Tag: Kay Sekimachi

Elements of Japandi: Minimalism and Simplicity

The term Japandi combines Japan and Scandinavia to reference aesthetic approaches shared by artisans in the two areas. browngrotta arts will be explore these affinities in our upcoming exhibition, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences (September 25 – October 3, 2021)Among the approaches that these cultures share is an appreciation for minimalism and simplicity. “Minimalist and mid-century designers have always been inspired by the design culture of Japan, so the cross between Scandinavian and Japanese design is rooted in a storied tradition. Today, in the Japandi style, we see more of a fusion of these two aesthetics, which makes them feel like equal partners in the space,” observes Alessandra Wood, Vice President of Style, Modsy (Jessica Bennett, “Japandi Style Is the Laidback Home Trend We’ve Been Waiting For,” Better Homes and Gardens, January 05, 2021).

Grethe Wittrock Detail
The Second Cousin, Grethe Wittrock (Denmark) white paperyarn knotted on steelplate, 67” x 78.75”, 2006. Photo by Tom Grotta

Danish artist Grethe Wittrock’s work includes expanses of twisted paper strands in single colors — minimal and simple yet powerful expressions of what Finnish Designer Alvar Aalto called “the language of materials.” Wittrock observed the similar appreciation for minimalism firsthand when she traveled to Japan and studied with Japanese paper makers and renowned indigo dyer, Shihoko Fukomoto. “I started to uncover what Nordic sensibilities are by living abroad,” Wittrock says. “I lived in Kyoto, and saw an aesthetic in Japanese design similar to the Nordic tradition. You could say that there is an agreement that less is more. As they say in the Nordic countries ‘even less is even more.’”

Tamika Kawata
Tamika Kawata, Permutation 7, Japanese safety pins, canvas on a wood board, 32” x 29.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Japanese artists have made similar observations. Tamiko Kawata, born in Japan, but living in New York for many years, reports working as an artist/designer position with a prominent glass company in Tokyo after four years of sculpture composition, architectural drawing and photography courses at University. “In those years, I often discussed the affinities of Scandinavian craft works with my colleagues. ‘Why do we appreciate skilful craft works? How can we produce them with a similar approach to understanding the skills in handicrafts and understanding the natural materials and the appreciation for simplicity that we share ?’” Kawata’s very first design, a set of crystal glass bowls, were exhibited with Scandinavian works in the SEIBU department store in Tokyo in 1959. They were purchased by Swedish artist/designer Stig Lindbergh who pronounced them the “most original glass designs in Japan.” It was so thrilling to me,” she says. “I was just 23 years old.” 

Gudrun Pagter detail
Detail of Gudrun Pagter’s http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/pagter.php Thin Green Horizon, sisal, linen and flax, 45.5” x 55.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Gudrun Pagter is another Danish artist whose abstract works in primary colors reflect the modernism for which Scandinavia is known. “From the exotic and foreign land we find an aesthetically common understanding of a minimalist idiom,” Pagter says, “an understanding of the core of a composition — that is, cutting off everything ‘unnecessary.'” Pagter expresses this minimalist idiom in her work. In Thin, Green Horizon, her composition expresses a form of landscape. It might be the horizon between heaven and sea, or between heaven and earth, she says. In any case, the framed field shifts the horizontal line. There is a shade of difference between the two blue colors, the blue is slightly lighter in the framed field. The thin, horizontal line is made with many shades of blue and green thin linen. The main color is blue, but the thin, green horizon is essential to the whole picture. Pagter notes, “My old weaving teacher at the School of Design, said 40 years ago, ‘you have to be brave to express oneself simply, as a minimalist’ … I’m brave enough now, maybe!!”  

Kay Sekimachi weavings
Lines 2017, 10 Lines, 11 Lines, 17 Lines, 25 Squares, Kay Sekimachi linen, polyester warp, permanent marker, 13.5” x 13.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

A series of simple weavings by Kay Sekimachi, a Japanese-American artist who lives in California, is a testament to restraint. Her spare markings on handwoven fabrics reference the paintings of Paul Klee and Agnes Martin .”Order is fundamental,” to the Japanese approach, observes Hema Interiors in its style blog, “but it’s an order based on balance, fleeing from symmetry and overly controlled spaces. The decorative elements are important to give personal brushstrokes to the spaces, always resorting to simple and organic elements”  (“Wabi Sabi Interiors,” Comparar Estilios de Decoración, Hema Interiors).

Join us at Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences to see more examples of ways these elements are exchanged and expressed. The exhibition features 39 artists from Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The hours of exhibtion are: Opening and Artist Reception: Saturday, September 25th: 11 to 6; Sunday, September 26th: 11 to 6; Monday, September 27th through Saturday October 2nd: 10 to 5; Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6; Advanced time reservations are mandatory; Appropriate Covid protocols will be followed. There will be a full-color catalog prepared for the exhibition available at browngrotta.com on September 24th.


Lives well lived: Sandra Grotta

Sandra Grotta at her 80th birthday party. Jewelry by David Watkins, Gerd Rothmann and Eva Eisler. Photo by Tom Grotta

browngrotta arts is devasted by the loss of Sandra Grotta, our extraordinary collector and patron and mother and grandmother. Sandy and her husband Lou have been pivotal in the growth of browngrotta arts through their advice and unerring support. Sandy graduated from the University of Michigan and the New York School of Interior Design. For four decades, she provided interior design assistance to dozens of clients — many through more than one home and office. She encouraged them to live with craft art, as she and Lou had done, placing works by Toshiko Takezu, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Helena Hernmarck, Gyöngy Laky, Markku Kosonen, Mary Merkel-Hess and many other artists in her clients’ homes. Among her greatest design talents was persuading people to de-accession pieces they had inherited, but never loved, to make way for art and furnishings that provided them joy. Sandy was a uniquely confident collector and she shared that conviction with her clients.  

