Category: Exhibitions

Art Out and About: US

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliffe 

Our 2020 “Art in the Barn” exhibition series is not until next Spring but there are plenty of exciting exhibitions featuring some of our favorite browngrotta arts’ artists to check out this Winter season. Below is a round up of 10 must-see shows in the US:

John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.
John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.

Washington, D.C.
Connections: Contemporary Craft
at the Renwick Gallery
On view – indefinitely
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The exhibition explores the underlying current of craft as a balancing, humanistic force in the face of an evermore efficiency-driven, virtual world. The installation highlights the evolution of the craft field as it transitions into a new phase at the hands of contemporary artists, showcasing the activist values, optimism, and uninhibited approach of today’s young artists, which in some way echoes the communal spirit and ideology of the pioneers of the American Studio Craft Movement in their heyday. Includes artist Lia Cook, Toshiko Takaezu, Ed Rossbach, John McQueen, Peter Voulkos.
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum 

Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC. (212)(202) 633-7970 https://americanart.si.edu

Bamian by Sheila Hicks
Bamian Sheila Hicks (American (lives and works in Paris), born in 1934) 1968 Wool and acrylic yarns, wrapped * Charles Potter Kling Fund and partial gift of Sheila Hicks © Sheila Hicks * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts
Women Take the Floor 
On view through May 3, 2020
An exhibition of more than 200 works that challenge the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists – advocating for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. Includes Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks, Olga Amaral, Kay Sekimachi, Toshiko Takaezu
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: (617) 267-9300 mfa.org

Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds
From Off the Wall: Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds, 1978. Resist-dyed cotton. San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Off the Wall: American Art to Wear
On view through May 17, 2020  Delight in the astonishing inventiveness and techniques of a generation of mixed-media artists who pioneered a new art form designed around the body. Coming of age during the dramatic cultural shifts of the 1960s and 70s, the artists in this distinctively American movement explored non-traditional materials and methods to create adventurous, deeply imaginative works. Includes Norma Minkowitz and Katherine Westphal 
Philadelphia Museum of Art 
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (215) 763-8100
https://philamuseum.org

White Pinwheel by Ethel Stein
Ethel Stein,White Pinwheel, 1990 cotton, satin damask weave; woven on a loom with a drawloom attachment fabricated by the artist 87.6 x 83.8 x 2.2 cm (34 1/2 x 33 x 7/8 in.)

Chicago, Illinois
Weaving beyond the Bauhaus
On view through Feb 17, 2020
Presented on the centenary of this foundational organization, Weaving beyond the Bauhaus traces the diffusion of Bauhaus artists, or Bauhäusler, such as Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students across America. Through their ties to arts education institutions, including Black Mountain College, the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Yale University, these artists shared their knowledge and experiences with contemporary and successive generations of artists, including Sheila Hicks, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler, shaping the landscape of American art in the process.
Art Institute Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
(312) 443-3600
https://www.artic.edu

In Poetry and Silence Lenore Tawney installation
In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney Installation view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2019
Courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
On view through March 7, 2020
This series of four exhibitions explores Lenore Tawney’s (1907–2007) life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work. Read more about the Tawney exhibits in our earlier blog here: http://arttextstyle.com/2019/12/18/lenore-tawney-gets-her-due/  
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC)
608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: 920.458.6144
jmkac.org

Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta
Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

Racine, Wisconsin
It’s Like Poetry: Building a Toshiko Takaezu Archive at RAM 
On view through July 26, 2020
RAM’s archive now numbers over 30 works, including Toshiko Takaezu’s (1922-2011) most expansive grouping, the installation comprised of 14 “human-sized” forms, the Star Series. Significantly, the museum’s holdings span the range of Takaezu’s working career—with a double-spouted pot from the 1950s being the earliest and the Star Series (1999-2000) being the latest. 
Open Storage: RAM Showcases Ceramic, Fiber, and Regional Archives 
On view through August 30, 2020
Arranged as a series of artist solo showcases, Open Storage also highlights the earliest kinds of work given to RAM—textiles and works on paper. While ceramic works and art jewelry currently number as the two largest types of contemporary craft represented, examples of textiles, prints, drawings, and works on paper were among the very first gifts of artwork to the museum in the 1940s. This exhibition features the work of 12 artists—Sandra Byers, Gibson Byrd, John N. Colt, Theodore Czebotar, Lillian Elliott, Joseph Friebert, Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Jean Stamsta, Merle Temkin, Murray Weiss, and Beatrice Wood—through multiple examples of their work. 
Racine Art Museum
441 Main Street, Racine, WI 53403
Phone: (262) 638-8300
https://www.ramart.org

Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 22, 2019–January 2021). Alan Shields, J + K, 1972. Photograph by Ryan Urcia


New York, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019
On view through January 2021
The exhibition foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. This exhibition provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to artists, including abstraction, popular culture, feminist and queer aesthetics, and recent explorations of identity and relationships to place. Together, the works demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art. Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will include over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson. More on this exhibition in our previous post: http://arttextstyle.com/dispatches-making-knowing-craft-in-art-1950-2019-at-the-whitney/
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600
https://whitney.org

Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

New York, New York
Taking a Thread for a Walk
On view through April 19, 2020
True to its title, this exhibition takes a thread for a walk among ancient textile traditions, early-20th-century design reform movements, and industrial materials and production methods. Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, this show highlights the fluid expressivity of the medium. More about this exhibition in our earlier blog: Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York 
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400
https://www.moma.org

Lia Cook in front of Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA
Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA

Los Angeles, California
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985
On view through May 3, 2020 Featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. This is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Includes artist Lia Cook
Museum of Contemporary Art
Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 626-6222
https://www.moca.org 

Please check with each art institution for directions and hours.          


Art & Identity: A Sense of Place

In our 2019 Art in the Barn exhibition, we asked artists to address the theme of identity. In doing so, several of the participants in Art + Identity: an international view, wrote eloquently about places that have informed their work. For Mary Merkel-Hess, that place is the plains of Iowa, which viewers can feel when viewing her windblown, bladed shapes. A recent work made a vivid red orange was an homage to noted author, Willa Cather’s plains’ description, “the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed,” a view that Merkel-Hess says she has seen.

Micheline Beauchemin Golden Garden detail
Micheline Beauchemin 3mb Golden Garden nylon cord, metalic thread, sisal and plexiglass 42” x 10.5”, circa 1966-68

The late Micheline Beauchemin traveled extensively from her native Montreal. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, all influenced her work but depictions of the St. Lawrence River were a constant thread throughout her career. The river, “has always fascinated me,” she admitted, calling it, “a source of constant wonder” (Micheline Beauchemin, les éditions de passage, 2009). “Under a lemon yellow sky, this river, leaded at certain times, is inhabited in winter, with ice wings without shadows, fragile and stubborn, on which a thousand glittering lights change their colors in an apparent immobility.” To replicate these effects, she incorporated unexpected materials like glass, aluminum and acrylic blocks that glitter and reflect light and metallic threads to translate light of frost and ice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila Triple Weave
Triple weave Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila silk, alpaca, moriche, metalliic yarns, copper, natural dyes, 71” x 48.25”, 2016


Mérida, Venezuela, the place they live, and can always come back to, has been a primary influence on Eduardo Portillo’s and Maria Davila’s way of thinking, life and work. Its geography and people have given them a strong sense of place. Mérida is deep in the Andes Mountains, and the artists have been exploring this countryside for years. Centuries-old switchback trails or “chains” that historically helped to divide farms and provide a mountain path for farm animals have recently provided inspiration and the theme for a body of work, entitled Within the MountainsNebula, the first work from this group of textiles, is owned by the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

Birgit Birkkjærs  Ode for the Ocean
Birgit Birkkjær, 65bb Ode for the Ocean, linen and stones, shells, fossils, etc. from the sea 30” x 30” x 4,” 2019

Birgit Birkkjaer’s Ode for the Ocean is composed of many small woven boxes with items from the sea — stones, shells, fossils and so on — on their lids. ” It started as a diary-project when we moved to the sea some years ago,” she explains. “We moved from an area with woods, and as I have always used materials from the place where I live and where I travel, it was obvious I needed now to draw sea-related elements into my art work.”

Polly Bartons Continuum I, II, III detail
4pb Continuum I, II, III, Polly Barton, silk, double ikat, 19” x 52” x 1.75,” 2018

“I am born and raised in the Northeast,” says Polly Barton, “trained to weave in Japan, and have lived most of my life in the American Southwest. These disparate places find connection in the woven fabric that is my art, the internal reflections of landscape.” In works like Continuum i, ii, iii, Barton uses woven ikat as her “paintbrush,” to study native Southwestern sandstone. Nature’s shifting elements etched into the stone’s layered fascia reveal the bands of time. “Likewise, in threads dyed and woven, my essence is set in stone.”

