Tag: Ed Rossbach

Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliff

To much fanfare, New York City’s beloved Museum of Modern Art reopened on Oct 21, 2019 after undergoing major renovations over the summer to expand to more than 40,000 square feet of gallery spaces. 

Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Magdalena Abakanowicz Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

The museum’s Department of Architecture and Design organized the inaugural exhibitions reexamining the role of both disciplines as “integral to the interdisciplinary conversation with the visual arts” — an approach we have ascribed to at browngrotta arts for over 30 years.

Of particular interest to arttexstyle is the textile exhibition titled Taking a Thread for a Walk, which is a whimsical play on Paul Klee’s pedagogical lesson that “a drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” This exhibition is on view at The Philip Johnson Galleries on the museum’s third floor through April 19, 2020.   

Taking a Thread for a Walk, according to MoMA’s official press release, “looks at how successive generations developed new material and constructive languages from the 1890s through the 1970s, highlighting the flexibility of textiles, a medium that continues to defy easy categorization. The installation ‘takes a thread for a walk’ among ancient textile traditions, early 20th-century design reform movements, adventurous combinations of natural and new synthetic fibers in industrial production, through to the emergence of a more sculptural approach to textile art in the 1960s and 70s. Textiles and the adjacent practices of architecture, painting, drawing and sculpture have long had a close affinity, especially in the 20th century, when there was a concerted move to emphasize the underlying unity of all art forms and to connect modern art with industry and daily life. Woven artifacts appeared at the forefront of ongoing debates around abstraction, the total work of art, and the fusion of art with technology, challenging the widespread marginalization of textiles as ‘women’s work.'” Many of the pioneers in this narrative have been women, chief among them Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, Florence Knoll and Sheila Hicks. Also featured are  recent acquisitions by Monika Correa (India), Aurèlia Muñoz (Catalonia), and the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, making clear the medium’s global relevance.

Upon entering the exhibition, we were greeted by a large scale sisal sculpture Yellow Abakan 1967–1968 by Magdalena Abakanowicz whose monumental works were often misperceived as a “feminine’ craft.” For more than half a century, Magdalena Abakanowicz produced critically acclaimed, poetic sculptures about the fraught and fragile condition of being human, shaped by her experiences growing up during WWII and living through the Soviet domination of Poland. According to MoMA, “Abakanowicz and many artists of the Eastern Bloc were drawn to craft and textile traditions as expressive mediums less regulated by Soviet censorship. Yellow Abakan‘s form is determined by the drape of the textile, which is coarsely woven from sisal, an industrial plant fiber used to make rope. The scarred seams and anatomical appendages lend the work a figural quality, something Abakanowicz continues to explore in large-scale sculptures cast in hardened fiber. Yellow Abakan was among works by several Polish weavers included in

Wall Hangings, a 1969 MoMA exhibition showcasing the work of international contemporary fiber artists. Abakanowicz’ work was first exhibited in the US by gallerists Anne and Jacques Baruch of Chicago. The Baruch’s work with fiber artists from Eastern Europe is the subject of browngrotta arts’ catalog, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection.

Directly across and in stark contrast in size is a beautiful raffia basket by Ed Rossbach Raffia Lace Basket, 1973. Rossbach was a relentless experimenter and according to MoMA “his career began in with ceramics and weaving in the 1940s, but evolved over the next decade into basket making. He is best known for his innovative and playful baskets made from nontraditional materials such as plastic and newspaper.” Rossbach was also featured in our recent exhibition Artists from The Grotta Collection which is now extended online on Artsy. 

linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Another highlight of the exhibition is a linen sculpture by Sheila Hicks titled Cartridges and Zapata 1962–1965. Hicks is one of the several modern craft and dimensional art artists who are part of The Grotta Collection. Hicks’ work is featured in browngrotta arts’ catalog, Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan, which documents an exhibition Hicks curated at bga in the 90s, one of several bga exhibitions in which Hicks’ work has been included.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Also of interest is a curious framed coptic rounded tapestry from the 6th-8th century titled Christ enthroned by an unknown designer. There is a loom on the left by Anni Albers labeled Structo ArtCraft 750 loom c. 1952 and to the right is a sculpture by Aurèlia Muñoz and Antoni Gaudi’s Study of a catenary arch for the Gaudí crypt at Colonia Güell, 1996. And directly above is a 3-panel digital video projection titled Warping Threading Weaving Drawing, 2014 by Simon Barker and Ismni Samanidou.

Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York 
2019
Installation view of “Taking a Thread for a Walk”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Poorly

Another section of the exhibition featured a collection of woven textiles and in the foreground we were delighted to see a mesmerizing wall hanging by Jack Lenor Larsen, Interplay Casement Fabric, 1960, made of rovanna saran microfilamant. 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. “I think of interior fabrics as something to be in, not just to sit on or look at. Objects are out: the surround is in, and how we feel and relate to space is everything,” Larsen is quoted from 1978 on the MoMA art label. Behind these collections of soft fabrics is Halyard armchair, 1950 by Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner who was commissioned by Lou and Sandy Grotta to design several pieces for their home, The Grotta House. Anni Albers’ popularity is well represented in the exhibition, too, with 18 works ranging from 1926 to 1983 including screenprints, design drawings and tapestry. 

Sheila Hicks Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column
Installation view of Taking a Thread for a Walk, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
2019 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Denis Doorly

Wait, there’s more! On the sixth floor of the museum is another exhibition Surrounds: 11 Installations, showcasing for the first time 11 watershed installations by living artists from the past two decades, all drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection. The exhibition includes Hicks’ monumental Pillar of Inquiry/Supple Column (2013–14) that “playfully and subversively challenges notions of architecture as permanent, solid, and tectonic.”

Be sure to go and see this abundance for yourself. Taking a Thread for a Walk is on view through April 19, 2020. The MoMA is located at 11 West 53 Street, New York. Open daily from 10am to 5:30pm. For more information, visit MoMA.org


Art & Text Opens — Reception at the Wilton Library on October 11th

On Art and On Life Dana Romeis
8dr/r On Art 9dr/r On Life Dana Romeis, silk and cotton, 24″ X 24″, 1991

Through November 7th, browngrotta arts is participating in Art & Text, an inaugural collaboration of 13 libraries in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Each library within the consortium will highlight one or more artists, whose work reflects their unique perspectives on the exhibition’s theme.  Throughout the County, Art & Text runs from September 1 through December 31, 2019, with shows running from one week to 3 months, depending on a library’s individual calendar. Through mixed media, ranging from sculpture and painting to graphics, each library’s exhibition aims to promote awareness of visual arts in the libraries of Fairfield County, as well as foster a connection between the community it serves and the arts.
browngrotta arts provided works by nine artists who use text in their art in a a number of different ways, including embroidered words, collaged newspapers and sculptured works made of the Congressional Record.

The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi
50nk The Sun-Shine on the Water, Naomi Kobayashi, washi paper, koyori thread, india ink, cotton, 20″ x 12.5″ x 2″, 2009

One of the works included is by Naomi Kobayashi who incorporates strips of calligraphy into her weavings. In a an ideal Art & Text plot twist, author William Bayer was inspired by Kobayashi’s work. In his book Hiding in the Weave, the protagonists have to deconstruct a weaving to find a clue to solve a mysterious death. Other artists presented through browngrotta arts include Dana Romeis, who is an artist and interior designer from St. Louis, Missouri. She has a background in art and textiles. From an early age, Dana has been drawn to the intricacy of design. She is particularly fond of the quote, “God is in the details” by Mies van der Rohe. In On Life and On Art,  she has incorporated text into her weavings.

The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt
The Congressional Record, Kate Hunt, nails, twime, encaustic, 12″ x 9″ x 4″

Kate Hunt is from Montana and has recently relocated to Mexico. She says of newsprint, her chosen material: “Newspaper as a construction material is cheap and easy to obtain. It forgives easily. I love the color and feel and its changes in color over time. The size range is equal to that of wood. Texture and density are adjustable. The audience has a history and experience with newspaper that they bring to each of my pieces resulting in a dialog that transcends anything that I thought of as an artist.”

