Tag: Lawrence LaBianca

Collaborations: Creativity x 2

Artist collaborations account for some of the greatest pieces ever made. For example, the 1874 collaborative exhibition between Monet, Renoir, Morisot, Cézanne in which the called themselves the “Société Anonyme des Artes” helped establish the artists in the art world. In fact, it was a snide remark by art critic Louise Leroy of the show, which he called ‘The Exhibition of Impressionists” that established the impressionist style and movement (Financial Times).

Dail Behennah’s Studio Work-board. Photo: Dail Behennah via In.Dialogue

“History has proved time and again that two creative minds can sometimes be better than one,” explains Nadja Bozovic of Agora Gallery. “Even today, artists are increasing collaborating with each other and with creative professions from other fields.” Laura Ellen Bacon and Chris Drury have both collaborated with or inspired creators in different fields, Bacon with composer Helen Grime and Drury with poet Kay Syrad. Historically, many renowned artists have collaborated with their significant others. Artists and couple Debra Sachs and Marilyn Keating were the focus of a collaborative exhibition at the Stockton University Art Gallery in 2016. Collaborations between couples, which require much trust and respect, fuse the differing talents, ideas and creative energies of the individuals. In the end, artists don’t see collaborations as a way to create masterpieces, instead, artists see it as a way to force themselves into uncomfortable territory and break old habits while also breaking new ground. Several of browngrotta arts’artists have been part of these fruitful arrangements, including:

 

Dail Behennah and Jessica Turrell

Dail Behennah and Jessica Turrell started a joint adventure with their collaborative blog, In.dialogue. Through the years Behennah and Turrell have had numerous conversations about their work. They originally thought that they would create a body of work on a common them, but the more they explored the idea the more they realized it was the conversation around their work they valued the most. “Trust is an important aspect of a project,” Turrell explains “we need to be able to challenge and support each other in the sometimes difficult  process of thinking and talking about our work, and of pushing ourselves to do something new.”

Laura Ellen Bacon's Woven Space at the Chatsworth House. Photo: The Chatsworth House Trust

Laura Ellen Bacon’s Woven Space at the Chatsworth House. Photo: The Chatsworth House Trust

Laura Ellen Bacon & Helen Grime

Composer Helen Grime’s piece Woven Space was inspired by the work of Laura Ellen Bacon. Grime was inspired by the way in which Bacon’s sculptures embrace, surround and engulf architecture and natural landscape. Grime’s Woven Space comes from Bacon’s 2009 willow sculpture in the Chatsworth House gardens. Grime did not set out to create a literal musical representation of Bacon’s work sculptural work, instead, she worked to parallel the intertwining limbs of Bacon’s sculptural work with her score.

Debra Sachs and Marilyn Keating:

Debra Sachs and her partner Marilyn Keating held a collaborative exhibition at the Stockton University Art Gallery in 2016. The exhibition, titled Going Solo and Tandem, featured individual and joint work the couple produced over the course of 30 years. Sachs and Keating, who met in the early 1970s during their time as students at the Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, are both influenced by their surroundings. Keating, who primarily works with wood, creates depictions of kites, birds, bugs and dogs. Sachs, who mainly works in the form of abstract paintings and three-dimensional pieces, takes a more design-oriented approach to her work. “It’s more about colors and shapes of landscapes,” explains Sachs. “For Marilyn, it’s more about fish and whatever kinds of things you can find. More Narrative stuff. She can make a bird on a band saw. Those are skills I don’t even have.” Though their influences and methods are quite different, the two are able to meld their style when working together. Typically, Keating builds the structures and Sachs designs and paints the structures’ surface.

Sounding, Donald Fortesque and Lawrence LaBianca, 2008. Photo by Lawrence LaBianca

Sounding, Donald Fortesque and Lawrence LaBianca, 2008. Photo by Lawrence LaBianca.

Chris Drury & Kay Syrad

In May, Chris Drury collaborated with Kay Syrad to host a five-day art.earth intensive. Throughout the intensive, titled “Context and Form: Art and Writing,” Drury shared how he works with form, including whirlpool, vortex, fractal and wave patterns.  In order to work with such patterns, Drury explores and investigates how the earth unfolds these specific aesthetic forms. Syrad, a novelist and poet, had collaborated with Drury on a number of art-text projects. Participants immersed themselves in the landscape by walking, collecting and working on pieces during short lectures, shared conversation and studio time.

