Opening Next Week: Make a Day of It When You Visit art & identity at browngrotta arts

Installation of art + identity: an international view at browngrotta arts.
Installation of works by Lia Cook and Marianne Kemp at browngrotta arts

This year’s Art in The Barn exhibition at browngrotta arts, art+ identity: an international view, is right around the corner. While planning your trip to see art+ identity we suggest you take advantage of a few of the area’s other cultural offerings.

Valeri-Larko-Abandoned-Bronx-Golf-Center from exhibition Spaces of Uncertainty

In Greenwich, the Flinn Gallery’s exhibition Spaces of Uncertainty provides viewers with an opportunity to take a deeper look at beauty of marginalized areas. The exhibition, whichfeatures work by painter Valeri Lark and photographer Linda Kuehne, explores how obsolete structures, whether abandoned parking lots or dilapidated builds, fit into an narrative in which every site in our highly programmed built environment must fulfill a designatedrole. Larko’s detailed oil paintings of decaying infrastructure, graffiti-masked neighborhoods and vacant lots show how marginalized sizes are never truly abandoned. Kuehne’s is more focused on the suburbs, and the deterioration of buildings that were partof the commercial sprawl in the 50s and 60s. Find more information on the exhibition, which is set to run through April 30th, HERE.

http://www.wiltonlibrary.org

Looking for a good book to curl up with on the beach or beside the pool thissummer? Have no fear, Wilton Library’s gigantic book sale is set to take place during art + identity. Theannual sale will run from April 27th to April 30th at Wilton Library. This year, the sale will have more than 80,000 items in more than 50 categories, ranging from mysteries and histories to books for babies. There Library will also have a large collectionof its’ rare and collectible books on sale from the Collectors Corner. All sales from the Library’s annual book sale help the library to stay afloat and provide the Wilton community with the learning resources for all ages. More information on the book salecan be found HERE.

Harmony Hammond: Material Witness, Five Decades of Art – Installation Photos
Harmony Hammond: Material Witness, Five Decades of Art – Installation Photo


Just a short fifteen-minute drive from browngrotta arts, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art also has a variety of art-offerings. The Museum’s current exhibitions include Harmony Hammond: Material Witness, Five Decades of Art, How Art Changed the Prison as well as a variety of pieces by artists N. Dash and Danh Vo.Visit the Aldrich’s website HERE for details on all the exhibitions, hours of operation and a list of all of their art-offerings.

Last, but certainly not least, the Wilton Historical Society’s Bullets, Bonds, and Butter: Wilton Responds to War 1776-2006 commemorates the contributions of community members, both soldiers and townsfolk, who have answered the call to war from the Wilton area. While troops fought on the front lines, Wilton community members supported the war effort in all sorts of ways. Whether rationing, writing letters to the troops, knittings socks and making bandages or buying war bonds,the home-front consistently put all their effort into supporting their friends and family members overseas. Check out Wilton Historical Society’s website HERE for hours of operation and more information on the exhibition. Details for attending art + identity: The exhibition opens on April 27th with an Artists Reception and Opening from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. From April 28th through May 5th, you can visit the exhibition from 10 am to 5 pm. A full-color catalog will be available at browngrotta.com after April 27th. The exhibition features more than 60 artists and 100 works of art.

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Art & Identity: Who’s New? Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès and Paul Furneaux

We are excited to include four artists new to browngrotta arts in art + identity: an international view. They include Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès of France and Paul Furneaux from Scotland.

felt tapestry
1bbs Coques, Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès, felt, 76.75” x 51”, 2019


Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès‘ work is a mix of disparate influences. Greatly influenced by being born and raised in the province of Anjou and by her first visit to the museum located in the former Saint-Jean hospital in Angèrs (today the Jean-Lurçat Museum of Contemporary Tapestry), with its large medieval tapestry collection, Sellés studied with Nouvelle Tapestry pioneer Pierre Daquin at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1997, after years of creating tapestries with traditional techniques, she felt compelled to depart from tradition. “The great world of textile art of the 70s certainly influenced me and conveyed the idea of absolute freedom in art,” she says. The result of this freedom are works made of selvedge waste with offcuts of threads and deeply textured and manipulated works made of industrial felt. Her tapestries pit design against difference, order against disorder. The irony is not lost on Sellés that it was a departure from tapestry convention that has led her to now work primarily with unwoven material. Sellés has exhibited at the International Triennial of Textiles, in Lodz, Poland, the Museum of Contemporary Tapestry in Angers, France and the Museum and Study Center of the History of Fabrics and Costumes in Venice, Italy. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, US.

Wood block art
2pf City Trees II and City Lights II, Paul Furneaux, Japanese woodcuts on wood 19.5” x 40” x 4”, 2015

For the last decade and more, Scottish artist, Paul Furneaux, been exploring traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques. “This inherently beautiful and simple process has allowed my work to develop in a contemplative and semi-abstract way,” he explains. Furneaux began watercolor woodblock printing, mokuhanga, on a scholarship to Tama Art University in Tokyo. He was motivated by a group of Japanese printmakers whom he had met at Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen, Scotland where he made large woodblocks in the early 1990s. Furneaux did not make it to Tama until 1996. Events took him first to Mexico where he painted angels, demons and masks in rich colors. “It was an exhilarating if freaky time,” he says, “ending in 46 of my paintings disappearing with an American art dealer. I then spent four years in Japan, studying Japanese and traditional woodblock techniques, finding a new way of expressing myself. A residency in Norway followed where I was surrounded by huge fjords, full of magic, with colors that were intensified by rich sunlight. The culmination was a conceptual shift — I moved from traditional flat, printed works to creating prints as “skins” to clothe three-dimensional works.” Among the themes in Mr. Furneaux’s work is a concern for the ever-changing landscape and global warming. “Rain started to appear in my work as an environmental response and continues to inhabit my thoughts,” he says. Some of his forms speak to the architecture of buildings Furneaux saw in Japan, but also imbue the soft sensual beauty of the trees, the park, the blossom, the soft evening light touching the sides of the harsh glass and concrete blocks.  
You can see the work of both artist’s at art + identity: an international view, this year’s annual Art in the Barn exhibition at browngrotta arts. The exhibition opens on April 27th with an Artists Reception and Opening from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. From April 28th through May 5th, you can visit the exhibition from 10 am to 5 pm. A full-color catalog will be available at browngrotta.com April 27th and we are now taking pre-orders.


Art Assembled: New This Week March

Shades of Green, Dawn MacNutt, twined willow, paint 63.75”x 23” x 20”, 2008

We started off the month of March with a beautiful willow sculpture by Dawn MacNutt. Like many of Macnutt’s pieces, Shades of Green is an interpretation of universal human form. In creating her work, MacNutt draws inspiration from ancient human forms that were present in ancient times, as well as humans and emotions in the present.

Harmony of Yin Yang I, Shin Young-Ok , mosigut (fine threads made of the skin of ramie plant) linen & ramie threads. Korean ramie fabric, 24.875″ x 24.625″ x 1.5″, 2014.

For the second week of March, we broke the status quo and shared a walkthrough of our online Artsy exhibition An Unexpected Approach: Exploring Contemporary Asian Art. The video, which can be viewed on our Instagram, Facebook or YouTube channel, presents viewers from all over the world an opportunity to see an assortment of astonishing Asian-inspired art. If you are curious about a piece in the video walkthrough make sure to check out the exhibition Artsy page HERE, or give us a call.

Water Is Eternity, Keiji Nio, woven and braided nylon, 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 3.74″, 2009. 9th triennale internationale des mini-textiles – Angers 2009.