35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28" x 25" x 4", 2009
35ts Pasodoble, Toshio Sekiji, Japanese newspapers; urushi lacquer, red ochre (bengara), 28″ x 25″ x 4″, 2009

Japanese artist Toshio Sekiji intertwines strips of paper from various cultures, rewriting messages and imaging a harmonius confluence of disparate cultures, languages and nationalities – different than the facts on the ground. California artist, Ed Rossbach, was a relentless experimenter. He learned all manner of textile techniques from double weave to bobbin lace making and then applied them to unusual materials with striking results. It the work in Art & Text, Rossbach has used throwaway materials – annual report pages – to create a vessel that looks like a colorful vase. Judy Mulford is also from California. Her work, which often includes gourds, celebrates women and the family. In this case, words about family life and celebration are spelled out in thread using a button-hole technique.

17da Undulating Surface #7, Dona Anderson
wire armature, pattern paper and polymer, 16″ x 17.5″ x 15″
2010

An unusual sculpture by Washington state artist Dona Anderson is included. Anderson uses everyday materials in her works. Her vessel in Art andText is made from dressmaker patterns and the instructions can still be read on its sides. Like Ed Rossbach, Sylvia Seventy was part of California’s fiber movement of the 60s and 70s. She began making vessels of handmade paper then, a process she continues. Her vessels are whimsical incorporating everything from feathers and pins to beads and googly eyes. In this work she has included text telling the viewer to consider the back – where may artist secrets can be found.

Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy
21ss Looking at the Back Sylvia Seventy molded recycled paper, vintage cotton embroidered fabric, wax, wire, beads, waxed carpet thread 3.5” x 8.5” x 8.5”, 2016

The opening of Art & Text at the Wilton Library takes place on Friday, October 11th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. The Library is at: 137 Old Ridgefield Rd, Wilton, CT 06897. A majority of the works are available for purchase with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library.  Media Sponsor: The Wilton Bulletin.


Acquisition News

Diagonal, Kyoko Kumai, stainless steel, 2016.

We have learned about a host of acquisitions for artists who work with browngrotta arts’ since our acquisition reports last July and August 2018.  A large number of our artists’ work are now included in the collection of The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum thanks to the remarkable gift of the late Lloyd Cotsen, former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Neutrogena Corporation, which included 4,000 textiles, an endowment and equipment to support the textile collections he assembled.

Attitude, Lia Cook, Handwoven cotton and rayon, 1999.Photo by: Bruce M. White@ Lloyd E. Cotsen, 2016.

The gift includes the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, one of the world’s most significant textile study collections ever assembled by an individual and The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, organized by Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research, which includes work by John Garrett, Helena Hernmarck, Agneta Hobin, Kiyomi Iwata, Lewis Knauss, Naomi Kobayashi, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gyöngy Laky, Heidrun Schimmel and Hisako Sekijima. Cotsen’s gift also included Lia Cook’s 1999 work, Attitude.

Other acquisitions of note:

Ed Rossbach: Bobbin Lace, 1970, was acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, through browngrotta arts.

Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia DávilaNew Nebula, 2017, was acquired by the Toledo Art Museum in Ohio, through browngrotta arts.

Norma Minkowitz: The Minneapolis Institute of Art purchased a crocheted and stitched wall hanging called Journeys End, 2017, and a stitched drawing with collage and crochet, Lunar Landing, 2017.

Shin Young-ok: Rhymes from 2000 was acquired by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea

Moot, Helena Hernmarck, wool, linen, cotton, 1971. Photo by Helena Hernmarck.

Chang Yeonsoon:  In addition to being a finalist for the Loewe Craft Prize in 2018, the Loewe Foundation in London collected three works of Chang Yeonsoon’s works in August, 2018.

Polly Barton: Fertile Ground, was chosen by the Art in Embassies program to be in the US Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Nancy Koenigsberg: Teal Concentric Boxes was a gift from Camille and Alex Cook to the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin.

Ampersand by Gyöngy Laky

Ethel Stein: Butah, 2011, went to the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois through browngrotta arts.

Kyoko Kumai: Kumai’s tapestry, Diagonal, which was acquired by teh Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2016, is on display at the Museum until the end of July 2020. The National  Museum of Art in Riga, Latvia collected Kumai’s work in 2018.

Åse Ljones: Three pieces from Ljones’ series, It is Still Quiet, were acquired by KODE Museum, Bergen, Norway in 2017.

