We were in the news a lot last month for browngrotta arts’ 30th anniversary and our annual exhibition, Art in the Barn, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art. Here’s a sampling of our clips– selvedge, Venü, New England Home, Coastal Connecticut, Fiber Art Now blog, the Wilton Bulletin and the Norwalk Hour, Cottages and Gardens, Eventbrite, Good Morning Wilton, Eventbrite, Fiber Arts Now. It’s our 30th anniversary all year, so watch for more news, including about Plunge: explorations above and below, an exhibition about to open at the New Bedford Museum of Art (May 26 – October 8, 2017) in Massachusetts.
The cover story of the Spring Issue, No. 34 of Venü, the magazine of Contemporary Culture features browngrotta arts and our upcoming exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art.
Author Cindy Clarke writes in Living Art, Timelessly Reimagined, that “Rhonda and Tom have a practiced eye for discovering museum-quality textural art and its accomplished creators. Over the last 30 years they have turned their finds into a premier art enterprise that’s in a class by itself…. Custom designed by the owners, the gallery itself is a dialog of opposites, blending elements of a historic two-story horse barn – think exposed beams, meticulously restored barndoors, original wide-plank wood flooring, vaulted ceilings – with grand, modernist spaces….
That’s the goal of this living gallery, of course, to show guests how different kinds of dimensional art fits into an environment and to give them permission and the encouragement to think out of the box to accommodate its human occupants.” Visit Still Crazy After All These Years at browngrotta arts. We will only be open for 10 days — April 22nd through April 30th; browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897; http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.
Pantone has revealed that “greenery” will be the Color of the Year for 2017. Pantone describes “greenery” as “a refreshing and revitalizing shade” that is “symbolic of new beginnings.”
With new beginnings in mind, here, in honor of January — are some green-themed artworks for you to view. Baskets, tapestries and mixed media sculpture–green can inspire works of all sorts, made of materials from glass beads to copper wire to Japanese paper.
We 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.
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.
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.
“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/.
We were pleased to catch up with Grethe Wittrock and fans of her work at the Fuller Craft Museum yesterday, to hear her speak and to celebrate the opening of her first solo exhibition the US.
The installation, of sails that Wittrock has re-purposed and re-envisioned, dyed and cut, is dramatic, its shifting shadows giving visitors a sense of being near the sea.
In her lecture, Wittrock spoke about this work and about her initial SAIL project at the Danish Arts Workshops using sails from the training vessel Georg Stage, which is moored at Holmen in Copenhagen in between cruises. Wittrock began by punching holes and tying knots through the sails to create designs and then transitioned to painting and dying them an finally to cutting sails and sailcloth to resemble bird wings.The maritime signal colors of neon orange and yellow are the dominating colors in the project, and patterns representing rope bindings, nautical maps and underwater seascapes are transferred by means of printing and perforation. Wittrock’s dual goal is to shape the material in accordance with her idea while also incorporating the potential and expression of the material itself. The SAIL project is based on a piece of age-old utilitarian textile that has served in all sorts of wind and weather conditions, and which is a carrier of stories from voyages to destinations near and far.
