browngrotta arts gets good press: Venü Magazine’s Spring Issue

Venü Magazine CoverThe 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.

Venu cover article


Art Assembled, Featured in February

Large architectural tapestry

Architecture in motion by Gudrun Pagter

February was a short month, but we still featured a full complement of art in New This Week on our homepage, including two tapestries, a series of small sculptures on the wall and a feathery fabric and wood mixed media work. Gudrun Pagter’s abstract tapestry, Architecture in Motion, is made of flax and sisal. “Through simple graphic effects—continuous white contour lines on a black background,” the artist says, “I try to unfold disciplined geometrical forms with strong references to architectonic space.”

Large colorful tapestry

Mille Fleur by Ane Henriksen

Mille Fleur by Ane Henriksen was influenced by the millefleurs tradition and embroidery samplers. Millefleurs is a category of French and Flemish tapestries created at the edge of the Northern Renaissance. In the late 15th and 16th centuries large workshops were weaving tapestries with a limited number of figures or animals against a background of thousands of flowers. Samplers, were used to each embroidery to young girls from high society, later as part of school handicraft classes. The motifs, often with various kinds of borders, are letters and alphabets, often dated and bearing a girl’s name or initials and those of her ancestors, as well as embroidered patterns and religious and secular symbols copied from printed pattern books. In making Mille Fleur, the artist says, “it was almost as if I was a young girl,.. I used symbols and good omens in hope of a bright future, underlined as a naïve dream by using tints of pastel pink. A large part of the sensibility lies in the material used, a thick weft made of worn out bed linen from which small buttons, ribbons and other reminiscences peep out and are revealed.” There are also numerous elements in

wood wall sculptures

Night Storm by Debra Sachs

Debra Sachs’ sculpture, Night Storm, which is made of laminated and carved poplar. A few years ago, like Humpty Dumpty, the artist had a serious accident. Slowly, she regained stamina and ability. “I began working in fits and starts,” she said, “flailing to and fro. Finally, there was a breakthrough moment. I had stockpiled fragments from larger works made five years prior. These were small chunks of laminated wood too interesting to toss. They were always there but now were staring at me in my basement shop. I started playing with them like a kid with a box of blocks. I carved and painted them and put them on shelves.”

thread basket

Creel iv by Gizelle Warburton

There are two elements in Gizella Warburton’s Creel IV, a basket of fiber and mixed media accompanied by a piece of stitched wood. ” The materiality of cloth, paper, thread, wood and paint connects me to an innate human urge to make marks,” says Warburton.


Art Out and About: Exhibits Across the US, Eastern Edition

Norma Minkowitz Goodbye Goddess

Norma Minkowitz Goodbye Goddess, 2003, permanent collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum

Here’s a list of exhibitions, podcasts and lectures well worth seeking out in February, March and April. In Connecticut, at the Wadsworth Athenuem in Hartford SHE: Images of Female Power from the Permanent Collection is on exhibit through April 2, 2017. The exhibition considers: What does female power look like? The intimate installation takes that question as a starting point to consider works from across the Wadsworth Atheneum’s collections, from Egyptian sculpture to Pre-Columbian ceramics to photography and textiles by contemporary artists. Included are images of goddesses, queens and protectresses. The exhibition features works by Ana Mendieta, Elizabeth Catlett, Lorraine O’Grady, Norma Minkowitz and Mario Carreño, among others. Norma Minkowitz will speak at the museum on March 30th @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm followed by a guided visit to her groundbreaking sculpture Goodbye Goddess. Also in Connecticut, at the Yale Art Gallery in New Haven, Small-Great Objects: Anni and Josef Albers in the Americas examines intersections between the art-making and art-collecting strategies of the Alberses, two of the most influential figures of 20th-century modernism. As the Gallery notes explain, “Between 1935 and 1967, the couple made numerous trips to Latin America, namely Mexico and Peru, and amassed a large collection of ancient artworks from the region. The exhibition looks at these objects in depth and considers how Anni and Josef’s collection supported their aesthetic sensibilities and teaching practice. In addition to objects from the ancient Americas, the show gathers together dozens of works that the couple made, including textiles, paintings, works on paper, and rarely studied photographs that Josef took at archaeological sites and museums.” Demonstrating the Alberses’ deep and sustained engagement with ancient American art, Small-Great Objects explores a fascinating dimension of the couple’s creative vision. This exhibition is accompanied by a free podcast, available in the gallery space and online at http://soundcloud.com/yaleartgallery/sets/small-great-objects. In Massachusetts, 31 works by international artists are included in Excellence in Fibers at the New Bedford Museum of Art. Organized by Fiber Art Now magazine, submissions from around the world were reviewed by jurors Emily Zilber, Curator, MFA Boston; artists Gerhardt Knodel and Norma Minkowitz and Melissa Leventon, former curator at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Rachel Max Basket

