Artsy’s Take on Textile Pioneers and Ours

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5" x 44.5", 1970

Bobbin Lace with Openings, Ed Rossbach, plastic tubing, bobbin lace 20.5″ x 44.5″, 1970

Last fall, Artsy compiled information and slide shows on 10 artists the author, Sarah Gottesman, viewed as pioneers. Click HERE to read Artsy’s article. We have our own nominees for such a list, including Ed Rossbach who experimented with materials and techniques in the 60s, creating bobbin lace from plastic tubing and vessels of cereal boxes and tubing, and Lia Cook, who has combined weaving, painting, photography and digital technology, focusing on the history and meaning of textiles, shattering restrictive theories about craft, art, science and technology in the process. Gyöngy Laky has experimented in sculpture of twigs and wood, hardware and wire — creating vessels, forms, wall work and typography. Kay Sekimachi created ethereal monofilament weavings in the 70s and 80s, bowls and towers of paper after that, and continues, at age 90, to create elegant weavings of lines and grid that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin.
Intensity Tera Data woven cotton and rayon 50.5” x 332”, 2014 23lc Neural Networks woven cotton and rayon 81” x 51”, 2011 27lc Intensity Su Data Encore woven cotton and rayon 52” x 40”, 2014

Intensity Tera Data, woven cotton and rayon, 50.5” x 332”, 2014
Neural Networks, woven cotton and rayon, 81” x 51”, 2011
 Intensity Su Data Encore, woven cotton and rayon, 52” x 40”, 2014

You can learn more about these and other artists through our catalog, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now , which profiles 15 pioneering fiber artists who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture and 15 artists born in 1960 or after, who have continued that innovative approach.
Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Gyöngy Laky Currency Art

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013

Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permament marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013


Color of the Year: Ultraviolet

Conde Nast Traveler has circled the globe, finding places where you can see Ultraviolet, Pantone’s Color of the Year, around the world. Closer to home, we’ve traveled browngrotta’s inventory to bring you artworks that envision violet for you to view: Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz; Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal; Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka; Purple Meets Pink, Axel Russmeyer; Purple & Gold Egg Basket, Chunghi Choo, Detail of Dark, Ulla-Maija Vikman, No. 79, Scott Rothstein and Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson.

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54" x 43" x 9", 1964

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964

Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal, heat transfer photo copy collage drawing, 22" x 30", 1993

Two Runner Pots, Katherine Westphal, heat transfer photo copy collage drawing, 22″ x 30″, 1993

Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, wool and sisal, 55" x 70", 1992

Palisades, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, wool and sisal, 55″ x 70″, 1992

PURPLE MEETS PINK Axel Russmeyer, polyester thread on cardboard bubbins, nylon thread, ribbon, aluminum, 5" (d), 2010.

PURPLE MEETS PINK
Axel Russmeyer, polyester thread on cardboard bubbins, nylon thread, ribbon, aluminum, 5″ (d), 2010.

PURPLE & GOLD EGG BASKET Chunghi Choo wire mesh 12" x 12" x 10" 1993

PURPLE & GOLD EGG BASKET
Chunghi Choo
wire mesh
12″ x 12″ x 10″
1993

 Dark, Ulla Vikman, painted viscose and linen, steel, 71" x 16.5"; 180cm x 42cm, 2003

Dark, Ulla Vikman, painted viscose and linen, steel, 71″ x 16.5″; 180cm x 42cm, 2003

#79, Scott Rothstein, hand stiched silk thread on silk ground, in black wood frame with museum glass, 13" x 13", 2000

#79, Scott Rothstein, hand stiched silk thread on silk ground, in black wood frame with museum glass, 13″ x 13″, 2000

Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson, sisal and coconut fibers on blastered acrylic glass, 14" x 11.875" x 1.25", 36 x 30cm, 2006

Traces 3 Relief, Mia Olsson, sisal and coconut fibers on blastered acrylic glass, 14″ x 11.875″ x 1.25″, 36 x 30cm, 2006

 

 


Books Make Great Gifts, Part 2

From Tapestry To Fiber Art The Laussane Biennials 1962-1995 Bokk Spread

From Tapestry To Fiber Art The Laussane Biennials 1962-1995. Pictured works by Mariette-Rousseau Vermette, Cynthia Schira and Lenore Tawney

Two January arrivals to review and one fav from last year to highlight: We were delighted to receive our copy of From Tapestry to Fiber Art: The Lausanne Biennals 1962-1995 by Giselle Eberhard Cotton and you can order it now from browngrotta arts. The book contains many never-before-published images from the Biennials and insightful essays, as well.

