Category: Japanese Art

Don’t Miss – 10 Days Only: Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT

This Saturday, April 26th, marks the opening of Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. Open for just 10 days, Of Two Minds features 25 international artists working in a a variety of media, including, glass, wood, watercolor, metal and fiber. The artists in the exhibition show remarkable range, working in different mediums, mastering different techniques and materials and creating complementary or contrasting works along the way. “Painters paint, sculptors sculpt, but the textile and mixed media artists in Of Two Minds are less restricted by material or technique,” explains browngrotta arts’ co-curator, Tom Grotta. “Represented in major museums, these artists weave, plait, knit, crochet, stitch and felt and also carve, construct, draw, dye, weld and paint.” Each artist in Of Two Minds has provided at least two contrasting works — several will exhibit more than two.

Detail of MarianBijlenga installation of glass and fiber, photo by Tom Grotta

Detail of MarianBijlenga installation of glass and fiber, photo by Tom Grotta

Marian Bijlenga, of the Netherlands, has sent a stitched work of horsehair, one of fish scales, a wall assemblage of glass “doodles” resulting from her glass experiments and also two glass sculptures.

Tissus d’ombres, detail, Stéphanie Jacques’,photo by Tom Grotta

Tissus d’ombres, detail, Stéphanie Jacques’,photo by Tom Grotta

Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium exhibits clay-coated and textile-edged woven baskets, with wood-worked bases along with a stitched photographic print.

Vanishing and Emerging installation detail by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Vanishing and Emerging installation detail by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Hideho Tanaka of Japan combines a large patched linen weaving with sculptures of torched paper and steel.

detail of Lawrence LaBianca installation from Of Two Minds, photo by Tom Grotta

detail of Lawrence LaBianca installation from Of Two Minds, photo by Tom Grotta

Lawrence LaBianca of California exhibits works combining glassblowing, prints, wood and metal work. LaBianca’s Skiff is interactive, when a viewer picks up the phone, he or she can hear the rushing river that inspired the work. The full list of participating artists is:
Dona Anderson (US),  Dorothy Gill Barnes ( US),  Dail Behennah (UK),  Nancy Moore Bess (US),  Marian Bijlenga (NL),  Birgit Birkkjaer (DK),  Gali Cnaani (IL),  Agneta Hobin (FI),  Stéphanie Jacques (BE),  Tamiko Kawata (JP),  Naomi Kobayashi (JP),  Kyoko Kumai (JP),  Lawrence LaBianca(US),  Gyöngy Laky(US),  Sue Lawty (UK),  John McQueen (US),  Norma Minkowitz (US),  Scott Rothstein (US),  Axel Russmeyer (DE),  Hisako Sekijima (JP),  Karyl Sisson (US),  Jin-Sook So (JP),  Hideho Tanaka (JP),  Deborah Valoma (US) and Grethe Wittrock (DK).

Wave Hill Bread

Wave Hill Breads

The Artists Reception and Opening begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Several of the artists will be in attendance including, Tamiko Kawata (US),  Norma Minkowitz (US) , Sue Lawty (UK) and John McQueen (US). We’ll also be tasting artisan breads from Wave Hill Breads. From Sunday the 27th through Sunday, May 4th, our hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Call us at 203-834-0623 if you wish to come earlier or later. We are at work on a catalog for the exhibition which you can purchase at bga or online after May 1st. For more information visit: http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php.


Objects of Desire Gift Guide: Part 3 -The Natural Order

Choose among baskets, sculptures and wall works of natural materials including wood bark, cockle burrs, leaves and feathers.

Natural Order Objects

1) HAYSTACK RIVER BASKET, Dorothy Gill Barnes
early river teeth, 14.5″ x 21″ x 16″, 2011

2) PANIER-MAISON II, Stéphanie Jacques
wood, willow, raw clay coated and limewash, 16.5″ x 21.25″ x 21.25″, 2010

3) MARAG, Lizzie Farey
willow, wax and galloway pebble, 
16.5″ x 11.5″ x 11.5″, 2006

4) GUARDIAN II, Jan Buckman
waxed linen and hawthorne branches, 
27″ x 7.5″ x 7″, 2002

5) BIRD BRAIN, John Mcqueen
woven willow twigs, waxed string , 26″ x 23.5″ x 23″, 2002

6) CAMPHOR, Lawrence LaBianca
glass with photo, branch, steel, 12″ x 22″ x 7″, 1999

7) EMU, Virginia Kaiser
pine needles, Emu feathers, stitched with linen, 14″ x 5″ x 5″, 2011