After Haeckel II by
Rachel Max, 2015 Photo by Tom Grotta

Rachel Max is among the artists selected for Excellence in Fibers. You can read more about her work in the Winter double edition of Fiber Art Now in an article by John Hopper: http://fiberartnow.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/FAN-winter-2016-17-issuu.pdf. In New York at the Museum of Arts and Design,

Françoise Grossen sculpture

Embryo by Françoise Grossen. Photo by Tom Grotta

Françoise Grossen Selects remains on exhibit through March 15th. “Grossen has mined the Museum’s permanent collection,” the Museum writes, “and brought her own rope sculptures together with a selection of work from MAD’s unusual collection of baskets, as well as other work in fiber, wood, and metal….Grossen’s selections highlight an approach to contemporary sculpture that focuses on the artist’s direct transformation of material and links it to a wider discussion about ways of making in culture at large.”

On Sunday, February 19th at 2 p.m., MAD’s Windgate Research and Collections Curator, Elissa Auther, will discuss the historical context of Grossen’s work. Auther will also discuss the advance of thread, rope, string, felt and fabric from the “low” world of craft to the “high” world of art in the 1960s and ’70s, as well as the prominence of fiber in art today. For more information visit: http://madmuseum.org/exhibition/françoise-grossen-selects.


Art Out and About: Exhibits Across the US, Western Edition

If you are traveling in the next few months, there are interesting exhibitions on each coast and in states in between for you to attend. Here are offerings in the Western part of the US. We’ll add exhibitions in the East next week. First, at the Denver Art Museum in Colorado, there are three exhibitions of note:

Yasuhisa Kohyama ceramic

Ceramic 42, Yasuhisa Kohyama

From the Fire Contemporary Japanese Ceramics from the Robert and Lisa Kessler Collection (through October 1, 2017);

Tapas Bark Cloth art by Katherine Westphal

Top Dog, a contemporary work on bark, or tapas cloth by Katherine Westphal

Printed and Painted The Art of Bark Cloth (through August 27, 2017); and Shock Wave: Japanese Fashion Design, 1980s–90s (through May 28, 2017). From the Fire includes work by Yasuhisa Kohyama, among other ceramicists. Tianlong Jiao, the Joseph de Heer Curator of Asian Art at the Museum traveled to Japan to visit these artists in advance of the exhibition. You can read about his trip here: http://denverartmuseum.org/article/fire-curator-writes-about-his-trip-shigaraki-japan.

Mary Giles Basket

Men’s Ritual, Mary Giles

Lia Cook exhibit installation

Cerebral Touch: Lia Cook 1980-Now. Photo by Nancy Bavor

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 108 Contemporary, you’ll find Living With Art: the Newman Collection (through March 19th). In the exhibition, art objects from Rita and Don Newman’s eclectic collection, including works by Ed Rossbach and Mary Giles, are displayed alongside pieces of furniture owned by the couple. Further West, the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in California has turned itself over exclusively to weaving for the Spring, with four separate exhibitions. They include: American Tapestry Biennial (through April 16, 2017); Line DuFour: Fate Destiny and Self Determination (through April 16, 2017); Elemental Tapestry: Earth, Air Fire and Water — Tapestry Weavers West (through March 5, 2017); Embedded Patter: Three Approaches, Deborah Corsini, Alex Friedman, Michael Rohde (through April 17, 2017); and Cerebral Touch: Lia Cook 1980-Now (through April 16, 2017). Cerebral Touch traces Cook’s artistic journey from her abstract and dimensional pieces of the 1980s; weaving inspired by Old Masters drapery from her work during the 1990s; exploration of portraiture; and finally, work completed just weeks before this exhibition opened that explore the sensuality of the woven image and the emotional connections to memories of touch and cloth.


