For our 30th Anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years of Art, Hisako Sekijima provided us Structural Discussion VI, a work made in 2016. In 1994, the first year Sekijima showed with browngrotta arts, we sold another work from the Structural Discussion series, #312, which she had made 30 years before in 1987. Even as she addresses a single theme, Sekijima’s use of varied materials and approaches makes the results of these explorations remarkably diverse.
“In the 40 years I have been working with baskets, my concerns have extended beyond basket topics toward sculptural ones. Not only I have used rather common basket materials including tree barks, vines, splints of bamboo or woods, but also I have chosen extended concepts of vessel forms with negative spaces and linear constructions. Both of my aesthetic and technical ideas such as revaluing negative space and examining the natural property of materials are illustrated in my explorations into the nature and history of basketmaking. It brings me a deeper understanding of physical rules of interplay among materials’ property, constructing method and a form, while it brings me a tactility or real touch of abstract ideas of numbers/counting, time, order, and etc. With coordination of hands, spirits and sense, physical experiences and conceptual ones come together in baskets.
It’s big! It’s beautiful (if we do say so ourselves –and we do)! The catalog for our 30th anniversary is now available on our new shopping cart. The catalog — our 46th volume — contains 196 pages (plus the cover), 186 color photographs of work by 83 artists, artist statements, biographies, details and installation shots.
The essay, is by Janet Koplos, a longtime editor at Art in America magazine, a contributing editor to Fiberarts, and a guest editor of American Craft. She is the author of Contemporary Japanese Sculpture (Abbeville, 1990) and co-author of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (University of North Carolina Press, 2010). We have included a few sample spreads here. Each includes a full-page image of a work, a detail shot and an artist’s statement. There is additional artists’ biographical information in the back of the book. Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art can be purchased at www.browngrotta.com http://store.browngrotta.
com/still-crazy-after-all-these-years-30-years-in-art/. Our shopping cart is mobile-device friendly and we now take PayPal.
From across the globe to the beautiful rural and coastal landscape of Connecticut, artists traveling from four different countries and nine US states will attend browngrotta arts’ artist reception and opening this Saturday, April 22, 2017.
We are delighted to welcome these 16 national and international artists as we celebrate our 30th anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art.
As with our world-renowned collection of art textiles, dimensional art pieces and mixed media, many of our visiting artists represent acreative blend of diverse cultures and countries from all over the world, including Helena Hernmarck, originally from Sweden, now Connecticut, who continues to work with weavers in Sweden to create her tapestries; Jin-Sook So, from Korea, who has also lived for more than two decades in Sweden; Hisako Sekijima of Yokohama, Japan; and Gizella K Warburton from the UK.
We’re also pleased to welcome the following artists who are traveling from across the United States, including California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and of course our home state of Connecticut:
Each of the 16 artists expected to attend browngrotta arts’ artists reception and opening this Saturday will be available to offer insights into this unique combination of art forms, including textiles, sculptures, stitched work and sculptural baskets among others. Visit our Artists pages to learn more about our visiting artists’ techniques, inspirations and remarkable art forms.
The Artists Reception and Opening for Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years in art is at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897, April 22nd, 1 pm to 6 pm.
In the 2000s, collector Lloyd Cotsen and his then-curator the late Mary Kahelberg began what would become The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, commissioning 36 international, contemporary artists to work within a given set of parameters. They were challenged to work within the confines of an archival box—to create one-of-a-kind works of art. What followed were years of fascinating correspondence with the artists who would participate in the project. As expected, each interpreted the challenge in his or her own way, resulting in an exceedingly diverse collection of works that reflects the artists’ skill and creativity. Most of the pieces in the show are presented in their accompanying 23″ by 14″ by 3” or 14” by 14″ by 3″ boxes.
The exhibition showcases these skilled artists’ ingenious use—and often-expansive definitions—of fiber, while exploring the collector/artist relationship. The exhibition couples the box commissions with other examples of the participating artists’ larger works. Also included are some of the letters and drawings and maquettes for the exhibition — a fascinating glimpse of the creative process.
