Tag: Norma Minkowitz

A Couple Collects: Sandy and Lou Grotta of the Grotta Collection

Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta
Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta

Next month, we will showcase 40 artists whose works part of the remarkable collection of Sandy and Lou Grotta, acquired during their nearly 70-year relationship. “In quality and depth, the Grotta collection of contemporary craft outshines all others, including what is in museums,” writes designer and curator Jack Lenor Larsen. In Artists from the Grotta Collection we will feature important works of fiber, ceramic and wood – just as the Grotta Collection does.

"The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft"
The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft

The Grottas’ acquisitions are housed in an architecturally significant home designed intentionally to showcase their art. The collection and their home are featured in a new book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craftwhich was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta.

Lila Kulka, Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125" x 77", 1989
A couple-themed work by Lila Kulka on of the artists in the Grotta Collection. Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125″ x 77″, 1989, photo by Tom Grotta

A well-regarded interior designer, Sandy Grotta (then Sandy Brown) met her husband, Lou Grotta, at the University of Michigan in 1953. After enrolling in multiple art history courses together, the couple quickly developed a mutual admiration for contemporary architecture which would grow to encompass the work of dozens of renowned craft artists. “In the early 1960s, walking out of the Museum of Modern Art, we stumbled upon the Museum of Contemporary Craft next door, ” she says. “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. It was the site of our initial sighting of the wonderful walnut wood work of Edgar and Joyce Anderson.” Soon after, the Grotta commissioned the first work of what evolved into their becoming the most important collectors of Joyce and Shorty’s limited output over the next 30 years. The Andersons introduced them to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “[T]he Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” says Sandy, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator going to interior design school and entering the field.” Lou’s interest in modern architecture and Scandinavian art also stems back to his early years as a student at the University of Michigan. In the early 80s Lou reunited with his New Jersey friend from summer camp, Richard Meier, and, despite differing opinions about craft and differences in opinion concerning craft materials, they decided to collaborate on the creation of The Grotta House. Over a span of five years, the three worked together to design and build a house that combined the Grottas’ unique appreciation for contemporary art and Meier’s formal elements of design.

Sauvages Diptych, Stephanie Jacques, willow, 51" x 18" x 12", 2014
Stephanie Jacques’ couple of willow: Sauvages, Diptych, willow, 51″ x 18″ x 12″, 2014, photo by Tom Grotta


Sandy and Lou continue their curation, still seeking dimensional textile art, sculpture and fine craft that enhances their collection. When it comes to aesthetic decisions, Lou says, the two early disagree. “Since day one, we’ve always been blessed with an amazing like/dislike simpatico. On rare occasions when we disagree, we honor the other’s veto power.” The results of that unique creative collaboration are documented in the more-than 300 photographs that make up The Grotta Home, which will be celebrated in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch runs from November 2nd to the 10th at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.

Together Forever, Judy Mulford, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012
This work by Judy Mulford, celebrates partnerships like Sandy’s and Lou’s: Together Forever, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta


The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm; the hours for November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm. TheGrotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft will be available throughout the exhibition and Tom will be available to sign it. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.

See Me, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 11.75" x 22" x 6", 2019
Two heads contribute to a singular vision. Norma Minkowitz, See Me, mixed media, 11.75″ x 22″ x 6″, 2019. photo by Tom Grotta


The Grotta Collection Opens at bga November 2nd: Who’s New

Our Fall exhibition, Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch opens at browngrotta arts in Wilton, CT on November 2nd. The exhibition highlights significant works of fiber and dimensional art by more than 40 artists collected by Sandy and Louis Grotta.