Wittrock explained that she grew up near a stony shore and sea and sky, stones and birds are consistent influences in her work.The exhibition, Grethe Wittrock: Nordic Currents, is at the Fuller through January 31, 2015, 455 Oak Street, Brockton, MA. http://fullercraft.org/event/nordic-currents-grethe-wittrock/
Last year we predicted that fiber art’s new-found popularity would continue into 2015. You need not take just our word for that — take the Wall Street Journal’s. Earlier this month, the paper identified fiber as the “Art World’ New Material Obsession,” http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-art-worlds-new-material-obsession-fiber-1439565675 and dubbed Sheila Hicks and Françoise Grossen “overlooked masters.” The short piece quotes Sheila Hicks, “I always joke that fiber is my alphabet. I can say an unlimited range of things.” (The Hicks’ work featured here, Color Alphabet Tapestry (1982), is an ideal example.) The New York Time’s review of Françoise Grossen’s long-awaited US survey exhibition, “Françoise Grossen, a Fabric Artist Inspired by Other Fields,”
review-francoise-grossen-a-fabric-artist-inspired-by-other-fields.html, adds additional context. The author, Martha Schwendener, quotes Grossen describing the approach of pathmaking fabric artists of the 60s, “First we broke with the rectangle, then we broke with the wall.” Interested in learning more? The contemporary art fabric movement is discussed (and illustrated) in our recent catalogs, Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, with essays by Jo Ann C. Stabb and Lesley Milar, MBE and Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now with an Essay by Ezra Shales, PhD
We are excited to be featured in the July issue of selvedge magazine. We have long been fans of the UK magazine, which is artfully designed with lush photos and creative illustrations, and, like browngrotta arts, economical in its use of capital letters. We have a large collection of back issues, stockpiled for reference and inspiration.
Issue 10 was a particular favorite, not surprisingly, with an insightful profile of Sue Lawty, “A rock and a slow pace” followed by an update on bamboo artwork by Nancy Moore Bess, “Mutual Admiration: Bamboo Has Inspired Artists Worldwide.” But we also loved the piece on fashion drawings in the letters of Jane Austen, “Detailed statements” in the Romance issue (34) and the introduction to Indian embroidery in Issue 00. The magazine is a great source of information about what’s current and what’s past in textile art and design, interiors, fashion — around the world. Founded by Polly Leonard in 2003, selvedge is intentionally produced “with the time, thought and skill” required in textile practice. The magazine ably succeeds in its aim of “see[ing] the world through a textile lens, but cast[ing] our eye far and wide looking for links between our subject and achievements in other fields from architecture to archeology”— in this case, as far as Wilton, Connecticut.
As we were preparing our Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do Two of a Kind exhibition in 2014, selvedge sent Rhonda Sonnenberg to interview us for a piece. Sonnenberg has written about fiber artists for some time, including Kate Anderson, Lisa Kokin and Fran Gardner, and we’ve talked shop with her at SOFAs in years past. Over the couple of hours she was in Wilton, we discussed with her the changes we have seen in the field in our two-dozen plus years promoting art textiles and we talked about some of the artists we were watching with interest. The conversation was a good prelude to our show that followed in 2015, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, in which we highlighted work by 15 of the newer-to-the field artists whose work we admire. The selvedge article, “Consuming Fibre,” features photographs of work by many browngrotta artists. You can buy a copy online, through the Selvedge store at: http://www.selvedge.org/shop/64-ageless.
A host of important exhibition featuring art textiles is in store this summer in Europe, the UK and Canada.
Rijswijk Textile Biennial 2015
May 9 – September 27th
Museum Rijswijk, the Netherlands
In the 2015 Textile Biennial, Museum Rijswijk is showing textile artworks by nineteen international artists including Caroline Bartlett and Ane Henriksen. Apart from the great diversity of textiles and applications, there are common threads evident among the participants this year. All the Submitted works provide material for thought and reflection. Vintage textile, wool, embroidery floss and flax are used in combination with techniques including weaving, cross-stitching and knitting to conjure up loving memories, melancholy or even alienation through a contemporary idiom. For more information, visit: http://www.textielfestival.nl/symposium/rijswijk/rijswijk.php.
