For our 30th Anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years of Art, Hisako Sekijima provided us Structural Discussion VI, a work made in 2016. In 1994, the first year Sekijima showed with browngrotta arts, we sold another work from the Structural Discussion series, #312, which she had made 30 years before in 1987. Even as she addresses a single theme, Sekijima’s use of varied materials and approaches makes the results of these explorations remarkably diverse.
“In the 40 years I have been working with baskets, my concerns have extended beyond basket topics toward sculptural ones. Not only I have used rather common basket materials including tree barks, vines, splints of bamboo or woods, but also I have chosen extended concepts of vessel forms with negative spaces and linear constructions. Both of my aesthetic and technical ideas such as revaluing negative space and examining the natural property of materials are illustrated in my explorations into the nature and history of basketmaking. It brings me a deeper understanding of physical rules of interplay among materials’ property, constructing method and a form, while it brings me a tactility or real touch of abstract ideas of numbers/counting, time, order, and etc. With coordination of hands, spirits and sense, physical experiences and conceptual ones come together in baskets.
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.
From September 16th to November 4, 2016, the Bendheim Gallery of the Greenwich Arts Council in Greenwich, Connecticut will present Contemporary Art Influenced by Korea and Japan: An Unexpected Approach, curated by browngrotta arts. The exhibition includes select works of ceramics, textiles, baskets and sculptures by artists from Japan, Korea and the United States that each reflect an Asian sensibility.
The 23 artists in this exhibit have a close relationship to a traditional craft aesthetic, manifested in a contemporary manner. They have chosen conventionally Asian materials and/or techniques (dyes, papers, gold leaf, persimmon tannin, kategami) used in both time-honored and unconventional ways. Examples include studies by Hiroyuki Shindo of the vanishing art of natural indigo dyeing and by Jun Tomita on ikat dyeing. Jennifer Linssen’s innovative sculptures of katagami and Keiji Nio’s Interlacing-R, which references complex Japanese sumihimo braiding reimagine conventional techniques. Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi, Naoko Serino and Kyoko Kumai also create new relationships among disparate material and techniques.
In other works, like Kiyomi Iwata’s Auric Gold Fold, Glen Kaufman’s Shimogamo Scrolls: Studio View II and Jin-Sook So, Pojagi Constructions I and II, gold and silver leaf play a role, their luster and longevity suggesting immortality, power, divinity. The artists share a concern for surface and material interaction, evident in Chiyoko Tanaka’s Grinded Fabric-Three Squares Blue Threads and Blue #689, of linen distressed with earth and stones, Hideho Tanaka’s Vanishing and Emerging series of stainless steel and singed paper and Mariyo Yagi’s twisted rope sculpture, A cycle-Infinity. The artists in Contemporary Art Influenced by Korea and Japan: An Unexpected Approach create work that is formal and contained while visibly involving the hand of the artist. This exhibition is a collaboration between the Greenwich Arts Council and browngrotta Arts.
Nancy Moore Bess (United States); Pat Campbell (United States); Kiyomi Iwata (Japan); Glen Kaufman (United States); Masakazu Kobayashi (Japan); Naomi Kobayashi (Japan); Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan); Kyoko Kumai (Japan); Jennifer Falck Linssen (United States); Keiji Nio (Japan); Toshio Sekiji (Japan); Hisako Sekijima (Japan); Naoko Serino (Japan); Hiroyuki Shindo (Japan); Jin-Sook So (Korea/Sweden); Norkiko Takamiya (Japan); Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan); Hideho Tanaka (Japan); Takaaki Tanaka (Japan); Jun Tomita (Japan); Mariyo Yagi (Japan); Chang Yeonsoon (Korea); Jiro Yonezawa (Japan); Shin Young-ok (Korea).
The Bendheim Gallery is located at 299 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut; 203.862.6750; firstname.lastname@example.org.
In less than two weeks, browngrotta will open its 2016 Art in the Barn exhibition, Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid Career. This year’s exhibition brings together “baby boomers,” 33 artists born between 1946 and 1964, who are mid-way into their lives of making art. We’ve asked them to provide us work that is reflective; work that tells us where they’ve come from or where they hope to go; work that illustrates influences, roads not taken, and the like. Or, work that reflects on being a boomer, perhaps— part of the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to that time and the first to grow up genuinely expecting the world to improve. It was a generation that created music and literature in the 60s and art — including fiber art — to describe the change this generation was determined to bring about.