Thomas Hucker,  Ledge Table
Thomas Hucker, Ledge Table, black palm wood with Holly inlay (gloss laquer finish), split oak, stained black (oil finih), egg shell lacquer, 201517″ x 42″ x 42″

The Grotta Collection represents nearly 70 years of arts patronage and a unique kinship fostered by the Grottas among pioneering contemporary craft makers in the fields of textile art, sculpture, furniture and jewelry. The Grottas are long-time patrons of Museum of Arts and Design and the American Craft Museum in New York. The private collection is housed in an architecturally significant home designed by Richard Meier in the 1980s known as The Grotta House. Among the 40 artists whose work is included in the exhibition, browngrotta will showcase five artists, new to browngrotta arts — Thomas Hucker, Dominic DiMare, William Wyman, Bill Accorsi and Toshiko Takeazu. These artists work in various craft media and their work is showcased in the Grotta collection. Here’s a preview:

Thomas Hucker is a studio furniture maker in Jersey City, NJ. He trained with fifth-generation German cabinetmaker Leonard Hilgner and also Jere Osgood at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. In 1990, he studied product design at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. Hucker’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2016, he received the Furniture Society’s Award of Distinction. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the American Craft Council.

Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare
Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare , (a memorial to his father, the wand symbolizes an oar) paper, paint, Hawthrone wood, Golden Pheasant feathers, silk, bird bone, bone ring and fish, gold and gold leaf, quote by Robert Merrick, 13″ x 3.5″ x 2″, 2003

Dominic Di Mare received acclaim for pioneering dimensional weaving in the 1960s, cast paper in the 1970s, and mixed-media sculpture from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Among his most alluring sculptures are carved hawthorn branches with delicate feathers, beads, paper, and horsehair,” wrote the San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design in his 2018 retrospective. These are simple materials, but in Di Mare’s hands they were transformed into intensely poetic works.” The son of a Sicilian-American fisherman who grew up on the water in Monterey, California, Di Mare’s work features related symbols, fish and hooks and lines and water. He is an American Craft Council Gold Medal recipient. His work is represented in numerous museum collections, ranging from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Plate with daughter Lisa,  William Wyman
1ww Plate with daughter Lisa, William Wyman, ceramic, 8” diamter, 1961,

William Wyman began his career as a professional potter in 1953. He established Herring Run Pottery in 1962, with fellow potter, Michael Cohen. Wyman is known for a series of stoneware slab built vessels. In the 1960s Wyman dipped his smaller slab vessels in multiple glazes creating patterns of flowing colors. In 1965, after time spent in Honduras, he began to create undecorated, unglazed geometric-driven structures inspired by Mayan ruins which he called “Temples.” His work is in a number of museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New Hampshire, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PennsylvaniaSmithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

Bill Accorsi was a college athlete, planning to become a football coach, when on a class trip he saw a Matisse exhibit. He says that was his first exposure to art, and it started him on a different journey, as he eventually became an largely self-taught artist himself. Now, at age 88, he can look back on a lifetime of creating outsider art and folk art. His sculptures—some in metal using wire, buttons and beads, others in wood—show people and animals in poses that are whimsical and fun. Often his figures merge into each other as jigsaw puzzles. Bright and pastel colors are an important feature of his work. He is an award-winning author/illustrator of 10 books, including Apple, Apple, Alligator; 10 Button Book; 10 Color Book; Friendship’s First Thanksgiving and a book on Rachel Carson.

Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu
1tt Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu, ceramic vase with blue and black highlights, signed with double T mark on bottom (partially covered by glaze), 15” x 5” x 5” , c. 1960

Toshiko Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, on 17 June 1922. She moved to Honolulu in 1940, where she worked at the Hawaii Potter’s Guild creating identical pieces and practicing glazing. She attended Saturday classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1947–1949)[5] and attended the University of Hawaii. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1951), where she befriended Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. Takaezu earned an award after her first year of study, acknowledging her as an outstanding student in the clay department. In 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Zen Buddhism, tea ceremony and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which influenced her work. While studying in Japan, she visited Shoji Hamada, an influential Japanese potters. She taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey for 25 years. Her work is part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among many others. She is a recipient of the Gold Metal of the American Craft Council and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. 