Paul Furneauxs City Trees II and City Lights II detail
1 & 2pf City Trees II and City Lights II, Paul Furneaux, Detail

For Paul Furneaux, geographic influences are varied, including time spent in Mexico, at Norwegian fjords and then, Japan, where he studied Japanese woodblock, Mokuhanga “After a workshop in Tokyo,” he writes, “I found myself in a beautful hidden-away park that I had found when I first studied there, soft cherry blossom interspersed with brutal modern architecture. When I returned to Scotland, I had forms made for me in tulip wood that I sealed and painted white. I spaced them on the wall, trying to recapture the moment. The forms say something about the architecture of those buildings but also imbue the soft sensual beauty of the trees, the park, the blossom, the soft evening light touching the sides of the harsh glass and concrete blocks.” 


Over Under : Under Over in Edinburgh

Aliunde Alio, Sue Lawty, natural stone on gesso 24″ x 96″ x 10″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta, courtesy browngrotta arts.

The Cordis Trust presents a special exhibition in conjunction with Visual Arts Scotland at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. Over Under : Under Over explores weave in its widest context through the work of six contemporary artists: Elizabeth Ashdown, Celia Pym, Dail BehennahSue Lawty, Sarah Jane Henderson and Sadhvi Jawa.

Cordis states: “Straying from their usual adherence to the traditional principles of woven Gobelin tapestry, this project aims to explore the wider applications of the woven form.” The artists were chosen because their work is constructed in a similar way to tapestry, or because they use techniques that resonate with the principles of weaving, whether that be through the interlacing of materials or of repetitive gesture.”

Sue Lawty’s work In this exhibition is made of found stones. She collects, organizes and orders thousands of tiny rock fragments to create a kind of pixilated cloth. Among Dail Behennah’s works in this exhibition are pieces paper, made with a three-dimensional, three-directional plaiting technique.

Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, Upper Galleries through January 30th 2020.


Most Influential Art Movements of the Decade

Last month, Artsy identified the most seven most influential art movements of the decade in The Art Movements of the 2010s (Dec 18, 2019) by Charlotte Jansen https://www.artsy.net/series/decade-art/artsy-editorial-art-movements-2010s. Two of those identified by Jansen — the reconsideration of women artists, which the Artsy called “an art history overhaul” and the art world’s embrace of craft — are two we at browngrotta arts have also watched with more than passing interest for the past 10 years.

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta
Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chicago Art Institute 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

The article points to the Guerrilla Girls survey in 2016, which found an unsurprising, yet overwhelming, bias towards Western male artists, which curators and galleries have since been working to address in exhibitions such as Women of Abstract Expressionism. We would add several exhibitions to that list, including Woman Take the Floor, currently at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today at the Museum of Arts in Design in 2015, Ethel Stein’s one-person exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 and Lenore Tawney’s current four-part retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Art Center in Wisconsin. The article also mentions overlooked women artists already in their 70s, 80s and 90s who have gained representation with blue-chip galleries, specifically, Rose Wylie joined David Zwirner 2017; Luchita Hurtado joined Hauser & Wirth in 2018;  Howardena Pindell joined Victoria Miro in 2019. Carmen Herrera, now 104, started working with Lisson in 2009 and opened a retrospective at the Whitney in 2016. We would add Françoise Grossen who joined Blum & Poe in 2015.

The “return of craft” has brought greater attention to women artists, too. Jansen notes it has placed greater focus on forgotten legends such as Anni Albers, and living talents like Sheila Hicks. In November, Jansen points out, the Whitney mounted Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, on view through next January. Enthusiasm for ceramics has grown, too, she writes, as audiences continue to gravitate towards works by California Clay.

Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney
Even Thread Has a Speech by Lenore Tawney is in the Whitney Exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Movement artists Ken Price, Peter Voulkos and Ron Nagle as well as the late Betty Woodman. We’d also point to interest in ceramist Toshiko Takaezu, whose work was included in both Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor.

Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston
Installation View of Toshiko Takaezu; Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and Today and Women Take the Floor at the MFA Boston. Photo by Peter Russo

“Craft techniques are some of the oldest media in human history,” Jansen concludes, “but this decade has proved there is still boundless inspiration to be found in them.”