The 36 artists whose work appears in this exhibition are Masae Bamba, James Bassler, Mary Bero, Zane Berzina, N. Dash, Virginia Davis, Carson Fox, Shigeki Fukumoto, John Garrett, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Helena Hernmarck, Pat Hodson, Kiyomi Iwata, Gere Kavanaugh, Ai Kijima, Hideaki Kizaki, Lewis Knauss, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gerhardt Knodel, Naomi Kobayashi, Gyöngy Laky, Paola Moreno, Jun Mitsuhashi, Kyoko Nitta, Hisako Sekijima, Barbara Murak, Cynthia Schira, Heidrun Schimmel, Carol Shinn, Sherri Smith, Hadi Tabatabai, Koji Takaki, Aune Taamal, Richard Tuttle, and Peter Weber. Work by 10 of those included is available through browngrotta arts.
On September 10th, three of the artists involved, Gere Kavanaugh, Gyöngy Laky, and Hisako Sekijima joined the curator of the Cotsen Collection, Lyssa C. Stapleton, in a conversation about their respective processes and resulting “boxes.” We were fortunate to attend their talk and to catch up with a number of artist, collector and curator friends.
“The box is a technical tool and also a spatial construct,” Sekijima told the audience, “which gave me freedom.” The artist used the box, she explained, as a mold in which multiple baskets were integrated whole.” Kavanaugh spoke at length of her work as a designer for Lloyd Cotsen, including her design of the brightly colored Neutrogena headquarters.
Laky talked about her work and the influence of the environment and feminism on her work — including her free-standing word sculpture, Slowly, composed of letters that can be read as LAG or GAL, and which was motivated by Laky’s efforts in improve gender equity in hiring in the University of California system.
On October 14th, in Culture Fix, Lacy Simkowitz, curatorial assistant at the Cotsen Collection, who worked closely with artists featured in The Box Project, will discuss how the exhibition developed. From mining the archives to decisions about the exhibition checklist, Simkowitz played a key role in the development of the traveling exhibition. In this gallery talk, she will discuss case studies by James Bassler, Ai Kijima and Cynthia Schira and she share behind-the-scenes stories about the exhibition planning process.
The Box Project: Uncommon Threads is at the Fowler through January 15, 2017. The Fowler is located on the UCLA campus, 308 Charles E. Young Drive, North, Los Angeles, California 90024; 310.825.4361.
From September 16th to November 4, 2016, the Bendheim Gallery of the Greenwich Arts Council in Greenwich, Connecticut will present Contemporary Art Influenced by Korea and Japan: An Unexpected Approach, curated by browngrotta arts. The exhibition includes select works of ceramics, textiles, baskets and sculptures by artists from Japan, Korea and the United States that each reflect an Asian sensibility.
The 23 artists in this exhibit have a close relationship to a traditional craft aesthetic, manifested in a contemporary manner. They have chosen conventionally Asian materials and/or techniques (dyes, papers, gold leaf, persimmon tannin, kategami) used in both time-honored and unconventional ways. Examples include studies by Hiroyuki Shindo of the vanishing art of natural indigo dyeing and by Jun Tomita on ikat dyeing. Jennifer Linssen’s innovative sculptures of katagami and Keiji Nio’s Interlacing-R, which references complex Japanese sumihimo braiding reimagine conventional techniques. Masakazu and Naomi Kobayashi, Naoko Serino and Kyoko Kumai also create new relationships among disparate material and techniques.
In other works, like Kiyomi Iwata’s Auric Gold Fold, Glen Kaufman’s Shimogamo Scrolls: Studio View II and Jin-Sook So, Pojagi Constructions I and II, gold and silver leaf play a role, their luster and longevity suggesting immortality, power, divinity. The artists share a concern for surface and material interaction, evident in Chiyoko Tanaka’s Grinded Fabric-Three Squares Blue Threads and Blue #689, of linen distressed with earth and stones, Hideho Tanaka’s Vanishing and Emerging series of stainless steel and singed paper and Mariyo Yagi’s twisted rope sculpture, A cycle-Infinity. The artists in Contemporary Art Influenced by Korea and Japan: An Unexpected Approach create work that is formal and contained while visibly involving the hand of the artist. This exhibition is a collaboration between the Greenwich Arts Council and browngrotta Arts.