Additional artists included in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch are Naomi Kobayashi, Norma Minkowitz, Sara Brennan, Stéphanie Jacques, Axel Russmeyer and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. See the full artist list here: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. The exhibition at browngrotta arts runs from November 2nd through November 10th, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd from 1 pm to 6 pm. The hours November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm.


Acquisition News

Diagonal, Kyoko Kumai, stainless steel, 2016.

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

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

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

Other acquisitions of note:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ampersand by Gyöngy Laky

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art Assembled: New This Week April

Transition, Neha Puri Dhir, resist dye, silk, 23” x 34”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta.

What a month! April was quite the month for us here at browngrotta arts as we hosted our once-a-year Art in the Barn exhibition art + identity: an international view. The exhibition was a great success and we are so thankful for all the support near and far. At the beginning of April, we shared pieces by Neha Puri Dhir and Paul Furneaux, both of whom are new to browngrotta arts. Dhir’s piece Zazen caught the eye of many on social media, becoming our most liked “New This Week” post to date. In recent years, Dhir has experimented with the meticulous and labor-intensive techniques of shibori (bandhini  India and adire in Nigeria. In doing so, Dhir sources all of her fabric from places all across India. As visible in Transition Dhir’s design influenced by the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, which is centered on the acceptance of impermanence and imperfection. 

City Trees II and City Lights II, Paul Furneaux
Japanese woodcuts on wood , 19.5” x 40” x 4”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta.

      Like Dhir, Scottish artist Paul Furneaux also draws inspiration from a Japanese aesthetic. Furneaux’s works, City Trees II and City Lights II, which grace the cover of our art + identity: an international view catalog, were made using the traditional Japanese woodblock printing technique known as mokuhanga. In making his City Trees and City Lights series, Furneaux wanted to try out chunkier forms with wider surfaces. “I was aware that the interaction between the two forms was important,” explains Furneaux “once I had established this relationship with the wooden form, I became very interested in how the clothing of the form made the forms spatial interaction more complex.” 

Coques, Brigitte Bouquin-Sellès, felt, 76.75” x 51”, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Premiering in April were also works by Nnenna Okore and Brigitte Bouquin Sellés. In works like Coulée les de fils, Brigitte Bouquin Sellès uses selvedge ends, produced during the manufacture of the well-known Cholet handkerchief on looms in France. These strips are cut automatically by the machine from the outer edges of the weave. The artist reinterprets this manufactured material, made up of falls destined for destruction. The mutation is profound, these falling fabrics become works that are born by gravity. Using this material, the creation mode of Brigitte Bouquin Sellès is original: it creates not by adding material but not subtraction either, in this case, small pieces of weft still attached to the warp, snatched one by one to achieve the artist’s ends.

The Path, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 14” x 52” x 52,” 2013. Photo by Tom Grotta.

      To wrap up April, we shared Norma MinkowitzThe Path. The piece is very personal for Minkowitz, in creating it she explored her thoughts, identity and how she feels about the path her life is taking. Minkowitz even used a casting of her own head for the center of the piece, painting it with a camouflage pattern to camouflage her feelings and fears, a process you can see in this video.

      If you weren’t able to make it to the exhibition, have no fear, you can still see the pieces featured in our coveted exhibition catalog art + identity: an international view, which is available for purchase in our online store HERE.


Art Assembled: New This Week August

The Path which Leads to Center 18-05, Chang Yeonsoon, abaca fiber, barberry roots dye, 100% pure gold, 17” x 17” x 6.5”, 2017.

On tap in August were spectacular pieces by Chang Yeonsoon, Norma Minkowitz, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila and Marian Bijlenga.


We kicked off August with Chang Yeonsoon’s The Path which Leads to Center 18-05. In much of her work, Yeonsoon dyes her fibers with indigo. However, in making The Path which Leads to Center 18-05 she used barberry root dye and 100% pure gold leaf. The process which Yeonsoon uses to apply the gold lead is a Korean technique called geumbak. Though geumbak is usually used with natural lacquer, Yeonsoon was able to create a new lacquer with gold leaf.