Her own collecting journey began in the late 1950s, when she and Lou first stepped into the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City after a visit to the Museum of Modern Art. “The Museum’s exhibitions, many of whose objects were for sale in its store, caused a case of love at first sight. It quickly became a founding source of many craft purchases to follow,” Sandy told Patricia Malarcher in 1982 (“Crafts,” The New York Times, Patricia Malarcher, October 24, 1982). It was a walnut table ”with heart” on view at MoCC that would irrevocably alter the collectors’ approach. The table was by Joyce and Edgar Anderson, also from New Jersey. The Grottas sought the artists out and commissioned the first of many works commissioned and acquired throughout the artists’ lifetimes, including a roll-top desk, maple server and a sofa-and-table unit that now live in browngrotta arts’ gallery space. She followed the advice she would give to others:  “When we saw the Andersons’ woodwork,” Sandy remembered, “we knew everything else had to go,” Sandy told Glenn Adamson. From the success of that first commission, the Grottas’ art exploration path was set. The Andersons introduced the Grottas to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “The Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” Sandy said, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator.”  

Sandra Grotta in her Maplewood, NJ living room
Sandra Grotta in her Maplewood, NJ living room surrounded by works by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Peter Vouklos, William Wyman, Toshiko Takaezu, Rudy Autio, Joyce and Edgar Anderson and Charle Loloma. Photo by Tom Grotta

When Objects USA: the Johnson Wax Collection, opened in New York in 1972 at MoCC, by then renamed the American Craft Museum, the Grottas began discovering work further afield. ”Objects USA was my Bible,” Sandy told Malarcher describing how she would search out artists, ceramists, woodworkers and jewelers. A trip to Ariel, Washington, led the Grottas to commission an eight-foot-tall Kwakiutl totem pole for the front hall by Chief Don Lelooska. Sandy ordered a bracelet by Charles Loloma from a picture in a magazine. ”I always got a little nervous when the packages came, but I’ve never been disappointed,” Sandy told Malarcher. ”Craftsmen are a special breed.” Toshiko Takaezu, as an example, would require interested collectors like the Grottas to come by her studio in Princeton, NJ, a few times first to “interview” before she’d permit them to acquire special works. It took 15 years and several studio visits each year for the Grottas to convince the artist to part with the “moon pot” that anchors their formidable Takaezu collection. Jewelers Wendy Ramshaw and David Watkins in the UK also became dear friends as Sandy developed a world-class jewelry collection. At one point, in a relationship that included weekly transatlantic calls, Sandy told Wendy she needed “everyday earrings.” Wendy responded with earrings for every day – seven pairs in fact. “For me, the surprise was that they found me,” says John McQueen. “I lived in Western New York state far from the hubbub of the art world.” McQueen says that he discovered they the Grotta’s were completely open to any new aesthetic experience. “from that moment, we established a strong connection, that has led to a rapport that has continued through the years – a close personal and professional relationship.”

Sandy Grotta's bust by Norma Minkowitz
Norma Minkowitz’s portrait of Sandy Grotta sourounded by artwork’s by Alexander Lichtveld, Bodil Manz, Lenore Tawney, Ann Hollandale, Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Toshiko Takaezu, Laurie Hall. Photo by Tom Grotta

Their accumulation of objects has grown to include more that 300 works of art and pieces of jewelry by dozens of artists, and with their Richard Meier home, has been the subject of two books. The most recent, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft, was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta of bga. They don’t consider themselves collectors in the traditional sense, content to exhibit art on just walls and surfaces. Sandy and Lou’s efforts were aimed at creating a home. They filled every aspect of their lives with handcrafted objects from silver- and tableware to teapots to clothing to studio jewelry and commissioned pillows, throws and canes, a direction she also recommended for her interior design clients. The result, writes Glenn Adamson in The Grotta Home,”is a home that is at once totally livable and deeply aesthetic.” Among the additional artists whose work the Grottas acquired for their home were wood worker Thomas Hucker, textile and fiber artists Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney and Norma Minkowitz, ceramists Peter Voulkos, Ken Ferguson and William Wyman and jewelers Gijs Bakker, Giampaolo Babetto, Axel Russmeyer and Eva Eisler. They have traveled to Japan, the UK, Czechoslovakia, Germany and across the US to view art and architecture and meet with artists.

Perhaps their most ambitious commission was the Grotta House, by Richard Meier. Designed to house and highlight craft and completed in 1989, it is a source of constant delight for the couple, with its shifting light, showcased views of woodlands and wildlife and engaging spaces for object installation. The Grottas were far more collaborative clients than is typical for Meier. “From our very first discussions,” Meier has written,”it was clear that their vast collection of craft objects and Sandy’s extensive experience as an interior designer would be an important in the design of the house.“ The sensitivity with which the collection was integrated into Meier’s design produced “an enduring harmony between an ever-changing set of objects and they space they occupy.” The unique synergy between objects and architecture is evident decades later, even as the collection has evolved.  Despite his “distinct — and ornament-free — visual language, Meier created a building that lets decorative objects take a leading role on the architectural stage,” notes Osman Can Yerebakan in Introspective magazine (“Tour a Richard Meier–Designed House That Celebrates American Craft,” Osman Can Yerebakan, Introspective, February 23, 2020). The house project had an unexpected benefit — a professional partnership between Sandy and Grotta House project manager, David Ling, that would result in memorable art exhibition and living spaces designed for the homes and offices of many of Sandy’s design clients.

Sandy and Lou became patrons of the American Craft Museum in 1970s. As a member of the Associates committee she organized several annual fundraisers for the Museum, including Art for the Table, E.A.T. at McDonald’s and Art to Wear, sometimes with her close friend, Jack Lenor Larsen, another assured acquirer, as co-chair. At the openings, she would sport an artist-made piece of jewelry or clothing, sometimes both, and often it was an item that arrived or was finished literally hours before the event. “I wear all my jewelry,” she told Metalsmith Magazine in 1991 (Donald Freundlich and Judith Miller, “The State of Metalsmithing and Jewelry,” Metalsmith Magazine, Fall 1991) “I love to go to a party where everyone is wearing pearls and show up in a wild necklace …. I have a house brooch by Künzli – a big red house that you wear on your shoulder. I can go to a party in a wild paper necklace and feel as good about it as someone else does in diamonds.” Sandy served on the Board of the by-then-renamed Museum of Arts and Design, stepping down in 2019. 