8) PUSSY WILLOW XIIII, Markku Kosonen
willow, 8″ x 12″ x 12″, 1996

9) LEAF BOWL, Kay Sekimachi
skeleton of big leaf maple, 8″ x 5″ x 5″, 2011

10) FITTINGS V, Hisako Sekijima
cherry and maple, 
8″ x 10″ x 9″, 1999

11) CRADLE TO CRADLE, Gyöngy Laky
apple, commercial wood, screws, 16 x 30″ x 30″, 2007

12) CHINESE LANTERN, Ceca Georgieva
burdock burrs, chinese lantern, 16” x 8.25” x 4.75”, 2012

13) MOTHER  & CHILD, Dawn MacNutt
twined willow, 
36″ x 9″ x 9″, 2009, $3,000

47db TWENTY FIVE SQUARES14) TWENTY -FIVE SQUARES, Dail Behennah
willow silver plated pins, 
37.5″ x 37.5″ x 3″, 2007


Objects of Desire Gift Guide: Part Two — Spheres of Influence

A selection of rounds, orbs, spheres and circles in different sizes made from a myriad of materials, including paper, safety pins and silk.

Sheres of Influence
1) OVER EASY, Dona Anderson
paper armature covered with pattern paper as surface design. Frame (cover) is rounds reeds strengthened with pattern paper, polymer and black paint, 10″ x 14″ x 14″ , 2011

2) SMALL WILLOW BOWL, Dail Behennah
white willow, silver-plated pins, 9″ x 9″ x 9″, 2007

3) A BEGINNING, Kyoko Kumai
stainless steel filaments, 7” x 7” x 7”, 2007

4) AIR, Christine Joy
Rocky Mountain Maple with encaustic finish, 9.84″ x 9.84″ x 9.84″, 2012

5) REVOLVING SIX ELEMENTS KYOUGI, Noriko Takamiya,
hinoki inner thin splint, 6″ x 6.75″ x 6″, 2012

6) BLUE SPOOLS SCULPTURE, Axel Russmeyer
bobbins, wood, copper wire
,, 4″ x 10″ x 10″, 2008

7) GOLDEN CRATER, Norma Minkowitz
mixed media, 18″ x 18″ x 18″, 2009

8) EUCALYPTUS BARK POD IN WOOD FRAME I Valerie Pragnell, 
eucalyptus bark, clay and bees  wax in wood frame, 
19″ x 15.5″ x 16″, 2001

9)  SILVER SPHERE,Tamiko Kawata
saftey pins,14″ x 14″ x 14″, 2004

SPHERES OF INFLUENCE

10) WARP IKAT SPIRAL, Ed Rossbach
3’ X 9’, 1962

11) HOMMAGE Á ROTHKOMariette Rousseau-Vermette
wool87″ x 84.5″, 1979

12) PODROZ (Journey) from the Kolodia seriesAgnieszka  Ruszczynska-Szafranska
linen, sisal, wool60″ x 56″, 1986


Guest Post: Hisako Sekijima

Hisako Sekijima at Haystack School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine

photo by Meghan Price

photo by Meghan Price

In my morning check of e-mail in early September, I was happily reconnected with Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine by a message from Meghan Price, asking “Flexible Minds!” to share her memorable photographs of Haystack 2013. Meghan is a textile artist from Toronto who assisted me in the basketry workshop I presented there this summer. The workshop, Strong Materials and Flexible Minds, ran from August 11th to 23rd. It was my fourth workshop at Haystack and my second with Meghan’s assistance.

Basketmaking at Haystack with Hisako Sekijima 2013

photo by Meghan Price

In this summer’s workshop there were fourteen people working hard in a spacious woodshop overlooking a Maine spruce forest and bay; twelve participants from Canada, Japan, Israel, Denmark and the US. The class members were diverse in nationality, age, professional career and skill level, but homogeneous in other ways – all female, flexible minded, friendly and diligent. I enjoyed working with them greatly and I appreciated that Haystack gave us such an enjoyable temporary community of art. It is wonderful that Haystack has retained for many years its beautiful location, thoughtful management and sustainable considerations for the environment, along with a highly stimulating artistic atmosphere. I admire even more the numberless individuals and groups whose innovative effort and contributions have enabled Haystack to remain unchanged for its long history.