At the end of World War II, the art of tapestry experienced a renewal. By organizing the International Tapestry Biennials in 1962, the city of Lausanne, Switzerland became the international showcase of contemporary textile creation. The Lausanne Biennials gradually became more than just an exhibition. but a not-to-be-missed event that bore witness to the extraordinary evolution of an artistic expression that had graduated from a decorative art to that of a truly independent art form. In the 30 years that the exhibitions were held, 600 artists participated, 911 works were exhibited. The book contains many never-before-published images from the Biennials and insightful essays, as well.

Artisans of Israel Book Cover

Aleksandra Stoyanov spread

Artisans of Israel Transcending Tradition. Aleksandra Stoyanov pictured

Another newly published title we’ve enjoyed is Artisans of Israel: Transcending Tradition by Lynn Holstein (Arnoldsche Art Publishers). Intriguing portraits of dozens of artists are featured, from a Bedouin ceramist, Zenab Garbia, who use cross-stitch patterns in her works, to Russian emigre, Aleksandra Stoyanov who creates evocative tapestries, to Gali Cnaani, whose grandparents emigrated to Israel from Romania and Slovakia and who creates hybrid textiles from meticulously modified items of used clothing. The book features studio photos and portraits of workshops and design brands.

This Way In and Out by Gyöngy Laky from the Box Project Exhibition

Both Heidrun Schimmel and Gyøngy Laky had high praise for The Box Project: Works from the Lloyd Cotsen Collectionedited by Lyssa Stapleton (Cotsen Occasional Press, Los Angeles, 2016). “This catalog itself is an art object! The essays answer very important fundamental questions in textile art and the photographs are in high quality,” writes Heidrun Schimmel. “At the risk of being shamelessly self-promoting,” Gyöngy Laky also recommended the catalog/book that accompanied the unusual, traveling exhibition, which includes Laky’s and Schimmel’s work among that of many other artists.

“The five-pound book, “ Laky writes, “is not only a work of art itself with its indigo cloth cover, exquisite binding, gorgeous photography and elegant design, but, also, presents informative, important and engaging scholarly research. In addition to the background on the formation of this unique collection, the essays eloquently discuss the provenance and role of this field and its current manifestations, as well as describe the medium’s place in the contemporary art world context.”
Laky continues, “My participation was one of the most fascinating engagements with a collector commissioning a work that I have ever experienced. Lloyd Cotsen (of Neutrogena) was assembling a collection of works by contemporary artists in an extremely strange way.  He sent a small archival box to each of the 36 internationally acclaimed artists he selected, asking each to create a one-of-a-kind, three-dimensional, work that fit within the confines of the box. The 36 ideas resulted in remarkably diverse works – some residing within the boxes and some emerging from them to be large-scale works of all kinds when installed in a gallery. The Box Project showcases the dynamic, and often surprising, results.
My work for the box, This Way and That, is composed of eight separate small sculptures – four rectangles and four triangles – that can be arranged in a myriad of ways and has been installed in each venue in a different arrangement.
This inventive way of collecting resulted in an in-depth, thoughtful and provocative scholarly treatise associated with an equally intriguing and extraordinary exhibition.  The artworks are compelling demonstrations of the inventiveness and richness of this realm of the visual arts today.”

Crowds lining up for the opening reception of The Box Project at the Fowler Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

The exhibition opened at The Fowler Museum, UCLA, in September, 2016, traveled to the Racine Museum of Art and is now on view through the end of January  2018, at George Washington University (https://museum.gwu.edu/boxproject).  Additional works by each artist are included in the exhibition.  The Box Project was organized by the Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research with the Racine Art Museum and curated by Lyssa C. Stapleton and Bruce W. Pepich.

Art Assembled: New This Week December

2017 was a busy year for browngrotta arts! We featured more than 80 artists from Europe, Asia, North and South America and the UK in our celebratory 30th Anniversary exhibition Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years in Art. Plunge: Explorations from Above and Below made quite the splash this summer at the New Bedford Art Museum. In addition to both exhibitions we also published our 42nd and 43rd catalogs: Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years in Art and Plunge: Explorations from Above and Belowcompanion catalogs to both of our exhibitions.

Worn Susie Gillespie, homegrown, handspun flax, linen, 16.5" x 16.5" x 2.25", 2016.

Worn Susie Gillespie, homegrown, handspun flax, linen, 16.5″ x 16.5″ x 2.25″, 2016.

We started off December’s New this Week  with Susie Gillespie’s Worn. Gillespie’s work stems from her interest in archaeology and early textiles. Through her work, Gillespie strives to achieve a sense of earth, stone, vegetation and decomposition. In Worn, Gillespie uses handspun flax and linen to add a clothiness that creates texture and life not possible with machine spun yarn.  “If all creativity stems from dissatisfaction, maybe for me it is a dissatisfaction with the ugliness of that is modern, and the ruin of what I imagine once to have been beautiful,” explains Gillespie “…I  look forward to a future where we do not discard things because they are worn out or outmoded. Out of decay and disintegration I wish to express a sense of renewal.”