Water-Land, International Competition
Leiden, the Netherlands
Fifty-four works were selected from 175 entries. Ceca Georgieva’s Memory from the Future was the only entry selected from Bulgaria Bulgaria and was awarded 3rd Prize. The jury wrote of Georgieva’s work that, “The use of the material, the thistles, is extraordinary surprising. It is a unique concept in an own technique. The fishes are worked on gauze, that holds the thistles together. It is worked with a lot of imagination. The tessellation shows a proper modesty, the open spaces are an essential part.”For more information, visit: http://www.textielfestival.nl/wedstrijden/genomineerden.php
Garnering critical acclaim is the Sonia Delaunay retrospective at Tate Modern in London. Delaunay (1885–1979) was a key figure in the Parisian avant-garde who became the European doyenne of abstract art. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, she celebrated the modern world of movement, technology and urban life, exploring new ideas about color theory together with her husband Robert Delaunay. The exhibition features a wide range of media — the groundbreaking paintings, textiles and clothes she made across a 60-year career. Can’t get to the exhibition? A comprehensive survey of her work, Sonya Delaunay, was published to accompany the exhibition. http://shop.tate.org.uk/exhibition-books/sonia-delaunay/invt/16460.
TWO WAYS-STUDIOS – Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and Claude Vermette: Crafters of Modern Québec
June 20 to October 12th
Contemporary Museum of Art, Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec, Canada
Two-Way Studios — Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and Claude Vermette: Crafters of Québec Modernity, invites visitors to wander through more than five decades of artistic creation. The art of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette (1926-2006) and Claude Vermette (1930-2006) offers a view of a way of life that emerged in Québec in the late 1950s. The work of the Rousseau-Vermettes most often in the form of murals or tapestries, were sometimes monumental and could readily be integrated in the architectural context. Their works, according to the Museum’s publicity, express a basic tenet of the “Révolution tranquille” that aligns cultural production with social progress. Throughout the 60s, these couple managed to merge modernist values and traditional craft, aiming to express a cultural identity that could be both ultra-contemporary and respectful of the past. For more information, visit: http://www.macbsp.com/exhib_tocome.aspx.
2015 Miniartextil Como
Everyone to the Table
May 9 – June 21st
Former Church of San Francesco
Lake Como / Milan, Italy
This year’s Miniartextil exhibition in the ex church of San Francesco at Como and in Villa Bernasconi in Cernobbio, is the 25th anniversary of the Miniartextil, the unique contemporary fiber art exhibition that annually takes place in Como, Italy and moves to Montrouge /Paris, Caudry and Venice. Fifty-four artists from 25 countries, including Anda Klancic of Slovenia, were invited to exhibit small works (20x20x20 cm). Several artists, including
Naoko Serino of Japan, were invited to create large-scale works for the Miniartextil. Serino’s work, Generating-12 can be viewed in the Villa Bernasconi in nearby Cernobbio, Italy. For more information, visit: http://www.miniartextil.it.
June 5- June 14th
Toms Pauli Foundation
Rumine Palace/Espace Artaud
The exhibition in Lausanne, presented by the Toms Pauli Foundation, recalls the prominent role played by the Lausanne Biennials (1962 – 1993) in the history of the New Tapestry, currently experiencing a revival in Paris, Wolfsburg, London and the US. Photographic prints large format give to see bold and monumental installations. At the Espace Arlaud, the public is invited to rediscover the production of Magdalena Abakanowicz, textile artist and Polish sculptor who exhibited in Lausanne and gained importance as one of the major figures of the New Tapestry. For more info: http://polemuseal.ch/media/filer/2015/05/04/150504_dp_objectif_gare_light.pdf
Opus & Light Year XVIII
May 30 – June 24th
Madonna del Pozzo, Porta Monterone,
Studio A87 in collaboration with Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive
Opus & Light features Installations of works, in this case White Shell, created by Federica Luzzi, that complement the specificity of the venue, which is decorated with a fresco cycle that encompasses an entire century of the history of Italian painting (1493-1600). “This place has given me immediately the particular detail of the apse in the altarpiece of Brera of Piero della Francesca — the shell which stands an egg hanging by a thread, slightly misaligned with respect to the median axis,” says Luzzi. For more information visit: http://www.artapartofculture.net/2015/05/30/white-shell-federica-luzzi/
Last year was an extraordinary one for those of us who appreciate contemporary art fiber and art textiles. More than 10 exhibitions opened in the US and abroad. In October, the art newspaper reported that “textiles are gaining international stature in art museums” and further that “[c]ommercial interest is on the rise,” quoting art advisor Emily Tsingou: “Textile [art] has entered the mainstream.” Soft Fabrics-Have Solid Appeal. Below is a roundup of exhibitions and reviews from last year and a guide to what to expect in 2015.