Hisako Sekijima Lecturing her class at Haystack, photo by Meghan Price

Hisako Sekijima Lecturing her class at Haystack, photo by Meghan Price

photo by Meghan Price

photo by Meghan Price

I have designed my workshops as very experimental as well as hands-on. I assign a small number of basic problems of basketmaking that participants are expected to explore by themselves. I expect participants to encounter additional problems and challenges unique to each of them in the process of seeking a resolution to the problem assigned. I entitled the workshop at Haystack this summer Strong Materials and Flexible Minds, in order to convey clearly my intent to encourage participants to re-conceive basketmaking in terms of the relationship of a maker to the materials.  Participants would re-evaluate already acquired techniques and common ideas while taking a fresh look at the materials domain as well as nonmaterial factors such as negative space. From alternative viewpoints, we reviewed familiar tools/devices. In short, the workshop was to help one learn again or “un-learn” what one thinks one knows.

photo by Meghan Price

photo by Meghan Price

The group photograph shows the happy class after finishing an improvised installation with various pieces plaited in paper tapes cut from old Haystack posters. The layout on the table reads “H-A-Y-S-T-A-C-K.” Why are they happy? Because they have gained confidence: “I can make any form in plaiting by myself!” The exercise involved an exploration of plaiting. I taught them only how to make a square with three strands and left it to them to find from there how to make various forms. Some did so very easily. Some struggled. But I waited until each had mastered it herself. The next morning, I discussed the outcome, bringing attention to various resolutions that could achieve the same form.  and explained that their development would lead to further differences. Everyone was amazed that the same form had emerged, but had not always been accomplished in the same way.  That is, everyone realized that each could create in her own way if not taught to apply only a single method by a teacher. Everyone came to feel her own way – not only worth her patience but also more meaningful to her. The photograph shows the joy of achieving a challenge, on students’ part as well as a teacher’s.

Hisako Sekijima  photo by Meghan

Hisako Sekijima
photo by Meghan

Hisako Sekijima Yokohama, Japan


Vanishing and Emerging: Hideho Tanaka’s Retrospective in Tokyo

photo by Tom Grotta

In 2012, the Musashino Art University Museum & Library, Tokyo, Japan hosted, Hideho Tanaka Retrospective: Vanishing and Emerging, an exhibition commemorating the retirement of craft and industrial design professor, Hideho Tanaka. The exhibition featured Tanaka’s signature sculptures made of industrial fibers. In 1985, Tanaka reformulated his notions about the nature of fiber.

VANISHING & EMERGING 2009 I, stainless steel and paper, 22 x 21cm, photo by tanaka nahoshi

VANISHING & EMERGING 2009 I, stainless steel and paper, 22 x 21cm, photo by Jun Sanbonmatsu

Since then, he explained, as part of the Beyond the Surface: Japanese Style of Making Things, he shifted his form of expression “from a longing for eternity to an embracing of things born of relationships that incessantly change and develop.” Why cloth and fiber? Tanaka explains that, “in those days I was constantly inquiring into the nature of material attractions and the necessities of expression. I then became interested in creative forms peculiar to fiber materials, which emerge in time and space and yet which also metamorphose and disappear. This was also part of my realization that there was a kind of fascination in the hierarchy that places accidentals beneath conscious things. The creation of a contrast between what vanishes and what remains, and the moving of this indoors, allows me certain special kinds of expression.

VANISHING 1995 Ⅰ Hideho Tanaka, stainless steel and paper, 27.5" x 59" x 59", photo by tanaka nahoshi

VANISHING 1995 Ⅰ
Hideho Tanaka, stainless steel and paper, 27.5″ x 59″ x 59″, photo by Jun Sanbonmatsu

These have developed into experiments in the intervention of fire into a combination of stainless steel wire (a contemporary inorganic material), and linen (an organic material).” The exhibition was accompanied by a 91-page catalog, Hideho Tanaka Retrospective: Vanishing and Emerging, which is available of $39.95 from browngrotta arts.


Intercultural Approaches: Artfully Connected at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo

Artfully Connected

Artfully Connected artists and Swedish Ambassador Lars Vargö.

Earlier this year, the Embassy of Sweden in Tokyo presented Artfully Connected, a look at Sweden through the eyes of  an exciting group of artists from Japan, Korea, Sweden and the US, curated by artist

Eva Vargo Download me Korean paper cord, Korean old book paper, Japanese ink 48 x 48 cm, 2012

Eva Vargö, Download me (photo: Eric Micotto)
Korean paper cord, Korean old book paper, Japanese ink
48 x 48 cm, 2012

Eva Vargö. The artists who participated were: Young Soon CHA, Korea (Fiber),

CHO-Hikaru

CHO Hikaru, Every thing is not what it seems, Acrylic painting (Photo: Hikaru Cho), 60 × 42 cm, 2013

Hikaru CHO, Japan (Photos and videos), Miwha OH, Korea (Metalsmith – Jewelry), Hisako SEKIJIMA, Japan (Basketmaker),