 

Fuhkyoh Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17" x 16" x 6.5", 2002, stainless steel wire

Fuhkyoh
Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17″ x 16″ x 6.5″, 2002, stainless steel wire

Next up we had Tsuruko Tanikawa’s Fuhkyoh. Made with linked copper and stainless steel wire, Tanikawa’s Fuhkyoh. Tanikawa is a member of the Japanese contemporary basket group started by Hisako Sekijima in the 1980s. (30 years of Japanese Baskets, Hisako Sekijima and Friends.) In November 2017, Tanikawa’s work,  Flexible-6, won the Main Prize for Artistic Exclusivity at Ethno: The 10th International Biennial of Textile Miniatures in Lithuania.
Matrix III-201612, Chang Yeonsoon, polyester mesh, machine sewn, 14” x 14” x 4.75”, 2017

Matrix III-201612, Chang Yeonsoon, polyester mesh, machine sewn, 14” x 14” x 4.75”, 2017

Machine sewn with polyester mesh,  Chang Yeonsoon’s multilayered Matrix III is eye catching and thought provoking. Matrix III, like other pieces from Yeonsoon’s Matrix series, “derives from the oriental perspective that observes the human mind and body as unified,” explains Yeonsoon. “These fiber artworks represent my own Korean formative language. In them, I minimize my body while my mind fills with abstract ideas.”

Pressed Variation Series, Lia Cook, rayon, painted and pressed, 68" x 122", 1981

Pressed Variation Series, Lia Cook, rayon, painted and pressed, 68″ x 122″, 1981

We ended 2017 with Lia Cook’s Pressed Variation Series. Bridging textiles and technology, Cook weaves digital images of cherubic faces or dolls using a jacquard loom, while also incorporating patterns taken from EEG and MRI brain scans over er subjects. While the scans themselves evoke textile-like patterns, Cook’s ability to wind a thread between technology and craft has led to world recognization of her innovations in fiber and textile arts.

 


Happy New Year: to new beginnings, fresh starts, rewrites and resurrections


Mariyo Yagi’s works, including A Cycle, Infinity, resonate with her nawa principle: spiral energy of movement and human beings together creating a metaphorical rope, all pulling together. What better sentiment for the New Year? We at browngrotta arts wish you all an awesome and abundant year. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDSqnF_Wjac

For Yagi, nawa unites two principles: na (you) and wa(I). When combined, nawa means “you and I,” representing a single word that signifies human empathy and endurance. In nawa, you and I, face each other beyond difference, thus signifies our creative interaction, to achieve interconnectedness, unity and peace.
Yagi worked for Isamu Noguchi in Japan in 1973-1976. In order to  fully realize her own projects, which are large in scale, Yagi became a licensed  civil engineer and contractor, the first Japanese sculptor to do so. Yagi has found her own global vocabulary, an infinite array of spiraling forms. From 1980 through the present, she has created artscapes in plazas, gardens, fountains, earthworks and other community art works, including a glass spiral at a Venice Biennial collateral event two years ago and a tall spiral. Axis for Peace and two other works at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. She has the ability to transform communities and build environments through her unconventional interactive art practice, which often involves untrained community volunteers. More about Yagi’s work can be found at www.browngrotta.com/Pages/yagi.php and at: http://www.mariyoyagi.net/English/cn53/ProfileE.html.

 


Anniversary Alert: Jack Larsen at 90

We’ve been celebrating our 30th Anniversary by posting blogs commemorating other milestones in the art world (Frank Lloyd Wright after 150 years; 30 Years of Contemporary Japanese Basketmaking; 10 Years of Feminist Art in Brooklyn), next up we have Jack Larsen at 90. An international textile designer, author and collector, Larsen has long played an influential role in textile arts and has been an important mentor and supporter of browngrotta arts.

Jack Lenor Larsen by Shonna Valeska

Born and raised in Seattle, Larsen spent much of his childhood surrounded by nature of the Pacific North-West. In 1945, Larsen began studying at the School of Architecture at the  University of Washington, where he developed an interest in weaving. Larsen then focused his full attention on weaving, enveloping himself in the Los Angeles art and design scene. Larsen’s desire to work in textiles grew and he enrolled himself in the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In order to break into the design scene, Larsen and fellow Cranbrook students traveled to New York hoping to make some connections. “It was sort of a game—how many people would interview me,” he has written about this trip,”—but the only job I would have taken at the time, happily, was with Knoll. But “Shu” [Florence] Knoll said I was too much of an individual to fit into their mold, which was partly true. My colors were very different; my colors were earthy.” Instead of working for another company, Larsen started his own in 1951. “By the late 1950s, architects were buying my fabric for Knoll furniture in order to get something that wasn’t red, yellow, or electric blue.”

Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator at The Goldstein Museum of Design. Photo: Taylor Barker

Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator at The Goldstein Museum of Design. Photo: Taylor Barker

For over 60 years Larsen and his company Jack Lenor Larsen Inc. have designed fabrics for public buildings, corporate offices, Pan American and Braniff Airlines, the Phoenix Performing Arts Center, and Air Force One and collaborate with Frank Lloyd Wright, just to name a few. The “Larsen Look” characterized by Larsen’s award-winning hand-woven fabrics of natural yarn is synonymous with 20th-century design at its pinnacle. Larsen has spent much of his life traveling the world to unearth new patterns and techniques. His travels and passion for global design made him familiar with ikat and batik, two techniques which he introduced them to the American public. Larsen has won many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Crafts Museum in 200and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art Medal in 2009. Furthermore, Larsen is one of only four Americans to ever be honored with an exhibition in the Palais du Louvre in Paris.

You can see highlights of his remarkable career in Minneapolis through January 7th. The Goldstein Museum of Design opened Jack Lenor Larsen at 90: Transformations by a Textile Innovator,  an exhibition celebrating Larsen’s 90th Birthday through his many innovations. The 70 textiles in the exhibition exemplify Larsen’s mastery of craft techniques, technological innovation and inspiration drawn from global design. The exhibition also includes correspondence, drawing and production samples to give viewers a better understanding of Larsen’s creative processes. Jack Lenor Larsen at 90 can be viewed in Gallery 241 at The Goldstein Museum of Design for free. For more information about the exhibition click HERE.

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36" x 36", 1977

Play It By Trust, Yoko Ono, 1999

In 1992, Larsen completed his East Hampton, NY estate “Longhouse Reserve.” Spanning 16 acres, the estate boasts an expansive sculpture garden with work by Yoko Ono, William de Kooning and Sol LeWitt, among others. While Larsen’s home on Longhouse Reserve remains private, his sculpture garden is open to the public throughout the summer months. “I built the LongHouse gardens to share. I think seeing in three dimensions is so contagious,” explains Larsen. This past summer, Larsen used his 90th birthday to acquire works for the Longhouse collection. The benefit attracted artists, architects, designers and politicians. Guests were treated to performances by multi-instrumentalist Gian Carlo Feleppa on sitar, Mohsen Namjoo, an Iranian singer and sitar player and the synchronized swimmers The Brooklyn Peaches.  

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36" x 36", 1977

Damask Waterfall, Ed Rossbach, cotton welting cord, commercial fabric, plastic, satin damask, wrapped, 36″ x 36″, 1977

In addition to his design success, Larsen has authored an array of landmark publications including Elements of Weaving (1967), The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi (1971), Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric (1972), Fabric for Interiors (1975), The Art Fabric: Mainstream (1981), Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric (1986), Material Wealth: Living with Luxurious Fabrics (1989), The Tactile Vessel: New Basket Forms (1989), A Weaver’s Memoir (1998), Jack Lenor Larsen: Creator & Collector (2004) exhibition catalog and Learning from Longhouse (2010). 

Larsen has been a generous friend to browngrotta arts, selecting browngrotta as the Best Booth at SOFA, NY one year and Sue Lawty as Best Artist. Browngrotta arts also worked with Longhouse Reserve in collaboration with an Ed Rossbach Special Exhibition at SOFA Chicago years ago.Larsen wrote the introduction to our monograph: Ethel Stein: Weaver and contributed to 25 for the 25th.

 


Books Make Great Gifts: 2017, Part 1

Book: What Happened Hillary Rodham Clinton

Book: Vitamin-Clay-Ceramic-Contemporary-Art/dp/0714874604/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513259535&sr=8-1&keywords=Vitamin+C%3A+Clay+%2B+Ceramic+in+Contemporary+Art+%28Phaidon%29

Another wide-ranging selection of books selected by browngrotta arts’ artist this year. Mary Merkel Hess: recommends What Happened by Hillary Clinton (Simon and Schuster). “Have you ever wondered what Hillary Clinton’s favorite snack is?,” Mary asks. “Me neither, but now I know. I listened to the audio version of this book read by Hillary herself. Hearing the book in her own voice made it ‘up close and personal.’ Her detailed description of life on the campaign trail, from a feminine perspective in an unusual political year, is fascinating.” Mary also has an art book on her list: Vitamin C: Clay + Ceramic in Contemporary Art (Phaidon). “For those of you who enjoy a book of luscious photography in coffee table size,” says Mary, “this is for you. Vitamin C is a medium-specific survey of more than 100 ceramic artists nominated by international art world professionals. A disclaimer: My son, Matthias Merkel-Hess, is included in this book but I am enjoying the photos and short essays enough that I am reading the other entries too. Some larger lights in the ceramic world like Ai Wei Wei and Betty Woodman are included as well as younger artists.”