Trove, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 38” x 19” x 19”, 2018


On our trip to Norma Minkowitz’ studio this summer, which you can read about in our blog post HERE, we picked up
Trove. The sculpture is made using small trinkets Minkowitz has collected throughout her life, therefore the reason why she named it Trove. To take a closer look at Trove watch the video we made HERE

Transición, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, alpaca; metallic yarns and silver leaf; moriche palm fiber, silk, 56″ x 24.25”, 2018


Next up, we had Eduard Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila’s wall-hanging Transición. The wall-hanging’s vibrant purple hue makes the woven “mosaic” impossible to go unnoticed. Portillo and Dávila source and create all of their own materials. The Venezuelan couple grows their own mulberry trees on slopes of the Andes (Mulberry trees are the sole food source for silkworms), rear their own silkworms, obtain the silkworm threads and color the threads with their own natural dyes to use in making textiles.

Fish Scale, Marian Bijlenga, dyed fish scales, 64 x 113 x 1 in, 2012


To wrap-up the month of August, we shared Marian Bijlenga’s
Fish Scale. Bijlenga is not afraid of challenging herself to work with new materials. In the past, she has worked with materials such as horse hair, viscose, paper and glass. Her piece Fish Scale is in fact made with extremely delicate fish scales. In making the piece, Bijlenga carefully connected a network of scales using very fine thread, giving the illusion that the scales are floating in mid-air. To see Fish Scale in detail, check out THIS video. 


Art Acquisitions: Part 2

A few weeks ago we published the first installment of our Art Acquisition series. Just as the first one did, the second installment reviews pieces browngrotta arts artists have had acquired by major institutions over the last year.

Studium Faktur, Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54" x 43" x 9", 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Studium Faktur,
Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal, 54″ x 43″ x 9″, 1964. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Norma MinkowitzMuseum of Texas Tech University and Boston Museum of Fine Arts , Massachusetts

Norma Minkowitz has had several pieces go to major institutions in the last year. Minkowitz’  piece Journey was acquired by the Museum of Texas Tech University, which is located in Lubbock, Texas. Minkowitz’ piece The Gamble,  which was part of the Daphne Farago Collection, has moved to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Magdalena Abakanowicz – Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota

Magdalena AbakanowiczStudium Faktur was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Studium Faktur, which was one of Abakanowicz’ earlier works (made in the 1960s), was originally part of weaver Mariette Rousseau-Vermette’s collection. Additionally, Abakanowicz’ piece Montana del Fuego was acquired, also through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Montana del Fuego is a strong example of how Abakanowicz was able to fuse weaving and sculpture to create a spectacular three-dimensional wall hanging. The work was part of the Anne and Jacques Baruch Foundation Collection.

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

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

 

 

Maria Laszkiewicz – Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota

Maria Laszkiewicz’s Mask, also a part of the Baruch collection, was acquired, through browngrotta arts, by the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  Laszkiewicz, born in 1898, encouraged a generation of textile artists (such as Abaknaowicz), and was an innovator in the tapestry field.

Simone Pheulpin – V&A, London and Chicago Art Institute, Illinois 

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

Morphus vii, Gizella K Warburton. Photo: Chris Large

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London recently acquired a piece from Simone Pheulpin’s Eclipse series. One of the textile sculptor’s works was also acquired by the Chicago Art Institute.

Jiro Yonezawa – Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris

The most recent acquisition is a piece by Jiro Yonezawa by the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris, France. The museum has commissioned a piece for an exhibition of Japanese bamboo art that opens in November of this year (November 27 – April 9).

Gizella K Warburton – Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England

The Fitzwilliam Museum acquired Gizella Warburton’s piece Morphus vii. The wrapped and sculpted vessel forms in Warburton’s ‘Morphus’ series are “quietly resonant of internal and external skins, of scarred and fissured surfaces, of abrasions, bindings and sutures.”