Jin-Sook So, View the Storsjön (Photo: Pack Myung Re) Steel mesh, electroplated silver, gold painted acrylic color, 90 x 42 x 9 cm, 2012

Jin-Sook So, View the Storsjön (Photo: Pack Myung Re)
Steel mesh, electroplated silver, gold painted acrylic color, 90 x 42 x 9 cm, 2012

Jin-Sook SO, Sweden/Korea (Paintings on steel mesh), Naoki TAKEYAMA, Japan (Enamelled works on copper), Eva VARGÖ, Sweden(Paper weaving and paper Objects),

Lisa VERSHBOW Corsages, six brooches on a stand, Silver, Copper with color pencil patina and wet-felted wool Installation – 21 x 67 x 3 cm, (each brooch approx. 14 x 3 x 1 cm), 2013

Lisa Vershbow, Corsages (photo: Eric Micotto) six brooches on a stand, Silver, Copper with color pencil patina and wet-felted wool, Installation – 21 x 67 x 3 cm, (each brooch approx. 14 x 3 x 1 cm), 2013

Lisa VERSHBOW, USA (Metalsmith – jewelry). Click the links on each name and you can read a brief “story” about the artists and the influence Sweden had on their works.

Hisako Sekijima SE, Kudzu vine, 33 x 20 x 17 cm, 2013

Hisako Sekijima
SE (photo: Eric Micotto) Kudzu vine, 33 x 20 x 17 cm, 2013

Hisako Sekijima, for example, describes the map of Sweden she found on the internet as influencing, SE, the basket she created for the exhibitionHikaru Cho’s Every Thing Is Not As it Seems speaks to discrimination.”We always bear prejudice and a sense of discrimination somewhere inside,” says the artist in her story. “Often, we don’t even notice it. I have experienced it many times while living in Japan with Chinese nationality. People differentiate the own ethnic group from others in order to strengthen the solidarity.” You can read more about Cho, in the Asahi Shimbun article, “Japan-born artist turns her eye to discrimination,” by Louis Templado, June 14, 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/people/AJ201306140011. The Embassy also teamed up with well-known Swedish cameramaker Hasselblad to create a behind-the-scenes video, filmed by Eric Micotto, that you can view here: http://vimeo.com/65644600.


In Memoriam: Mutsumi Iwasaki

photos by Tom Grotta

photos by Tom Grotta

Japanese artist Mutsumi Iwasaki passed away on April 11, 2013. browngrotta arts has promoted Mutsumi’s meticulously constructed forms since 2006. After working as a textile artist for nearly two decades, in 1998, Iwasaki began making both baskets and her own paper. In 2000, her new work was included in the influential In Our Hands Exhibition, in Nagoya, Japan. “I make works in which elements are “piled,” she explained in our 2011 catalog, Stimulus: Art and Its Inception. “They are like small boxes of air and a record of the everyday. I use washi paper that I make myself as the main material. When I use commercial paper I feel the difference in the material.” An illustrated interview with Iwasaki in Japanese appears at: http://www.isogaya.co.jp/artist/iwasaki-mutsumi/iwasaki-m-rireki.htm. With the help of an online translator, you can learn a bit more about her approach, which included adding paraffin to paper made of Japanese mulberry to create thickness. “I liked that the experiment changed the look of the material,” Iwasaki told interviewer, Jinnai Ritsuko in 2008.

photos by Tom grotta

photos by Tom grotta


In Honor of Asia Week: Eight More Japanese Artists

Among the museum offerings in Asia Week New York 2013 is the Guggenheim’s No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia, through May 22nd.The first exhibition in the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative features work by 22 artists and collectives representing some of the most compelling and innovative voices in South and Southeast Asia today. No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia revokes national borders as limits to understanding, revealing in their place networks of influence and resistance. It will be followed by art from Latin America and the Middle East. At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 5th Avenue (at 89th Street), New York, New York. And, as our last tribute to Asia Week, the work of eight more artists from Japan — basketmakers, weavers and a ceramist.

Revolving Gaps Between 03 by Noriko Takamiya, photo by Tom Grotta

Revolving Gaps Between 03 by Noriko Takamiya, photo by Tom Grotta

Norkiko Takamiya (Japan)

Four Squares by Chiyoko Tanaka, photo by Tom grotta

Four Squares by Chiyoko Tanaka, photo by Tom grotta

Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan)

Vanishing: Emerging 1, 3 & 4 by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Vanishing: Emerging 1, 3 & 4 by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Hideho Tanaka (Japan)

A Harden Nest by Takaaki Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

A Harden Nest by Takaaki Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Takaaki Tanaka (Japan)

Imyo by Tsuruko Tanikawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Imyo by Tsuruko Tanikawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Tsuruko Tanikawa (Japan)