Nancy Moore Bess (United States); Pat Campbell (United States); Kiyomi Iwata (Japan); Glen Kaufman (United States); Masakazu Kobayashi (Japan); Naomi Kobayashi (Japan); Yasuhisa Kohyama (Japan); Kyoko Kumai (Japan); Jennifer Falck Linssen (United States); Keiji Nio (Japan); Toshio Sekiji (Japan); Hisako Sekijima (Japan); Naoko Serino (Japan); Hiroyuki Shindo (Japan); Jin-Sook So (Korea/Sweden); Norkiko Takamiya (Japan); Chiyoko Tanaka (Japan); Hideho Tanaka (Japan); Takaaki Tanaka (Japan); Jun Tomita (Japan); Mariyo Yagi (Japan); Chang Yeonsoon (Korea); Jiro Yonezawa (Japan); Shin Young-ok (Korea).
The Bendheim Gallery is located at 299 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, Connecticut; 203.862.6750; email@example.com.
Dona Anderson reports, “I recently read Listening to Stone: The Art & Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera. Noguchi created Black Sun, a sculpture in Seattle’s Volunteer Park. Postwar, Noguchi was increasingly involved in designing public spaces — the UNESCO garden in Paris, Yale University’s Beinecke Library Garden, the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden in Jerusalem — while still creating personal work. His aim, he said was to form ‘order out of chaos, a myth out of the world, a sense of belonging out of loneliness.’
My current read is Building Art: The Life & Work of Frank Gehry by Paul Goldberger.” Chris Drury loved John McPhee’s Coming into the Country – although, he notes, it is an older book now – about Alaska. Ceca Georgieva read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and is currently reading, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel by F.G. Haghenbeck. Helena Hernmarck recommends, Don’t Despair by Matias Dalsgaard (www.pinetribe.com; Twitter:@MatiasDalsgaard). Dalsgaard is a Danish scholar who has a background in comparative literature and postdoctoral degree in philosophy. The book offers a Lutheran-Kirkegaardian perspective on life, criticizing the modern perspective of being self-centered and ultimately despaired. Helena also found 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story, by Dan Harris, a fun read. For Tim Johnson, 2015 was a great year for personal book discoveries! “After years of being out of print and hard to find Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver’s influential Adhocism, The Case for Improvisation was republished in 2013 (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/adhocism). When I first held this book in the 1980s it offered a thoughtful contextualization to the real life process of gathering and recycling urban materials for my sculptures and installations. With contemporary concerns of upcycling and sustainability, Jencks’ and Silvers’ assertions seem more apt than ever.” Nancy Koenigsberg recommends a favorite from 2014, Fiber Sculpture: 1960-Present by Jenelle Porter. Mary Merkel-Hess says her favorite book on art this year was Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry, a British ceramic artist, described by one reviewer as “a man in a frock who makes pots with rude designs.” Mary describes it as “a quirky, personal and lively journey through the issues facing the contemporary art world and a lot of it is hilarious – especially the illustrations.”