Next up on the queue was Shin Young-Ok’s Harmony of Yin Yang I. Made using mosigut (fine threads made of skin of ramie plant), linen and ramie threads, Harmony of Yin Yang I explores the origins of harmony in Asian philosophy. The ying yang sign, which is considered complementary rather than oppositional, embodies dualism, the idea that all energy has an equally powerful, opposing energy.

To finish off March we shared Water is Eternity, a woven and braided nylon sculpture by artist Keiji Nio. Nio creates sculptures with the traditional technique of kumihimo. In the past, Nio has used the technique to create works that have been featured in the International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne as well as the International Miniature Textile Triennial in Angers, France.


Sneak Peek: Save the Date: art + identity opens April 27th

Mary Merkel-Hess, Last Light paper, paper cord 14” x 31” x 15”, 2018

This year’s annual Art in the Barn exhibition at browngrotta arts, art + identity: an international view, opens on April 27th with an Artists Reception and Opening from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. From April 28th through May 5th, you can view the exhibition from 10 to 5.

In art + identity, more than 50 artists explore the influence that birthplace, residence, travel and study have had on the development of their art. The work reflects the influence of five continents and includes art textiles, sculpture and ceramics and mixed media. The artists have lived and worked in 22 countries including Japan, Finland, Nigeria, India, Russia, Israel, Canada, Chile and the US. These artists’ approaches to the theme are decidedly individual but similarities and differences among their works create an intriguing dialogue about the influence of culture and geography and spur questions about the universality of art.

Gudrun Pagter, Framed linen, sisal, and flax 64.75” x 59.75”, 2018

Among the artists participating is Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, whose work reflects a serene and abstract Scandinavian sensibility. American Mary Merkel-Hess is inspired by the prairie of her native Midwest. Her work, Last Light, was inspired by a line from Willa Cather, “the whole prairie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed.”  Stéphanie Jacques from Belgium looked inward to explore identity, creating a structure of cubes and parallelepipeds made of willow. “I dance in my studio,” she says, “searching through my movement for a relationship with this form.  I set up the camera and take photos.  My face is veiled. The frame is fixed.  As the shooting advances, a story appears….A series of portraits follows….Each image incarnates a new state, another state.” American artist Norma Minkowitz’ work, The Path, also speaks to the personal and the universal — “the path we each take regardless of who we are or where we began.” 

Stéphanie Jacques, Avec ce que j’ai III, thread, willow, gesso, cotton prints, glue, forex., 41” x 70” x 18” 2016-17

For other artists, that sense of place is broader, transcending boundaries and reflecting effects of increased exchange among artists. “This exhibition of works transcends international borders, ” notes Dawn MacNutt of Canada, whose work in art + identity was inspired by ancient Greek sculpture viewed at the Metropolitan in New York and then in Greece. “My association with some of these artists goes back to the Lausanne Biennale in 1985 and the American Craft Museum’s Fiber: Five Decades in 1995. browngrotta arts provides an ongoing museum/gallery/melting pot of the work of international artists in textile materials and techniques. It also fosters the meeting together of the artists themselves…a rare opportunity and the icing on the cake!”

art + identity: an international view, April 27th-May 5th. browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. 203.834.0623. For more info, visit: www.browngrotta.com.


NY Asian Art Week, Part II — Cross Currents: Artists Influenced by Japan

Ame II (Rain), Kay Sekimachi , linen, polyester, transfer dye, textile paint, plain and twill weave, 44″ x 6″, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We are continuing our celebration of New York’s Asian Art Week in this post. Many of the artists who work with browngrotta arts have spent time in Japan, studied Japanese art or methods or simply cite Japan as an important influence. Check out the Selvedge magazines Japan Blue issue, published in August that includes an article on Naomi Kobayashi and one, by Rhonda Brown, about the influence Japan has had on four artists who work with bga HERE.

