Category: Exhibitions

Art Lives Well Lived: Katherine Westphal and Ethel Stein

katherine Westphal at Home

Katherine Westphal Portrait 2015 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

We lost two fine artists and friends this month when Ethel Stein passed away at 100 and Katherine Westphal died at home in Berkeley, California at 99.

We had been promoting Katherine Westphal’s work and that of her husband, Ed Rossbach (who died in 2002), since the 1990s. We visited Ed and Katherine at their home before Carter was born. (For those of you familiar with browngrotta arts that was a quarter of a decade ago.) Their home, and Katherine’s studio in particular, was a wonder – chockfull of items they had collected from their travels that pleased and inspired them, decorated with murals by Katherine on several walls. Though her studio appeared chaotic, Katherine had an encyclopedic knowledge of what was where. “That reminds of a piece of gift wrap I picked up in Tokyo in the 1950s,” she would say, and then pull a slim typing paper box from a stack of others that looked the same, finding there the images she was referencing.
Katherine worked for decades creating printed textiles, ceramics, quilting, tapestry, jacquard woven  textiles, artwear and basketry structures. “Variously using direct drawing and painting, batik wax resist, and shibori, she also pioneered color xerography and heat transfer printing on textiles,” Jo Ann C. Stabb, former faculty member at UC, Davis wrote in 2015 (“Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane,” Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2015). “Throughout her career, beginning with the batik samples she made for the commercial printed textile industry in the 1950s, she [ ] incorporated images from her immediate world: street people in Berkeley, Japanese sculpture, Monet’s garden, Egyptian tourist groups, Chinese embroidery, images from newspaper and magazine photos, and her dogs…anything that struck her fancy wherever she happened to be at the moment – and she could put any or all of them into a repeat pattern.  Her wit and whimsy [were] legendary and her lively approach also inspired her husband to combine imagery onto the surface of his inventive baskets and containers.”
Ethel Stein Portrait

Ethel Stein Portrait 2008 by Tom Grotta courtesy of browngrotta arts

We were close to Ethel Stein as well, having begun representing her work in 2008 after a dinner at her home where her charming dog joined us at the table. When Rhonda was sick several years later, Ethel drove, at 93, from New York to Connecticut with a meal she had made us. Rhonda’s mother, a mere 83 then, was visiting and we told her that same vitality is what we expected of her in her 90s. (So far mom has complied.)
Tom was able to prepare a monograph of Ethel’s work, Ethel Stein: Weaver, with an introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen, an essay by Lucy A. Commoner and a glossary by Milton Sonday, which has become our best-selling volume. In her essay, “Ethel Stein, A Life Interlaced With Art, Lucy Commoner, then-Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, describes the evolution of Ethel’s knowledge of textile techniques and ways in which she was able to advance those techniques through her own explorations. “Ethel Stein’s work is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity belied by its extraordinary technical complexity. The basic humility and humanity of the work and its relationship to historical techniques combine to give Stein’s work a meaning far beyond its physical presence.”
Ethel Stein Exhibition

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chciago Art Instittute

Six years later, Ethel’s work received the wider recognition it deserved. We were thrilled to attend the opening of her one-person exhibition, Ethel Stein, Master Weaver, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. “Ethel Stein is an artist who only now, at the age of 96, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves from the broader public,” the Institute wrote. “Stein’s great contribution to weaving is her unique combination of refined traditional weaving techniques, possible only on a drawloom and used by few contemporary weavers, with modernist sensibilities influenced by Josef Albers, who trained in the German Bauhaus with its emphasis on simplicity, order, functionality, and modesty.” There were photos of her at work, a video and a dinner after with family members and supporters of the museum and crowds of visitors to the exhibition — a well-deserved tribute.

Ed Rossbach Katherine Westphal

Katherine Westphal Ed Rossbach

These artists and their lengthy careers, raise the question, is fiber art a key to longevity? Ethel Stein continued to weave even after she was discovered and lauded at 96. When we visited Katherine Westphal in Berkeley in 2015 we found her still drawing or painting every day in a series of journals she kept, something she continued to do until just a few weeks before her death. Lenore Tawney died at 100, Ruth Asawa and Magdalena Abakanowicz each at 87. Helena Hernmarck tells us that she knows several fiber artists who are 100. So those of you who are practitioners — keep it up!