Heidrun Schimmel read, “with great pleasure,” The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon and Shuster, New York 2014). “And not always with great pleasure,” Heidrun says she read, All the World’s Futures: 56 International Art Exhibition, the catalogues for this year’s Venice Bienniale. “Most of the essays are very interesting and important,” she writes. “There were some very good pavilions in the Giardini this year, for example the Japanese Pavillon for the textile art scene.” Hisako Sekijima recommends a book in Japanese, U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Japan in the Cold War Era (only the title is in English; the contents are in Japanese. It’s a 300-page hardcover book published by University of Tokyo Press, 2015) It is an extensive study done by Fumiko Fujita, ex-professor at Tsuda College. “Actually, the author is my college friend,” writes Hisako. Reading this book, she “happily” realized that she had been exposed to much of this cultural climate after the World War, as she grew up. “From home comedies, like Lassie to Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man, I learned — and was surprised — at the large extent to which numberless cultural programs had been politically planned to create a good partnership between US and Japan.” She was also surprised to learn such programs had been also worked to be less political or more culturally meaningful by the efforts done by enthusiastic and respectful private people like cultural attachés, artists or sports players. “I liked this latter part of the story! Though planned politically, such rich programs proved to influence us so much. I studied English and could enjoy my chance to live in NYC, where I came across with new waves in crafts.” Kay Sekimachi recommends Masters of Craft: Portraits by Paul Smith (and so do Tom and Rhonda) and also The Monocle Guide to Cozy Homes, edited by Tom Morris, Monocle (Gestalten, Berlin. 2015). Last Spring, Wendy Wahl began teaching, Soft Materials, a course in the department of Constructed Environments at Parson’s New School in New York. “In researching books for the course,” she writes, “I was reintroduced to Fabrics: A Guide for Interior Designers and Architects, by Mary Paul Yates (W.W.Norton). Imagine my delight to see the inclusion of Fiber Art and the images from browngrotta arts. At a rare and used bookstore I came upon The Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery and Lore of the Persian Carpet by Brian Murphy (Simon and Schuster). The author takes the reader on a magic carpet ride traveling in the regions of its origins and destinations to tell the stories of the dyers, weavers and sellers of this remarkable art form. At my local public library I found Textiles –The Whole Story: Uses, Meanings, Significance by Beverly Gordon (Thames and Hudson, 2011). With words and images she beautifully covers the uses, meanings and significance of textiles in the course of human history, as the subtitle suggests.”
Randy Walker writes, “At the risk of appearing immodest, I’m recommending a book of poetry, The Genome Rhapsodies, that has one of my pieces on the cover. And I’m not even an avid poetry reader. When I was approached by Anna George Meek, a friend and accomplished poet, about using an image of my first public art installation, Woven Corncrib, on the cover of her new collection of poems, I was, of course, honored. But that’s not why I’m recommending this book. As we worked together to find an appropriate image, a series of conversations ensued over several months. These conversations were about histories, found objects, genetic material, fibers of all kinds woven throughout our lives. Gradually, I began to see clearly why Anna would venture to adorn her book, winner of the Richard Snyder Publication Prize and a product of over 15 years of work, with an image of an old steel corn crib woven with 300 pounds of salvaged fiber. Reading these poems, some deeply personal, opened an expansive view to me of a world that, as a primarily visual person, I don’t usually glimpse.” Tom and Rhonda recommend Organic Portraits, a photography book by John Cooper. Cooper’s organic portraits will be on exhibit this Spring at the Morris Museum in New Jersey in conjunction with Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, from March 19 to June 26, 2015. “From the beginning,” Cooper explains, “the intent of the Organic Portraits project was to create a series of timeless and fundamentally beautiful images that would create awareness for—and help preserve—the world’s rainforests. In the 1950s, around the time I was born, about 15 percent of Earth’s landmass was covered with oxygen-generating and carbon-dioxide storing rainforests. At the time of this book’s publication, fewer than 70% of those forests remain. The aim of this project is to drive home the understanding that our rainforests— the lungs of our Earth— are both vital and in dire need of protection.” Cooper published Organic Portraits through a Kickstarter campaign; he is donating all profits from the book to the Rainforest Action Network Fund.
We hope your holidays provide you lots of leisure reading time!
We are pleased to have partnered with the Greenwich Arts Council for From the Ground Up: ART Inspired by Nature, at the Bendheim Gallery in Greenwich through October 29th. The exhibition is beautifully installed by Gallery Director and the gallery space is quiet and contemplative. There are three small galleries and a dramatic entry space, where works by Jane Balsgaard, Gyöngy Laky and Stéphanie Jacques join Dawn Mac Nutt’s willow figures, companions to the bronze MacNutt figure that stands in front of the Arts Council Building.