Portrait of Sandy Grotta
Sandra Grotta Portrait in Florida Apartment in front of sculptures by Dawn MacNutt and a tapestry by Jun Tomita

From its inception, Sandy served as a trusted advisor, cheerleader and cherished client to browngrotta arts. She introduced us to artists, to her design clients and Museum colleagues. Questions of aesthetic judgment — are there too many works in this display? too much color? does this work feel unfinished? imitative? decorative? — were presented to her for review. (She was unerring on etiquette disputes, too.) The debt we owe her is enormous; the void she leaves is large indeed. We can only say thank you, we love you and your gifts will live on.

You can learn more about Sandy’s life and legacy on The Grotta House website: https://grottahouse.com and in the book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft available from browngrotta at: https://store.browngrotta.com/the-grotta-home-by-richard-meier-a-marriage-of-architecture-and-craft/.

The family appreciates memorial contributions to the Sandra and Louis Grotta Foundation, Inc., online at https://joingenerous.com/louis-and-sandra-grotta-foundation-inc-r5yelcd or by mail to The Louis and Sandra Grotta Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 766, New Vernon, NJ 07976-0000.


Art Out and About – Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

With mask requirements and other safety protocols in place, museums worldwide are reopening with new exhibitions. From West to East — and a couple abroad — here are several worth traveling to see. Stay safe when you go!

International Fiber Arts X 
through September 21, 2021
Sebastopol Center for the Arts 
282 South High Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472 
info@sebarts.org
https://www.sebarts.org

Dolphin of the Ganges
Neha Puri Dhir’s Dolphin of the Ganges. Photo by Neha Puri Dhir

Our own Neha Puri Dhir took 2nd place in the International Fiber Arts X exhibition at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in California. The winning work, Dolphin of the Ganges, was created in tribute to a sea creature that has become endangered. “I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges, in the picturesque town of Haridwar amongst lush forest and rich riverine life,” writes Dhir. “The Ganges Dolphin that once thrived in these waters has now disappeared – a victim of the pollution from indiscriminate development in this hilly region. This work is a memorial to a majestic creature and a warning against the irreversible damage caused by human activity.” Kyoko Kumai’s work, Moonlight Wind-L was also selected for the exhibition.

Kay Sekimachi: Geometries
through October 24, 2021
Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive
2155 Center Street Berkeley, CA
(510) 642-0808
bampfa@berkeley.edu 
https://bampfa.org/program/virtual/kay-sekimachi-geometries

Kay Sekimachi: Geometries
Kay Sekimachi: Geometries. Photo by Johnna Arnold

In nearby Berkeley, Kay Sekimachi: Geometries is on view. Curated by Janelle Porter, Geometries includes more than 50 objects that highlight the Sekimchi’s material and formal innovations across her career. First recognized for her woven monofilament sculptures, made between 1964 and 1974, Sekimachi has since used linear, pliable elements—monofilament, thread, and paper, among other materials—to create experimental objects that fold together art and craft, found and made, and Japanese and American artistic traditions. 

Olga de Amaral: To Weave a Rock
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Through September 19, 2021
Audrey Jones Beck Building
5601 Main Street
713.639.7300
https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/olga-de-amaral-to-weave-a-rock

Olga de Amaral, Brumas (Mists), 2013, acrylic, gesso, and cotton on wood, courtesy of the artist. © Olga de Amaral / Photograph © Diego Amaral

Heading to Texas, in Houston is the first stop of a touring exhibition featuring the exquisite work of Olga de Amaral who has “pioneered her own visual language within the fiber arts movement. Her radical experimentation with color, form, material, composition, and space transforms weaving from a flat design element into an architectural component that defies the confines of any genre or medium.” It travels next to Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfiels Hills, Michigan. There is a catalog that accompanies the exhibition (https://www.amazon.com/Olga-Amaral-Houston-Museum-Fine/dp/3897905965/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=to+weave+a+rock&qid=1628505072&sr=8-1).

Art Japan: 2021 – 1921
Through September 24, 2021
1635 W St. Paul Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 252-0677 ext. 110
info@thewarehousemke.org
https://www.thewarehousemke.org/current

Existing -2-D, Naoko Serino, 2006 and Red Aperture, Kiyomi Iwata, 2009. Photos by Tom Grotta

In the Midwest, The Warehouse MKE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is exhibiting the second of its three-part look at art in Asia, Art Japan: 2021- 1921, curated by Annemarie Sawkins. The exhibition features over 120 woodblock prints, etchings, lithographs, calligraphy, drawings, photography, ceramics, basketry, and textiles, all from the extensive permanent collection of The Warehouse and includes work by Naoko Serino, Jiro Yonezawa, Kiyomi Iwata and Hiroyuki Shindo. The first exhibition in the trilogy was India: Photographs (2019). The third, Then and Now: China, opens October 8th, 2021.

Women Take the Floor
September 13 – November 28, 2021
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115 
617-267-9300
https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/women-take-the-floor

Women Take the Floor challenges the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists. The exhibition, began in 2019. The current reinstallation—or “takeover”—of Level 3 of the Art of the Americas Wing advocates for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. It features women painters, photographers and fiber artists among others.

The Social Fabric: Black Artistry in Fiber Arts, An Exhibition in Homage to Viki Craig
Through October 24, 2021
Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, NJ 07960
(973) 971-3700
info@morrismuseum.org

Deeply rooted in quilt-making tradition, today’s Black fiber arts incorporate conventional textile skills with contemporary art and design practices. The exhibition features 50 works by over 27 artists, including Aminah Robinson, Beverly McCutcheon, Bisa Washington, Carole Robinson, Clara Nartey, Denise Toney, Ellaree Pray and Faith Ringgold.

Abroad:

Echigo-Tsumari Mail Art Exhibition
Through October 31, 2021
Echigo-Tsumari Art Field
Gallery YUYAMA
446 Yuyama matsunoyama
Toka-machi Niigata-ken
025-532-2218 

Echigo-Tsumari Mail Art Exhibition including Reborn by Kyoko Kumai

Kyoko Kumai‘s 19.5″ stainless-steel sphere, Reborn, is included in an exhibition at the Gallery YUYAMA in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field through October 31st. Day trips are available to the Art Field which includes a number of out sculptures and structures. The site’s motto: “artworks waiting in the vast nature. Let’s go on a satoyama art walk!”