Examples of this influence abound. Kay Sekimachi, for example, is a Japanese American, born in the California Bay area. During World War II, she was interned with her family in relocation centers for two years. There she learned origami and to paint and draw. She did not visit Japan until 1975, but she has said that when she reached her mother’s village, “I felt like I was coming home.” She brought back silk cocoons and later her aunt sent her banana fiber from Japan that she incorporated into her paper bowls. References to Japan in her oeuvre are inescapable — from the towers she has created from antique Japanese paper, to the delicate flax and paper bowls she makes in shapes that mimic Japanese porcelain to her series of takarabako or woven boxes.  

New Nebula, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila , silk, alpaca, moriche palm fiber dyed with Indigo, rumex spp, onion, eucalyptus, acid dyes, copper and metallic yarns, 74” x 49.25”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Jennifer Falck Linssen uses an ancient Japanese paper carving skill – katagami – to create her. Katagami are handcarved flat paper stencils. This 1,200-year-old technique is traditionally used to resist-print kimono textiles in katazome. By drawing with a small knife on mulberry and cotton papers and shaping this carved paper into three-dimensional sculpture, Linssen recontextualizes the humble stencil – sculpting forms of pattern, shadow, and light.

K Yama-Dori, Katherine Westphal, paper and linen, 40″ x 45″, 1983. Photo by Tom Grotta.


In Venezuela, Eduardo Portillo and Maria Eugenia Dávila, create complex textile works of multiple materials. Their works are woven using Orinoco moriche palm fiber, wool and cotton, dyed with indigo, cochineal and eucalyptus, copper and metal yarns and their own cultivated silk — as they have established the entire process of silk manufacture growing mulberry trees on the slopes of the Andes, rearing silkworms, obtaining the threads, coloring them with natural dyes. The couple devoted 10 years to the study of indigo dye and its culture in Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia before embarking on this work. They aim to promote an understanding and appreciation of natural dyes as an element in textiles, its importance as a means to preserve and disseminate cultural values and as a medium of contemporary expression.


For Katherine Westphal, the influences of ethnic and folk art — African, Japanese and Indonesian were found in her textiles, sculptures, baskets, prints, drawings and items of wearable art. She created many garments inspired by ethnic clothing – primarily Japanese and Chinese prototypes. Her participation in the Wearable Art movement validated this activity, writes JoAnn Stabb, and brought it recognition. In particular, at the invitation of the American Crafts Council headquarters in New York, she led a four-person contingent who presented several lectures and workshops on “Wearable Art from North America” at the World Crafts Council international symposium in Vienna, Austria, in 1980.

Red Earth Jar, Nancy Moore Bess,  waxed cotton & linen, carved acrylic incense box lid, 4.25″ x 5.5″ x 5.5″, 2007


“I am interested in the ‘traditional’ as a reference point, not as a boundary,” says Nancy Moore Bess. A California native, Bess has lived in Japan and authored, with Bibi Wein, Bamboo in Japan (Kodansha International, Tokyo, Japan 2001). Her first trip to Japan in 1986 defined the course of her work for the next three decades. “Japan has influenced my work in many ways,” she writes, “but they all overlap – traditional packaging, basketry, bamboo, the crossover influences of East/West, the vocabulary of defining beauty and craftsmanship.” In works like Boxed Packages, one can find allusions to packaging techniques like tsutsumu. Other works reference traditional forms such as tea caddies. Her Sabi Tea Jar series, for example, was inspired by old, sometimes rusty, water jars used in tea ceremony that she found at flea markets. 


Don’t forget to check out our online exhibition, An Unexpected Approach: Exploring Contemporary Asian Art Online by visiting browngrotta arts’ YouTube channel (HERE) and view each individual work in the exhibition on Artsy (HERE).