Art Assembled: Featured in January

We had four New This Week selections in January, including evocative sculptures of black willow and recycled aluminum plate and two works that offer commentary on current events.

Christine Joy January New this Week

40cj Smoke Ring, Christine Joy
willow with black encaustic, 23″ x 22″ x 12″, 2014

Christine Joy sources, harvests and then transforms willow into dramatic sculpture. Smoke Ring represents a new direction for Joy, she says, “more looseness and movement on the edge, visually, of coming apart, more exploration of added color to give unity and emotional depth.”

Merja Winqvist January New this Week

11mw Water Lily, Merja Winqvist
recycled aluminum plate, 26” x 25.75” x 1.75”, 2016

Merja Winquist of Finland has created a stylized and shimmering Water Lily of recycled aluminum.

Ceca Georgieva January New this Week

14cg The Iron Curtain, Ceca Georgieva
burrdock burrs, 19” x 16” x 5” 2016

In Iron Curtain, a sculpture of burdock burrs, by Ceca Georgieva of Bulgaria, a figure seeks escape from a web of red threads. The work is about Georgieva’s generation, who remained n Eastern Europe after World War II on the Red side―the Communist side―of the Iron Curtain. “As children,” she says, “we proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, and we believed whatever we were told to believe. Our future was programmed and seemed to be clear and beautiful. When cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain and news from the West slowly filtered into the country, we learned about beat poetry, rock ‘n’ roll, blue jeans and Coca-Cola. We started to feel the lack of freedom and the desire to go out and to live without fear of restriction and deprivation. Then the wall fell down. Now, 25 years later, we are still in front of the half-open curtain, making efforts to get rid of the red iron threads.”

Norma Minkowitz January New this Week

66nm Are We The Same?, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 12” x 28” x 26.375”, 2016

Are We the Same? by Norma Minkowitz, also addresses societal change, in this case, assimilation. “My thought was about our society and how, as time goes on, we intermingle and intermarry, ” says the artist, “and at the end we are a combination of many different genes and DNA and perhaps are eventually blended in some way.” Enjoy our selections.


Blog: Artists Recommend Books – January Edition

Here are a few recommended books that missed the posting deadline for our previous Blog, Books Make Great Gifts. From Chris Drury in the UK, a title he considers a must in light of the Dakota Pipeline, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press), which won an American Book Award in 2015. As an antidote, he recommends A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (University of Chicago Press). Drury recommends two books from Korea, too, The Vegetarian by Hang Kang (Hogarth) and Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin (Vintage).

Wendy Wahl looked at the past year in providing her recommendations. “if the world has felt as wobbly to you as it has to me during 2016 then were on the same path,” she writes. “This isn’t to say that everything that transpired has been negative though there have been several traumatic events. The positive experiences have been just as surprising and memorable,” according to Wahl. She recommends a text on classic Indian spirituality, “that provides inspiration for healing and reframing perspectives, The Upanishads, introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran (Nigiri Press). This collection of teachings is as timely now as it was 2000 years ago. Understanding the following words from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (iv.4.5) could be useful,” she says. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny. The Mundaka Upanishad furnished the motto of the modern Indian nation, she notes, satyam eva jayate, nanritam, Truth alone prevails, not unreality” (iii.1.6).”Perhaps the global collective consciousness will awaken to this concept. I’m trying to remain hopeful.” Wahl adds that for readers interested in one of her favorite materials, Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky (W.W. Norton) is “a worthy read for a perspective on world history and a material that has had such an important role in its direction and documentation. I appreciated the author opening chapter fourteen with a quote from Denis Diderot, Encyclopedie,1 755: Indeed, the purpose of an encyclopedia is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth it’s general system to the men with whom we live, transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and that we should not die with out having rendered a service to the human race. Perhaps Diderot should have included – to the women with whom we live,” she concludes.


