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.
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 Anderson; Jane Balsgaard; Annette Bellamy; Marian Bijlenga; Birgit Birkjaaer; Chris Drury; Helena Hernmarck; Lawrence LaBianca; Sue Lawty; Judy Mulford; Karyl Sisson; Ulla-Maija Vikman; Grethe 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, MAemail@example.com.
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.
April has been a busy month for us at bwongrotta arts. We’ve been celebrating our 30th Anniversary for the past 10 days so one of our new this week items was a short video about our 30th Anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art.
We added outdoor sculpture for this exhibition and highlighted Dawn MacNutt’s bronze work, Timeless Figure, which began as a willow sculpture before it was cast in bronze.
Jane Balsgaard’s small reliefs of willow, cotton rope, fishing line, handmade plant paper and plastic wire ties also featured this month. Balsgaard’s airy “boats” of plant paper will be featured in Plunge: Explorations Above and Below at the New Bedford Art Museum, Massachusetts, that opens Memorial Day weekend, official opening June 2nd: http://newbedfordart.org/upcoming-exhibitions/. We’ve partnered with NBAM to mount Plunge; 13 of browngrotta arts’ artists will be included. We’ll be preparing a catalog for the exhibition which is open through October 8, 2017. This month we also drew attention to
Marian Bijlenga’s untitled work of horsehair, cotton and viscose. Bijlenga is one of the artists in Still Crazy as is Gyöngy Laky. Her is her work, Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty a digital print combined with bullets for building.
Embroidery stitches – deliberate and in flurries – feature prominently in the work of six of the artists in browngrotta arts’ upcoming exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art, this April 22nd through April 30th.
Heidrun Schimmel from Germany creates her artwork, which features blizzards of stitches, entirely by hand. She believes her stitch work demonstrates how thread, through its length and quality, acts as a metaphor for human existence.
Different pattern sequences are incorporated by Åse Ljones of Norway into her art pieces. By doing so, she allows each small change in sequence to create a rhythm, tranquility, or excitement for the viewer to enjoy. “I often work in series,” she says, “and build large works from smaller pieces. The small changes in each work communicate and often strengthen the relation to one another.”
Scott Rothstein, whose work has been collected by the Metropolitan and the Philadelphia museum of art, blends minimal design and traditional materials to create ambiguous art forms that viewers must experience and interpret on their own. His embroideries feature brilliant colors and repeated stitches to add dimension.
Marian Bijlenga of the Netherlands has a fascination with dots, lines and contours that is evident in her artwork. She playfully introduces unique contour lines of color and symmetry through her stitched work, using a variety of textile fabrics and materials, including paper, thread and horsehair. Rather than draw on paper, she draws in space using textile as a material and leaves enough distance between the structure and its aligning wall to create what she refers to as a “spatial drawing.”
Delicately combining a series of horsehair, recycled wine foil, and acrylic paint, Adela Akers creates her embroidered pieces by hand with careful insertion of each fine material.“Even when I don’t know the outcome,” she says, “it is the transformation of the materials by the repetitive hand manipulation that leads me to the final expression.”
Anda Klancic uses transparency and coloring to address the visual play of perception between the mimetic and the abstract. Her work in this collection, as well as in previous pieces, attempts to express the relationship between humanity and nature.
Slovenian artist Anda Klancic uses a combination of innovative embroidery techniques, many of which are patented under her name, allowing her to meticulously blend metal with cloth cotton or tree bark to fashion abstract pieces that crystallize the aesthesis of nature.
For more information and a complete artist’s list, please visit http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.
Another year of widely divergent books. Art, biology, history and biography are all represented in the answers we received to the questions we asked of artists that work with browngrotta arts: What books cheered you? Inspired you? Provided an escape?
Dona Anderson, wrote that she is reading Herbert Hoover: A Life by Glen Jeansonne (NAL, New York, 2016) who calls Hoover the most resourceful American since Benjamin Franklin. “I recently had a birthday and remember that my mother went to vote on the day I was born, November 6th, and she voted for Herbert Hoover. Consequently, I started to think about what the political atmosphere was like then — as ours was so crazy and even more so now. When I went to the library in October, the Hoover book was brand new and it appealed to me.” Rachel Max is reading Materiality, edited by Petra Lange-Berndt (MIT Press, Cambridge, 2015), one of the latest additons to the Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art series. It’s a fantastic series. Each volume in the series focuses on a specific theme and contains many thought-provoking essays from theorists and artists. Materiality not only addresses key geographical, social and philosophical issues, but it also examines how artists process and use materials in order to expand notions of time, space and participation. As the publisher notes, “this anthology focuses on the moments when materials become willful actors and agents within artistic processes.” Max has also been dipping into the diaries of Eva Hesse. “They are extremely private and were never meant for publication. But, as a huge fan of her work it is interesting to read her thoughts,” Max writes.
