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.
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.
Viewing Sara Brennan’s tapestries is to be immersed in a land- or skyscape. Brennan’s evocative weavings are featured in two different magazines this month, selvedge published in the UK and American Craft in the US. In selvedge, in “View,” Issue 73, pp. 92-93, Lesley Millar writes about the layering of history in Brennan’s tapestries, “At the centre of her work there is a stillness and a sense of being held, which is an echo of the experience at the centre of an ancient forest.” Millar notes that the artist uses a traditional Gobelin high warp technique which links her tapestries to the Middle Ages. She also uses yarns she has been given, old yarns, sometimes yarns she had inherited from her father’s studio in Edinburgh. Brennan admits to obsessing about the surface in her tapestries, the qualities of a specific yarn. “The surface texture,” Millar writes, “slows down our gaze through a series of subtle, textured intervals forming a visual interplay between our eye and the sensuality of the surface.”
The article in American Craft, December/January 2017, by editor in chief, Monica Moses is in a section called “Collective Unconscious: On the Horizon,” pp. 36-37, features five artists, includling Brennan, whose work envisions where the sky and land meet. Brennan reduces the landscape to its essence, “earth and sky, demarcated by horizon.”
Brennan’s work can be seen at browngrotta.com and, through January 2017, in Here and Now a touring exhibition curated by the UK’s National Centre for Craft and Design of contemporary British tapestry artists and weavers from Australia, Norway, Latvia, Japan and the USA. For more information visit: http://www.nationalcraftanddesign.org.uk/whatson/future-nccd-touring-show-here-and-now/#future-nccd-touring-show-here-and-now.
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
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
The following story describes an obsession with a newspaper that some people may take for granted. Perhaps at one point this desire was heightened because I had been included in the paper’s folds.
As I took the 106 steps from an east door of my home I focused on the sensation of my feet walking across the recently laid pavers, onto the gravel drive and through a break in the stonewall to the street to see if it had really arrived. I had waited over 20 years for this moment and I savored each stride with anticipation that was punctuated with my own sounds of excitement. Patient hopefulness described my wait to unfold the neatly layered sections to discover what was inside. Though I feared it wouldn’t be there like so many times before and all my expectations would be shattered, I still felt somehow today was different.
For several years I would get in my car and travel the approximate 10 miles roundtrip to Taylor’s Country Store where I had reserved my copy of the paper. Back then Taylor’s could be described as a charming, dusty, ramshackle, screen-door-hits-you-on-the-way-in-and-out kind of place. The entrance was so close to the two-lane main road that when you pulled up to park in the allotted space you’d be lucky not to hit anything or anyone. Inside the store was something you had to physically experience. There was nothing there I would eat; many of the product expiration dates had been reached and much of the packaged food was unrecognizable. It was one of the few destinations between my house and pretty much anything else heading east towards the University of Rhode Island just beyond the Kingston train station. The store marked the north end of the Great Swamp. Mom and Pop Taylor were the quintessential shopkeepers who were humorously kind. I would usually run into someone I knew there. Around the same time the Department of Transportation took out the rotaries aka suicide circles on Route 138, Taylor’s closed. The Alternative Food Co-op moved in which I welcomed having nearby because you could purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables, eggs and dry foods in bulk. An Asian Market followed this that brought lemongrass, tamarind and an array of new flavors to my neighborhood; a delicious culinary addition to rural South County but neither carried the newspaper I wanted to wrap up in at least on the weekend.
In 1990 I contacted The New York Times to see if I could get the paper delivered. I was instructed to fax my order in. If you remember this was a time when answering machines were being challenged by the immediacy of the fax machine. I saw it as the thin edge of the personal communications wedge. After getting no results from my requests via this technology I picked up the telephone, not a smart phone or a cordless, but a copper connected landline and made the call to the subscription office to create an account to get the paper delivered to my doorstep. The person on the other end of the phone seemed genuinely helpful to include me in the community of those who wake up to find “all the news that fit to print” within arms length. The representative took my name, address and credit card information and told me that I should expect to wait 4-6 weeks for my first delivery. I immediately put the expected date into my day-at-a-glance book and waited with great expectation. I probably don’t have to tell you that it didn’t arrive and oddly enough they started to send subscriptions advertisements. When I called to find out what happened the explanation was that “currently there isn’t delivery of the Sunday Times in your area.” I was told it could be mailed and I may receive it on Wednesday or Thursday. Seriously?