Britt Smelvaer: Around his father’s boat
Bømlo Kulturhus
Through August, 15 2021
Kulturhusvegen 20
5430 Bremnes, Norway
53423500 
post@bomlokulturhus.no
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://www.bomlokulturhus.no/program/sommarutstillinga-britt-smelvaer-omkring-baaten-hans-far/&prev=search&pto=aue

In Norway, graphic works by Britt Smelvaer tell of memories, knowing the connection and having roots fixed in the environment by the seacoast, and not far from what was in childhood. Learn more about the project here: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=da&u=https://svfk.dk/project/omkring-baaten-hans-far&prev=search&pto=aue

Britt Smelvaer work at the Hovedøya exhibition

A Sky of Mirror
Though September 12, 2021
Hovedøya Kunstal
Hovedøya, 0150 
Oslo, Norge
920 62 866
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://kunstsalen.no/&prev=search&pto=aue

The summer exhibition at Hovedøya features works by various artists including work by Britt Smelvaer created after a trip she made to Damascus, Syria.

The Nook Exhibition
Kunstbygningen in Vrå 
Through September 1st
Højskolevej 3A 
Vrå, Denmark-9760 
+45 9898 0410 
info@kunstbygningenvraa.dk
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=da&u=https://www.kunstbygningenvraa.dk/vraa-udstillingen/&prev=search&pto=aue

Polynesian boat
Polynesian boat transformed to artifact by Jane Balsgaard. Photo by Nils Holm Christensen

In Denmark, an exhibition of mixed media scuptures and acrylic paintings by Jane Balsgaard appear in a group exhibition.

Carole Frève, Glass Sculptor
September 24, 2021 to January 23, 2022
Musée des métiers d’art du Québec (MUMAQ) 
615, avenue Sainte-Croix 
Montréal, QC, H4L 3X6, Canada
+1 514-747-7367

Open Up to You, Carole Frève
Open Up to You, Carole Frève, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Carole Frève has always included two major components in her work: on the one hand, constant research on the combined techniques of glass and electro-formed copper and, on the other, the story the work tells the observer. This exhibition highlights work she ahs created over the span of a 20-year career.


Catalog Lookback: Fan Favorites, an online exhibition

Portraits of Hisako Sekijima, Gyöngy Laky, Mary Merkel-Hess and Kay Sekimachi
clockwise: Hisako Sekijima 1994 solo exhibition at browngrotta arts. Gyöngy Laky 1993 preparing on a piece for her two-person exhibition at browngrotta arts. Our first meeting with Mary Merkel-Hess 1990 at her exhibition at the NY Armory. Kay Sekimachi in her closet selecting works for her 1992 two-person exhibit with Bob Stocksdale at browngrotta arts. Photos by Tom Grotta

In our 50 catalogs, we have showcased the work of 172 different artists. Four of these artists, however — Mary Merkel-Hess, Kay Sekimachi, Hisako Sekijima and Gyöngy Laky —  we have repeatedly chosen as a focus. Each has been the subject of more than one catalog — solo or two-person or special grouping  — and each has been featured in several of our themed survey publications. These artists explore different materials or forms, creating objects and works for the wall.  That willingness to innovate and reinvent has made them continuously collectible for those who acquire works in breadth and for those who pursue the work of individual artists in depth as well.

Details of works by Mary Merkel-Hess
Details of Mary Merkel-Hess’ paper sculptures on and off the wall. Photos by Tom Grotta

Mary Merkel-Hess’s work was the subject of one of our first catalogs in 1992 (#2) Mary Merkel-Hess. The work in our first solo exhibition of her work was brilliantly colored — vessels of green, indigo, cornflower, red and bronze — but our catalog technology was strictly black and white. Despite the noncolor depiction in the small catalog, the lyrical works of papercord and reed were popular and sold out. Her work was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art that year — one of the first contemporary baskets to enter the Museum’s collection. The success of that exhibition spurred us to host a second show, work by Merkel-Hess and Leon Niehues, in 1996 (#15). Merkel-Hess threw us a curve, though, by skipping the color that we considered her hallmark and producing, instead, a show of work made of translucent white papers — gampi, kobo, abaca, flax — some of it tinged with gold.  These works turned out to be as popular as those in color. Since then, her works have become larger and more sculptural and her recognition has grown while her popularity with collectors has remained a constant.  Her work will be part of Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades (#50), in September of this year. 

Details of works by Kay Sekimachi
Details of baskets and sculptural weavings by Kay Sekimachi. Photos by Tom Grotta

In catalog (#3) Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi, also 1992 and still black and white, Kay Sekimachi’s work made its first appearance, coupled with wood bowls turned by her husband, Bob Stocksdale. Sekimachi has reinvented her practice several times in her lengthy career. She studied weaving with Trude Guermonprez in San Francisco and Jack Lenor Larsen at Haystack in Maine in the 50s. By the 60s she was working with complicated 12-harness looms to create ethereal hanging sculptures of monofilament, then a new material. They were featured in MoMA’s Wall Hangings exhibition in 1963, Deliberate Entanglements at UCLA in 1971 and the Lausanne Biennial in 1975 and 1983. Sekimachi was also part of the contemporary, nonfunctional basket movement with other California artists in the 1960s and 1970s.  This body of work included small woven baskets and woven paperfold-like boxes made of antique Japanese papers. For our exhibition in 1992, she created gossamer flax bowls and patched pots of linen warp ends and rice paper. For our our 1999 exhibition, (#24) Bob Stocksdale Kay Sekimachi: books, boxes and bowls, she created woven boxes and books, and bowls in typical Japanese ceramic shapes that she formed using Stocksdale’s turned bowls as molds. Still the subject of museum recognition and collector acclaim, Sekimachi continues to work at 94, weaving intimate, abstract weavings reminiscent of drawings in pen and ink. 