Art Out and About: Patrick Dougherty at the Ackland Art Museum

 

Step Right Up at the Ackland Art Museum. Photo by Emily Bowles Raised in North Carolina and an alumnus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sculptor Patrick Dougherty returned to his roots to create Step Right Up for the Ackland Art Museum last October. Internationally acclaimed for his monumental environmental works, Dougherty has produced over 280 large scale stick sculptures all over the world. You’ll know one of Dougherty’s sculptures when you see one. “Some cling to pylons or walls, or roll across the tops of trees; others emerge from a lake, seeming to balance on the surface of it without making a single ripple,” explains Daniel Wallace of Garden & Gun. “His sculptures do impossible things. They could be homes for giants or trolls, the first shelters built by prehistoric men, Gaudí-esque mazes, giant vines, remnants of alien visitations, windblown towers, jokes. They are fun, joyous, friendly, inviting, and public, very public: art conceived by one, built by many, shared by all.”

Dougherty working on Step Right Up. Photo: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What separates Step Right Up from Dougherty’s other installations is that it is in his hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dougherty earned his B.A. in English from the UNC in 1967 and later returned to study art history and sculpture. Before he began using sticks as his medium, Dougherty sculpted with clay. However, while using clay Dougherty was unable to achieve the scale he desired for his sculptures. While studying at UNC, Dougherty developed the idea of using sticks as his medium. Dougherty found that using sticks allowed him to bend and extend long lines, he could create his own monumental three-dimensional drawings. In order to effectively use sticks to create sculptures, Dougherty had to gain a better understanding of how shelter builders, such as birds and beavers, build their homes. “Sticks have an inherent method of joining…and that tangling allows you to hook them together,” Dougherty explains.

 

Unknown, Iranian, Caspian Region, ca. early 1st millennium B.C., Animal-shaped Pouring Vessel, earthenware, Overall: 8 3/4 x 12 x 6 3/16 in. (22.3 x 30.5 x 15.7 cm) Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of Osborne and Gratia B. Hauge in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Sherman E. Lee, 91.21 © Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dougherty often does not know what he is going to build until after he arrives at the installation site. Once he arrives, Dougherty has to source both volunteers and materials. For his exhibition Step Right Up at the Ackland Art Museum Dougherty was able to source his materials—maple and gum saplings—from Duke Forest and Triangle Land Conservancy, organizations Dougherty has had long relationships with throughout his career. Dougherty chooses to enlist the help of volunteers on his projects because he finds it interesting how varying types of characters can come together to create one piece. Dougherty’s creative process has three steps: 1) Structural formation—building the basic shape, 2) Appliqué—appliquéing a look onto the surface of the piece and 3) Cosmetic—fixing up and making it habitable for people to enjoy from both the inside and outside. In creating Step Right Up for the Ackland, Dougherty was inspired by the Ackland’s collection of ancient animal pouring vessels. The vessels, which usually have an animal head from which water is poured, typically have traditional tops. Dougherty liked the idea of having a mixed shape and applied it to his sculpture in Step Right Up.

“I think that part of my work’s allure is its impermanence, the life cycle that is built into the growth and decay of saplings,” explains Dougherty. “The line between trash and treasure is thin, and the sculptures, like the sticks they are made from, begin to fade after two years. Often the public imagines that a work of art should be made to last, but I believe that a sculpture, like a good flower bed, has its season.” Bounded to the installations organic material and outdoor setting, Dougherty’s Step Right Up is a temporary installation. The installation is expected to be on view through August 31, 2018 at the Ackland Art Museum in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit: https://ackland.org/exhibition/patrick-dougherty-stickwork-ackland/.


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

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: https://www.ramart.org/content/text-message-words-and-letters-contemporary-craft. 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


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.)