Geographically Rhode Island isn’t that far away from New York and the whole state is the size of the county of Los Angeles. Myself a native Angelino, I often think of the avocado and loquat trees that dotted the landscape and how the Santa Monica Mountains terminate at the sea. My thoughts drift to a time where the scent of citrus from the fruit groves lingered in the air after passing through the San Gabriel valley on a two-hour drive to the snow-covered San Bernardino range. I still remember the importance of our first RCA color console. The latest in home technology that aired Walter Cronkite every evening, the Jetsons on Saturday mornings and the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday night but this didn’t change home delivery of several newspapers that were available at the time. Looking back, it was an era of door-to-door sales of print subscriptions that included magazines, books and in our case the newspaper from the Big Apple. I mistakenly assumed I could receive The New York Times delivered in New England. Now I understand that even by Rhode Island driving standards I’m off the beaten track. In order to get to where I live you have to travel off the main east west artery of the state passing through turf fields, an Audubon preserve bordered by a white pine forest, cross over a one lane bridge, go past a pottery up a winding hill and at the time down an unpaved road to arrive at the last house whose postal address was a rural route and where three town lines intersect in the road in front of the house. I explained to the representative whom I hoped had a sympathetic ear that it was only two-and-a-half miles off the main road. The representative told me there just weren’t enough people who wanted delivery in my neck of the woods. I asked if they would just leave it at the end of the road so I could pick it up there. They stopped sending notices.
A new rhythm developed where I would call the toll-free subscription number every few months to go through the motions of creating an account only to be met with the same results. After the millennium my efforts dwindled to every six months and then perhaps once a year. Then suddenly sometime in 2007 they began to send offers again letting me know that delivery was available in my area. I took the bait each time over and over again. I was delighted to see my invitation to get home delivery and at an introductory price of 50% off in my mailbox. I would dutifully fill out the form, repost it and back it up with a call where I would be informed that in fact it would be on its way. Yes, it’s finally happening – I’d dance about and sing hallelujah! My husband would look at me with a raised eyebrow “are you going to fall for it again?” Always hopeful, my response was “indeed.” But as you can guess, it didn’t happen. To my family I must have seemed so pathetic to continue on this ridiculous ride for years. Eventually I stopped responding to the solicitations giving up on the prospects of it ever happening. However, in early April last year I received a notice in the mail from the subscription office that delivery was available. I thought, what have I got to lose? I called.
Admittedly I’d become relatively skeptical but perhaps this was the moment – the time had arrived when I would actually be able to get it delivered. If this sounds like a promotional ad for The New York Times, perhaps it is. Drum roll please…last year on a Sunday morning in May I went to my Providence Journal box where I had requested the Times be placed, a logical idea since both papers are now printed and delivered from the same location, to see if it was there and it was! It would have been enough that it arrived at all but it was Mother’s Day and it had the Travel of the Times magazine – armchair candy. So pleased to have the newspaper in my hands I began separating the paper by quickly scanning and then for the moment setting aside the front page because it’s too grim to take in the global inequities so early in the day. The striking contrast of headlines and stories to the needed advertisements to keep it printed is unsettling. I move on to the SundayReview, my favorite section, where I’m confident I will discover something that will inform my work. That week I was introduced to Alice E. Kober, the instrumental backstage player in deciphering Linear B, “an unknown language in an unknown script” as described by linguist Margalit Fox author of recently released The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code. It made me think about lost civilizations. In that same section was a news analysis titled The Hidden World Under Our Feet. As a mycophile and tree hugger it caught my eye. Jim Robbins articulates the idea that “the world’s ocean of soil is one of our largest reservoirs of biodiversity” and that “the complex soil ecosystem is highly evolved and sophisticated”. His new release The Man Who Planted Trees (different from the book with the same title by Jean Giono, published in 1953 and I suspect inspired by) documents one nurseryman’s quest to clone the biggest trees on the planet in order to save our forests and ecosystem. I’m feeling gratified for all my efforts. Then it’s on to each section: Arts and Leisure, Travel, BookReview, SundayBusiness, SundayStyles, SportsSunday, and the Magazine where I’m puzzled, challenged and humbled by Will Shortz. Unfortunately the New England edition doesn’t have a classified section. Nostalgia wafts in on a zephyr and I can see my father in his plaid wool robe sitting at the kitchen table, the overhead fixture illuminating the plate of peanut butter filled celery troughs and his reflection in the sliding glass door, reading the want ads out of curiosity. For me some weeks the paper is devoured the day it arrives and is then left lying about the house and studio to be reread and reused. There is something so comforting about curling up on the sofa or sitting at the round table with a really good newspaper. I enjoy the feel of it between my fingers, the smell of the ink and that familiar font that I now need magnifiers to read.