Greenery On My Mind; Pantone Color of the Year

Pantone Color of the Year Greenery

Pantone Color of the Year Greenery

Pantone has revealed that “greenery” will be the Color of the Year for 2017. Pantone describes “greenery” as “a refreshing and revitalizing shade” that is “symbolic of new beginnings.”
With new beginnings in mind, here, in honor of January — are some green-themed artworks for you to view. Baskets, tapestries and mixed media sculpture–green can inspire works of all sorts, made of materials from glass beads to copper wire to Japanese paper.

Gyöngy Laky

Gyöngy Laky, Proceeding
Photo: M. Lee Fatherree

Rachel Max

Rachel Max, After Haeckel II
Photo by Tom Grotta

Lawrence LaBianca

Lawrence LaBianca, My Fathers Dream
Photo by Tom Grotta

Ed Rossbach

Ed Rossbach, Green with Four Ears
Photo by Tom Grotta

Scott Rothstein

Scott Rothstein, #62
Photo by Tom Grotta

Nancy Koenigsberg

Nancy Koenigsberg, Aurora
Photo by Tom Grotta

Adela Akers

Adela Akers, Five Windows
Photo by Tom Grotta

Debra Sachs

Debra Sachs, Green Armadillo Basket
Photo by Debra Sachs

Deborah Valoma

Deborah Valoma, The Surge
Photo by Tom Grotta

Jeannine Anderson

Jeannine Anderson, Untitled
Photo by tom Grotta

Axel Russmeyer

Axel Russmeyer, Untitled
Photo by Tom Grotta

Noriko Takamiya

Noriko Takamiya, #36 Revolving
Photo by Tom Grotta


Art Assembled: Featured in December

Dona Look White Birch Bark Baskets

Dona Look
10dl #10-1, white birch bark and waxed silk thread, sewn with wrapped edge
12.6” x 10” x 10”, 2010
10dl #13-2, woven white birch bark, sewn and wrapped with waxed silk thread
13.75” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2013
9dl #15-2, white birch bark and waxed silk thread sewn exterior, woven interior and wrapped edge
11.75” x 11.75” x 11.75”, 2015.
Photo by Tom Grotta

Each week of the year at browngrotta.com, we draw attention to a work, a book or a project by one of the artists we represent. Beginning this December, we’ll be providing a monthly round up of these works here on arttextstyle.com. This month on browngrotta.com we featured four very disparate works. First, baskets of white birch by Dona Look, who harvests the bark herself in Wisconsin where she lives. “Look carefully selects bark from large, healthy trees that will soon be logged—evaluating the diameter of each tree and the bark’s thickness, for its unique markings and flexibility,” explains Jane Milosch in “The Entanglement of Nature and Man,” Green from the Get Go: Contemporary International Basketmakers (browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2016). “Collecting and preparing the bark is painstaking and must be done in the spring when the sap is running. Unfortunately, her work has become increasingly difficult of late as not all of the trees are in a natural cycle, and some are dying due to climate change, such as white birch trees, once prevalent in northern Wisconsin forests.” The simple geometric patterns of some of her works, writes Milosch, “recall the patterns of Native American parfleche pouches, which were a kind of geographical depictions of the surrounding land, at the same time her basket preserves the radiant splendor of birch.”

steel weaving by Kyoko Kumai

31kk Kyoko Kumai, Sen Man Na Yu Ta, stainless steel filaments, 44″ x 38″ x 7.75″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

A strikingly different sensibility is evident in Sen Man Na Yu Ta, Kyoko Kumai’s wall sculpture of stainless steel. The steel filaments, mass-produced in a factory, are inorganic and monotonous by themselves, but when they are woven, twisted or bundled together they take on an organic appearance that serves to express various aspects of wind, air and light.