Lawrence LaBianca and Donald Fortescue

In 2011, Lawrence LaBianca collaborated with Donald Fortescue to create Sounding for the Milwaukee Art Museum’s exhibition The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft. The artists selected for the exhibition were established American crafts artists who blended traditional craft materials (i.e. fabric, glass, wood, metal and clay) with digital technologies, therefore, blurring the boundaries between the traditionally established categories of craft, art and design. Sounding, which happened to be one of the largest pieces in the exhibition, explored the relationship between technology and nature. In making Sounding, Fortescue and LaBiance were inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The artists’ fascination with Moby Dick came in part from “its detailed evocation of the bygone crafts of sailing and whaling and the struggles of men at sea.” The two lowered a cabriole-legged table into the ocean near Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay with a hydrophone and left in in the ocean for two months to record the ambient sound. “Sounding provides a direct link to the living oceans surrounding the Bay Area through sight, sound, smell, and touch. In both form and concept it also links to the historical, literary, and metaphorical oceans of Moby-Dick,” explains LaBianca


Plunge: explorations above and below Opening Tonight, New Bedford Art Museum, Massachusetts

Annette Bellamy Long Lines

Annette Bellamy Long Lines

Rippling, roiling, teeming with life… Deep, dark, waiting to be explored…
Water has long been a potent influence for artists wishing to explore its majesty and mystery.

For the last several months, browngrotta arts has worked with Jamie Uretsky, Curator and Noelle Foye, Executive Director of the New Bedford Museum of Art/ArtWorks! in Massachusetts. Plunge: explorations from above and below, which examines the influence of water in the work of 16 artists from around the world, is the result.

New Bedford Plunge installation

Plunge explorations from above and below installation

The multifaceted exhibition combines sculptures, tapestries, installation works, paintings and photography. Each work resides at the intersection of the maker’s fascination with a variety of nautical and natural themes and the artmaking process. Plunge pairs Helena Hernmarck’s monumental woven depiction of tall ships in New York Bay 1884 and Chris Drury’s Double Echo, a print that superimposes a fragment of an echogram from Flight W34 over East Antarctica and an echocardiogram of the pilot’s heartbeat. In other galleries, Heather Hobler’s meditative photographs of seascapes join Karyl Sisson’s “sea creatures” made of domestic objects like zippers and clothespins; Christopher Volpe’s evocative paintings join Grethe Wittrock’s Arctica, a sculpture made from a repurposed sail from the Danish Navy. Unlike most musuem exhibtions, the works in Plunge are all available for sale.

Thirteen of the artists in Plunge, representing five countries, are represented by browngrotta arts: Dona AndersonJane BalsgaardAnnette BellamyMarian BijlengaBirgit BirkjaaerChris DruryHelena HernmarckLawrence LaBiancaSue LawtyJudy MulfordKaryl SissonUlla-Maija VikmanGrethe Wittrock. Their work, and that of the three other artists in the exhibition, Heather Hobler, Anne Leone and Christopher Volpe, will be included in the catalog for the exhibition, designed and photographed by Tom Grotta. It will be available beginning June 5th at www.browngrotta.com.

Plunge’s opening is tonight Friday, June 2nd at the New Bedford Museum of Art from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jane Balsgaard, one of the artists in Plunge, will attend from Denmark.

The New Bedford Art Museum is great cultural destination for those on the way to the Vineyard, Nantucket or the Cape. You have plenty of time to see it, as the exhibition continues through October 7, 2017. The New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! is located at: 608 Pleasant Street/ New Bedford, MA/02740/508.961.3072/info@newbedfordart.org.


Still Crazy…30 Years: The Catalog

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog Cover Naoko Serino and Mary Yagi

Still Crazy…30 Years: The Catalog

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.

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Naoko Serino Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Michael Radyk Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Lilla Kulka Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Jo Barker Spread

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.