Kasuri Panels by Jun Tomita, photo by Tom Grotta

Kasuri Panels by Jun Tomita, photo by Tom Grotta

Jun Tomita (Japan)

Untitled by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Untitled by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Jiro Yonezawa (Japan)

Kuu 410 and 441 by Masako Yoshida, photo by Tom Grotta

Kuu 410 and 441 by Masako Yoshida, photo by Tom Grotta

Masako Yoshida (Japan)


In Honor of Asia Week: Seven More Japanese Artists

Traditionally, art of Asia Week New York has been Asian Contemporary Art Week. This spring, Asian Contemporary Art Week extends beyond its usual week-long format to last an entire season, capturing the best of contemporary art from Asia in New York. A complete list of contemporary offerings, which includes Bomb Ponds, Vandy Rattana’s installation of photographs and video that explores the U.S. bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, is found on the ACAW webiste at http://www.acaw.info/?page_id=2062. Here is a selection of wall and three-dimensional work by seven more contemporary Japanese artists.

Large Silk Akiha Devider by Chiaki Maki,  photo by Tom Grotta

Large Silk Akiha Devider by Chiaki Maki, photo by Tom Grotta

Chiaki Maki (Japan)

Large Tassar Spun Silk and Wool by Kaori Maki, photo by Tom Grotta

Large Tassar Spun Silk and Wool by Kaori Maki, photo by Tom Grotta

Kaori Maki (Japan)

Large Interlacing-R by Keiji Nio, photo by Tom grotta

Large Interlacing-R by Keiji Nio, photo by Tom grotta

Keiji Nio (Japan)

Shadow Alphabet by Toshio Sekiji, photo by Tom Grotta

Shadow Alphabet by Toshio Sekiji, photo by Tom Grotta

Toshio Sekiji (Japan)

A Hole to See II by Hisako Sekijima, photo by Tom Grotta

A Hole to See II by Hisako Sekijima, photo by Tom Grotta

Hisako Sekijima (Japan)

Generating 12 by Naoko Serino, photo by Tom grotta

Generating 12 by Naoko Serino, photo by Tom grotta

Naoko Serino (Japan)

Shindigo Square Series by Hiroyuki Shindo, photo by Tom Grotta

Shindigo Square Series by Hiroyuki Shindo, photo by Tom Grotta

Hiroyuki Shindo (Japan)


In Honor of Asia Week: Nine Japanese Artists

Asia Week New York 2013, March 15th to March 23rd is a nine-day celebration of Asian art throughout metropolitan New York, with exhibitions, auctions and special events presented by 43 leading international Asian art specialists, five major auction houses, and 17 museums and cultural institutions; http://www.asiaweekny.com. Not going to be in New York this month? Not to worry, over the next few days, we’ll bring some striking examples of Asian art, more than two dozen works, in fact, to a desktop, laptop, tablet or phone near you. Here’s the first of four installments, featuring nine artists from Japan.

3D INTERSECTION II by Norie Hatekayama, photo by Tom Grotta

3D INTERSECTION II by Norie Hatekayama, photo by Tom Grotta

Norie Hatekayama (Japan)

Figure-Odd by Kazue Honma, photo by Tom Grotta

Figure-Odd by Kazue Honma, photo by Tom Grotta

Kazue Honma (Japan)

Groundwater by Mutsumi Iwasaki, photo by Tom Grotta

Groundwater by Mutsumi Iwasaki, photo by Tom Grotta

Mutsumi Iwasaki (Japan)

Aric Grid Hanging with Tank Twelve by Kiyomi Iwata, photo by Tom Grotta

Aric Grid Hanging with Tank Twelve by Kiyomi Iwata, photo by Tom Grotta

Kiyomi Iwata (Japan.United States)

Grove by Tamiko Kawata, photo by Tom Grotta

Grove by Tamiko Kawata, photo by Tom Grotta

Tamiko Kawata (Japan/United States)

Space Ship 2000 by Masakazu Kbayashi, photo by Tom Grotta

Space Ship 2000 by Masakazu Kbayashi, photo by Tom Grotta

Masakazu Kobayashi (Japan)

Untitled by Naomi Kobayashi, photo by Tom Grotta

Untitled by Naomi Kobayashi, photo by Tom Grotta

Naomi Kobayashi (Japan)

SAI by Yasuhisa Kohyama, photo by Tom Grotta

SAI by Yasuhisa Kohyama, photo by Tom Grotta

Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan)

A Begining by Kyoko Kumai, photo by Tom Grotta

A Begining by Kyoko Kumai, photo by Tom Grotta

Kyoko Kumai (Japan)