Book: Chance-and-Change-by-Mel-Gooding,Chance and Change by Mel Gooding, about the nature artist Herman de Vries (Thames & Hudson) “is a wonderful book,” says Lizzie Farey. “It appraises De Vries’s work with beautiful images and argues that a proper contemplation and experience of nature is essential to living in any meaningful sense.”

Book: Oryx and Crake“Today’s world is so utterly filled with alternative facts and a reality of denial that for reasons unexplainable,” Wendy Wahl writes, “I decided to immerse myself in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian trilogy. While not new on the literary scene, I recently finished the first book, Oryx and Crake (Anchor), and am absorbed in The Year of the Flood (Anchor) which will be followed by Book: MaddAddam (The Maddaddam Trilogy)MaddAddam (Anchor) to close 2017. Atwood brilliantly takes us on an idiosyncratic journey with her keen wit and dark humor combining adventure and romance while forecasting a future that is at once all too recognizable and beyond envisioning. I highly recommend this environmental, philosophical and spiritual work of science fiction as a parallel view of the current global crossroads.”

Scott Rothstein recently receivedBook: Jangarh-Singh-Shyam-Enchanted-Collection Jangarh Singh Shyam: The Enchanted Forest Paintings and Drawings from the Crites Collection, by Aurogeeta Das (ROLI), a “truly remarkable” book from the collector of this work, who Scott knows from Delhi. You can read more about the show here: http://artfoundout.blogspot.com/2017/10/jangarh-singh-shyam-enchanted-forest.html, and read a great interview with the collector here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yh1JhXAebGc.

Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎“I’m reading a poem book by Japanese poet in Japanese….it is wonderful and strong,” says Tamiko Kawata. Sorry, not in English!!! “ It’s title is Ambarvalia アムパルワリア 旅人かえらず, by Nishiwaki Junzaburo 西脇順三郎 (Kodansha Bungei Bunko). “I hope someone will enjoy.”

Book: The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the AirNancy Moore Bess’s contribution is The Sculpture of Ruth Asawa: Contours in the Air, Elisa Urbanelli (University of California Press). It is the 2007 catalogue from the traveling exhibition of the same name. “Perhaps you saw it when it was at Japan Society,” she writes. “I missed it at the deYoung, but I was lucky to catch it shortly thereafter at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. The book is an inspiring documentation of her life, work, values and sense of community. There are drawings, which I had never seen before, photos of her with her early work and with friends. And then the stunning photographs of her later work. When the deYoung opened its new (and very controversial) building in 2005, over a dozen of her pieces were installed at the base of the tower. They are lit in such a way as to reveal how important shadows are to complete each piece. The photographs in the book really capture the installation. Buy the book and then come see the work in person! Prepare to stay a while and take it all in. Recently friends visited – Leon Russell from Seattle and Nancy Koenigsberg from New York. Both are now living with the book! Ruth died in 2013, but she is still revered in San Francisco – both for her artwork and for her commitment to children and the community. So wish I had met her! My great loss.”

Book: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis“The book that moved me and opened my eyes to a world that I knew superficially was Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance,”writes Kyomi Iwata. “This book explained in a way why people chose the current political leader. I had a casual conversation with a Southern lady during our visit to the William and Mary College Art Museum in Williamsburg, Va this spring. She was a stranger who was holding the book and saying she did not like the book. It was the reading recommendation from her book club. At the end of our brief encounter though, we both agreed that knowing something which is not familiar is a worthwhile read. This book emphasized the importance of education and getting out from a familiar situation even though it is scary sometimes. The author felt this way and eventually went to Yale Law School. Afterwards he came back to the community to help others. Oh yes, he is a white man.”

Book: Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher RothkoRachel Max has been reading Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, by his son, Christopher Rothko. “Rothko’s meditative sensitivity and use of colour inspires me and this is a personal and engaging analysis of his father’s work. I was particularly interested in the chapter on Rothko and Music and of the emotional power of Rothko’s paintings and its parallels to music. Music was hugely important to Rothko and his son draws similarities between Mozart’s melodies and his father’s transparent textures, clarity, and purity of from in order to give what he calls greater expression – for both artist and composer alike nothing was added unnecessarily. Rothko’s application of paint and varnish allows us to see layers which would otherwise be concealed. He also draws comparisons between their artistic power to convey complex feelings and to what he describes as the coexistence between ecstasy and doom. He also describes how they both had the paradoxical ability to create an intimate and yet grand space. Christopher Rothko doesn’t draw the line at Mozart, he makes comparisons to Schubert’s shifts in tone and of the interplay between Rothko’s pigments, and to the relationship between Rothko’s sense of space with Morton Feldman’s use of silence. Rothko wanted his paintings to affect us in the same way he felt that music and poetry does – an absolute means of expressing what perhaps cannot be explained in words, “ she writes. “I grew up surrounded with music. The relationship between music and weaving is something I have been exploring and this particular essay resonated with me, but the others are equally personal and thought provoking.” Rachel has also been given copies of
From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira) and Books Make Great Gifts: Rooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine StealeyRooted Revived Reinvented: Basketry in America by Kristin Schwain and Josephine Stealey (Schiffer) and she can’t wait to read them!