Glass and paper boat

32jb Glass Boat, Jane Balsgaard, plantpaper, twigs and glass, 14″ x 13″ x 1.5″ 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Our third choice, Jane Balsgaard’s Glass Boat, deftly blends a sail of lightly processed handmade paper and a hull of glossy glass. Finally, in Process Piece, Ed Rossbach takes on construction, deconstruction and reconstruction in one work. First, he printed an image onto fabric, then he unraveled the fabric and finally re-constructed it into a new version. “I thought he was crazy,” his wife, artist Katherine Westphal told us.
The four works create a fine sentiment for 2017: Seek the splendid, airy, shiny and light; be willing to re-envision and remake.

Ed Rossbach Weaving

159r Process Piece, Ed Rossbach, 15″ x 15″ x 2.5″, 1981. Photo by Tom Grotta


Books Make Great Gifts 2016

Another year of widely divergent books. Art, biology, history and biography are all represented in the answers we received to the questions we asked of artists that work with browngrotta arts: What books cheered you? Inspired you? Provided an escape?

Dona Anderson, wrote that she is reading Herbert Hoover: A Life by Glen Jeansonne (NAL, New York, 2016) who calls Hoover the most resourceful American since Benjamin Franklin. “I recently had a birthday and remember that my mother went to vote on the day I was born, November 6th, and she voted for Herbert Hoover. Consequently, I started to think about what the political atmosphere was like then — as ours was so crazy and even more so now. When I went to the library in October, the Hoover book was brand new and it appealed to me.” Rachel Max is reading Materiality, edited by Petra Lange-Berndt (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2015), one of the latest additons to the Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series. It’s a fantastic series. Each volume in the series focuses on a specific theme and contains many thought-provoking essays from theorists and artists. Materiality not only addresses key geographical, social and philosophical issues, but it also examines how artists process and use materials in order to expand notions of time, space and participation. As the publisher notes, “this anthology focuses on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes.” Max has also been dipping into the diaries of Eva Hesse. “They are extremely private and were never meant for publication. But, as a huge fan of her work it is interesting to read her thoughts,” Max writes.

Gyöngy Laky recommended, highly, Daughters of the Samurai, A Journey From East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura (W.W. Norton, New York, 2016). “This book is a fascinating biographical history chronicling the lives of three young Japanese girls sent to America in 1871 by the just barely 22-year-old Empress, Haruko. Their mission was to become educated and to bring back to Japan western ideas to advance the role of women and to help Japan adopt western knowledge and technology. Haruko […”something of a prodigy: reading at the age of three, composing poetry at five, studying calligraphy at seven and plucking the koto (a stringed instrument) at 12] had earlier married the 16-year-old Emperor who ascended the throne in 1868. He had adopted the name, Meiji, or Enlightened Rule—to usher in the beginning of a new era. The new era was a plunge into modernization. Sending three young girls to the West turned out to be more enlightened than expected. Sutematsu Yamakawa, 11; Shige Nagai, 10 and Ume Tsuda, the youngest, a tender, 6, remained in the U.S. for 10 formative years and then changed the future and subsequent history of Japanese women forever.

Nimura’s skillful crafting of a can’t-put-it-down narrative of their experiences on two sides of the Pacific is a vividly rich visual, as well as historical, account. She produced for the reader, through captivating descriptions illuminating the startling differences between these two very different cultures, the contrasting worlds we could easily visualize.

Stacy Shiff, Pulitzer Prise-winning author of Cleopatra wrote: “Nimura reconstructs their Alice-in-Wonderland adventure: the girls are so exotic as to qualify as ‘princesses’ on their American arrival. One feels “enormous” on her return to Japan.” It is just this Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of their story that caught my imagination. As in Louis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is the environment and the material culture that sets the stage for remarkable events. The tangible aspects of two vastly contrasting cultures – intellectually, technically, behaviorally and in terms of the accoutrements of every day life, express well the often conflicting, peculiar and unexpected events in the girls’ lives. The girls move from Japanese clothing, furniture and customs to western style and then back again feeling more comfortable in western settings than in their birth homes kneeling on the floor and lavishly swathed in yards and yards of embroidered silks.