Greenery On My Mind; Pantone Color of the Year

Pantone Color of the Year Greenery

Pantone Color of the Year Greenery

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

Gyöngy Laky

Gyöngy Laky, Proceeding
Photo: M. Lee Fatherree

Rachel Max

Rachel Max, After Haeckel II
Photo by Tom Grotta

Lawrence LaBianca

Lawrence LaBianca, My Fathers Dream
Photo by Tom Grotta

Ed Rossbach

Ed Rossbach, Green with Four Ears
Photo by Tom Grotta

Scott Rothstein

Scott Rothstein, #62
Photo by Tom Grotta

Nancy Koenigsberg

Nancy Koenigsberg, Aurora
Photo by Tom Grotta

Adela Akers

Adela Akers, Five Windows
Photo by Tom Grotta

Debra Sachs

Debra Sachs, Green Armadillo Basket
Photo by Debra Sachs

Deborah Valoma

Deborah Valoma, The Surge
Photo by Tom Grotta

Jeannine Anderson

Jeannine Anderson, Untitled
Photo by tom Grotta

Axel Russmeyer

Axel Russmeyer, Untitled
Photo by Tom Grotta

Noriko Takamiya

Noriko Takamiya, #36 Revolving
Photo by Tom Grotta


art on paper preview: Lawrence LaBianca, What Lies Beneath

12lb What Lies Beneath, is a mixed media sculpture. The unique water housing was created to submerge Moby Dick by Herman Melville underwater. The image was taken while the book was underwater and feathered to a rock. The artist, Lawrence LaBianca is a sculptor that takes his studio work to the outdoors. Making machine like sculptures that harness natural phoneme to generate the art. This piece is part of a larger body of work that engages aquatic environments. , Lawrence LaBianca, 40" x 18.5" x 8.5", 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

What Lies Beneath, is a mixed media sculpture. The unique water housing was created to submerge Moby Dick by Herman Melville underwater. The image was taken while the book was underwater and feathered to a rock. The artist, Lawrence LaBianca is a sculptor that takes his studio work to the outdoors. Making machine like sculptures that harness natural phoneme to generate the art. This piece is part of a larger body of work that engages aquatic environments. , Lawrence LaBianca, 40″ x 18.5″ x 8.5″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

This March (2nd-6th), browngrotta arts will participate in the art on paper art fair at Pier 36 in New York City http://thepaperfair.com/ny. Among the works we will display is Lawrence LaBianca’s mixed-media sculpture, What Lies Beneath. LaBianca takes much of his studio work to the outdoors, making machine-like sculptures that harness natural phenomena to generate the art. His sculptures are extensions of the human hand through which materials are manipulated and shaped, and they are the vehicles through which information can be unearthed. “The tools we apply to nature—to contain it, shape it, understand it and categorize it,” says the artist, “also have a profound affect upon it. It is this impetus to measure, understand, contain and manipulate nature that I enact through my work.” LaBianca created the unique water housing of What Lies Beneath in order to submerge the iconic text of Moby Dick by Herman Melville underwater. The image was taken while the book was underwater and tethered to a rock.

12lb What Lies Beneath, Lawrence LaBianca, Detail

12lb What Lies Beneath, Lawrence LaBianca, Detail


Don’t Miss – 10 Days Only: Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT

This Saturday, April 26th, marks the opening of Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. Open for just 10 days, Of Two Minds features 25 international artists working in a a variety of media, including, glass, wood, watercolor, metal and fiber. The artists in the exhibition show remarkable range, working in different mediums, mastering different techniques and materials and creating complementary or contrasting works along the way. “Painters paint, sculptors sculpt, but the textile and mixed media artists in Of Two Minds are less restricted by material or technique,” explains browngrotta arts’ co-curator, Tom Grotta. “Represented in major museums, these artists weave, plait, knit, crochet, stitch and felt and also carve, construct, draw, dye, weld and paint.” Each artist in Of Two Minds has provided at least two contrasting works — several will exhibit more than two.

Detail of MarianBijlenga installation of glass and fiber, photo by Tom Grotta

Detail of MarianBijlenga installation of glass and fiber, photo by Tom Grotta

Marian Bijlenga, of the Netherlands, has sent a stitched work of horsehair, one of fish scales, a wall assemblage of glass “doodles” resulting from her glass experiments and also two glass sculptures.

Tissus d’ombres, detail, Stéphanie Jacques’,photo by Tom Grotta

Tissus d’ombres, detail, Stéphanie Jacques’,photo by Tom Grotta

Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium exhibits clay-coated and textile-edged woven baskets, with wood-worked bases along with a stitched photographic print.