The results are contemplative and thought provoking. Ceca Georgieva’s sculpture, The Iron Curtain, reflects her life in a Communist and post-Communist state. Karyl Sisson’s In Stitches, harkens back to her family’s past in New York’s Fashion industry — her grandmother made hats and beaded bags in New York’s lower East side; her mother spent 25 years as a buyer for the specialty store Bonwit Teller. For Lewis Knauss, this stage of his career means seeing unrealized ideas (sketches, notes, photos) and failed work in a new light. “I am happier with chaos,” he says, “the way I need to give up a bit more control of the outcome, flaws and in nature, the beauty of disaster. I guess it is acknowledging the approaching wall. I enjoy working at my pace rather than a deadline enforced one, allowing things to just happen, evaluating the outcomes as I finish each work. Keeping and discarding.” The Artist’s Opening for Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid-Career is Saturday, April 30th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. The hours of the exhibition from May 1st through May 8th are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — just call if you’d like to come by earlier or later: 203.834.0623. browngrotta arts’ contemporized 1895 barn is at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. For more information and a complete list of artists visit browngrotta.com: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. A catalog, Artboom: Celebrating Artists Mid-Century, Mid-Career will be available from browngrotta.com after May 1st.
In honor of National Trails Day, http://www.nationaltrailsday.org on June 6th we’re publishing — belatedly — this post about visiting Jiro Yonezawa last summer at Haystack in Deer Isle, Maine, which features miles of beach and wooded hiking trails. Last month, Jiro received a Special Prize at the Japan Contemporary Craft Exhibition held at the National New Art Museum in Tokyo. Jiro’s was the only work of bamboo to be awarded a prize.
We’ve brought you several artist and student reports from the Haystack School of Crafts in Maine http://www.haystack-mtn.org/index.php in previous posts on arttextstyle. (Visit: David Ling http://arttextstyle.com/2014/02/06/dispatches-david-ling-haystack-school-crafts-deer-isle-maine/; Hisako Sekijima http://arttextstyle.com/guest-post-hisako-sekijima/; Nancy Moore Bess http://arttextstyle.com/guest-posts/ to get a good sense of the Haystack experience.) Last August, we had the chance to visit Haystack ourselves as we were vacationing in nearby Stonington, Maine. Haystack is in a glorious location and we visited on a crystalline day. Jiro Yonezawa’s
Bamboo Weaving Techniques and Decoration class was kind enough to let us interrupt. The students were excited and engaged and grateful for Jiro’s generous teaching. One described his helping her until 1 a.m. that morning. Each student had interesting and accomplished works to show for his or her time there. Carter is now angling to attend a session. Other art-y activities we enjoyed on our trip: the terrific Turtle Gallery in Deer Isle http://www.turtlegallery.com; the sprawling sculpture center created by Peter Beerits at Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies in Deer Isle http://www.nervousnellies.com/peter-beerits-sculpture/ and the creatively curated collection of buoys and locks and knots and ropes at the Marlinspike Chandlery in Stonington http://www.marlinespike.com/marlinespike_chandlery.html. The locale offers art appreciation, hiking, kayaking, great eating, and, as always, a great time was had by all.
This April’s exhibition at browngrotta arts, includes 15 artists whose work we believe shows the experimental approach to materials and methods that characterized the fiber art movement in its early days, in the the 1960s. Six of these 15, Anda Klancic, Stéphanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, and Randy Walker are not new to browngrotta arts, but they do epitomize an approach that deftly combines exploration and technical mastery. Anda Klancic of Slovenia for example, has won awards and holds patent on the techniques she has developed to create lace-like works using a sewing machine. Naoko Serino of Japan blows air into jute to create surprisingly luminous, magical forms. Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium is an innovative sculptor in willow and clay, who also uses photography, video and performance to explore larger questions of identity. As one observer wrote “watch her voids and shadows carefully as they are rich with meaning.” Susie Gillespie of the UK combines natural materials, including hand-spun nettle, with a novel mix of techniques, broken borders, insets and slits and twining, to create works with a sense of earth, stone, vegetation and decomposition, that
appear old, yet feel new. Throughout her career, of Chile has investigated and adapted traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques. Her highly accomplished, abstract weavings are austere and sensual at the the same time. American artist, Randy Walker, takes an architectural approach, creating interesting and elegant constructions that use fine threads, cords and ropes to re-envision humble found objects.
Recent works by this diverse group of artists will be featured in Influence and Evolution, Fiber sculpture…then and now, at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut from April 24th – May 3rd. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 1pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier than 10am or later than 5pm, call: 203-834-0623.
The role of Eastern European and US artists in challenging tapestry traditions in the 1960s is well documented. By the mid-70s, however, artists from in Japan were gaining attention for own fiber experiments. Among the most prominent, a Kyoto couple, Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi. Both were invited to the prestigious 7th Lausanne Biennial of International in 1975. In her historical essay, “The Lausanne Tapestry Biennials,” (16th Lausanne International Biennial: Criss-Crossings, 1995, pp. 36-53), Erika Billeter says Masakazu’s work of wires undulating like
waves was “ particularly noticeable.” This she describes as “neither a mural tapestry, nor a sculpture, nor an an object. It is simply textile.” She describes Naomi’s work at the Biennial as similarly thought provoking — a piece laid on the ground made of white juxtaposed pyramids. “[J]ust how dominant the Japanese were in producing thread structures is apparent in the works by Masakazu Kobayashi. “ Billeter has written elsewhere. His woven Waves in dyed threads rank[s] among the most perfect in aesthetic effectiveness ever produced by contemporary weaving….This Japanese way of conjuring up such transparency with threads, of perceiving the thread itself as something creative is highly artistic. They celebrate aesthetic beauty in a way no one can elude.” From “Textile Art and the Avant-garde,” Erika Billeter (Contemporary Textile Art: the Collection of the Pierre Pauli Association, Benteli, Bern / Fondation Toms Pauli, Lausanne, 2000, pp. 52-65.)