Exhibition News: Three Days to See Carolina Yrarrázaval’s Solo Exhibition in Chile

Carolina Yrarrázaval's solo exhibition in Chile photo by Patricia Novoa Cortez

Carolina Yrarrázaval’s solo exhibition, Capas de Recuerdos, at the Centro Cultural Las Condes, closes on December 1st. Yrarrázaval has a number of new works in the exhibition, which you can glimpse here.

The title translates as “Layer of Memories” which reflects the layers of the weave, the years of research work, the volumes of textures that feature in Carolina Yrarrázaval’s work. Yrarrázaval draws on different manifestations and cultures, from pre-Hispanic geometry to the subtlety and mystery of Japanese textiles. Her work features a formal and chromatic purity, achieved through the use of colors achieved through a personal dyeing process.

Carolina Yrarrázaval's Tapestries  photo by Patricia Novoa Cortez


The exhibition include 20 tapestries woven in vertical loom, featuring folds, saddlebags and overlapping fabrics. The materials she uses are vegetable fibers – jute, hemp, linen, silk. The colors are deep and saturated, created through her personal dyeing process.

Carolina Yrarrázaval's Tapestry  photo by Patricia Novoa Cortez


The Center is at Apoquindo 6570, Las Condes. For more information, visit: https://www.estoy.cl/teatro/capas-de-recuerdos/


Make a Day of It – Visit browngrotta arts and Other Art Venues This Weekend

Eva LeWitt, Untitled (Mesh A–J) (site-specific installation view, detail), 2019 Courtesy of the artist and VI, VII, Oslo. Photo: Jason Mandella

If you are coming to Artists from the Grotta Collection: a book launch and exhibition at browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut this weekend, we suggest you take advantage of a few of the area’s other cultural offerings. Eva LeWitt (b. 1985) first one-person exhibition at the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, just a few miles (literally)up the road from bga. The artist’s largest exhibition to date, debuts a significant, new site-specific installation commissioned by The Aldrich. Says the Museum, “LeWitt’s sculptural practice explores the visual interconnection of color, matter, shape, light, and gravity. Using materials she can control and manipulate with supporting and opposing attributes – rigid/pliable, opaque/transparent, airy/substantial, and handmade/machine built – LeWitt creates exuberant configurations that vaunt a buoyant physical agency. LeWitt’s deft sculptural arrays wondrously wed industrial materials like Plexiglas, acetate, latex, and vinyl with hand-cast and hand-dyed polyurethane foams, sponges and rubbers to form soft, sensuous, and splendidly vibrant compositions.” The artist’s first publication, with an essay by exhibition curator Amy Smith-Stewart is available http://aldrichart.org/article/eva-lewitt


On Saturday, 30+ highly-skilled artisans from across the country will be presenting their hand-crafted contemporary and traditional furnishings and wearables at the 34th American Artisan Show at the Wilton Historical Society (224 Danbury Road, Route 7). The Historical Society is also just down the road from bga — in the opposite direction. Furniture, folk art, pottery, fine leather goods, Nantucket-style baskets, candles, Windsor chairs, art, tavern signs, fine jewelry, photography, and much more – will be available for purchase at the Show. The show is fittingly set in the Society’s charming 18th and 19th century buildings. Artisan demos on Saturday. 10:00 – 5:00. Admission is $10; under 18 free. Wilton Historical Society: http://wiltonhistorical.org/events/american-artisan-show/

Grace Farms in New Canaan


Another option is a visit to Grace Farms in New Canaan (365 Luke’s Wood) which was established with the idea that space communicates and can inspire people to collaborate for good. To realize this vision, Grace Farms Foundation set out to create a multipurpose building nestled into the existing habitat that would enable visitors to experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community and explore faith. The architect SANAA’s goal was to make the River building become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself. Under the continuous roof are five transparent glass-enclosed volumes that can host a variety of activities and events, while maintaining a constant sense of the surrounding environment. It sits on 80 acres, most of which are being preserved in perpetuity as open meadows, woods, wetlands and ponds. It’s open six days a week and free to the public. https://gracefarms.org/faq/

Hope to see you Saturday and Sunday or Sunday. You can visit Artists from the Grotta Collection at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut from 10 am to 5 pm either day. http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php


Artists from the Grotta Collection: Exhibition and Book Launch Opens Saturday

We’re getting ready to welcome six artists and lots of art fans to our fall event: Artists from the Grotta Collection: an exhibition and book launch, which opens on Saturday (Artist Reception and Opening: 1 pm to 6 pm). Featured in the exhibition is the work of more than 44 artists, who are among the artists collected by Sandy and Lou Grotta over nearly 70 years. Here are some behind the scenes views of our preparations.