Vanishing and Emerging installation detail by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Vanishing and Emerging installation detail by Hideho Tanaka, photo by Tom Grotta

Hideho Tanaka of Japan combines a large patched linen weaving with sculptures of torched paper and steel.

detail of Lawrence LaBianca installation from Of Two Minds, photo by Tom Grotta

detail of Lawrence LaBianca installation from Of Two Minds, photo by Tom Grotta

Lawrence LaBianca of California exhibits works combining glassblowing, prints, wood and metal work. LaBianca’s Skiff is interactive, when a viewer picks up the phone, he or she can hear the rushing river that inspired the work. The full list of participating artists is:
Dona Anderson (US),  Dorothy Gill Barnes ( US),  Dail Behennah (UK),  Nancy Moore Bess (US),  Marian Bijlenga (NL),  Birgit Birkkjaer (DK),  Gali Cnaani (IL),  Agneta Hobin (FI),  Stéphanie Jacques (BE),  Tamiko Kawata (JP),  Naomi Kobayashi (JP),  Kyoko Kumai (JP),  Lawrence LaBianca(US),  Gyöngy Laky(US),  Sue Lawty (UK),  John McQueen (US),  Norma Minkowitz (US),  Scott Rothstein (US),  Axel Russmeyer (DE),  Hisako Sekijima (JP),  Karyl Sisson (US),  Jin-Sook So (JP),  Hideho Tanaka (JP),  Deborah Valoma (US) and Grethe Wittrock (DK).

Wave Hill Bread

Wave Hill Breads

The Artists Reception and Opening begins at 12 p.m. on Saturday. Several of the artists will be in attendance including, Tamiko Kawata (US),  Norma Minkowitz (US) , Sue Lawty (UK) and John McQueen (US). We’ll also be tasting artisan breads from Wave Hill Breads. From Sunday the 27th through Sunday, May 4th, our hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Call us at 203-834-0623 if you wish to come earlier or later. We are at work on a catalog for the exhibition which you can purchase at bga or online after May 1st. For more information visit: http://browngrotta.com/Pages/newthisweek.php.


Objects of Desire Gift Guide: Part 3 -The Natural Order

Choose among baskets, sculptures and wall works of natural materials including wood bark, cockle burrs, leaves and feathers.

Natural Order Objects

1) HAYSTACK RIVER BASKET, Dorothy Gill Barnes
early river teeth, 14.5″ x 21″ x 16″, 2011

2) PANIER-MAISON II, Stéphanie Jacques
wood, willow, raw clay coated and limewash, 16.5″ x 21.25″ x 21.25″, 2010

3) MARAG, Lizzie Farey
willow, wax and galloway pebble, 
16.5″ x 11.5″ x 11.5″, 2006

4) GUARDIAN II, Jan Buckman
waxed linen and hawthorne branches, 
27″ x 7.5″ x 7″, 2002

5) BIRD BRAIN, John Mcqueen
woven willow twigs, waxed string , 26″ x 23.5″ x 23″, 2002

6) CAMPHOR, Lawrence LaBianca
glass with photo, branch, steel, 12″ x 22″ x 7″, 1999

7) EMU, Virginia Kaiser
pine needles, Emu feathers, stitched with linen, 14″ x 5″ x 5″, 2011

8) PUSSY WILLOW XIIII, Markku Kosonen
willow, 8″ x 12″ x 12″, 1996

9) LEAF BOWL, Kay Sekimachi
skeleton of big leaf maple, 8″ x 5″ x 5″, 2011

10) FITTINGS V, Hisako Sekijima
cherry and maple, 
8″ x 10″ x 9″, 1999

11) CRADLE TO CRADLE, Gyöngy Laky
apple, commercial wood, screws, 16 x 30″ x 30″, 2007

12) CHINESE LANTERN, Ceca Georgieva
burdock burrs, chinese lantern, 16” x 8.25” x 4.75”, 2012

13) MOTHER  & CHILD, Dawn MacNutt
twined willow, 
36″ x 9″ x 9″, 2009, $3,000

47db TWENTY FIVE SQUARES14) TWENTY -FIVE SQUARES, Dail Behennah
willow silver plated pins, 
37.5″ x 37.5″ x 3″, 2007


November 26th: Our Online Exhibition Opens With an Offer for CyberMonday

On Monday, November 26th, browngrotta arts will present an online version of our 25th anniversary exhibition,Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture at browngrotta.com. The comprehensive exhibition highlights browngrotta arts’ 25 years promoting international contemporary art. Viewers can click on any image in the online exhibition to reach a page with more information about the artists and their work.