At browngrotta arts we are awaiting our on-order copy of Books men great gifts: From Tapestry to Fiber Art (Skira)From Tapestry to Fiber Art: The Lausanne Biennals 1962-1995 with text by Giselle Eberhard Cotton, Magali Junet, Odile Contamin, Janis Jefferies, Keiko Kawashima, Marta Kowalewska, Jenelle Porter (Skira). We have on good authority that it is a beautiful book. We are also looking forwarded to wandering through the re-issue of Book Make Great Gifts: Anni Albers On WeavingAnni Albers’ On Weaving (Princeton University Press) (shhhhh, it’s still under the tree!). Enjoy!


Art Assembled: New this Week November

 

 Lead Relief Mary Giles lead, iron, wood 23.75” x 56 .75”” x 2”, 2011

Lead Relief
Mary Giles
lead, iron, wood
23.75” x 56 .75”” x 2”, 2011. Photo: Tom Grotta

We kicked off November’s New This Week with Mary Giles’ Lead Relief. “In Giles’ work, one will find the traditional basketry technique coiling alongside contemporary materials of waxed linen, copper, and iron,” notes the Textile Center. Giles’ uses both her basketry and sculpture as a means to express her concerns about the environment and human condition. Giles’ concern about the growing population is visible in works such as Lead Relief. In 2013, she was named Master of the Medium by the James Renwick Alliance of the Smithsonian Institution.

 

Sinuous, Randy Walker, found steel, cotton cord, nylon thread, 28” X 30" x 20”, 2003

Sinuous Horse, Randy Walker, found steel, cotton cord, nylon thread, 28” X 30″ x 20”, 2003. Photo: Tom Grotta

Sinuous Horse, is an example of how Walker, uses fiber as his medium to endlessly explore the possibilities of a single strand of thread. In Sinuous Horse, Walker used pieces of salvaged steel to create the bone-like structure of a horse. Walker then used nylon thread and cotton cord to form the curves of a horses body. “My work straddles precariously on several boundaries: solidity and transparency; structural stability and collapse; visibility and invisibility,” notes Walker “I strive to create work that primarily engages our sense of sight by contemplating how light can define structure, surface, and color.”

Kundalini Rising II, Pat Campbell,
rice paper, reed and wood, 24” x 14” x 6.5”, 2009. Photo: Tom Grotta

Delicately crafted of rice paper, reed and wood Pat Campbell’s Kundalini Rising II also made an appearance in November. The technique Campbell uses to create her rice paper sculptures is derived from those used to created Japanese shoji screens. Rice paper provides Campbell with the transparency she desires in creating a simple but spectacular piece of work. The thin nature of rice paper also allows Campbell to easily shape reed, wood, and paper cord necessary for her sculptures.

Fog Break, Mary Giles, waxed linen, iron, brass, 11” x 26” x 9”, 2011

Fog Break, Mary Giles, waxed linen, iron, brass, 11” x 26” x 9”, 2011. Photo: Tom Grotta

We concluded November with Fog Break, another impeccable piece by Mary Giles. When working with coiled forms such as Fog Break Giles uses waxed-linen, iron and brass. Giles individually cuts and hammers each piece of iron and brass and then torches the metal to alter the color. “By torching the metals I am able to alter the colors in varying degrees enabling me to blend them from darks to brights,” explains Giles. “I use this blending to interpret the colors, textures and light that I see in the natural settings.”

 

 