Details of works by Gyöngy Laky
Details of of sculptures on and off the wall by Gyöngy Laky. Photos by Tom Grotta

In 1993 we produced our first catalog featuring Gyöngy Laky’s work (#5) Leon Niehues and Gyöngy Laky. The exhibition included 13 vessel shapes and one wall work. In 1996, we visited Laky’s complex construction again (#16) Gyöngy Laky and Rebecca Medel. “I think of myself as a builder of sketches in three dimensions,” she said of her textile architecture. The 1996-1997 exhibition featured Laky’s three-dimensional words, an important aspect of her oeuvre. The two versions of the word “No” or “On” illustrated the myriad ways in which such themes are deftly articulated by Laky. Affirmative No. 1 was made of brightly colored, coated telephone wire, piled and sewn. Affirmative No. 2  was much larger — the “O” made of branches still covered with bark, the “N” made of pieces of stripped, unfinished wood. The catalog also contained an image of That Word.  Now in the collection of the federal court in San Francisco, it spells out “ART” in larger-than-life, 3-d letters made of orchard prunings that are seven feet tall. Laky has continued creating word sculptures that combine natural and manmade materials, as disparate as bleached cottonwood branches, plastic army men and construction bullets of metal. In 2008, The New York Times Magazine commissioned her to create titles for its environmental survey, “The Green Issue.” The works that resulted were awarded a Type Directors Club Award. Laky will have two works in Volume 50: a large vessel-shaped sculpture and a type-related, free-standing arrow.

Details of works by Hisako Sekijima
Details of Bark basket sculptures in varying materials by Hisako Sekijima. Photos by Tom Grotta

Last, but certainly not least is Hisako Sekijima, whose innovation and artistry seem to know few bounds. We have focused on her work in three catalogs — (#8) Hisako Sekijima/1994; (#19) Glen Kaufman and Hisako Sekijima/1998; (#30) Japan Under The Influence: Innovative basketmakers deconstruct Japanese tradition/2001. Bark and vine become fabric and thread, framing and nails as Sekijima conducts her experiments in volume and void. The first catalog of Sekijima’s work (#8) included works in wide variety of materials — cherry bark, kudzu vine, cedar, willow, hackberry, bamboo. We were particularly pleased when The New York Times made the 1994 exhibition and the variety of work included the subject of a full-page article in its Connecticut section. They turned to her work again in The New York Times Magazine, including a work of kudzu vine in an article on the uses of the invasive species. We visited Sekijima’s work again in 1998, pairing her pieces, this time of zelikova, apricot, hinoki, walnut and palm hemp bark, with jacquard weavings by Glen Kaufman featuring photographic images of Kyoto. In 2001, we combined works by seven basket artists in Japan: Under the Influence, Innovative basketmakers deconstruct Japanese tradition #30). Sekijima was included, as were four of her students from Japan — Norie Hatekeyama, Kazue Honma, Noriko Takamiya and Tsuroko Tanikawa— each of whom had, like their teacher, had mastered Japanese basketmaking tradition, only to give it a twist. Sekijima wrote in Japan Under the Influence, that Kay Sekimachi (also featured in the catalog) was one of the American artists whose “new notions of basketmaking” and “new forms” had a decisive impact on her as she studied basketmaking in the late 70s. “Since then,” she wrote, “Sekimachi has always been one of my teachers at a distance. Her work has always reminded me of a Japanese respectful expression orime tadashii, which literally means, ‘one’s kimono preserves neat lines of folding which connotes integrity of behavior.’” Sekijima’s work, A Line Willow IV is part of our September exhibition. Like the works these artists have produced over nearly three decades, A Line Willow IV,  represents a line innovative art making that is knotless, homogeneous and flexible. 

See more at our September exhibition, Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decades (#50).


Material Matters: Hot Mesh

Untitled Mesh A-Z by Eva LeWitt
Untitled Mesh A-Z by Eva LeWitt Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut

What’s with Mesh? It’s been popular with our artists for sometime. But now we are seeing it in other contexts, too. At the Aldrich Museum of Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Eva LeWitt introduced a new material for her exhibition — coated mesh, most commonly used for filters, window screens, and even protective clothing, LeWitt investigates its lightweight and light responsive crosshatched woven surface (through April 5th). Spanning three of the four walls, LeWitt has suspended from the ceiling nine cumulative layers, color fields of tensile mesh, forming interlacing moiré effects that swell and pulsate. 


LeWitt favors materials that she can handle and maneuver alone in the studio: plastics, latex, fabrics, and vinyl—substances offered in an array of readymade colors and a variability of light absorbencies– to generate sculptures and installations that harmonize color, matter, and space, Employing strategies of accretion and repetition, she customizes her work to comply and adjust to the surroundings of a particular setting.


Then there is Katsuhiro Yamaguchi, in the collection at Tate modern, who work in a variety of materials. https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/yamaguchi-mesh-sculpture-t14164  In the 1960s Yamaguchi, incorporated various materials such as acrylic resin, light, wire-mesh, upholstery and wax, expanding his means of expression to include the environment of the ceiling and the walls.

Ruth Asawa's sculptures
Ruth Asawa’s sculptures displayed at the David Zwirner gallery in NYC

Ruth Asawa’s work in mesh is the subject of new-found appreciation https://www.latimes.com/home/la-lh-los-angeles-modern-auctions-realizes-record-auction-20140225-story.html. “Asawa began to crochet wire-mesh structures in 1948. The symmetrical structures themselves were intellectually rigorous, requiring discipline and technical precision. The resulting constructs were ethereal, fanciful, and vital.” The essence of Asawa’s art in wire has to do with transparency and interpenetration, with overlapping, shadow, and darkening” something looping wire mesh can evidence effectively.

Untitled I 2018, Jin Sook-So
59jss Untitled I, Jin Sook-So
steel mesh, folded, burnt and painted with gold, silver and acrylic
15.75″ x 15.75″ x 5.5″, 2018

Among our artists for Jin-Sook So, mesh is a like a zelig — an ordinary person who can change themselves to imitate anyone they are near. It can replicate the look of silk organza but when painted it looks like canvas. When electroplated and sculpted into forms it emits a burnished glow.

Detail of En Face, Agneta Hobin
9ah En Face, Agneta Hobin, mica and steel, 70” x 48”, 2007

Agneta Hobin is best known forr impressive works in which yellow mica has been woven into metal warp; the technique and materials are the artist’s unique choises which she has been developing for over ten years.