Paintings are interspersed with photographs and sculptures of natural materials, providing viewers a varied view of nature as envisioned by artists. There are 12 in this exhibition, from the US and abroad: Jane Balsgaard, Laura Cunningham, Stéphanie Jacques, Donald Landsman, Gyöngy Laky, Dawn MacNutt, John McQueen, Kyle Norton, Ángel Mieres, Lizzy Rockwell, Hisako Sekijima and Masako Yoshida.
The exhibition includes paintings by Ángel Mieres, born in Caracas, Venezuela, whose vibrant, bright works are an abstract exploration of fragile, natural motifs, such as butterflies or flowers.
Kyle Norton, who studied photography at Rochester Institute of Photography, takes lush photographs of fruits and vegetables, magnifies their size from a few inches to a dramatic three feet or so — offering nature up close and personal, as it were.
John McQueen‘s three-dimensional works are made of natural materials — twigs, bark, cardboard — he prides himself on not needing to go the arts supply store. In Same Difference, for example, the juxtaposition of detailed sculptures of the Hindu god, Ganesh, a bonsai and a sump pump is visually engaging. When McQueen explains the simple and smart connection amongst the three —all soak up water, through a trunk, root system or a pump — the work can be appreciated on additional level.
In front of the building that houses the Bendheim Gallery stands Dawn MacNutt’s Timeless Form and viewers have an opportunity to hear her speak about it’s creation through a mobile device link. You can hear her here:firstname.lastname@example.org through October 29th. The Arts Council’s Gala, Arts Alive will be on October 17th at the Art Center. To buy a ticket, go to: http://www.greenwichartscouncil.org/Arts-Alive.html.
For three days this March, browngrotta arts will present inventive works made of handmade, recycled and commercial paper by artists from North America, Europe and Asia at art on paper, Pier 36, 299 South Street, in New York City. Many artists cut, fold or print on paper. The international contemporary artists whose work browngrotta arts will exhibit at art on paper take a more immersive approach to the medium, treating it as material – stacking, molding, carving and weaving it, as others would wood, linen, clay or marble.
Toshio Seikiji of Japan and Chris Drury of the UK, for example, use paper like fabric — weaving, stitching and etching on newspapers, maps and other paper to create arresting assemblages. Others of the artists featured by browngrotta arts recycle to create their works, including Kazue Honma who creates object of Japanese telephone books, Dona Anderson who creates vessels of dress pattern paper and Korean artist, Jin-Sook So who creates collages using old Korean texts. Karyl Sisson’s striking New York skyline is composed of re-purposed paper straws. Hisako Sekijima of Japan and Sylvia Seventy from the US, mold paper pulp – in Seventy’s case, to create paper bowls populated with found and other objects. Scandinavians, Jane Balsgaard of Denmark and Merja Winquist of Finland, create three-dimensional sculptures. In Balsgaard’s case, she makes the paper she uses from materials gathered near her summer home in Sweden. American Mary Merkel-Hess uses gampi paper, papier-maiche and reed to create sculptural baskets forms and bas relief wall works.
Working alongside its Beneficiary Partner, The Brooklyn Museum, and its Presenting Partner, The Wall Street Journal, art on paper will focus on “the notion of what a work on paper can be”, says its director, Max Fishko. The fair, art on paper, is at Pier 36, 299 South Street, New York, New York. There is a preview on Thursday, March 5th from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a VIP party that night from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Fair opens at 11; Friday and Saturday it closes at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 6 p.m. For more information and to purchase tickets to the preview and party, visit: http://thepaperfair.com/about/art-on-paper/. For more information on browngrotta arts’ exhibition, call Tom Grotta at browngrotta arts: 203-834-0623 or visit browngrotta.com: http://browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.
Choose among baskets, sculptures and wall works of natural materials including wood bark, cockle burrs, leaves and feathers.