“Some works in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture reflect the early days of contemporary textile art and sculpture movement,” says Tom Grotta, founder and co-curator at browngrotta arts. “There are also current works by both established and emerging artists, which provide an indication of where the movement is now and where it may be headed.”

Since Monday the 26th is CyberMonday this year, sales of art, books, catalogs, videos or dvds placed online or by telephone that day will be discounted 10% (excluding tax and shipping). In addition, bga will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation for each sale made from November 24th through December 31, 2012. Visit browngrotta.com. For more information call Tom at 203.834.0623 or email us at art@browngrotta.com.


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Lawrence LaBianca

The Strong Are Saying Nothing DETAIL, PHOTO BY TOM GROTTA

Lawrence LaBianca wants “to be the blacksmith of the future.” His sculptures are both abstract and narrative, combining the natural, like branches,twigs and stones, and the manmade, including glass and metal  hinges and pulleys, in intriguing ways that create insightful messages about out role in the natural world. In The Strong Are Saying Nothing, one of two works by LaBianca that browngrotta arts will exhibit at SOFA NY 2012, the artist was influenced by the work of Robert Frost and by toy push puppets that become animated through kinetic activity.

5lb The Strong Are Saying Nothing Lawrence LaBianca, oak, steel, modified winch, steel cable102” x 32” x 24.5”, 2011, photo by Tom Grotta.

The result was an animated tree of oak, steel, cable and a modified winch, that requires the viewer to consider ideas of taming, manipulation, innocence and constraint. LaBianca just finished an artist’s residency at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. He is an Adjunct Professor at the California College of the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Craft and Folk Museum, San Francisco, California; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts; Virginia Groot Foundation Visual Perspectives, Chicago, Illinois; Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco, California; Oliver Arts Center, Oakland, California; Richmond Art Center, California; Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, California; Bitters Gallery, Seattle, Washington.


Books Make Great Gifts 2011: Artist Recommendations

This year we asked the artists we represent just one question:

What was the most enjoyed/most inspirational book you read this year?? Here are their wide-ranging replies:

Nancy Moore Bess and her friend, artist Sharon McCartney share studios with for occasional “play dates” that involve hours of restorative art chat, small handwork and book sharing. It was Sharon, Nancy says. who introduced me to the exhibition catalogue, El Anatsui at the Clark (Clark Art Institute). “I had seen ads for his work,” adds Nancy, “but the catalog was more than glorious photographs – it placed his current work in the larger context of his entire career/life. Known now for his monumental ‘fabrics’ with metals and Nigerian liquor bottle caps, his earlier work with wood, found metals, steel sheets, etc. was equally exciting for me. I love rust! I was extremely sorry to have missed the exhibition which was installed in the Stone Hill Center at the Clark Museum, but delighted to have access to the book.

Sharon loved a book that Nancy owned, Boro, by Amy Sylvester Katoh, who lives and works at the Blue & White shop in Tokyo. When she tried to order it, she found a different book that Nancy recommends,  Boro: Rags and Tatters from the Far North of Japan by Yukiko Koide and Kyoichi Tsuzuki (Aspect). Both books illustrate the traditional practice of reusing rags and stitching them into clothing and household textiles. Amy’s book concentrates on mostly indigo fabrics which she collects. Both books include impressive photographs with the closeup images really illustrating how the fabrics are used. “Sharon and I both do a great deal of top stitching,” Nancy says, “she on her fabric constructions (she is the queen of French knots!) and I on my experimental paper work. The variety of garments in her book and the variety of fabrics really inspires me to get to the book store!!”

“I have one great book to add,” writes Gyöngy Laky, “though only peripherally art related:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney (Little, Brown; National Book Award) . This is a semi-autobiographical novel by award-winning author, poet and film-maker, Sherman Alexie.  Alexie has been named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and has been lauded by The Boston Globe as “an important voice in American literature.” He is one of the most well-known and beloved literary writers of his generation, with works such as Reservation Blues and War Dances. He also wrote the screenplay for the film, Smoke Signals, based on a short story from his book, Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.   In his novel, Alexie tells the heartbreaking, hilarious, and beautifully written story of a young Native American teen, Arnold, as he attempts to break free from the life he was destined to live.  Arnold’s drawings illustrate the book.”