An Unexpected Approach — Contemporary Art for NY Asian Art Week 2019

Top: Grinded Fabric-Three Squares Blue Threads and Blue #689, Chiyoko Tanaka
Bottom: (Left) Ceramic 49, Yasuhisa Kohyama
(Right) Ceramic 50, Yasuhisa Kohyama.
Photo by Tom Grotta

For the 10th year, New York is celebrating Asian Art Week from March 13th – 23rd and we’ve prepared related programming of our own. Through the end of this month, browngrotta arts is presenting An Unexpected Approach: Exploring Asian Contemporary Art, an online exhibition featuring 21 accomplished artists from Japan, Korea and the US, whose work reflects a contemporary Asian sensibility. 

Pulguk-sa, Kyong-Ju, Glen Kaufman, silk damask, silver leaf; screenprint, impressed metal leaf, 48” x 24” x 1” 1990. Photo by Tom Grotta

More than three dozen works are included in the exhibition. including select works of ceramic, textile, basketry and sculpture. The artists in this exhibition, including Jiro Yonezawa, Yasuhisa Kohyama, Glen Kaufman and Shin Young-Ok, have an understanding of traditional processes and aesthetics, but apply this understanding in a contemporary manner. Conventional Asian materials and/or techniques are featured, but often used in unconventional ways.  

Indigo Grid, Kiyomi Iwata, silk organza, 39″ x 29″ x 5″, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Kiyomi Iwata, for example, who has lived in the US for many years, explores the boundaries of East and West using silk organza metal. She creates sculptures that combine traditional Japanese aesthetics — organza boxes with kimono references – in minimalist grids, forms common in contemporary Western art.

Chiyoko Tanaka, who lives on the outskirts of Kyoto, weaves fabric on a traditional obi loom, then distresses it with brick and mud or clay. By grinding her newly woven cloth with earth, she exposes that original warp, unveiling the essence of the fabric. She says of her deconstructions, “I feel that my woven work is about time and the human condition.”

New York Skyline I + II, Jin-Sook So, steel mesh, electroplated silver, patinated, gold leaf, thread, 33″ x 39.5″ 2.25″, 2006

Jin-Sook So’s work is informed by time spent in Korea, Sweden and Japan. So uses transparent steel mesh cloth, folded, stitched, painted and electroplated to create shimmering objects for the wall or tabletop. The past and present are referenced in So’s work in ways that are strikingly modern and original.  She has used old Korean schoolbook pages to create collage and steel mesh to create contemporary pojagi and to re-envision common objects — chairs, boxes and bowls. 

Lyric Space, Shin Young-Ok, Korean silk fabric and handmade ramie threads, 26.4″ x 26.4″ x .75″, 2014. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Kyoko Kumai, the subject of a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, also works in steel, using steel threads to weave or spin strikingly contemporary clouds of steel. Jiro Yonezawa has received numerous awards for his bamboo vessels and sculpture. Formally trained in Beppu, Japan, Jonezawa then moved to the US, and when he did so, the lacquered twill-patterned form associated with Beppu was transformed by the artist into sensuous sculptural vessels, formal yet more freely formed.

 You can view An Unexpected Approach: Exploring Contemporary Asian Art Online by visiting browngrotta arts’ You Tube channel.  You can see each individual work in the exhibition on Artsy.

The complete list of artists participating in this exhibition is: CHANG YEONSOON; YASUHISA KOHYAMA; NAOKO SERINO; KEIJI NIO; KIYOMI IWATA; KYOKO KUMAI;JIN-SOOK SO; SHIN YOUNG-OK; NANCY MOORE BESS;JIRO YONEZAWA; TSURUKO TANIKAWA; GLENN KAUFMAN; NORIKO TAKAMIYA; NAOMI KOBAYASHI; HISAKO SEKIJIMA; MUTSUMI IWASAKI; JUN TOMITA; MASAKO YOSHIDA; HIDEHO TANAKA; CHIYOKO TANAKA; HIROYUKI SHINDO


Art Out and About — Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

Detail of Imprint by Caroline Bartlett. Photo by Yeshen Venema & The National Centre for Craft & Design

ABROAD

Ctrl/Shift – Sleaford, United Kingdom
Across the pond, Ctrl/Shift: New Directions in Textile Art is currently on show at the National Centre for Craft & Design. Ctrl/Shift, which features work by browngrotta arts artist Caroline Bartlett, presents a wide variety of pieces which present how artists transform their pieces through their creative processes. Focusing on shifts, changes and adaptability, the exhibition highlights the impact of innovative contemporary themes, ideas and technologies on textile art.  Click HERE for more information.