Untitled monofilament by Kay Sekimachi

Untitled
Kay Sekimachi
monofilament
57” x 14” x 14”, circa mid-70’s
Matrix II by Chang Yeonsoon
13cy Matrix II-201022
Chang Yeonsoon
indigo dyed abaca fiber
51.75” x 10 x 12.75”, 2010

In the 70s, Kay Sekimachi used a 21-harness loom, to create sheets of mesh-like nylon monofilament. She combined these to create ethereal, hanging quadruple tubular woven forms that explore ideas of space, transparency, and movement. Only 22 of these remarkable sculptures were made.

Chang Yeonsoon uses polyester mesh as a “frame” for layers of natural abaca fiber with striking results.. Yeon soon who is a leading contemporary textile artist in Korea was selected as finalists of the LOEWE Craft Prize 2018.

And, on a large scale, check out this building of mesh filled with cork https://www.dezeen.com/2020/

01/10/gharfa-pavilion-edoardo-tresoldi-studio-studio-studio-saudi-arabia/. It’s the product of Edoardo Tresoldi who has combined sound, projections, landscaping and fabric with his signature wire-mesh sculptures for Gharfa, a large site-specific pavilion in Riyadh.

Embrace the mesh!


Art Out and About: US

by Ryan Urcia and Kristina Ratliffe 

Our 2020 “Art in the Barn” exhibition series is not until next Spring but there are plenty of exciting exhibitions featuring some of our favorite browngrotta arts’ artists to check out this Winter season. Below is a round up of 10 must-see shows in the US:

John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.
John McQueen, Untitled #192, 1989, burdock burrs and applewood
Ed Rossbach, Croissants, ca. 1987, cartons, block print, and staples
CREDIT
The Henry Luce Foundation and the Windgate Charitable Foundation generously support the reinstallation of the Renwick’s permanent collection.

Washington, D.C.
Connections: Contemporary Craft
at the Renwick Gallery
On view – indefinitely
Connections is the Renwick Gallery’s dynamic ongoing permanent collection presentation, featuring more than 80 objects celebrating craft as a discipline and an approach to living differently in the modern world. The exhibition explores the underlying current of craft as a balancing, humanistic force in the face of an evermore efficiency-driven, virtual world. The installation highlights the evolution of the craft field as it transitions into a new phase at the hands of contemporary artists, showcasing the activist values, optimism, and uninhibited approach of today’s young artists, which in some way echoes the communal spirit and ideology of the pioneers of the American Studio Craft Movement in their heyday. Includes artist Lia Cook, Toshiko Takaezu, Ed Rossbach, John McQueen, Peter Voulkos.
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum 

Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW, Washington, DC. (212)(202) 633-7970 https://americanart.si.edu

Bamian by Sheila Hicks
Bamian Sheila Hicks (American (lives and works in Paris), born in 1934) 1968 Wool and acrylic yarns, wrapped * Charles Potter Kling Fund and partial gift of Sheila Hicks © Sheila Hicks * Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts
Women Take the Floor 
On view through May 3, 2020
An exhibition of more than 200 works that challenge the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists – advocating for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. Includes Lenore Tawney, Sheila Hicks, Olga Amaral, Kay Sekimachi, Toshiko Takaezu
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115
Phone: (617) 267-9300 mfa.org

Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds
From Off the Wall: Katherine Westphal A Fantasy Meeting of Santa Claus with Big Julie and Tyrone at McDonalds, 1978. Resist-dyed cotton. San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, CA.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Off the Wall: American Art to Wear
On view through May 17, 2020  Delight in the astonishing inventiveness and techniques of a generation of mixed-media artists who pioneered a new art form designed around the body. Coming of age during the dramatic cultural shifts of the 1960s and 70s, the artists in this distinctively American movement explored non-traditional materials and methods to create adventurous, deeply imaginative works. Includes Norma Minkowitz and Katherine Westphal 
Philadelphia Museum of Art 
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (215) 763-8100
https://philamuseum.org

White Pinwheel by Ethel Stein
Ethel Stein,White Pinwheel, 1990 cotton, satin damask weave; woven on a loom with a drawloom attachment fabricated by the artist 87.6 x 83.8 x 2.2 cm (34 1/2 x 33 x 7/8 in.)

Chicago, Illinois
Weaving beyond the Bauhaus
On view through Feb 17, 2020
Presented on the centenary of this foundational organization, Weaving beyond the Bauhaus traces the diffusion of Bauhaus artists, or Bauhäusler, such as Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students across America. Through their ties to arts education institutions, including Black Mountain College, the Institute of Design, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Yale University, these artists shared their knowledge and experiences with contemporary and successive generations of artists, including Sheila Hicks, Else Regensteiner, Ethel Stein, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler, shaping the landscape of American art in the process.
Art Institute Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
(312) 443-3600
https://www.artic.edu

In Poetry and Silence Lenore Tawney installation
In Poetry and Silence: The Work and Studio of Lenore Tawney Installation view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, 2019
Courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center


Sheboygan, Wisconsin
Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe
On view through March 7, 2020
This series of four exhibitions explores Lenore Tawney’s (1907–2007) life and impact, offering a personal and historical view into her entire body of work. Read more about the Tawney exhibits in our earlier blog here: http://arttextstyle.com/2019/12/18/lenore-tawney-gets-her-due/  
John Michael Kohler Arts Center (JMKAC)
608 New York Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
Phone: 920.458.6144
jmkac.org

Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta
Toshiko Takaezu portrait, 1998 by Tom Grotta, courtesy of browngrotta arts