Anniversary Alert: 30 Years of Catalogs – 30 Days to Save

From November 30th to December 31st, buy three or more browngrotta arts catalogs and save 10% on your order. In addition, for each sale made during that period, browngrotta arts will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation https://www.icaf.org.
browngrotta holiday sale
In its 30 years promoting contemporary decorative art, browngrotta arts has produced 47 catalogs, 45 of which are still available. Readers have been appreciative: Artist, collector, curator, Jack Lenor Larsen, wrote that “… catalogs produced by browngrotta, and the photography therein, have become so superior, they are an important part of our literature.” Lotus Stack, formerly Curator of Textiles at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, noted that our publications, “consistently engage much more than readers’ minds.”
All of our volumes are heavy on images. Some highlight work by one or two artists, including Lenore TawneyEd Rossbach and Kay Sekimachi. Others, like Beyond Weaving, International Contemporary ArtTextiles, Influence and Evolution and Green from the Get Go, offer insights on materials, themes and influences. Here’s your chance to explore an artist or an era, fill any gaps in your collection or order a full set (a special discount applies to the purchase of all 45).
Our catalogs fall into four loose categories: those about individual artists, those that take a geographic perspective, those designed around a specific artistic theme, and survey publications, that look at a grouping of artists or work over a period of time.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
On Individual Artists
The most detailed views of an individual artist are found in our Monograph Series of which there are three: Lenore Tawney: Drawings in Air; Lia Cook: In the Folds, Works from 1973-1997; Ethel Stein: Weaver and our Focus catalog, Jin-Sook So. Each includes an essay, describing the origin of their artistic practice. Drawings in Air also includes excerpts from Tawney’s journals.
In addition to the Monographs and Focus series, we have created 18 catalogs chronicling a series of exhibitions we have held featuring two or three artists each. These include: Markku Kosonen, Mary Merkel-Hess, Claude Vermette, Ed Rossbach and Katherine Westphal, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Hisako Sekijima; The British Invasion: Maggie Henton and Dail Behennah; Helena Hernmarck and Markku Kosonen; Mary Giles and Kari Lonning; Karyl Sisson and Jane Sauer; Dorothy Gill Barnes and John Garrett; Mary Merkel-Hess and Leon Niehues; Gyöngy Laky and Rebecca Medel; Glen Kaufman and Hisako Sekijima; Three California Basketmakers: Marion Hildebrandt, Deborah Valoma, Judy Mulford; Sara Brennan tapestry and Mary Giles fiber sculpture; Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi: Books, Boxes and Bowls; Adela Akers and Sylvia Seventy.

browngrotta holiday catalog special

Geographic focus:
We work with artists in several countries and have compiled their works in seven catalogs that provide viewers a sense of how contemporary art textiles have evolved in various locales. These include three exploring Japanese textiles and basketry: Sheila Hicks Joined by seven friends from Japan; Traditions Transformed: Contemporary Japanese Textiles & Fiber Sculpture; and Japan Under the Influence: Japanese basketmakers deconstruct transition, which features Hisako Sekijima and the artists she has influenced. It also includes A Scandinavian Sensibility, featuring 15 artists (an exhibition that traveled to the North Dakota Museum of Art), From Across the Pond, featuring artists from the UK, Advocates for the Arts: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection and one international volume: Beyond Weaving: Contemporary ArtTextiles.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Thematic:
For several exhibitions we asked artists to consider a particular material, approach or influence. This list of catalogs includes: Plunge, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, Stimulus: Art and Its Inception, On Paper, Wired, featuring works made of metals and Art of Substance, which won an AIA design award, and which highlights large-scale works.
30th Anniversary Catalog Special
Survey publications:
Our first survey publications, 10th Wave Part 1: New Baskets and Freestanding Sculpture and 10th Wave Part 2: New Textiles and Fiber Wall Art, which provided “states of the art” reviews, were produced in 1997, 10th Wave III: Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture followed in 2009. In between and since we have published Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now – a look at fiber from the 60s to the present, 25 for the 25th; Artboombaby boomer artists reflect on their art; Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture and this past year, Still Crazy After All These Years: 30 years in art.
Take this opportunity to stock up! (Call us for a special price on the full set of 45 catalogs 203-834-0623.)

30 Years of Japanese Baskets, Hisako Sekijima and Friends, Part 2

Poster from this year's Basketry Exhibition

Poster from this year’s Basketry Exhibition

“In Japan,” writes influential basketmaker Hisako Sekijima,”the idea of making ‘non-utilitarian baskets’ is still not so properly appreciated  even after 30 years!!”  Undaunted, for three decades, Sekijima and a loosely organized group of 80 or so other artists have continued to pursue what she calls contemporary basketmaking, but the Victoria & Albert Museum terms a “journey of radical experimentation,” maintaining a website, newsletter and mounting an annual exhibition in the process. For the 30th anniversary of this exhibition at the Yamawaki Gallery, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, this fall, Sekijima wrote text to refresh insider artists’ vision and to expand the understanding of outsiders, artists and their audience. The statement below is adapted from that text.

 

Contemporary Basketry Influences
Ed Rossbach’s Baskets as Textile Art lead to a surge of contemporary basketmaking in 1970s.  The notion of baskets, as stated well in its title, has been spreading and stimulating basketmakers’ creative minds beyond US, to other countries in the world. In Japan, basketmakers have committed significantly to this worldwide, challenging trend in the last 30 years. Their output has been found in show catalogs as well as international publications, for example, those published by browngrotta arts.
I can explain first, why this notion of baskets is new and also, why it was taken up with interest by a wide range of makers. Prior to the 70s, baskets had been discussed either in terms of ethnology/folk culture or in relation of certain local traditional connoisseurship in tea ceremony, flower arrangement and daily life style design. In Rossbach’s book baskets were re-evaluated beyond those local cultural and historical confinements. That is, baskets were abstracted in their formal or conceptual expressive possibility. Baskets came to be challenged from various angles without consideration of conventional requirements. More recent results of this challenge include exploration of new material/structure, or of new spatial expression of linear elements.