El Anatsui: Material Wonder  – London, United Kingdom
El Anatsui’s work is on view at October Gallery in London through the end of April. The exhibition, El Anatsui: Material Wonder, coincides with the largest retrospective of Anatsui’s work,  El Anatsui: Triumphant Scale, at Haus der Kunst, Munich. Throughout his influential career, Anatsui has experimented with a variety of mediums, including cement, ceramics, tropical hardwood corrugated iron, and bottle-top, to name a few. October Gallery’s exhibition includes a variety of metal wall sculptures accompanied by a series of prints made in collaboration with Factum Arte. Want to see these one-of-a-kind pieces? Head over to October Gallery’s website HERE for visiting information.



Rehearsal, El Anatsui, Aluminum and copper wire, 406 x 465 cm, 2015. Photo Jonathan Greet/October Gallery.

A Considered Place – Drumoak, Scotland
A Considered Place, an upcoming exhibition at Drum Castle in Drumoak, Scotland, will share the work of browngrotta arts artists Jo Barker and Sara Brennan, along with Susan Mowatt, Andrea Walsh and Jane Bustin. The exhibition’s location, Drum Castle, is encircled by late 18th rose gardens and trees from all regions of the 18th century British Empire. Make a day of the outing, starting with a stroll through A Considered Place concluded by a relaxing afternoon wandering around the estate’s grounds. Curious about Drum Castle or A Considered Place, click HERE for more information.

Fendre L’air – Paris, France
In Paris, Jiro Yonezawa is among artists featured in Fendre L’air, an elegant exhibition of bamboo basketry at the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac. Fendre L’air is the first French exhibition to pay homage to the exquisite craft and creativity of Japanese basket makers. Composed of 160 works, the exhibition delves into the art and history of Japanese basketry. Japanese basketry, which we have discussed in length across many blog posts, grew in popularity during the Meiji era as the revival of a certain type of tea ceremony in which bamboo baskets and containers were used for flower arrangments. As creativity has flourished, baskets have become less utilitarian and more decorative. Today, the work of many Japanese basket makers is so impactful, that the artists themselves have become living national treasures. Click HERE or more information on  Fendre L’air.


Certainty / Entropy (Peranakan 2), Aiko Tezuka, h27 x w76 x b71.5 cm, 2014. Loan:
Aiko Tezuka/Galerie Michael Janssen. Photo:
Edward Hendricks

Cultural Threads – Tilburg, Netherlands
If you happen to be in the Netherlands in upcoming months make sure to check out  Cultural Threads at the Textiel Museum in Tilburg. Featuring work by Eylem Aladogan, Célio Braga, Hana Miletić, Otobong Nkanga, Mary Sibande, Fiona Tan, Jennifer Tee, Aiko Tezuka and Vincent Vulsma, the exhibition focuses on textiles as  a tool for socio-political reflection. “We live in a world where boundaries between countries and people are becoming increasingly blurred, power relations are shifting radically and cultures are mixing,” states the Textiel Museum. As a medium, the unique qualities of textiles provide artists with a plethora of ways to communicate and explore identity in a globalizing world.  Find more information on the Cultural Threads HERE.  

Artapestry V – Arad, Romania
Gudrun Pagter’s work in Artapestry V is making its final appearance in Romania at the Arad Art Museum as the traveling international exhibition comes to a close. The exhibition, which has traveled across Europe, stopping in Denmark, Sweden and Lativa, features the work of artists from 12 European countries. Presented by the European Tapestry forum,  Artapestry V aims to raise the profile of tapestry as an art form and conjure artistic interest in the medium. Find more information on the European Tapestry Forum’s website HERE.