Gyöngy Laky recommended, highly, Daughters of the Samurai, A Journey From East to West and Back by Janice P. Nimura (W.W. Norton, New York, 2016). “This book is a fascinating biographical history chronicling the lives of three young Japanese girls sent to America in 1871 by the just barely 22-year-old Empress, Haruko. Their mission was to become educated and to bring back to Japan western ideas to advance the role of women and to help Japan adopt western knowledge and technology. Haruko […”something of a prodigy: reading at the age of three, composing poetry at five, studying calligraphy at seven and plucking the koto (a stringed instrument) at 12] had earlier married the 16-year-old Emperor who ascended the throne in 1868. He had adopted the name, Meiji, or Enlightened Rule—to usher in the beginning of a new era. The new era was a plunge into modernization. Sending three young girls to the West turned out to be more enlightened than expected. Sutematsu Yamakawa, 11; Shige Nagai, 10 and Ume Tsuda, the youngest, a tender, 6, remained in the U.S. for 10 formative years and then changed the future and subsequent history of Japanese women forever.
Nimura’s skillful crafting of a can’t-put-it-down narrative of their experiences on two sides of the Pacific is a vividly rich visual, as well as historical, account. She produced for the reader, through captivating descriptions illuminating the startling differences between these two very different cultures, the contrasting worlds we could easily visualize.
Stacy Shiff, Pulitzer Prise-winning author of Cleopatra wrote: “Nimura reconstructs their Alice-in-Wonderland adventure: the girls are so exotic as to qualify as ‘princesses’ on their American arrival. One feels “enormous” on her return to Japan.” It is just this Alice-in-Wonderland aspect of their story that caught my imagination. As in Louis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it is the environment and the material culture that sets the stage for remarkable events. The tangible aspects of two vastly contrasting cultures – intellectually, technically, behaviorally and in terms of the accoutrements of every day life, express well the often conflicting, peculiar and unexpected events in the girls’ lives. The girls move from Japanese clothing, furniture and customs to western style and then back again feeling more comfortable in western settings than in their birth homes kneeling on the floor and lavishly swathed in yards and yards of embroidered silks.
In the late 19th century the US was bursting with inventions and change. Planning begun in the 1850s for the Chicago World’s Fair was well under way, ushering in the Gilded Age of rapid industrial growth, design innovation and expansion of popular culture. A startlingly appropriate time for the girls’ cultural experiment to take place. Nimura, who moved to Japan for three years with her Japanese/American nesei husband, was adept at utilizing her keen sense of design and broad knowledge of the two disparate material cultures. She skillfully brought to life the vast differences between the two civilizations through masterful and insightful descriptions of clothing, hairstyles, furniture, interiors, architecture as well as the cities in which they existed. This, combined with her extensive research, presents the reader with many insights into the relations between the two countries and their intertwined histories through the lives of these exceptional girls and their extraordinary adventures.
As Miriam Kingsberg of the Los Angeles Review of Books wrote, “Daughters… is, perhaps, less a story of Japanese out of place in their country, than of women ahead of their time.” Laky adds that while she was a professor of art and design at the University of California, Davis, she encouraged her students to study abroad. “This book illustrates how education and experience in a foreign country enhances understanding of other cultures and peoples – perhaps more important today than in the 1870s and 80s. I believe travel also greatly inspires creativity.”
The Box Project, edited by Lyssa C.Stapleton (Cotsen Occasional Press, Los Angeles, 2016), “is one of the very best catalogs I have ever seen and not only the precious book binding!,” wrote Heidrun Schimmel. “I´m still reading the important essays again and again…and I´m learning again and again…” The Box Project is a limited edition book. It will be available at browngrotta.com next week. John McQueen wrote that The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (Greystone Books, Vancouver, 2016), will change your next walk in the woods. “Trees will never seem the same again. This is a scientific study on how trees communicate with each other among many other things that I, for one, never thought about.”
Currently, Jane Balsgaard is reading The Wind is my Mother: The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman by Marcellus “Bear Heart” Williams and Molly Larkin (revised edition, Berkeley Publishing Group, New York 2012) and Diary of an Stupid Man, by Uschi Tech, published in Denmark by Forlaget Helle.