Mainstream attention began with the coverage of Sheila Hicks‘ inclusion
in the Whitney Biennial in March and was followed by coverage of the restoration of her remarkable 1960s tapestries at the Ford Foundation in New York Sheila Hicks Tapestries to Again Hang at Ford Foundation. In June, the Art Institute of Chicago’s textile galleries reopened, featuring 96-year-old Ethel Stein’s work, in Ethel Stein, Master Weaver.
September saw three fiber-related exhibitions; the Museum of Arts and Design opened What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision (closes
February 8, 2015), which featured significant textiles from the permanent collection by Anni Albers, Kay Sekimachi, Katherine Westphal, Ed Rossbach, Françoise Grossen and Trude Guermonprez, while The Drawing Center’s: Thread-Lines offered Anne Wilson creating fiber art in situ
together with a collection of works by Lenore Tawney, Louise Bourgeois and others. Contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, featured a series of large photographic weavings by Aleksandra Stoyanov of the Ukraine
and now Israel, described as “warp and weft paintings.”
In October, Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, opened at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston with works by 34 artists including
Magdalena Abakanowicz, Ritzi Jacobi and Naomi Kobayashi. The Boston Globe called the exhibition “[s]plendid, viscerally engaging…groundbreaking;” the exhibition catalog (available at browngrotta.com) was pronounced by Blouin art info, “an amazing resource for anyone interested in learning more about the medium.” Art Info – Art in the Air Fiber Sculpture 1960 Present October also saw a survey of the work of sculptor and poet, Richard Tuttle, at the Tate in London, Richard Tuttle:
I Don’t Know, Or The Weave of Textile Language in which Tuttle investigated the importance of textiles throughout history, across his remarkable body of work and into the latest developments in his practice. Tate Modern – Richard Tuttle I Don’t Know or Weave Textile Language
Throughout the year, Innovators and Legends, with work by 50 fiber
artists, including Adela Akers, Nick Cave, Katherine Westphal and Sherri Smith toured the US, exhibiting at museums in Colorado, Iowa and Kentucky. The fiber fanfest culminated at Art Basel in Miami Beach in December, where Blouin’s Art Info identified a full complement of fiber works and textiles in its listing, “Definitive Top 11 Booths, “ including Alexandra da Cunha’s compositions of mass-produced beach towels and various colored fabrics at Thomas Dane Gallery, a Rosemarie Trockel embroidered work at Galerie 1900-2000, marble and dyed-fabric pieces by Sam Moyer at Galerie Rodolphe Janssen and woven paintings by Brent Wadden at Mitchell-Innes & Nash Blouin Art info – The Definitive Top-11 Booths at Art Basel Miami Beach.
And what’s ahead in 2015?
More auctions and exhibitions that include fiber sculpture and art textiles are scheduled for 2015. Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present will
open at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio on February 7th and travel to the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa in May. Innovators and Legends will open at contemporary 108 in Tulsa, Oklahoma in February, as well. In April, the Tate in London will open The EY Exhibition: Sonia Delaunay, which will show how the artist
dedicated her life to experimenting with color and abstraction, bringing her ideas off the canvas and into the world through tapestry, textiles, mosaic and fashion.
Also in April, the Museum of Arts and Design will host Pathmakers:
In June, the Toms Pauli Foundation in Lausanne, Switzerland will celebrate the International Tapestry Biennials held there from 1962 to 1995 and display work by the Polish textile artist and sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz, in an exhibition entitled, Objective Station.