Racine, Wisconsin
It’s Like Poetry: Building a Toshiko Takaezu Archive at RAM 
On view through July 26, 2020
RAM’s archive now numbers over 30 works, including Toshiko Takaezu’s (1922-2011) most expansive grouping, the installation comprised of 14 “human-sized” forms, the Star Series. Significantly, the museum’s holdings span the range of Takaezu’s working career—with a double-spouted pot from the 1950s being the earliest and the Star Series (1999-2000) being the latest. 
Open Storage: RAM Showcases Ceramic, Fiber, and Regional Archives 
On view through August 30, 2020
Arranged as a series of artist solo showcases, Open Storage also highlights the earliest kinds of work given to RAM—textiles and works on paper. While ceramic works and art jewelry currently number as the two largest types of contemporary craft represented, examples of textiles, prints, drawings, and works on paper were among the very first gifts of artwork to the museum in the 1940s. This exhibition features the work of 12 artists—Sandra Byers, Gibson Byrd, John N. Colt, Theodore Czebotar, Lillian Elliott, Joseph Friebert, Ed Rossbach, Kay Sekimachi, Jean Stamsta, Merle Temkin, Murray Weiss, and Beatrice Wood—through multiple examples of their work. 
Racine Art Museum
441 Main Street, Racine, WI 53403
Phone: (262) 638-8300
https://www.ramart.org

Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 22, 2019–January 2021). Alan Shields, J + K, 1972. Photograph by Ryan Urcia


New York, New York
Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019
On view through January 2021
The exhibition foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. This exhibition provides new perspectives on subjects that have been central to artists, including abstraction, popular culture, feminist and queer aesthetics, and recent explorations of identity and relationships to place. Together, the works demonstrate that craft-informed techniques of making carry their own kind of knowledge, one that is crucial to a more complete understanding of the history and potential of art. Drawn primarily from the Whitney’s collection, the exhibition will include over eighty works by more than sixty artists, including Ruth Asawa, Eva Hesse, Mike Kelley, Liza Lou, Ree Morton, Howardena Pindell, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Reichek, and Lenore Tawney, as well as featuring new acquisitions by Shan Goshorn, Kahlil Robert Irving, Simone Leigh, Jordan Nassar, and Erin Jane Nelson. More on this exhibition in our previous post: http://arttextstyle.com/dispatches-making-knowing-craft-in-art-1950-2019-at-the-whitney/
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street New York, NY 10014
Phone: (212) 570-3600
https://whitney.org

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

New York, New York
Taking a Thread for a Walk
On view through April 19, 2020
True to its title, this exhibition takes a thread for a walk among ancient textile traditions, early-20th-century design reform movements, and industrial materials and production methods. Featuring adventurous combinations of natural and synthetic fibers and spatially dynamic pieces that mark the emergence of more a sculptural approach to textile art beginning in the 1960s, this show highlights the fluid expressivity of the medium. More about this exhibition in our earlier blog: Dispatches: Textiles Take Center Stage at the New MoMA, New York, NY
Museum of Modern Art, New York 
11 West 53 Street, New York, NY 10019
Phone: (212) 708-9400
https://www.moma.org

Lia Cook in front of Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA
Through the Curtain and Up from the Sea (1985) at MOCA in LA

Los Angeles, California
With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972–1985
On view through May 3, 2020 Featuring approximately fifty artists from across the United States, the exhibition examines the Pattern and Decoration movement’s defiant embrace of forms traditionally coded as feminine, domestic, ornamental, or craft-based and thought to be categorically inferior to fine art. This is the first full-scale scholarly survey of this groundbreaking American art movement, encompassing works in painting, sculpture, collage, ceramics, installation art, and performance documentation. Includes artist Lia Cook
Museum of Contemporary Art
Grand Avenue
250 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 626-6222
https://www.moca.org 

Please check with each art institution for directions and hours.          


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


Artists on Anni Albers’ Enduring Influence

10 Lines 11 Lines 17 Lines 25 Squares, Kay Sekimachi, 6” x 6” each linen, polyester warp, permanent marker, 2017

As we noted in our last two blog posts, Anni Albers has been a profound influence for artists worldwide. Albers’ ability to combine the ancient craft of hand weaving with the language of modern art, finding within the two a multitude of ways to express modern life, led her to inspire numerous artists, from browngrotta arts, including Sue Lawty who wrote about her Albers’ influence on arttextstyle last week.

Fellow weaver and fiber artist Kay Sekimachi loved both Albers’ work and writings. When discussing Albers’ weaving method Sekimachi quoted Albers’ admonition, “You just have to listen to the threads,” adding, “that’s what keeps me going.” Sekimachi says that Albers’ book On Designing has served as her weaving “bible.”

Neha Puri Dhir

Neha Puri Dhir, an India-based textile artist, whose captivating geometric-based work will be featured in our upcoming Art in the Barn exhibition, Art + Identity: an international view, has also been influenced by Albers. “I have always found Anni’s work as a modernist textile artist revolutionary. Her work has a visual language of simple and direct compositions which has deeply influenced my art practice.” Dhir believes the way in which she expresses interactions of colors and forms as simple compositions in her own work has been unconsciously inspired by Albers. Dhir has embodied Albers’ step-by-step approach to exploration, making that the underlying sensibility of her art practice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila at the Albers Foundation

Mariá Dávila and Eduardo Portillo have approached Anni Albers’ legacy with intention. In late 2018, the couple spent a month at the Josef and Anni Albers’ Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut. The Foundation maintains two residential studios for visiting artists who exemplify the seriousness of purpose that characterized both Anni and Josef Albers. The residencies are designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation’s archives and library. The couple wrote to us a few times during their stay.Today we were at the Albers archive, we found the notes for the Annie’s book On Weaving and were very near to some of her works — a special day. Now our days are very intense, daytime for the Library, nighttime for the Studio. During these days we have been devoted almost completely to study Josef’s and Anni’s work and thoughts. It has been very helpful in understanding our own process. We are not working on the loom now, you will find us surrounded by books and  draft papers.”

When we visited them in Bethany in December, they told us:”The silence and the beauty here is a gift. Our lives at home are so busy and so intense that it is hard to focus and think about our work and its direction. Here, we are living an almost monastic life, studying and thinking nearly full-time spurred by the example of the Albers who were remarkably prolific.”

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


“The Foundation has thousands of works, which they are cataloging. Anni’s loom is here, but we did not come here to
weave, but to think and study. We are very interested in her pictorial works — where she tried to embody something tangible, like the sun or a landscape, metaphorically, in a weaving.”