Art Out and About: Exhibits in the US and Abroad

Lia Cook's work on display at Coded Threads: Textiles & Technologies

Lia Cook’s work on display at Coded Threads: Textiles & Technologies, Photo: Lia Cook

Art of interest can be found across the US and abroad this winter. Out West, Lia Cook and browngrotta art’s friend Carol Westfall are both featured in Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology in the Western Gallery at Western Washington University. The fourteen artists in the exhibition were chosen for their use of new textile technologies. Despite the fact that technology is changing lives and art rapidly, the earliest textile techniques are still practiced (basket weaving, indigo dying, etc.) The exhibition recognizes the importance of maintaining a connection to the past while seizing the opportunities that lie ahead with innovative textiles technology. Artists are now using spider silk, nanotechnology, biocouture, smart textiles (conductive threads, fiber optics) and Arduino microprocessors as materials for their work. The creation and use of these materials have fostered collaborative relationships between scientists, artist, and engineers. For example, Lia Cook works in collaboration with neuroscientists to investigate the natural response to woven faces by mapping the responses in the brain. She uses DSI (Diffusion Spectrum Imaging of the brain) and TrackVis software to view the structural neuronal connections between parts of the brain and then integrates the resulting “fiber tracks” with weaving materials to make up the woven translation of an image. Coded Threads: Textiles and Technology is on display in the Western Gallery at Western Washington University until December 8th. Do not miss the chance to glimpse at the future of textile art!

Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen 

Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen, Photo: Jennifer Falck Linssen

If you’re in the Midwest make sure to go see Flow: The Carved Paper Work of Jennifer Falck Linssen before it closes at the Talley Gallery in Bemidji, Minnesota on October 27th. “The impetus for Flow began one cold January week when Wisconsin artist Jennifer Falck Linssen escaped the frozen north for the lush green vegetation and mild temperatures of the Florida coast,” notes Laura Goliaszewski, the Talley’s Gallery Director. As Linssen was kayaking and hiking, she noticed the large population of birds making their new homes along the coast. Linssen began to consider how the diverse landscapes and climates of Florida and Wisconsin serve the seasonal needs of birds. A series of swooping, swerving wall sculptures that send viewers’ eyes aloft is the result.

Are We The Same?, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 12” x 28” x 26.375”, 2016, Photo: Tom Grotta

Of Art and Craft, on display in the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library, on the East Coast, explores the division between Art and Craft. The exhibition displays creations of glass, clay and fiber, which are all traditionally considered “craft materials.” However, the talent and skill present in all of the resulting pieces without a doubt make the pieces art, in the view of the exhibition’s curators. The exhibition features clay sculptures from Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong, Susan Eisen, and Phyllis Kudder Sullivan; glass work from Kathleen Mulcahy, Josh Simpson, and Adam Waimon; as well as fiber explorations by Emily Barletta, Ellen Schiffman and browngrotta arts artist Norma Minkowitz. Minkowitz, a resident of Westport, CT, has seven pieces featured in the exhibition, all of which use a variety of materials. Minkowitz’s piece in the exhibition Goodbye My Friend exemplifies her commitment to conveying the intimacy and imperfection of the human hand. “The interlacing technique that I use makes it possible for me to convey the fragile, the hidden, and the mysterious qualities of my work, in psychological statements that invite the viewer to interpret and contemplate my art,” explains Minkowtiz. Minkowitz is set to give a talk at the Flinn Gallery on November 5th at 2pm. Of Art and Craft will be on display at the Flinn Gallery from October 26th through December 6th.

This Way and That, 2013, Gyöngy Laky. Cut and assembled manzanita wood painted with acrylic paint and secured with trim screws. Photo: Bruce M. White© Lloyd Cotsen, 2016

This Way and That, 2013, Gyöngy Laky. Cut and assembled manzanita wood painted with acrylic paint and secured with trim screws. Photo: Bruce M. White© Lloyd Cotsen, 2016

The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, which was previously at the Racine Art Museum, is currently on display in the Textile Museum at The George Washington University Museum. Art collector Lloyd Costen challenged 36 international fiber artist to create a piece of work in the parameters of an archival box. 10 browngrotta arts artist have work on display in The Box ProjectHelena HernmarckAgenta HobinKiyomi IwataLewis KnaussNaomi KobayashiNancy KoenigsbergGyöngy LakyHeidrun SchimmelHisako Sekijima and Sherri Smith. The exhibition will be on display at The George Washington University Museum through January 29th.