Newspapers have many uses beyond their primary function to communicate information and ideas. Among these the most intriguing is as a medium for making art. Picasso immediately comes to mind as appropriator of the material. In 1909, Fillippo Marinetti coerced Le Figaro to print his controversial manifesto promoting the Futurist movement. In the 21st century Jim Hodges covered a newspaper from Amman, Jordan in 24k gold. An exhibition celebrating the relationship between newspapers and the arts titled Shock of the News at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC documents these and many other 20th century artists using newspaper as a medium for the message. Print-Inspired Art: All The News That’s Fit To Paint : NPR .
I embrace the reality of digital access to information at my fingertips like a library on the desktop – when the technology is working. Recently while scrolling through the TED Talks I came across a presentation by Jacek Utko, a Polish newspaper designer and former architect who is questioning the notion that newspapers can be saved by reconnecting readers through good design and content choices. Something along the lines of form follows function. www.ted.com/…/jacek_utko_asks_can_design
Now as I walk back to my house carrying the newspapers each week I feel a sense of relief in finally having The New York Times delivered directly on Sunday. Unfortunately sometimes this feeling is too quickly followed by the fear that now that I can have it delivered it might go out of print altogether and soon not be physically delivered anywhere.
February 12, 2014
In a previous blog, we wrote about Chris Drury’s Carbon Sink, an installation at the University of Wyoming that garnered the ire of local legislators who viewed it as a poor educational investment. Chalk one up to transformative power art. As you can see from the editorial below, by Wyoming State representative, Tom Lubnau, in the Gillette News Record, (where Rhonda used to live) the controversy led to a valuable dialogue about art, education, energy and the environment http://www.gillettenewsrecord.com/stories/Trying-to-make-silk-purses-from-sows-ears,61404. Here’s also an image of Chris Drury’s most recent Wyoming-inspired art work, On the Ground: Above and Below Wyoming.
Trying to make silk purses
from sows’ ears
Gillette News Record, September 6, 2011
A few weeks ago, the University of Wyoming unveiled a new on-campus sculpture entitled “Carbon Sink.”
The artist, Chris Drury, is a worldfamous sculptor, the university paid $40,000 to install the sculpture on campus. The artist designed the sculpture as a series of dead logs arranged in a spiral pattern, which he hoped would symbolize the death of forests from pine beetles due to global warming.
Much has been written by journalists, bloggers and in some tersely worded emails about the comments Reps. Gregg Blikre, Norine Kasperik and I made about the hypocrisy of accepting dollars derived from carbon fuels to put up an anti-carbon sculpture. People, mostly from California and New York told we told us we should be “ashamed of ourselves” and that we are “ignorant bumpkins because we hate anything that resembles culture” and referred to us as “cow flops and road apples.”
It is important to understand what we didn’t do. We didn’t ask the sculpture be taken down. We didn’t take any steps to remove funding from the university. And we didn’t engage in any form of censorship. What did we do? We defended our friends and neighbors. Prompted by the existence of the piece of art, we started a discussion. My old art teachers, from back in the day, told me that art was supposed to provoke discussion, to inspire and to affect the viewer.
And that is what we did. We used the existence of the art as an inspiration piece to let folks know that between 60 and 80 percent of the state’s budget is dependent on extractive industries. We asked for some appreciation and kudos for the hard-working folks in the energy industry, who go to work day after day, meeting America’s energy needs and funding in large measure the University of Wyoming budget. We told the university that we thought it was out of touch with the rest of the state, and that we wished they would spend as much time working with us to meet our educational needs as they did being critical of the industries that pay the bills in Wyoming.
And to their credit, the administration of the University of Wyoming listened. We engaged in a dialogue about the misunderstandings, misperceptions and missed opportunities that exist between the University of Wyoming and Campbell County. University President Dr. Tom Buchanan, Trustees Warren Lauer and Jim Neiman, and senior UW staffers Don Richards and Mike Massie took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Gillette, to tour a power plant, the college and other community facilities, and to meet with community leaders and energy company officials to discuss opportunities for UW to offer educational services in the Campbell County area.
The discussions were positive. Dr. Buchanan left the citizens of Campbell County with a clear challenge. If we can define a specific set of needs that can be met by the university rather than a vague list of complaints, the university will work to meet those needs. The monkey is now on the backs of the citizens of Campbell County. We have a great opportunity to advance the education opportunities and the quality of life in northeastern Wyoming if we are wise, and if we can specifically define our needs and put a plan in place to accomplish those needs.
Thanks to Chris Drury for your sculpture. While I don’t agree with your science, or what you believe your sculpture symbolizes, the burnt logs laying in a circular pattern on the grounds of the University of Wyoming were a catalyst to open discussions on a greater UW presence in Campbell County. Art prompted discussion. If we accept the challenge, discussion will lead to better education and an enhanced quality of life.