Adela Akers: In 2018 Akers’ work, Traced Memories, was acquired by The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/De Young Museum.

Gyöngy Laky: In addition to This Way and That, which is part of The Box Collection, which went to the The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, Seek, from 2016, was acquired by the United States State Department for the new Kosovo Embassy in Pristina. 

Helen Hernmarck: Moot, 1971 was acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 


Art Out and About: US

The opportunities to see great art are endless this summer! Heading to the West Coast for work? Take a detour and visit  the newly opened Nordic Museum to check out Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed in Seattle, WashingtonVisiting friends or family in the Northeast? Make plans to spend the day in New Haven and see Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library on Yale’s campus. Whether you are in the North, South, East or West there are a wide variety of strong exhibitions on display across the US this summer, here are a few of our favorites:

Grethe Wittrock's Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum

Grethe Wittrock’s Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Grethe Wittrock

Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed at the Nordic Museum, Seattle, Washington

The newly opened Nordic Museum hopes to share and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through Nordic art. The museum is the largest in the US to honor the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Northern Exposure studies “how the Nordic character continues to redefine itself within an evolving global context” by challenging “perceptions of form, gender, identity, nature, technology and the body,” explains the Museum. The exhibition features work by internationally acclaimed artists, including Grethe Wittrock, Olafur Eliasson, Bjarne Melgaard, Jesper Just, Kim Simonsson and Cajsa Von Zeipel. Made of Danish sailcloth, Wittrock’s Nordic Birds immediately attracts the eye upon entering the exhibition. Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed will be on display through September 16, 2018. For more information click HERE.

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin

The Racine Art Museum’s new exhibit Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM showcases art advocate and collector Karen Johnson Boyd’s collection of ceramic, clay and fiber art. The exhibition, which is broken up into a series of four individually titled exhibitions, with varying opening and closing dates, highlight Boyd’s interests, accomplishments and lifelong commitment to art. Throughout her life, Boyd was drawn to a diverse array of artistic styles and subjects. Boyd, who collected fiber in an encyclopedic fashion, supported artists of varying ages with varying regional, national and international reputations. Boyd’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home provided her with many display options for her fiber collection. Though baskets encompassed the majority of Boyd’s fiber collection, she regularly altered her environment, adding and subtracting works as she added to her collection. The exhibitions feature work from Dorothy Gill Barnes, Lia Cook, Kiyomi Iwata, Ferne Jacobs, John McQueen, Ed Rossbach, Hideho Tanaka, Mary Merkel-Hess, Norma Minkowitz, Lenore Tawney and Katherine Westphal. Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM will be on display at the Racine Art Museum through December 30th, with exhibited pieces changing over in mid-September. For more information on Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM visit the Racine Art Museum’s website HERE.

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New Haven, Connecticut

In New Haven, Connecticut, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library recently opened Text and Textile. The exhibition, which will be on display through August 12th, explores the relationship and intersection between text and textile in literature and politics.Text and Textile draws on Yale University’s phenomenal collection of literature tied to textiles, from Renaissance embroidered bindings to text from Anni Albers’ On Weaving. Additionally, the exhibition features: Gertrude Stein’s waistcoat; manuscript patterns and loom cards from French Jacquard mills; the first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s plays; the “Souper” paper dress by Andy Warhol; American samplers; Christa Wolf’s “Quilt Memories”; Zelda Fitzgerald’s paper dolls for her daughter; Edith Wharton’s manuscript drafts of “The House of Mirth”; an Incan quipu; poetry by Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe and Walt Whitman; and “The Kelmscott Chaucer” by William Morris. For more information on Text and Textile click HERE.

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Houston, Texas

The traveling exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America is now on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas. The exhibition, which is set to travel around the United States through the end of 2019, chronicles the history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Curated by Josephine Stealy and Kristin Schwain, the exhibition is divided into five sections: Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel and Beyond the Basket which aim to show you the evolution of basketry in America. Today, some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. However, other work to combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America features work by browngrotta arts’ artists Polly Adams Sutton, Mary Giles, Nancy Moore Bess, Christine Joy, Nancy Koenigsberg, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Ferne Jacobs, Gyöngy Laky, Kari Lønning, John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Leon Niehues, Ed Rossbach, Karyl Sisson and Kay Sekimachi.