2 Sara Brennan Tapestries
Installation of Dark Blue Line I and Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line by Sara Brennan above the New Kitchen Server

Here’s a shot of Tom installing a pair of Sara Brennan’s elegant tapestries.

Installation of Gyongy Laky's True North
Gyöngy Laky’s True North partially installed showing the exposed nails that get covered by the wood pieces

Over two-hundred nails are needed to install Gyøngy Laky’s True North.

The work that required the most ingenuity and effort to install was Helena Hernmarck’s substantial tapestry, 1884 New York Bay. This is just a glimpse of the varied work that will be included in the exhibitions, which includes ceramics, furniture, fiber sculpture and mixed media. Hope we’ll see you there.

The results of that unique creative collaboration are documented in the more-than 300 photographs that make up The Grotta Home, which will be celebrated in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch runs from November 2nd to the 10th at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.

The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm, browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. The exhibition hours for November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm. A book about the collection, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft, will be available throughout the exhibition and Tom will be available to sign it. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.


A Couple Collects: Sandy and Lou Grotta of the Grotta Collection

Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta
Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta

Next month, we will showcase 40 artists whose works part of the remarkable collection of Sandy and Lou Grotta, acquired during their nearly 70-year relationship. “In quality and depth, the Grotta collection of contemporary craft outshines all others, including what is in museums,” writes designer and curator Jack Lenor Larsen. In Artists from the Grotta Collection we will feature important works of fiber, ceramic and wood – just as the Grotta Collection does.

"The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft"
The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft

The Grottas’ acquisitions are housed in an architecturally significant home designed intentionally to showcase their art. The collection and their home are featured in a new book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craftwhich was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta.

Lila Kulka, Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125" x 77", 1989
A couple-themed work by Lila Kulka on of the artists in the Grotta Collection. Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125″ x 77″, 1989, photo by Tom Grotta

A well-regarded interior designer, Sandy Grotta (then Sandy Brown) met her husband, Lou Grotta, at the University of Michigan in 1953. After enrolling in multiple art history courses together, the couple quickly developed a mutual admiration for contemporary architecture which would grow to encompass the work of dozens of renowned craft artists. “In the early 1960s, walking out of the Museum of Modern Art, we stumbled upon the Museum of Contemporary Craft next door, ” she says. “The Museum’s exhibitions, many of whose objects were for sale in its store, caused a case of love at first sight. It quickly became a founding source of many craft purchases to follow. It was the site of our initial sighting of the wonderful walnut wood work of Edgar and Joyce Anderson.” Soon after, the Grotta commissioned the first work of what evolved into their becoming the most important collectors of Joyce and Shorty’s limited output over the next 30 years. The Andersons introduced them to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “[T]he Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” says Sandy, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator going to interior design school and entering the field.” Lou’s interest in modern architecture and Scandinavian art also stems back to his early years as a student at the University of Michigan. In the early 80s Lou reunited with his New Jersey friend from summer camp, Richard Meier, and, despite differing opinions about craft and differences in opinion concerning craft materials, they decided to collaborate on the creation of The Grotta House. Over a span of five years, the three worked together to design and build a house that combined the Grottas’ unique appreciation for contemporary art and Meier’s formal elements of design.

Sauvages Diptych, Stephanie Jacques, willow, 51" x 18" x 12", 2014
Stephanie Jacques’ couple of willow: Sauvages, Diptych, willow, 51″ x 18″ x 12″, 2014, photo by Tom Grotta


Sandy and Lou continue their curation, still seeking dimensional textile art, sculpture and fine craft that enhances their collection. When it comes to aesthetic decisions, Lou says, the two early disagree. “Since day one, we’ve always been blessed with an amazing like/dislike simpatico. On rare occasions when we disagree, we honor the other’s veto power.” The results of that unique creative collaboration are documented in the more-than 300 photographs that make up The Grotta Home, which will be celebrated in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch runs from November 2nd to the 10th at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.

Together Forever, Judy Mulford, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012
This work by Judy Mulford, celebrates partnerships like Sandy’s and Lou’s: Together Forever, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta


The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm; the hours for November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm. TheGrotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft will be available throughout the exhibition and Tom will be available to sign it. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.