Essence Iki at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter in Denmark, Photo: Yuko Takada Keller

 

 

Out side the US, Essence Iki at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter in Denmark, celebrates 150 years of diplomatic cooperation between Japan and Denmark. Browngrotta arts artist Jane Balsgaard is one of six artists featured in the exhibtion, three from Denmark and three from Japan. Featured are objects, room dividers and Balsgaard’s majestic, airbound boats of paper. The exhibition will be on display at the Dronninglund Kunstcenter until December 11th

Open Form, Laura Ellen Bacon, willow, 2016, Photo: Matthew Ling

Open Form, Laura Ellen Bacon, willow, 2016, Photo: Matthew Ling

BBC Woman’s Hour Craft Prize nominee Laura Ellen Bacon also has a solo exhibition on display at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford, UK. The exhibition, titled Rooted in Instinct demonstrates the process Bacon goes through when crafting a new sculpture or installation while also displaying a variety of Bacon’s new thatching, weaving and knotting techniques. Once an old seed warehouse, The National Centre for Craft & Design is the largest venue in England entirely dedicated to the exhibition, celebration, support, and promotion of national and international contemporary craft and design. Rooted in Instinct will be on display until January 14th.

In Lodz, Poland, at the Central Museum of Textiles, this winter will see an exhibition of the work of Magdalena Abakanowicz and, in January, a solo exhibition of the work of Włodzimierz Cygan that will include his luminous Tapping series made of optical fibers. For more information, watch the Museum’s website HERE

Dispatches: Art South Africa

Zebra

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.
https://www.afar.com/magazine/get-the-inside-scoop-on-cape-towns-new-zeitz-mocaa?category=overview&guide=21&email=art@browngrotta.com&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Kindness of Strangers&utm_term=Daily Wander Newsletter

ZeitzMOCAA.Exterior

Zeitz MOCAA Zeitz MOCAA - Museum of Contemporary Art Africa Exterior photos by Tom Grotta

Nandipha-Mntambo-2

Nandipha Mntambo at Zeitz MOCCA. Photo curtesy of Zeitz MOCCA

776_9__HR_ZeitzMOCAA_HeatherwickStudio_Credit_Iwan-Baan_Atrium-at-night

Zeitz MOCCA Atrium HeatherwickStudio Photo by Iwan-Baan

Cyrus-Kabiru---Macho-Nne-01-25

Cyrus Kabiru - Macho Nne at Zeitz MOCCA. Photo curtesy of Zeitz MOCCA

ZeitzMOCAA.Hotel.interior

Zeitz MOCCA Hotel Lobby. Photos by Tom Grotta

Kendell-Geers

Kendell Geers at Zeitz MOCCA. Photo curtesy of Zeitz MOCCA

776_5_HR_ZeitzMOCAA_HeatherwickStudio_Credit_Iwan-Baan_Atrium-vault

Zeitz MOCAA Atrium-vault Heatherwick Studio Photo by Iwan-Baan

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.http://www.cnn.com/style/article/thomas-heatherwick-zeitz-silo-museum/index.html 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 http://www.fodors.com/world/africa-and-middle-east/south-africa/cape-town-and-peninsula/experiences/news/art-lovers-guide-to-cape-town-12123 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


Bay Area Artists Get the Nod at James Cohan Gallery

A Line Can Go Anywhere curated by Jenelle Porter at the James Cohan Gallery, NY

A Line Can Go Anywhere, currently on display at the James Cohan Gallery in New York, studies the use of fiber as the main material used by seven Bay Area artists. The show examines artists ability to use linear pliable elements such as yarn, thread, monofilament, and rope.

A Line Can Go Anywhere curated by Jenelle Porter at the James Cohan Gallery, NY

A Line Can Go Anywhere works to show viewers all the ways in which fiber is utilized in art. The term “fiber” encompasses both the use of pliable material and technique needed to manipulate the materials to construct art works. “Crisscrossing generations, nationalities, processes, and approaches, the works speak to the cultural forces and art discourses that have contributed to a rich, and often overlooked, legacy of art making,” explains Jeffrey Waldon “from the initial efflorescence of the international fiber revolution of the 1960s to fiber’s recent reclamation by contemporary artists who, in an expanded field of art, create fiber-based work with a kind of ‘post-fiber’ awareness.”