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Handheld at the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

The Aldrich Museum’s new exhibition Handheld explores how contemporary artists’ and designers’ perceive the meaning of touch. Touch is one of the most intimate and sometimes unappreciated senses. Today, the feeling our hands are most familiar with are our that of our handheld devices and electronics. Touch is no longer solely used to hold objects such as pencils and tools, in fact, touch is increasingly taking the form of a swipe, where the sensation is ignored in favor to the flat visual landscapes of our own selection. “Handheld takes a multifarious approach—the hand as means of creation, a formal frame of reference” explains the Aldrich Museum. It serves the viewer as “a source of both delight and tension as they experience sensual objects in familiar domestic forms, scaled for touch, that can be looked upon but not felt.” The group exhibition, which features work by Kay Sekimachi will be on display until January 13, 2019. For more information on Handheld click HERE.


Art Lives Well Lived: Katherine Westphal and Ethel Stein

katherine Westphal at Home

Katherine Westphal Portrait 2015 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

We lost two fine artists and friends this month when Ethel Stein passed away at 100 and Katherine Westphal died at home in Berkeley, California at 99.

We had been promoting Katherine Westphal’s work and that of her husband, Ed Rossbach (who died in 2002), since the 1990s. We visited Ed and Katherine at their home before Carter was born. (For those of you familiar with browngrotta arts that was a quarter of a decade ago.) Their home, and Katherine’s studio in particular, was a wonder – chockfull of items they had collected from their travels that pleased and inspired them, decorated with murals by Katherine on several walls. Though her studio appeared chaotic, Katherine had an encyclopedic knowledge of what was where. “That reminds of a piece of gift wrap I picked up in Tokyo in the 1950s,” she would say, and then pull a slim typing paper box from a stack of others that looked the same, finding there the images she was referencing.
Katherine worked for decades creating printed textiles, ceramics, quilting, tapestry, jacquard woven  textiles, artwear and basketry structures. “Variously using direct drawing and painting, batik wax resist, and shibori, she also pioneered color xerography and heat transfer printing on textiles,” Jo Ann C. Stabb, former faculty member at UC, Davis wrote in 2015 (“Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane,” Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT 2015). “Throughout her career, beginning with the batik samples she made for the commercial printed textile industry in the 1950s, she [ ] incorporated images from her immediate world: street people in Berkeley, Japanese sculpture, Monet’s garden, Egyptian tourist groups, Chinese embroidery, images from newspaper and magazine photos, and her dogs…anything that struck her fancy wherever she happened to be at the moment – and she could put any or all of them into a repeat pattern.  Her wit and whimsy [were] legendary and her lively approach also inspired her husband to combine imagery onto the surface of his inventive baskets and containers.”

Ethel Stein Portrait

Ethel Stein Portrait 2008 by Tom Grotta courtesy of browngrotta arts

We were close to Ethel Stein as well, having begun representing her work in 2008 after a dinner at her home where her charming dog joined us at the table. When Rhonda was sick several years later, Ethel drove, at 93, from New York to Connecticut with a meal she had made us. Rhonda’s mother, a mere 83 then, was visiting and we told her that same vitality is what we expected of her in her 90s. (So far mom has complied.)
Tom was able to prepare a monograph of Ethel’s work, Ethel Stein: Weaver, with an introduction by Jack Lenor Larsen, an essay by Lucy A. Commoner and a glossary by Milton Sonday, which has become our best-selling volume. In her essay, “Ethel Stein, A Life Interlaced With Art, Lucy Commoner, then-Senior Textile Conservator at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, describes the evolution of Ethel’s knowledge of textile techniques and ways in which she was able to advance those techniques through her own explorations. “Ethel Stein’s work is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity belied by its extraordinary technical complexity. The basic humility and humanity of the work and its relationship to historical techniques combine to give Stein’s work a meaning far beyond its physical presence.”