Jennifer Falck LinssenTexas Tech University in Lubbock Texas

The Museum of Texas Tech University has also acquired a wall sculpture by Jennifer Falck Linssen. The sculpture, titled Acumen, was acquired for a new building underway at the university.


Behind the Scenes: Pickup at Norma Minkowitz’ Studio

This week, we stopped by Norma Minkowitz’s studio to pick up a few new pieces. Minkowitz, who has worked with browngrotta arts for over 20 years, is not afraid to let her imagination run wild. Minkowitz’s studio, which was built by her husband Shelly, is a place like no other.

Norma Minkowitz in her studio.

Immediately upon entering you are exposed to a vast array of Minkowitz’s work. Pen and ink drawings, crocheted wall hangings and figures, collages and three-dimensional mixed media sculptures are scattered throughout the studio. Crocheted birds in various stages of progress sit in flocks on tables and shelves. Various sized models of heads peer down at the happenings beneath them. The heads, some of which are models of Minkowtiz’s own head (some shrunken and some enlarged), are used to create pieces such as Victim.

 

Below the heads sits Minkowitz’ “cabinets of curiosity.” The contents of every cabinet drawer are a surprise. In one drawer, crocheted dead birds and the molds that were used to created them sit beside horseshoe crab skeletons. Whether you find doll heads with crocheted bodies or small animal bones, you are sure to stumble upon oddities of all sorts.

A few steps over in the other side of Minkowitz’s studio, a wall of shelves holding various spools of thread spans the width of the room. Underneath, drawers house hundreds of bundles of thread in every color imaginable. Minkowitz incorporates detailed embroidery in much of her work, carefully choosing the colors and types of stitches for each piece. For example, while working on Русское сердце (Russian Heart), a piece inspired by her mother, Minkowitz carefully selected a color palette that mirrored the colors her mother wore throughout her life.

 

The uninhibited and personal nature of Minkowitz’s work make not only make it eye-catching, but incomparable. To see more of Minkowitz’s work visit http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/minkowitz.php

 


Art Out and About: US

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

Grethe Wittrock's Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

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

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

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

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

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

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum

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

Handheld at the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

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


Artists in the House: Who’s attending the Opening of Blue/Green: color/code/context on Saturday

Keiji Nio, Rough Sea of Sado,polyester, aramid fiber, 48.25” x 47.5”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Artists Reception and Opening for Blue/Green: color/code/context occurs this Saturday at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut 06897. Eleven of the participating artists will be in attendance, enhancing what is always an energizing opportunity to experience our annual Art in the Barn event. Keiji Nio and his family are coming from Japan, Pat Campbell from Maine, Wendy Wahl from Rhode Island, Kiyomi Iwata from Virginia, Norma Minkowitz and Helena Hernmarck from Connecticut and Polly Barton, John McQueen, Nancy Koenigsberg, Lewis Knauss and Tamiko Kawata from New York. Wendy Wahl’s work is made of blue Encyclopedia Britannica pages; John McQueen used plastic bottles — a departure for him. Norma Minkowitz has created a detailed and magical stitched drawing and Lewis Knauss a work of pale, pale green and natural reed and twigs. Join us from 1-5 pm to see their work and that of 50 more artists. The artists will be available throughout the Barn, to answer questions about their work, their favorites or about the work of others. They’ll be wearing name tags — feel free to say hello. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php; 203-834-0623. Or visit us during the week — Sunday April 29th – Sunday May 6th, 10-5 pm.


HandMade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art

Norma Minkowitz’s Excavation in the foreground, Carolina Yrarrázaval’s tapestries in the background.

Norma Minkowitz’s Excavation in the foreground, Carolina Yrarrázaval’s tapestries in the background.