The show features works from Trude Guermonprez and browngrotta arts’ artist Ed Rossbach, two influential artists whose works served as primers for the making of art in Northern California. The pair “contributed to the categorical transformation of art and craft,” notes the Gallery. In addition to Rossbach and Guermonprez, A Line Can Go Anywhere will feature work by Josh Faught, Terri Friedman, Alexandra Jacopetti Hart, Ruth Laskey, and browngrotta arts’ artist Kay Sekimachi.

 

Top: Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permanent marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013
Bottom: Lines, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permanent marker, modified plain weave, 11.5″ x 11.75″, 2011

With a sincere devotion to textile traditions and worldwide culture, Ed Rossbach’s work referenced everything from ancient textile fragments to pop-culture icons such as Mickey Mouse. Rossbach experimented with atypical materials to create an anti-form intimate body of work. Despite being a prolific maker, write and professor at the University of California between 1950 and 1979, Rossbach, by his own choice, rarely exhibited or sold his work. Shortly before his death in 2002 he provided a large number of his remaining works of fiber, paintings, and drawings to Tom Grotta to photograph and exhibit. Most of Rossbach’s remaining works continue to be available through browngrotta arts.                                                                                                   Kay Sekimachi began working in fiber in 1960s, just as the international fiber movement began. For a number of years, according to the Gallery, Sekimachi’s work was “charged by Guermonprez’s pedagogical emphasis on both free experimentation and the rational logic of weaving.” Sekimachi’s early double weavings showcased her ability to harmonize the opposite relationships of density and translucency, complexity and simplicity, technique and free expression.

A Line Can Go Anywhere was curated by Jenelle Porter, an independent curator in Los Angeles. From 2011 to 2015 she was the Mannion Family Senior Curator at the Insitute of Contemporary Art/Boston where she organized the acclaimed Fiber Sculpture 1960-present. A Line Can Go Anywhere is on show at the James Cohan Gallery in New York until October 14th. For more information about the show click HERE.


Spotlight on Bamboo: Bamboo Baskets Get the Nod at the Met

Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collectionis the first show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to concentrate on basketry, it features works of Japanese bamboo art dating from the late 19th century to the present—the period when basketry in Japan became recognized as an art form that transcends “craft.” The exhibition showcases more than 80 bamboo baskets and sculptures created by accomplished artists, including all six masters who have received the designation “Living National Treasure.” It celebrates the promised gift to the Met of more than 70 mostly extraordinary bamboo baskets and sculptures from the New York collectors Diane and Arthur Abbey. The exhibition also includes a site-specific installation, The Gate, by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, a fourth-generation bamboo artist born in 1973, meandering forms, that Roberta Smith says have “an animated-cartoon energy and snap; they cavort almost wickedly.” “Throughout the exhibition,” Smith continues. ” you will see basketry abstracted, deconstructed and all but exploded in the hands of successive generations of artists.” The exhibition will be open through February 2018 — it is not to be missed.

The Gate by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV, Tiger bamboo, 2017, Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A number of the artists exhibited by browngrotta arts have frequently worked with bamboo. Jiro Yonezawa , awarded the Lloyd Cotsen Bamboo Prize in 2006, is a master — creating vessels, seductive objects and human-size sculptures.

Red Heat Haze by Jiro Yonezawa, bamboo and thread, 100″ x 13.5″, 2004, Photo: Tom Grotta

While Yonezawa harvests and prepares his own bamboo, (and speaks about that process here), Dona Anderson repurposes the bamboo she uses from kendo and hockey sticks to create vessels and sculptures. She began in the 1980s, making a series of missiles of bamboo sticks combined with colored fabrics stitched with a sewing machine, each nearly five feet high.
Nancy Moore Bess has studied bamboo extensively. She is the author of Bamboo in Japancalled by Donald Richie

” a compendium of information that is not likely to be soon duplicated.” She is also the creator of works that combine bamboo and waxed linen. “I met Tanabe-san on the first tour,” Bess writes. “He is a lovely young man.” The entry piece in Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection is “ spectacular” in Bess’s view. The artist/author met Yamagishi-san who provided the Tiger Bamboo in the Met exhibition and from which The Gate is made, when she was researching the book. “Interestingly,” Bess writes, “if you take a rhizome of his tosatorafudake (tiger bamboo from Tosa, had to show off a bit) and plant it anywhere else, the skin does not develop the distinctive tiger markings!”