Kate Hunt’s suggestion was a CD, rather than a book, Souvenirs, featuring opera star Anna Netrebko. The Independent says she is, “in a word, sensational . . . Netrebko’s strength is not just in the mobility of her voice and the razzle-dazzle of her upper register’s big-money notes – no, it’s the fullness and beauty of the middle voice that singles her out . . . properly overwhelming. For once, fullness of heart is truly matched in fullness of sound.”

Mutsumi Iwasaki enjoyed,「朝鮮陶磁図録」(tyousen toji zuroku), a book on ancient Korean pottery that accompanied last year’s exhibition of Korean Ceramics – 50 Years After the Death of Muneyoshi Yanagi at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in Tokyo.

Lawrence LaBianca recommends The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford (Modern Library) and Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft (Simon & Schuster) by Thor Heyerdahl. Both are true accounts of heroism and determination and creative reasoning used to reach historic goals in exploration — Huntford in the South Pole and Heyerdahl in the South Seas..

Sue Lawty, wrote to us about Edward R. Tufte’s Envisioning Information (Graphics Press), a book I bought for Tom a few years ago.  Sue bought the book, which covers wide-ranging systems, patterns or logic for presenting information from mathematics to maps, a couple of weeks ago in London as a present for her nephew, but now she wants a copy of her own. “It stimulates thinking,” writes Sue.  “For example, in the micro/macro design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, artist Maya Ying Lin had the vision of ordering names chronologically (resolutely resisting pressure for a more pedestrian telephone directory-type listing) thus, within the overwhelming density of 58,000 named dead, the unique loss of each individual is retained. I know I need this book on my shelves to dip into at sly moments and be informed by.”

“I read a good book called The Craftsman by Richard Sennett (Yale University Press),” Mary Merkel-Hess  wrote. “It is a broad-ranging analysis of what it means to do good work. His definition of a craftsman extends beyond those who work with their hands to include everyone who wants to do a job well. So many references to literature, sociology, society — it was fascinating.” Mary also enjoyed Architecture of Silence: Cistercian Abbeys of France, photographs by David Heald which contains marvelous photos of stone buildings and their simple but inspiring interiors and the catalog from Stimulus: art and its inception (browngrotta arts). “[S]peaking of inspiring, thanks for the Stimulus catalog! It’s great!”

For Lija Rage, her most-enjoyed book this year was Haroun and the Sea of Stories (Penguin), the first work by Salman Rushdie after The Satanic Verses (Random House Trade Paperbacks). She’s also been reading about Chinese culture in preparation for her next exhibition.

“The most important book this year is for me,” writes Heidrun Schimmel, “is the catalog of the Venice Biennial, 54.Esposizione Internazionale d´Arte Illuminations. I visited most of the exhibitions in Venice for three days and of course there are many ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’ But this year the catalog is very good and there is an English edition, The Venice Biennale. 12th International Architecture Exhibition. People meet in architecture (Marsilio Editions). In Munich now you can see two wonderful exhibitions with works of Ellsworth Kelly. In Pinakothek der Moderne you see 60 drawings of plants (through January 8th) http://www.pinakothek.de/en/kalender/2011-10-07/14412/ellsworth-kelly-plant-drawings. And the catalog is an inspirational artwork for itself! But there is only a German edition.”

Karyl Sisson reports that, “Sometimes I just need to laugh.  Tina Fey’s Bossypants (Reagan Arthur Books) did it for me.”

Wendy Wahl, writes that, “It is with pleasure I sing the praises for a book that is pure joy to consume in a vicarious living sort of way. Rosamond Bernier has written Some of My Lives, A Scrapbook Memoir (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The author’s voice comes alive as she tells the stories of her amazing life’s experiences with leading personalities of the 20th century in the world of art and music. She has lead such a vivid and unique life; the book is fabulous armchair travel.” (Full disclosure: my day job is with this publisher’s parent.)

Sensual Relations by David Howes (University of Michigan) is Deborah Valoma’s recommendation.

Randy Walker  found Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century by Carl Schoonover (Abrams) to be inspirational. His wife bought the book for her sister, who is a Doctoral student in Psychology, but when Randy saw the images in the book, he nabbed it and his wife had to buy another one for her sister.

Lena McGrath Welker loved Jane Urquhart’s  Sanctuary Line (MacAdam/Cage Publishers).