Ethel Stein Exhibition

Ethel Stein Master Weaver at the Chciago Art Instittute

Six years later, Ethel’s work received the wider recognition it deserved. We were thrilled to attend the opening of her one-person exhibition, Ethel Stein, Master Weaver, at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2014. “Ethel Stein is an artist who only now, at the age of 96, is beginning to get the recognition she deserves from the broader public,” the Institute wrote. “Stein’s great contribution to weaving is her unique combination of refined traditional weaving techniques, possible only on a drawloom and used by few contemporary weavers, with modernist sensibilities influenced by Josef Albers, who trained in the German Bauhaus with its emphasis on simplicity, order, functionality, and modesty.” There were photos of her at work, a video and a dinner after with family members and supporters of the museum and crowds of visitors to the exhibition — a well-deserved tribute.

Ed Rossbach Katherine Westphal

Katherine Westphal Ed Rossbach

These artists and their lengthy careers, raise the question, is fiber art a key to longevity? Ethel Stein continued to weave even after she was discovered and lauded at 96. When we visited Katherine Westphal in Berkeley in 2015 we found her still drawing or painting every day in a series of journals she kept, something she continued to do until just a few weeks before her death. Lenore Tawney died at 100, Ruth Asawa and Magdalena Abakanowicz each at 87. Helena Hernmarck tells us that she knows several fiber artists who are 100. So those of you who are practitioners — keep it up!


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


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.

 


Bay Area Artists Get the Nod at James Cohan Gallery

A Line Can Go Anywhere curated by Jenelle Porter at the James Cohan Gallery, NY

A Line Can Go Anywhere, currently on display at the James Cohan Gallery in New York, studies the use of fiber as the main material used by seven Bay Area artists. The show examines artists ability to use linear pliable elements such as yarn, thread, monofilament, and rope.

A Line Can Go Anywhere curated by Jenelle Porter at the James Cohan Gallery, NY

A Line Can Go Anywhere works to show viewers all the ways in which fiber is utilized in art. The term “fiber” encompasses both the use of pliable material and technique needed to manipulate the materials to construct art works. “Crisscrossing generations, nationalities, processes, and approaches, the works speak to the cultural forces and art discourses that have contributed to a rich, and often overlooked, legacy of art making,” explains Jeffrey Waldon “from the initial efflorescence of the international fiber revolution of the 1960s to fiber’s recent reclamation by contemporary artists who, in an expanded field of art, create fiber-based work with a kind of ‘post-fiber’ awareness.”

The show features works from Trude Guermonprez and browngrotta arts’ artist Ed Rossbach, two influential artists whose works served as primers for the making of art in Northern California. The pair “contributed to the categorical transformation of art and craft,” notes the Gallery. In addition to Rossbach and Guermonprez, A Line Can Go Anywhere will feature work by Josh Faught, Terri Friedman, Alexandra Jacopetti Hart, Ruth Laskey, and browngrotta arts’ artist Kay Sekimachi.

 

Top: Homage to Paul Klee, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permanent marker, modified plain weave, 13.25” x 12”, 2013
Bottom: Lines, Kay Sekimachi, linen, painted warp & weft with dye, permanent marker, modified plain weave, 11.5″ x 11.75″, 2011

With a sincere devotion to textile traditions and worldwide culture, Ed Rossbach’s work referenced everything from ancient textile fragments to pop-culture icons such as Mickey Mouse. Rossbach experimented with atypical materials to create an anti-form intimate body of work. Despite being a prolific maker, write and professor at the University of California between 1950 and 1979, Rossbach, by his own choice, rarely exhibited or sold his work. Shortly before his death in 2002 he provided a large number of his remaining works of fiber, paintings, and drawings to Tom Grotta to photograph and exhibit. Most of Rossbach’s remaining works continue to be available through browngrotta arts.                                                                                                   Kay Sekimachi began working in fiber in 1960s, just as the international fiber movement began. For a number of years, according to the Gallery, Sekimachi’s work was “charged by Guermonprez’s pedagogical emphasis on both free experimentation and the rational logic of weaving.” Sekimachi’s early double weavings showcased her ability to harmonize the opposite relationships of density and translucency, complexity and simplicity, technique and free expression.

A Line Can Go Anywhere was curated by Jenelle Porter, an independent curator in Los Angeles. From 2011 to 2015 she was the Mannion Family Senior Curator at the Insitute of Contemporary Art/Boston where she organized the acclaimed Fiber Sculpture 1960-present. A Line Can Go Anywhere is on show at the James Cohan Gallery in New York until October 14th. For more information about the show click HERE.


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.


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