Works by Naomi Kobayahsi and Masakazu Kobayashi (who died in 2004) will be included in Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now at browngrotta arts, Wilton, Connecticut from April 24th through May 3rd. They include a wave work by Masakazu, and two small pyramids by Naomi. These works will be joined by another four dozen works, some by artists prominent in the 60s and 70s and others by artists born in 1960 or after, who have continued experiments in fiber. Influence and Evolution, which opens at 1pm on April 24th. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 1pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier or later, call: 203-834-0623.
Three years ago, browngrotta arts facilitated correspondence between artist Naomi Kobayashi and author (and collector) William Bayer about the artist’s technique of weaving paper strips with thread. Bayer envisioned a character in a novel weaving a message into her work, which another character would deconstruct to de-code. Naomi provided technical advice — yes, it could be done and the message could be read, if the weaver used oil-based ink. Flash forward to 2014.
Bayer’s book, Hiding in the Weave, is off the word processor and on the shelves. Written from the perspective of 18-year-old Joel Barlev, a senior at Delamere, a school geared to talented young artists, the novel plays off themes typically found in classic boarding school novels — requited and unrequited romance, alienation, rebellion, sexuality, moral dilemmas and evolving maturity. Joel, a gifted ceramic artist, finds himself falling in love with Liv Anders, a talented weaver, who observes: “You gouge your pots to show your pain to the world. I hide my pain in the weave.” It turns out there is something more tangible hidden in one of Liv’s abstract weavings, and when tragedy strikes, Joel and his two best friends, Justin and Kate, feel compelled to uncover it. Naomi Kobayashi’s work graces the cover; her art informs the content. Get a copy at browngrotta.com.
Several artists represented by browngrotta arts are included in exhibitions in Europe and the US this Spring. Among the largest is Artapestry3 at the Jean-Lurçat Museum of Contemporary Tapestry in Angers, France. This is the third is edition of Artapestry3, an initiative launched by the European Tapestry Forum (ETF). The event contemporary offers visitors an unusual perspective by aligning the works of 25 international textile artists, including Ane Hendricksen and Grethe Sørensen, with the Museum’s collection, which includes work by such artists as Paul Klee, Alexander Calder, Thomas Gleb, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Jean Lurçat. Also included in the exhibition are examples of traditional tapestry works whose iconographic repertory has inspired contemporary creation. The exhibition is structured around nine major themes that enable comparisons between the contemporary pieces that form part of Artapestry3 and the more traditional works from the Angers’ collections. Among these themes, in the Vitality section, a visitor may discover the Red Sun tapestry by Alexander Calder (1919-1976) alongside the lively motifs of Ariadna Donner’s The wolf crossed the road. In the Object section, visitors can admire Temps passé by Pierre Daquin (1936) next to Ivete Vecenáne’s The Bowl. The exhibition runs through May 18th. For more information visit the event website: musees.angers.fr/expositions/en-ce-moment/artapestry3-angers-allers-retours/artapestry3-angers-allers-retours/index.html.
Fiber Futures: Pioneers of Japanese Textile Art, continues its travels. It is open at c art c., the Computense Art Center in Madrid, Spainthrough May 18, 2014. The exhibition features Japan’s most important contemporary textile artists, including, Naoko Serino, Hideho Tanaka, Kiyomi Iwata, Naomi Kobayashi, Hisako Sekijima and Kyoko Kumai. For more information visit: www.ucm.es/fiber-future.
In the US, in Mesa, Arizona, Norikko Takamiya and Jennifer Falck Linssen join an inventive group of artists working with paper.Fold, Paper, Scissors runs through August 10, 2014 at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. The Opening Reception is Friday, May 9th from 7 to 10 p.m. (We’ll be there!) The Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum at Mesa Arts Center is at One East Main Street, Downtown Mesa, Arizona, for more information, call: 480-644-6560 or visit: www.MesaArtsCenter.com.
Lia Cook’s work is the subject of a one-person exhibition at the Drapers Gallery in Liege, Belgium. Lia Cook: Icons Jacquard highlights faces woven in large scale on a Jacquard loom. For more information visit the Gallery’s site: www.lesdrapiers.be/events/lia-cook.