Rep. Tom Lubnau represents Campbell County. Rep. Gregg Blikre and Rep. Norine Kasperik of Campbell County also joined with him in signing this opinion piece. (reprinted with permission).
For Chris’s views and more on the controversy, visit his blog: http://chrisdrury.blogspot.com/2011_09_01_archive.html.
“In strictly financial terms, art investing is unattractive. Its risks include attribution errors, fakes, forgeries, thefts and physical damage. Furthermore, it involves high transaction, insurance, maintenance and restoration costs, and it has no current cash flow––money comes only when works are sold. Artworks are heterogenous, illiquid and sold on the subjective, segmented and almost monopolistic market in which no valuation guidelines exist. Investors must perform their own due diligence. But art works, unlike stocks, bonds, real estate and certain funds, provide aesthetic returns as well as financial ones. It is when these aesthetic aspects are combined with the financial behavior of the assets that it gets interesting.” Roman Kraeussl, Professor at VU University Amsterdam, specializing in research on art investment.
From “A Conversation with Roman Kraeussl,” Art + Auction, April 2011, page 48. For more on art as an investment, track down Art + Auction’s April issue, which features the magazine’s annual art investment guide: http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37392/april-2011-table-of-contents/.
The last couple of months have seen browngrotta arts and the artists whose work we represent make the news in periodicals online and around the world. Lia Cook’s work graced the cover of the December 2010 issue of Textil Forum, published in Germany, as part of a fascinating article by the artist, “An investigation: Woven Faces and Neuroscience”
911/7936/2/44?dps=on (more on that project in an upcoming post).The January issue of the always striking online magazine Hand/Eye included a piece on our singular business/life model, “Living with Art,” by artist and writer Scott Rothstein
http://handeyemagazine.com/content/browngrotta-arts. The related slideshow features dozen of art works on display in our barn/gallery/home. (You can read more by Scott Rothstein on his blog, http://artfoundout.blogspot.com, in American Craft magazine and elsewhere.) Meanwhile, the January/February of the UK Crafts magazine includes images from Lizzie Farey’s solo exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, Scotland http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/crafts-magazine/latest-issue.
The January issue of Artist Magazine from Taiwan has a several-page article about Norie Hatakeyama by Ming-Whe Liou, with photos by Tom Grotta. We can’t tell you what it says — but it looks good. http://www.artist-magazine.com/magazine/index.php.
Last, but certainly not least, the cover of the Spring 2011 issue
of The Journal of Wealth Management, features Tom Grotta’s photo
of Christine Joy’s willow sculpture, Bundle
Basketry has graduated from country-fair staple to sophisticated urban art form, Emma Crichton-Miller wrote in Weave Arrived, an article in the December 5, 2009 issue of the Financial TImes‘ glossy weekly magazine, how to spend it. Over the last 15 years, Crichton-Miller observes, “basket-making has experienced not just a revival but a reinvention.” The transformation to an expressive medium has been led in the UK by Mary Butcher, recently designer-in-residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Butcher learned traditional skills from artisan basketmaker, Alwyne Hawkins, but as a research fellow she began to use the materials to create work that “slipped its leash” — cones that hang from the ceiling, chains of bark rings and densely woven sculptural shapes. Crichton-Miller notes that outside the UK, art basketmaking has had a high profile for sometime as a result of artists like Markku Kosonen of Finland, and John McQueen and Ed Rossbach in the US.
With the vessel no longer the “first priority,” says Butcher, basketmakers are able to address other exploratory concerns. Lizzie Farey’s willow spheres and soaring wall pieces are animated by her attachment to the landscape of Scotland, where she lives and works. Dail Behennah, who studied geography, creates forms of steel, willow and other woods that are constructed, rather than woven. Her grids, scaffolds and spheres explore ideas about line and light and shadow. Joe Hogan rescues ancient wood from bogs and the sea that he incorporates into his woven forms. The result is often unexpected, highly individual and energetic. Artists like these have ended “basketry’s 20th-century obsession with the past,” Crichton-Miller concludes, and entered “a new world of pure function-free aesthetic pleasure.”
Do you remember back in the 80s, when shelter magazines featured shots of art work leaned against the wall rather than hung? Two of our clients suffered art damage following this pet- and vacuum-level installation trend. Maybe art insurance would have softened the blow.
Anyway, if you’ve ever wondered if you should insure your art collection the September 2009 issue of Art + Auction features a helpful guide. The article includes a graphic quiz to help you decide if you need specialized insurance or if a renter’s or homeowner’s policy will do.
And speaking of Art + Auction, look for our ad for the 10th Wave III: In Person exhibit in the October issue.
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