See Me, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 11.75" x 22" x 6", 2019
Two heads contribute to a singular vision. Norma Minkowitz, See Me, mixed media, 11.75″ x 22″ x 6″, 2019. photo by Tom Grotta


The Grotta Collection Opens at bga November 2nd: Who’s New

Our Fall exhibition, Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch opens at browngrotta arts in Wilton, CT on November 2nd. The exhibition highlights significant works of fiber and dimensional art by more than 40 artists collected by Sandy and Louis Grotta.

Thomas Hucker,  Ledge Table
Thomas Hucker, Ledge Table, black palm wood with Holly inlay (gloss laquer finish), split oak, stained black (oil finih), egg shell lacquer, 201517″ x 42″ x 42″

The Grotta Collection represents nearly 70 years of arts patronage and a unique kinship fostered by the Grottas among pioneering contemporary craft makers in the fields of textile art, sculpture, furniture and jewelry. The Grottas are long-time patrons of Museum of Arts and Design and the American Craft Museum in New York. The private collection is housed in an architecturally significant home designed by Richard Meier in the 1980s known as The Grotta House. Among the 40 artists whose work is included in the exhibition, browngrotta will showcase five artists, new to browngrotta arts — Thomas Hucker, Dominic DiMare, William Wyman, Bill Accorsi and Toshiko Takeazu. These artists work in various craft media and their work is showcased in the Grotta collection. Here’s a preview:

Thomas Hucker is a studio furniture maker in Jersey City, NJ. He trained with fifth-generation German cabinetmaker Leonard Hilgner and also Jere Osgood at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. In 1990, he studied product design at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. Hucker’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2016, he received the Furniture Society’s Award of Distinction. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the American Craft Council.

Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare
Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare , (a memorial to his father, the wand symbolizes an oar) paper, paint, Hawthrone wood, Golden Pheasant feathers, silk, bird bone, bone ring and fish, gold and gold leaf, quote by Robert Merrick, 13″ x 3.5″ x 2″, 2003

Dominic Di Mare received acclaim for pioneering dimensional weaving in the 1960s, cast paper in the 1970s, and mixed-media sculpture from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Among his most alluring sculptures are carved hawthorn branches with delicate feathers, beads, paper, and horsehair,” wrote the San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design in his 2018 retrospective. These are simple materials, but in Di Mare’s hands they were transformed into intensely poetic works.” The son of a Sicilian-American fisherman who grew up on the water in Monterey, California, Di Mare’s work features related symbols, fish and hooks and lines and water. He is an American Craft Council Gold Medal recipient. His work is represented in numerous museum collections, ranging from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Plate with daughter Lisa,  William Wyman
1ww Plate with daughter Lisa, William Wyman, ceramic, 8” diamter, 1961,

William Wyman began his career as a professional potter in 1953. He established Herring Run Pottery in 1962, with fellow potter, Michael Cohen. Wyman is known for a series of stoneware slab built vessels. In the 1960s Wyman dipped his smaller slab vessels in multiple glazes creating patterns of flowing colors. In 1965, after time spent in Honduras, he began to create undecorated, unglazed geometric-driven structures inspired by Mayan ruins which he called “Temples.” His work is in a number of museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New Hampshire, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PennsylvaniaSmithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

Bill Accorsi was a college athlete, planning to become a football coach, when on a class trip he saw a Matisse exhibit. He says that was his first exposure to art, and it started him on a different journey, as he eventually became an largely self-taught artist himself. Now, at age 88, he can look back on a lifetime of creating outsider art and folk art. His sculptures—some in metal using wire, buttons and beads, others in wood—show people and animals in poses that are whimsical and fun. Often his figures merge into each other as jigsaw puzzles. Bright and pastel colors are an important feature of his work. He is an award-winning author/illustrator of 10 books, including Apple, Apple, Alligator; 10 Button Book; 10 Color Book; Friendship’s First Thanksgiving and a book on Rachel Carson.

Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu
1tt Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu, ceramic vase with blue and black highlights, signed with double T mark on bottom (partially covered by glaze), 15” x 5” x 5” , c. 1960

Toshiko Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, on 17 June 1922. She moved to Honolulu in 1940, where she worked at the Hawaii Potter’s Guild creating identical pieces and practicing glazing. She attended Saturday classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1947–1949)[5] and attended the University of Hawaii. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1951), where she befriended Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. Takaezu earned an award after her first year of study, acknowledging her as an outstanding student in the clay department. In 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Zen Buddhism, tea ceremony and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which influenced her work. While studying in Japan, she visited Shoji Hamada, an influential Japanese potters. She taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey for 25 years. Her work is part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among many others. She is a recipient of the Gold Metal of the American Craft Council and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. 