In the late 19th century the US was bursting with inventions and change. Planning begun in the 1850s for the Chicago World’s Fair was well under way, ushering in the Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth, design innovation and expansion of popular culture. A startlingly appropriate time for the girls’ cultural experiment to take place. Nimura, who moved to Japan for three years with her Japanese/American nesei husband, was adept at utilizing her keen sense of design and broad knowledge of the two disparate material cultures. She skillfully brought to life the vast differences between the two civilizations through masterful and insightful descriptions of clothing, hairstyles, furniture, interiors, architecture as well as the cities in which they existed. This, combined with her extensive research, presents the reader with many insights into the relations between the two countries and their intertwined histories through the lives of these exceptional girls and their extraordinary adventures.

As Miriam Kingsberg of the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote, “Daughters… is, perhaps, less a story of Japanese out of place in their country, than of women ahead of their time.” Laky adds that while she was a professor of art and design at the University of California, Davis, she encouraged her students to study abroad. “This book illustrates how education and experience in a foreign country enhances understanding of other cultures and peoples – perhaps more important today than in the 1870s and 80s. I believe travel also greatly inspires creativity.”

The Box Project, edited by Lyssa C.Stapleton (Cotsen Occasional Press, Los Angeles, 2016), “is one of the very best catalogs I have ever seen and not only the precious book binding!,” wrote Heidrun Schimmel. “I´m still reading the important essays again and again…and I´m learning again and again…” The Box Project is a limited edition book. It will be available at browngrotta.com next week. John McQueen wrote that The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books, Vancouver, 2016), will change your next walk in the woods. “Trees will never seem the same again. This is a scientific study on how trees communicate with each other among many other things that I, for one, never thought about.”

Currently, Jane Balsgaard is reading The Wind is my Mother: The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman by Marcellus “Bear Heart” Williams and Molly Larkin (revised edition, Berkeley Publishing Group, New York 2012) and Diary of an Stupid Man, by Uschi Tech, published in Denmark by Forlaget Helle.
It is a sad and exciting story about a typical lonely man in today’s Denmark, she wrote. “Written in a wonderful language – so one can just imagine him, by reading it and it is just as sad as StonerMary Merkel-Hess has three recommedations. “I heard Cornelia Mutel read from her book, A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland (University Of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2016), last March just after it was published” she writes. “I bought it immediately. Connie Mutel is a trained scientist but in this book she has written a very personal account of climate change occurring in her own small woodland here in Johnson County, Iowa. She has woven stories of her own life into observations of the possibly irreversible changes that are happening around us. It is a beautifully written and thoughtful book, but not a hopeless one. She ends with a discussion of things that we can do and strategies for our policymakers.”
Her second recommendation is Food Power: the Rise and Fall of the American Postwar Food System by Bryan L. McDonald. Bryan is Merkel-Hess’s son-in-law, a history professor at Penn State and long-time student of security issues. This book details how the unprecedented abundance of food mid-century was used to advance U.S. goals and values around the world. That food can influence global policy is an issue that Merkel-Hess never considered until now, but one she found fascinating.
The third book, is one for the Sinophiles and academically inclined among us, is The Rural Modern: Constructing the Self and State in Republican China by Kate Merkel-Hess. Merkel-Hess has another academic connection: Kate is her daughter and also a history professor at Penn State. This book about rural reform in China before the Communist revolution documents a desire for modernity rooted in Chinese rural traditions and institutions. Merkel-Hess found it interesting that American foundation money and the YMCA were involved in these early modernizing efforts.
We also have two limited-edition, artist-designed books to highlight: Judy Mulford: 80 Chairs by Judy Mulford and Marian Bijlenga: Miniatures, An autobiographical archive reflecting 30 years of work by Marian Bijlenga. In each case, the artist has created a reflective work — celebrating a full and accomplished career. The books are available at http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/books.php.

As always, enjoy!


Art Press: Sara Brennan in the News on Two Continents

Sara Brennan in both American Craft and Selvedge Magazines this month

Sara Brennan in both American Craft and Selvedge Magazines this month

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.”

American Craft and Selvedge Magazine Covers

American Craft and Selvedge Magazine Covers

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.”

Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line by Sara Brennan, linen, wool, and cotton, 42.5" x 42", 2014

Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line by Sara Brennan, linen, wool, and cotton, 42.5″ x 42″, 2014

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.