It is a sad and exciting story about a typical lonely man in today’s Denmark, she wrote. “Written in a wonderful language – so one can just imagine him, by reading it and it is just as sad as Stoner. Mary Merkel-Hess has three recommedations. “I heard Cornelia Mutel read from her book, A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland (University Of Iowa Press, Iowa City, 2016), last March just after it was published” she writes. “I bought it immediately. Connie Mutel is a trained scientist but in this book she has written a very personal account of climate change occurring in her own small woodland here in Johnson County, Iowa. She has woven stories of her own life into observations of the possibly irreversible changes that are happening around us. It is a beautifully written and thoughtful book, but not a hopeless one. She ends with a discussion of things that we can do and strategies for our policymakers.”
Her second recommendation is Food Power: the Rise and Fall of the American Postwar Food System by Bryan L. McDonald. Bryan is Merkel-Hess’s son-in-law, a history professor at Penn State and long-time student of security issues. This book details how the unprecedented abundance of food mid-century was used to advance U.S. goals and values around the world. That food can influence global policy is an issue that Merkel-Hess never considered until now, but one she found fascinating.
The third book, is one for the Sinophiles and academically inclined among us, is The Rural Modern: Constructing the Self and State in Republican China by Kate Merkel-Hess. Merkel-Hess has another academic connection: Kate is her daughter and also a history professor at Penn State. This book about rural reform in China before the Communist revolution documents a desire for modernity rooted in Chinese rural traditions and institutions. Merkel-Hess found it interesting that American foundation money and the YMCA were involved in these early modernizing efforts.
We also have two limited-edition, artist-designed books to highlight: Judy Mulford: 80 Chairs by Judy Mulford and Marian Bijlenga: Miniatures, An autobiographical archive reflecting 30 years of work by Marian Bijlenga. In each case, the artist has created a reflective work — celebrating a full and accomplished career. The books are available at http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/books.php.
As always, enjoy!
We are exhibiting at SOFA Chicago this week in Booth 921. We’ve got great work there from Keiji Nio, Jin-Sook So, Aleksandra Stoyanov and many others. But that’s not all. Artwork from browngrotta arts, including Miracle, a tapestry by innovator, Wlodzimierz Cygan, can be found throughout the art fair.
How may of these can you find??? (There’s a helpful hint below.)
Are We the Same? mixed media sculpture, Norma Minkowitz (US)
Out of Focus 1-9, handwoven tapestry of cotton, Grethe Sørensen (Denmark)
Blue Holes, tapestry, of paper yarn, and blue-dyed horsehair, stitched, Marian Bijlenga (The Netherlands)
Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line, tapestry of linen, wool, and cotton, Sara Brennan (UK)
Silver Waves, tapestry of linen, horsehair, paint and foil, Adela Akers (US)
Miracle, tapestry of linen, wool and sisal, Wlodzimierz Cygan (PL), Encontrada I ( Found I ) by Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila (VE)
And, the not-to-be missed:
Empty Chairs, room-sized mixed media installation, Judy Mulford (US) and Simple Abundances, an individual work, Judy Mulford (US).
1) Are We the Same?: Main Aisle; 2) Out of Focus: VIP Concierge Booth; 3) Blue Holes; VIP Concierge Booth; 4) Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line; Chubb Personal Risk Services, Booth 925 (outside); 5) Silver Waves: Chubb Personal Risk Services, Booth 925 (inside); 6) Miracle: Chubb Personal Risk Services, Booth 925; 7) Encontrada I ( Found I ): Chubb Personal Risk Services, Booth 925 (inside) 8) Empty Chairs: Special Exhibit, Booth 921; Simple Abundances: Special Exhibit, Booth 221.
Artist Marian Bijlenga from the Netherlands will attend SOFA Chicago this year. She’ll be presenting her work through browngrotta arts, and a lecture, on Saturday, at 11:30 a.m. in Room C of the Navy Pier, and signing copies of her book on Saturday at 12:30 .m. at Booth 921. Bijlenga will discuss the 30-year span of her career and the evolution of her practice. She is known internationally for wall sculptures created from delicately worked elements of horse hair, viscose, paper, glass and fish scales, using a technique that she developed herself while studying at the Rietveld Art Academy in the late 1970s and early 1980s.Instead of drawing on paper, the artist draws in space by using textile as a material. “For me,” she says,”transparency is a prerequisite. By leaving some space between the structure and the wall the object is freed from its background and interacts with the white wall. It becomes what I call a ‘Spatial Drawing.’” In her lecture, she will explore her inspirations, found in the natural world, and the way she balances intuitive and structured creative impulses, as well as the 30 more years of making she sees ahead. For her 60th birthday, Bijlenga compiled a group of 60 miniatures, each replicating a piece, or a series of pieces — many of which are in museum collections — that reflect 30 years of her artistic career. The project became a limited-edition book: MINIATURES: An Autobiographical Archive with text by Jack Lenor Larsen and Lesley Millar MBE. Bijlenga will sign copies of her book at browngrotta arts just after her lecture on Saturday, November 5th at 12:30. For more information on SOFA, visit:http://www.sofaexpo.com/visit.
