has been part of his life for well over a decade. “From the beginning,” Cooper explains, “the intent of the Organic Portraits project was to create a series of timeless and fundamentally beautiful images that would create awareness for—and help preserve—the world’s rainforests. In the 1950s, around the time I was born, about 15 percent of Earth’s landmass was covered with oxygen-generating and carbon-dioxide storing rainforests. As of the time of this book’s publication, fewer than 70 percent of those forests remain; more of these crucial ecosystems could disappear by the close of this decade. It is my belief they benefit the world more by being present rather than existing only in photographs, videos and the annals of history. The aim of this project is to drive home the understanding that our rainforests— the lungs of our Earth— are both vital and in dire need of protection.” Cooper published Organic Portraits through a Kickstarter campaign; Cooper is donating all profits from the book, which is available in the Museum’s bookstore, to the Rainforest Action Network Fund.KS

The photographs in Organic Portraits feature models posed against classic and simple backdrops and incorporating natural elements into each model’s hair to create a unique hair sculpture. Most of the photographs produced for Organic Portraits utilized large-format Polaroid film. Polaroid is now extinct; it’s eerily prophetic that the very medium used to create a series of images intended to preserve the world’s rainforests is now, itself, no longer. The cameras used in the series –each a work of art in their own right –were a 1950 8×10 Deardorff View Camera, and a 1980 4×5 Deardorff View Camera. Handcrafted from mahogany and brass, they are beautiful pieces of functional sculpture that were designed to last. The cameras are no longer manufactured and only a handful survive in the world today.

A set of 13 John F. Cooper Postcards printed on paper made of 100% post-consumer content and is available at the Museum's bookstore

A set of 13 John F. Cooper Postcards printed on paper made of 100% post-consumer content and is available at the Museum’s store

In creating these works, Cooper received generous support from 100 models, fashion designers, backdrop painters and studios,  Peter D. Brown, who fabricated the organic hair sculptures and environmental advocates Summer Rayne Oakes and Nicolas Rachline. “The images we have created are as beautiful as they were when they were first born in our imaginations,” says Cooper. “The cause that they support—saving our rainforests and the indigenous people who call them home—is as vital, no, more so, than when the project first began.”

The Opening Reception for Organic Portraits and Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers will take place on March 31st from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. John F. Cooper will speak  about his photographs at Tea and Treasures  on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. The Morris Museum is located at: 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, NJ 07960, accessible from New York City via www.njtransit.com. For more information: (973) 971-3700; info@morrismuseum.org or http://www.johnfcooper.com.