The exhibition will be open through February 2018 — it is not to be missed. For more information on the show click here. The show’s catalog is available in The Met’s online store here.


Art Out and About: Abroad

Earlier this summer we published a blog post outlining current and upcoming exhibitions featuring browngrotta arts artists in North America. In addition to all of the exhibitions in North America, we have a ton of artists being featured in exhibitions abroad. Whether working in Denmark or vacationing in Greece take some time to relax and visit one of these spectacular exhibitions.

Jens Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen

Heltborg Museum (Thy, Denmark)

June 18-September 3

Ane Henriksen currently has a solo exhibition on view at the Heltborg Museum on the West Coast of Denmark. In Jens Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen, Henriksen uses weavings to interpret paintings by Jens Søndergaard. The weavings and paintings are on view at the Helborg Museum until September 3rd.

Jen Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen

 

A Darker Thread

Oriel Myrddin Gallery (Carmarthen, UK)

July 15-October 21  

Across the pond, there is A Darker Thread, at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Carmarthen. Wales has been long celebrated for its’ distinctive textile design in both power-loomed blankets and hand stitched quilts. While all work in A Darker Thread references Welsh Culture or sense of place, artists were selected for their focus on the curious, the provocative, the humorous or the unpredictable. The exhibition features artists such as Alana Tyson, Laura Thomas and Ruth Harries. To compliment the exhibition there is a rich program of events over the summer for children and families. A Darker Thread is on show at the Oriel Myrddin until October 21st.

Treading Cloud by Spike Davis at A Darker Thread

Labyrinth

Mountados, Tinos, Greece

July 22-August 22

 

For Labyrinth, 10 artists were challenged to create a piece of art for a box that would hang above the streets of the village Mountados on the island of Tinos. The network created by the alleyways of cycladic villages is reminiscent of a labyrinth, therefore why the theme was chosen for Mountados. Though labyrinths are often seen as a place to get lost, they are instead the places to find oneself. “In these troubled and uncertain times, we are once again seeking a path. Here we are in this labyrinth, confronted with the idea of the inner journey that each of us pursues, in the face of our hesitation, our halts, our choices,” explains Mireille Liénard “It is the discovery of this labyrinth, but also this journey to the depths of ourselves, that this new edition of the Biennale of Mountados offers us.”             

Stéphanie Jacques for Labyrinth

Tapestry: Here and Now

The Holbourne Museum (Bath, UK)

June 23-October 1

Tapestry: Here & Now surveys contemporary tapestry while also showcasing some of the most innovative approaches to tapestry by a variety of international talent. This exhibit includes Sara Brennan and is curated by Dr. Lesley Millar, who wrote an essay in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture. Each piece exhibits a development in the artist’s career, textile making or society as a whole. The exhibition also exemplifies how artists use their medium to engage with political, aesthetic and personal issues of contemporary relevance.  Edward McKnight Kauffer’s “The ‘Arts’ Tapestry” will be on public display for the first time. The tapestry depicts a muse-like figure holding an open book, while beside a globe and fluted ionic column, expressing the importance of understanding classical art and architecture. Tapestry: Here & Now will be on view at The Holbourne Museum, in Bath until October 1st.

Broken White Band with Pink by Sara Brennan, linen, wool, and cotton, 32” x 32”, 2008

 

Everyday matter, The Value of Textile Art

Textilmuseet, Borås

September 16 – January 28

Everyday matter, an exhibition presented by Nordic Textile Art (NTA) in collaboration with the Textile Museum of Sweden, chronicles the slow processes of textile art. The exhibition not only shows methods to eliminate time in the textile making process but also shows artists how to communicate through materiality. Every two years the European Textile Network holds a conference in a European country. This year, Borås and the Textile Museum of Sweden are co-hosting the conference. Four browngrotta arts artist have been selected to present work in Everyday matter, including Løvaas & Wagle,Ulla-Maija Wikman, Grethe Wittrock and Ane Henriksen.

Grethe Wittrock working on a piece for Everyday Matter


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, http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1313&context=tsaconf.

The Nordic Tapestry Group

The Nordic Tapestry Group