We are excited to be featured in the July issue of selvedge magazine. We have long been fans of the UK magazine, which is artfully designed with lush photos and creative illustrations, and, like browngrotta arts, economical in its use of capital letters. We have a large collection of back issues, stockpiled for reference and inspiration.
Issue 10 was a particular favorite, not surprisingly, with an insightful profile of Sue Lawty, “A rock and a slow pace” followed by an update on bamboo artwork by Nancy Moore Bess, “Mutual Admiration: Bamboo Has Inspired Artists Worldwide.” But we also loved the piece on fashion drawings in the letters of Jane Austen, “Detailed statements” in the Romance issue (34) and the introduction to Indian embroidery in Issue 00. The magazine is a great source of information about what’s current and what’s past in textile art and design, interiors, fashion — around the world. Founded by Polly Leonard in 2003, selvedge is intentionally produced “with the time, thought and skill” required in textile practice. The magazine ably succeeds in its aim of “see[ing] the world through a textile lens, but cast[ing] our eye far and wide looking for links between our subject and achievements in other fields from architecture to archeology”— in this case, as far as Wilton, Connecticut.
As we were preparing our Of Two Minds: Artists Who Do Two of a Kind exhibition in 2014, selvedge sent Rhonda Sonnenberg to interview us for a piece. Sonnenberg has written about fiber artists for some time, including Kate Anderson, Lisa Kokin and Fran Gardner, and we’ve talked shop with her at SOFAs in years past. Over the couple of hours she was in Wilton, we discussed with her the changes we have seen in the field in our two-dozen plus years promoting art textiles and we talked about some of the artists we were watching with interest. The conversation was a good prelude to our show that followed in 2015, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, in which we highlighted work by 15 of the newer-to-the field artists whose work we admire. The selvedge article, “Consuming Fibre,” features photographs of work by many browngrotta artists. You can buy a copy online, through the Selvedge store at: http://www.selvedge.org/shop/64-ageless.
Art, architecture and the environment are upcoming topics for guest bloggers on arttextstyle.com over the next few months.
In February, architect David Ling will write about studying glass at Haystack Mountain School of Craft in Maine a follow up to Hisako Sekijima’s 2013 blog about teaching basketry in the same session. Ling founded David Ling Architects in 1992 after training with Richard Meier, I.M. Pei and Emilio Ambasz. Ling has held teaching positions at Parsons School of Design and University of Nuremburg and has served on design juries at Interiors Magazine, Harvard Graduate School of Design and Columbia University. The essence of Ling’s architecture is the artistic integration of space, form, light and function enriched by materiality. Among his design projects is the home/office of browngrotta arts.
Artist Wendy Wahl will write three posts about art, environment and ideas — the first to appear in mid-February. Wahl‘s work has been exhibited internationally and is in a number of private and public collections including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York and the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been the subject of exhibitions at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan, the Newport Art Museum, Rhode Island and the Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts.
In March, artist Gyöngy Laky’s Process Notes; Red in Art and Life will also appear on arttextstyle. Laky’s sculptural forms have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States. Internationally, her work has been exhibited in France, Sweden, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary, Lithuania, Colombia, the Philippines, China, with one-person exhibitions in Spain, Denmark and England. Her outdoor site-specific installations have been exhibited in the US, Canada, England, France, Austria and Bulgaria. From April 26th to May 5, 2014 Laky’s baskets and wall sculpture will be included in Of Two Minds; Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind.
In March, readers will learn about the creative journey Dutch artist, Marian Bijlenga has taken, as she muses on 30 years of work. Bijlenga’s “spatial drawings “of horsehair, paper, thread and fish scales have been exhibited worldwide. Her work is represented in major museum collections including LongHouse Reserve; The Museum of Art & Design; The Craftmuseum, Finland; Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle, Calais, France; and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Bijlenga’s wall works and glass sculpture will be featured this April in Of Two Minds; Artists Who Do More Than One of a Kind at browngrotta arts.
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