Quebec, Canada will examine the work of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, who participated in five of the Lausanne Biennials.
From April 24 – May 3, 2015, browngrotta arts will host Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now at our barn/home/gallery space in Wilton, Connecticut. In its 27-year history, browngrotta arts
has highlighted a group of artists – Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach and others – who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture. The influence of their experiments has been felt for decades. Influence and Evolution, Fiber Sculpture then and now, will explore that impact and examine how artists have used textile materials and techniques in the decades since, by juxtaposing works by artists who rebelled against tapestry tradition in the 60s, 70s and 80s,
including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lia Cook, Kay Sekimachi and Françoise Grossen, with works from a later generation of artists, all born after 1960, through whom fiber sculpture continues to evolve. These artists, including María Eugenia Dávila and Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela, Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium and Naoko Serino of Japan, work in a time when classification of medium and material presents less of a constraint and fiber and fiber techniques can be more readily explored for their expressive potential alone.
“It is rare to find so many inventive, compelling works in one show, and it astounds that many are so little known,” wrote Kirsten Swenson in Art in America, about Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present, in October 2014. Art in America Magazine – reviews: Fiber Sculpture 1960-present. This spring, in Influence and Evolution, browngrotta arts will offer dozens more significant works of fiber art for collectors to appreciate and new audiences to discover — more than two dozen works by fiber pioneers and another 30 more recent fiber explorations. We hope you will visit the exhibition, order the catalog or both. Please contact us for more information about what’s in store. email@example.com
It looks as if 2014 will be the year that contemporary fiber art finally gets the recognition and respect it deserves. For us, it kicked off at the Whitney Biennial in May which gave pride of place to Sheila Hicks’ massive cascade, Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column. Last month saw the opening of the influential Thread Lines, at The Drawing Center in New York featuring work by 16 artists who sew, stitch and weave. Now at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the development of abstraction and dimensionality in fiber art from the mid-twentieth century through to the present is examined in Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present from October 1st through January 4, 2015. The exhibition features 50 works by 34 artists, who crisscross generations, nationalities, processes and aesthetics. It is accompanied by an attractive companion volume, Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present available at browngrotta.com.
There are some standout works in the exhibition — we were thrilled to see Naomi Kobayashi’s Ito wa Ito (1980) and Elsi Giauque’s Spatial Element (1989), on loan from European museums, in person after admiring them in photographs. Anne Wilson’s Blonde is exceptional and Ritzi Jacobi and Françoise Grossen are represented by strong works, too, White Exotica (1978, created with Peter Jacobi) and Inchworm, respectively.
Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present will tour nationally to the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio (January 30 – April 5, 2015), the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa (May 8, 2015 – August 2, 2015) and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston (August 22, 2015 — November 29, 2015). You can also see Innovators and Legends, which has traveled across the country in the last two years, at 108 Contemporary, Tulsa Oklahoma in January 2015. And not to be outdone, browngrotta arts will open Influence and Evolution next April 24, 2015 in Wilton, Connecticut. Influence and Evolution will also celebrate experimenters in fiber while exploring how the use of textile materials and techniques has evolved, showing early works — from the 60s, 70s and 80s — by Sheila Hicks, Ed Rossbach, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Françoise Grossen, alongside work created after 2000 by both influencers like Ritzi Jacobi, Naomi Kobayashi and Ferne Jacobs and by a later generation of artists, including Stéphanie Jacques, Gizella Warburton and Naoko Serino. Influence and Evolution, will run through May 3, 2015 and will be accompanied by a full-color catalog.
Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present aims to create a sculptural dialogue, an art dialogue — not one about craft, ICA Mannion Family Senior Curator Jenelle Porter explained in an opening-night conversation with Glenn Adamson, Director, Museum of Arts and Design. On that score, we think it succeeds — go and see for yourself. Let us know what you think.
And watch this space for more about Influence and Evolution.
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