Last Friday, the Westport Arts Center opened up its new exhibition, Handmade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art, which includes three artists, Chiyoko TanakaCarolina Yrarrázaval and Norma Minkowitz, represented by browngrotta arts. The exhibition was curated by Elizabeth Gorayeb, the Executive Director of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc., a New York based non-profit committed to art historical research. Handmade also features work by Ghada Amer, Anna Betbeze, Ligia Bouton, Orly Cogan, Lesley Dill, Terri Friedman, Sermin Kardestuncer, Sophia Narrett, Faith Ringgold, Miriam Schapiro, Judith Scott, Beverly Semmes,  Rosemarie Trockel and Margo Wolowiec, all of whom utilize fiber and textile in their art.

Chiyoko Tanaka’s Sienna A and B at the Westport Art Center.

Chiyoko Tanaka’s Sienna A and B at the Westport Art Center.

Textile and fiber objects have traditionally not been incorporated into the male-dominated pantheon of “Fine Art.” As a medium, fiber is “weighted with gendered, socio-political signifiers that are imparted onto the final work of art. To put it plainly, fiber is feminine,” explains Gorayeb. “Weaving, embroidery, knitting and sewing are thought to be the domain of women, whose productions in these areas have long been relegated to the status of ‘decoration.’” However, since fiber art enjoyed a period of avant-garde popularity in the 1970s, the value of what was typically known as “women’s art” has gained currency. This shift in values in contemporary art culture has driven the art world to redefine and reassess the inclusivity of “Fine Art.”

Lesley Dill’s Exhilaration. Dill’s work addresses the power of language as it relates to the psyche.

Lesley Dill’s Exhilaration. Dill’s work addresses the power of language as it relates to the psyche.

In addition to the artists featured in the exhibit, artists such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anni Albers, Françoise Grossen and Sheila Hicks have continuously pushed “Fine Art” to be more dynamic. Faith Ringgold, a renowned activist and artist whose work is included in Handmade, was recently honored by Yale University as a Chubb Fellow. In making her story quilts, which are inspired by traditional Tibetan thankgas, Ringgold combines painted canvas, fabric piecework and handwritten texts. Throughout her work, Ringgold’s explores topics revolving around race and gender. In Wedding on the Seine, featured in Handmade, Ringgold tells the story of a fictional woman fleeing her wedding ceremony in fear that her marriage will interfere with her dreams of becoming an artist.
Sophia Narrett, whose work showcases contemporary erotic ideas, fantasies and fears, also has work featured in Handmade. Narrett, whose intricately embroidered wall hangings look as if they were painted with thread, does not allow the traditionally domestic aspect of embroidery limit her creativity. In a recent article in The New York Times, “Some of the Most Provocative Political Art is Made With Fibers,” (Leslie Camhi, March 14, 2018) Narrett says: “Embroidery and its implicit history help specify the tone of my stories, one characterized by obsession, desire and both the freedoms and restraints of femininity.”  By using a needle and thread to explore sexuality, Narrett’s work subverts what is traditionally considered a feminine medium.

301 balls (Diptych), 2017 Cotton thread, coal from Soma, Turkey, fabric 36 × 37 in, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

301 balls (Diptych), 2017
Cotton thread, coal from Soma, Turkey, fabric
36 × 37 in, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

“As visitors to a gallery or museum, we are expected to engage with works of art though the act of looking. We consider the final product of the artist’s creation, but rarely do we think of the tactile experience of the artist’s process,” explains Gorayeb. “Fiber art — works of art created from wool, silk, cotton, flax and other forms of textiles — present us with a dynamic, multi-sensory experience.” It is because of this tactile experience and physical commitment that Narrett prefers embroidery over painting, “when an object is developed by human hands for hundreds of hours, it leaves a quality in the surface that can be sensed,” she notes.

By embracing textile and fiber art, female artists have forever reshaped contemporary art. As seen in both Faith Ringgold and Sophia Narrett’s work, fiber art allows artists to examine topics such as race, gender and sexuality while also providing the viewer with a multi-sensory experience that connects them with the artist. Handmade: Women Reshaping Contemporary Art will be on view at the Westport Arts Center until June 2, 2018. For more information on the exhibit and the Center’s hours visit https://westportartscenter.org/exhibitions/.