“This place is unique, educating, mutating, extraordinary — so many adjectives you could choose. Anni opened the door for people to think about textiles differently. Now, with the Tate exhibition, she will open doors again.”

And on reflection, when the residency was nearly over: “Just a sentence, a few of her words, has been enough to enlighten our path. Her clear vision on how a weave is created allows us to transit with confidence to experimentation through the threads and the interchange that exists between ideas and materials. Revisiting her work makes us witnesses to her legacy.”


Art Acquisitions: Part 1

Over the course of the last year many browngrotta arts artists have had pieces acquired by institutions all across the globe.

Untitled, monofilament, Kay Sekimachi, monofilament, 57” x 14” x 14”, circa mid-70’s

Untitled, monofilament, Kay Sekimachi, monofilament, 57” x 14” x 14”, circa mid-70’s

Kay Sekimachi – Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

A hanging sculpture of monofilament, Untitled, was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Sekimachi made only 20 monofilaments during the span of her entire career. Untitled is the Museum’s fourth piece by Sekimachi. The Museum’s other pieces include Haleakala, Leaf Vessel #203 and Hornet’s Nest Bowl #103.

Kyoko Kumai –  Oita City Museum of Art

The Oita City Museum of Art, Prefecture, Japan acquired Kyoko Kumai’s  Way of Water・Grass. Additionally,  Kumai’s piece, Air, has been acquired by the Manggha Museum of Japanese Art. Technology. Air is currently featured in the Manggha’s exhibition Kyoko Kumai. Air, which is part of The Buddhism Project – a series of events, exhibitions and lectures that seek to

Examine historical and cultural role that Buddhism has played in the countries of the Far East, as well as its influence on the culture of the West. Kyoko Kumai. Air. Will be on display through August 26th.

Matrix II-201011, Chang Yeonsoon, indigo dyed abaca fiber, 26.75” x 26.5 “x 10”, 2010. Photo by Tom Grotta

Matrix II-201011, Chang Yeonsoon, indigo dyed abaca fiber, 26.75” x 26.5 “x 10”, 2010. Photo by Tom Grotta

 

Ane Henriksen – Danish Arts Foundation

The Danish Arts Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark acquired two works By Ane Henriksen. The pieces acquired, Business Sky and National Tartan – DK were both part of Henriksen’s solo exhibition Jens Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen at the Heltborg Museum, Thy, Denmark.

Chang Yeon-Soon – Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois recently acquired Chang Yeon-Soon’s Matrix II-201011 through browngrotta arts. Matrix II-201011 was featured in browngrotta arts’ exhibition Stimulus: art and its inception. Yeon-Soon’s Matrix 132570 was also acquired by the Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin.

Red Horizontal Line, Gudrun Pagter, 280 cm x 240 cm x 0.5 cm, sisal and flax, 2016. Photo: Danish Arts Foundation

Keiji Nio – The Musées d’ Angers

The Musées d’ Angers, Angers, France has acquired both Keiji Nio’s Red Area and Code d’accés. The Museum, which is located in the historic centre of Angers on an ancient medieval site, consists of several buildings from various epochs.

Gudrun Pagter – Danish Arts Foundation

The Danish Arts Foundation, Copenhagen, Denmark has acquired a piece from artist Gudrun Pagter. The piece, Red Horizontal Line, is now on display at the Aalborg University, Institute for Architecture and Media Technology.

Dona Look – Museum of Wisconsin Art

The Museum of Wisconsin Art acquired one of Dona Look’s baskets. The basket, which is made from white birch bark and waxed silk thread was a gift of Dennis Rocheleau and the GE Foundation. This is the Museum of Wisconsin Art’s third acquisition of Look’s work.

 


In Praise of Older Women Artists

Simone Pheulpin at The Design Museum of London. Photo: Maison Parisienne

Last year, Artsy took a look at why old women had replaced young men as the “new darlings” of the art word. Its twofold explanation: as institutions attempt to revise the art-historical canon, passionate dealers and curators have seen years of promotion come to fruition and these artists have gained attention as blue-chip galleries search for new artists to represent among those initially overlooked.

Artsy points at Carmen Herrara, Carol Rama, Irma Blank, and Geta Brătescu and others to make its point. Mary Sabbatino, vice president at Galerie Lelong, is quoted as saying,  “They’re fully formed artists, they’re mature artists, they’re serious artists. They’re not going to burn out as sometimes happens with younger artists…and normally the prices are far below the other artists of their generation, so you’re offering a value to someone.” Barbara Haskell, a curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, says museums everywhere are realizing that “there’s been a lopsided focus on the white male experience” in art history, and are working to correct that.”

Primitive Figures Bird and Insects, Luba Krejci,
knotted linen, 40.5″ x 44.5″ x 2″, circa 1970s. Photo: Tom Grotta

Among the women artists working in fiber who belong on a list of those achieving belated recognition include Ruth Asawa, Sheila Hicks (mentioned in the Artsy article) Kay Sekimachi, Lenore Tawney, Ethel Stein, Simone Pheulpin, Sonia Delauney, Luba Krejci, Ritzi Jacobi and Helena Hernmarck. The international contemporary fiber movement was initiated by women who took reinvented tapestry, took it off the wall and drew global attention to an art form that had been synonymous with tradition to that point. Luba Krecji adapted needle and bobbin lace techniques to create, “nitak,” her own technique, which enabled her to “draw” with thread. In her use of line as “sculptural form,” Ruth Asawa,” provided a crucial link between the mobile modernism of Alexander Calder and the gossamer Minimalism of Fred Sandback, whose yarn pieces similarly render distinctions between interior and exterior moot,” wrote Andrea K. Scott last year in The New Yorker.

 

Damask 5, Ethel Stein, 1980-89. Photo by Tom Grotta

These artists continue their explorations though their seventies, eighties and nineties. An example, Kay Sekimachi, who created complex, elegant 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 grids that are reminiscent of the paintings of Agnes Martin. After having received the Special Mention Loewe Craft Prize and exhibited at the  Design Museum of London, this year, Simone Pheulpin continues to create innovative work in her 70s, work that is part of the 10th contemporary art season at Domaine de Chaumont sur Loire and part of the exhibition “Tissage Tressage” at the Fondation Villa Datris.