UNITED STATES

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in New York. Photo:Michael Rosenfeld Gallery

The Art of Defiance: Radical Materials – New York, NY  
The current Michael Rosenfeld Gallery exhibition, The art of Defiance: Radical Materials, examines how artists such as Barbara Chase-Riboud, Betye Saar, Hannelore Baron, Nancy Grossman have utilized unique, groundbreaking materials in their work. For the exhibition, each artist utilized materials defined by their physicality, “representing a freedom from the constraints of traditional, male-dominated media in art history.” Each artists’ work blurred the traditional boundaries between two and three-dimensional design, which in turn has expanded the traditional categorical defines of art-making. In New York and want to check out the exhibition, visit the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery website HERE.

Casting Shadows, Janice Lessman-Moss, Silk, linen
Digital jacquard, hand woven TC2 loom, painted warp and weft, 2017. Photo: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art

The Empathy of Patience  – San Luis Obispo, CA
Traveling to the West Coast in the next week? Don’t miss out on a chance to see Michael F. Rohde’s solo exhibition, The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The exhibition is a superb display of Rohdes’ subliminal texture and masterful interaction of light and color. For Rohdes, “the  medium of handwoven tapestry certainly requires patience for execution…empathy, compassion and concern for others is at the base of many of these weavings.” Click HERE for more information on The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV – San Jose, CA
Three hours north of The Empathy of Patience at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art is the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. Focusing on artists who merge fiber media with new information and communication technologies, the exhibition sheds a light on browngrotta arts’ artist Lia Cook’s exploratory pieces. Considering its’ close proximity to Silicon Valley, the International TECHstyle Art Biennial IV introduces artists exploring the intersection of fiber and technology to the international community. More information on the exhibition can be found HERE


Art Assembled: New This Week February

Structural Discussion VI, Hisako Sekijima cedar and walnut, 10.75” x 14.5” x 7”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Winter is slowly but surely coming to a close (finally!) and the sunny months are not too far ahead. Also rapidly approaching is this year’s Art in the Barn exhibition: Art + Identity: An International View, which seeks to take an expansive look at identity and art in a global context.

We started February’s “New This Week” series with Structural Discussion VI by Hisako Sekijima. Woven using cedar and walnut, Sekijima’s Structural Discussion VI’s explores structure, form and shape. Though Sekijima’s baskets were not created to function in a utilitarian manner she feels that they have been a useful tool in exploring herself. Unlike traditional basketmakers, Sekijima has chosen to not work with one specific plant throughout her life, but instead work with various plant materials. Her openness to other plant materials has allowed her to explore and experiment with each material’s sculptural possibilities.

Material Pleasures: Artemisia, Lia Cook, acrylic on linen, dyes on rayon; woven, 53” x 77” 1993. Photo by Tom Grotta.

The sensual nature of Lia Cook’s Material Pleasures: Artemisia is sure to immediately captivate the viewer. Cook’s Material Pleasures series explores the “sensuality of the woven image” and the emotional response that comes with it. Cook has continued this exploration of sensuality and emotion in her current work, combining it with technology that measures and maps emotional responses.

Orchid, Marianne Kemp, horsehair, gold lures thread, wooden frame, 15” x 18.5” x 2”. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Next up was Marianne Kemp’s stitched and woven Orchid. Dyed red horsehair woven in between a delicate herringbone background brings light to Kemp’s supreme eye for detail. For Kemp weaving is a form of meditation. “It is the only time of day that I do one thing at the time and think (solely) about one thing,” Kemp explains. Weaving allows Kemp to give her brain a rest and explore her creative intuition.