 

The 90s
In 1999, at Yokohama Art Museum, an exhibition, Weaving the Worldpresented a term, “contemporary art of linear construction” to link a wide range of artistic expressions from artists including John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Hisako Sekijima, Kyoko Kumai along with Martin Puryear, Richard Deacon and Oliver Herring. This new context resulted in a fresh look of sculptural works which were not carved nor molded but made of linear substances. Baskets and fiber arts spoke clearly there.
 Red/White Revolving, Noriko Takamiya, paper constructions, 6" x 7" x 6", 2010

Red/White Revolving, Noriko Takamiya, paper constructions, 6″ x 7″ x 6″, 2010

 

The Present
More recently, in April 2017, I saw Women Artists in Post-War Abstraction at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, another show affirming the dawn of contemporary textile arts as an abstract expression. Under the category of “Reductive Abstraction” were combined works by Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks and Kay Sekimachi.  Well expressed by the works in the exhibition was these artists’ eager search for abstract expression, which they did by depriving textile techniques of conventional functions, materials and pictorial patterns. Though Rossbach was not there in the show featuring “women artists,” I was sure his new attitude toward baskets was rooted in the same soil.

 

Our Basketry Exhibition Group
Through 1980, I explored basketmaking, especially focusing on the interplay of material and structural mechanism.  And I started a class to introduce a conceptual approach to basketmaking in Japan. Some of my students from that period have been presiding over an annual basketry show since then to cultivate a new ground in Japan. The first show was held at Senbikiya Gallery, Chuo-ku Tokyo in 1986.The objective was then, and still is now, to generate mutual learning and promotion. In Japan, compared with the government-supported field for traditional art bamboo basketry and mingei folk basketry, the field for the contemporary basketry remains small and still not well known. The group avoided forming a so-called art/craft association or exclusive school of a core artist. I knew that in the Japanese cultural climate such attempts had seen quick rise and fall in a short time, for the exclusive/authoritative nature of organizations tends to distort its original ideal. It is a shared regard that binds our group and the conviction that each should be a leader to oneself and to the group, besides being a creative basketmaker.

 

Fuhkyoh Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17" x 16" x 6.5", 2002, stainless steel wire

Fuhkyoh,
Tsuruko Tanikawa, linked copper, 17″ x 16″ x 6.5″, 2002, stainless steel wire

Cooperative Administration
We’ve aimed to keep the group healthy and growing.  A kind of standing committee is organized for each exhibition. Administrative jobs and budgets are shared equally and paid accordingly among the participants. Besides entry fees, the sales of the catalog and a 10% commission from sold works cover the costs. Often we win an invitational support or a subsidiary discount of the rental fee from galleries or art schools. Over time, the regular participants have learned to create show announcements and catalog booklets by computer and to set up a job grading for payment to the respective participants for contributed works. And all of the participants are now able to submit their own pages in digital data to a catalog editor. Each participant has individual pages of work and a statement of intent in the catalog.
For new entries, anyone can submit a portfolio one year in advance. These are reviewed by all of the exhibitors during the ongoing show.  Considerations are made not only for the work but also for the administrative contributions. It is not a juried show, but each participant should be responsible to preserve or better the quality of the show both aesthetically and operationally. Eighty artists have participated over the years — about 30-40 artists participate each year. Participants have included Noriko Takamiya, Kazue Honnma, Tsuruko Tanikawa, Chizu Sekiguchi, Hisako Sekijima,  Shoko Fukuda, Masako Yoshida, Shigeru Matsuyama, Rittsuko Jinnouchi, Nobuko Ueda, Haruko Sugawara.
Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, paper mulberry plaiting, 56 x 43 x 20cm, 2016

Capricious Plaiting, Kazue Honma, paper mulberry plaiting, 56 x 43 x 20cm, 2016

 

Into the Future
Long-time participants such as Noriko Takamiya, Kazue Honma, Tsuruko Tanikawa and me have adopted our own co-operational, open system to keep the show going. We have been careful that this group activity not be for the benefit of exclusive members but should promote independent creative minds through basketmaking. Besides the annual exhibition, Kazue Honma’s editorship of Basketry News Letter and Noriko Takamiya’s handling of our website have been instrumental in keeping this loose group intact. The long list of topics include not only international exhibitions but also iworkhops, technical analysis into structure, experiments/researches of plants, accomplishments in archaeological reproduction and social commitments in developing countries.This year 350 people attended the exhibition, including art writer Janet Koplos and Scandinavian artists, Ingrid Becker and Kristin Opem and Professor Wu, Pei-shan, and students from the Textile Section of the Graduate Institute of Applied Arts of Tainan National University of Arts.

 

 

We wish Sekijima and her fellow artists another creative and inspiring 30 years!