Additional artists included in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch are Naomi Kobayashi, Norma Minkowitz, Sara Brennan, Stéphanie Jacques, Axel Russmeyer and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. See the full artist list here: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. The exhibition at browngrotta arts runs from November 2nd through November 10th, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd from 1 pm to 6 pm. The hours November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm.


Art & Text Opens — Reception at the Wilton Library on October 11th

On Art and On Life Dana Romeis
8dr/r On Art 9dr/r On Life Dana Romeis, silk and cotton, 24″ X 24″, 1991

Through November 7th, browngrotta arts is participating in Art & Text, an inaugural collaboration of 13 libraries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Each library within the consortium will highlight one or more artists, whose work reflects their unique perspectives on the exhibition’s theme.  Throughout the County, Art & Text runs from September 1 through December 31, 2019, with shows running from one week to 3 months, depending on a library’s individual calendar. Through mixed media, ranging from sculpture and painting to graphics, each library’s exhibition aims to promote awareness of visual arts in the libraries of Fairfield County, as well as foster a connection between the community it serves and the arts.
browngrotta arts provided works by nine artists who use text in their art in a a number of different ways, including embroidered words, collaged newspapers and sculptured works made of the Congressional Record.

The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi
50nk The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi, washi paper, koyori thread, india ink, cotton, 20″ x 12.5″ x 2″, 2009

One of the works included is by Naomi Kobayashi who incorporates strips of calligraphy into her weavings. In a an ideal Art & Text plot twist, author William Bayer was inspired by Kobayashi’s work. In his book Hiding in the Weave, the protagonists have to deconstruct a weaving to find a clue to solve a mysterious death. Other artists presented through browngrotta arts include Dana Romeis, who is an artist and interior designer from St. Louis, Missouri. She has a background in art and textiles. From an early age, Dana has been drawn to the intricacy of design. She is particularly fond of the quote, “God is in the details” by Mies van der Rohe. In On Life and On Art,  she has incorporated text into her weavings.

The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt
The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt, nails, twime, encaustic, 12″ x 9″ x 4″

Kate Hunt is from Montana and has recently relocated to Mexico. She says of newsprint, her chosen material: “Newspaper as a construction material is cheap and easy to obtain. It forgives easily. I love the color and feel and its changes in color over time. The size range is equal to that of wood. Texture and density are adjustable. The audience has a history and experience with newspaper that they bring to each of my pieces resulting in a dialog that transcends anything that I thought of as an artist.”

35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28" x 25" x 4", 2009
35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28″ x 25″ x 4″, 2009

Japanese artist Toshio Sekiji intertwines strips of paper from various cultures, rewriting messages and imaging a harmonius confluence of disparate cultures, languages and nationalities – different than the facts on the ground. California artist, Ed Rossbach, was a relentless experimenter. He learned all manner of textile techniques from double weave to bobbin lace making and then applied them to unusual materials with striking results. It the work in Art & Text, Rossbach has used throwaway materials – annual report pages – to create a vessel that looks like a colorful vase. Judy Mulford is also from California. Her work, which often includes gourds, celebrates women and the family. In this case, words about family life and celebration are spelled out in thread using a button-hole technique.

17da Undulating Surface #7, Dona Anderson
wire armature, pattern paper and polymer, 16″ x 17.5″ x 15″
2010

An unusual sculpture by Washington state artist Dona Anderson is included. Anderson uses everyday materials in her works. Her vessel in Art andText is made from dressmaker patterns and the instructions can still be read on its sides. Like Ed Rossbach, Sylvia Seventy was part of California’s fiber movement of the 60s and 70s. She began making vessels of handmade paper then, a process she continues. Her vessels are whimsical incorporating everything from feathers and pins to beads and googly eyes. In this work she has included text telling the viewer to consider the back – where may artist secrets can be found.

Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy
21ss Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy molded recycled paper, vintage cotton embroidered fabric, wax, wire, beads, waxed carpet thread 3.5” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2016

The opening of Art & Text at the Wilton Library takes place on Friday, October 11th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. The Library is at: 137 Old Ridgefield Rd, Wilton, CT 06897. A majority of the works are available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library.  Media Sponsor: The Wilton Bulletin.