Blue/Green Weaving, Włodzimierz Cygan, polyester, linen, sisal, fiber optic, 41” x 41” x 15”. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We concluded February with  Włodzimierz Cygan’s Blue/Green Weaving. The piece, which is designed with both textiles and fiber optics, resembles a peacock feather in daylight and slowly shifts shades in the dark. Cygan, a Polish artist, is an innovator in the field of fiber art, challenging the boundaries of the medium.


On Redefining the Medium

In an artspace article last spring, “8 ‘Unbeweavable’ Textile Artists Redefining the Traditional Medium,” the author, Jillian Billard, profiled eight contemporary textile artists who keep the historical and cultural significance of the medium in mind, while addressing topics ranging from colonialism, to power dynamics, to disposal and regeneration.

Listening In Caroline Bartlett, mixed media; wooden rings stretched with archival crepeline, wool, linen tape, perspex,
2.75″ x 17″ x 17″; 5″ x 17″ x 17″; 6″ x 17″ x 17″, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Several of the artists represented by browngrotta arts take a similar approach, including, Caroline Bartlett, who explores the historical, social and cultural associations of textiles and their ability to trigger a memory. Listening In, for example, resulted from Bartlett’s review of accession cards that “bore witness” to the health and state of textile items in the collection of the Whitworth Museum. The cards described work undertaken to preserve and stabilize each artifact, to endeavors to fill in gaps in the history and making of the object across time and space. In creating works in this series, Bartlett says, “I think of skin, bone, membrane; a layered dermis, and of networks of social, industrial, public and private relations, processes and materiality connecting the building itself with the idea of cloth as silent witness to the intimacies and routines of daily lives.”

Deborah Valoma in her Studio in Minnesota. Photo by Tom Grotta.


Deborah Valoma is an artist and historian. Intensely research-based, her studio practice harnesses the nuances of the humble, yet poetically charged textile medium. Using hand construction techniques and cutting-edge digital weaving technology, her work hugs the edges of traditional practice. She upholds traditional customs and at the same time, unravels long-held stereotypes. Drawing on a growing body of scholarship on textiles, she has developed a rigorous series of textile history and theory courses for students from differing disciplines interested the theoretical discourses in the field of textiles. Valoma believes that students must locate themselves within historical lineages in order to understand the historical terrain they walk (and sometimes trip) through daily. Historical analysis draws a three-dimensional spatial and temporal map, providing much-needed reference points.

Interior Passages, Ferne Jacobs, 
coiled and twined waxed linen thread
, 54” x 16” x 4”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Artist Ferne Jacobs explores feminist themes in her work. “My art is made in an attempt to serve the sacred in the feminine, listening and creating a relationship with my own inner nature. Interior Passages is an example “In the world I find myself in today, feminine values are often desecrated.  I am beginning to understand that there is no such thing as a ‘second class citizen’ — anywhere, anytime. There are aspects of world culture where weak people try to control others; because that is the only way they feel their own existence.” Interior Passages resists that approach. “Interior Passages knows she exists,” Jacobs notes. “She needs no one to tell her who she is or what she is.  She knows her value, and I expect the world to respect this inner understanding.  When it doesn’t, I think it moves toward a destructiveness that can be devastating.”


Regeneration is a theme in the work of both Karyl Sisson and Wendy Wahl. Sisson give new lives to common domestic items like paper drinking straws, zippers and measuring tales. Wahl’s work with repurposed encyclopedias raises questions about how we process information, use resources and assign value to things.


The Art of Giving Art – Interest-Free

Here are several artful ways to show your love is eternal — from an intimate artifact and a beaded box, to a handheld basket and an engaging wall work of dyed copper. The payments, however, don’t need to last a lifetime. You can purchase these works over time, interest-free as we have partnered with Art Money to make art more accessible. Art Money, a smart way to buy art, enables you to spread your payments over 10 months with 0% interest. Let us know if we can provide you more information about any of these choices or the artists featured — Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Rachel Max, Nancy Moore Bess, Jeanine Anderson, Jane Balsgaard and Gali Cnaani.