Tag: Randy Walker

More Art Outdoors: Randy Walker’s latest in Minneapolis

Randy Walkers Urban Fabric installation. photo courtesy of Randy Walker

Randy Walkers Urban Fabric installation. photo courtesy of Randy Walker

Randy Walker is at work on a temporary art installation outdoors in Minneapolis, Minnesota, entitle Urban Fabric. Walker received his fifth Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant that will fund the work. The installation is located on the side wall of the historic Pantages Theater, which is home to a nondescript parking lot. It will be part of the Pantages’ 100th anniversary recognition. Another artist is creating a billboard above the installation, and some of the fiber from Urban Fabric will extend over the top to connect to the building above.

Urban Fabric

Urban Fabric

The image below of Walker’s assistant, Arnold Carlson, illustrates that while the work is simple in concept, its execution is extremely tedious and difficult. The Pantages Theatre is located at: 710 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55403. You can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Panteges and other beautifully preserved theaters in downtown Minneapolis in September. More information here: http://dev.preserveminneapolis.org/event/historic-theaters-of-minneapolis-walking-tour/.


Books Make Great Gifts: Our Annual Artists’ Reading Round Up

Another year of interesting and inspirational book recommendations from browngrotta arts’ artists and staff. History, humor, poetry, philosophy — it’s all here. I recently read Listening to Stone: The Art & Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera

Dona Anderson reports, “I recently read Listening to Stone: The Art & Life of Isamu Noguchi by Hayden Herrera. Noguchi created Black Sun, a sculpture in Seattle’s Volunteer Park. Postwar, Noguchi was increasingly involved in designing public spaces — the UNESCO garden in Paris, Yale University’s Beinecke Library Garden, the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden in Jerusalem — while still creating personal work. His aim, he said was to form ‘order out of chaos, a myth out of the world, a sense of belonging out of loneliness.’ Building Art: The Life & Work of Frank Gehry by Paul Goldberger

My current read is Building Art: The Life & Work of Frank Gehry by Paul Goldberger.” Chris Drury loved John McPhee’s Coming into the Country – although, he notes, it is an older book now – about Alaska. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini Ceca Georgieva read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and is currently reading, The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel by F.G. Haghenbeck. Don't Despair by Matias Dalsgaard Helena Hernmarck recommends, Don’t Despair by Matias Dalsgaard (www.pinetribe.com; Twitter:@MatiasDalsgaard). Dalsgaard is a Danish scholar who has a background in comparative literature and postdoctoral degree in philosophy. The book offers a Lutheran-Kirkegaardian perspective on life, criticizing the modern perspective of being self-centered and ultimately despaired. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story, by Dan Harris Helena also found 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually WorksA True Story, by Dan Harris, a fun read. For Tim Johnson, 2015 was a great year for personal book discoveries! “After years of being out of print and hard to find Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver’s influential Adhocism, The Case for Improvisation was republished in 2013 (https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/adhocism). Adhocism, The Case for Improvisation When I first held this book in the 1980s it offered a thoughtful contextualization to the real life process of gathering and recycling urban materials for my sculptures and installations. With contemporary concerns of upcycling and sustainability, Jencks’ and Silvers’ assertions seem more apt than ever.” Nancy Koenigsberg recommends a favorite from 2014, Fiber Sculpture: 1960-Present by Jenelle PorterFiber Sculpture: 1960-Present by Jenelle Porter. Mary Merkel-Hess says her favorite book on art this year was Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry Playing to the Gallery by Grayson Perry, a British ceramic artist, described by one reviewer as “a man in a frock who makes pots with rude designs.” Mary describes it as “a quirky, personal and lively journey through the issues facing the contemporary art world and a lot of it is hilarious – especially the illustrations.”
The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt Heidrun Schimmel read, “with great pleasure,” The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (Simon and Shuster, New York 2014). “And not always with great pleasure,” Heidrun says she read, All the World's Futures: 56 International Art Exhibition All the World’s Futures: 56 International Art Exhibition, the catalogues for this year’s Venice Bienniale. “Most of the essays are very interesting and important,” she writes. “There were some very good pavilions in the Giardini this year, for example the Japanese Pavillon for the textile art scene.” Hisako Sekijima recommends a book in Japanese, U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Japan in the Cold War Era Tokyo Press U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Japan in the Cold War Era (only the title is in English; the contents are in Japanese. It’s a 300-page hardcover book published by University of Tokyo Press, 2015) It is an extensive study done by Fumiko Fujita, ex-professor at Tsuda College. “Actually, the author is my college friend,” writes Hisako. Reading this book, she “happily” realized that she had been exposed to much of this cultural climate after the World War, as she grew up. “From home comedies, like Lassie to Edward Steichen’s The Family of Man, I learned — and was surprised — at the large extent to which numberless cultural programs had been politically planned to create a good partnership between US and Japan.” She was also surprised to learn such programs had been also worked to be less political or more culturally meaningful by the efforts done by enthusiastic and respectful private people like cultural attachés, artists or sports players. “I liked this latter part of the story! Though planned politically, such rich programs proved to influence us so much. I studied English and could enjoy my chance to live in NYC, where I came across with new waves in crafts.” Kay Sekimachi recommends Masters of Craft: Portraits by Paul Smith (and so do Tom and Rhonda) and also The Monocle Guide to Cozy Homes, edited by Tom Morris, Monocle (Gestalten, Berlin. 2015). Last Spring, Wendy Wahl began teaching, Soft Materials, a course in the department of Constructed Environments at Parson’s New School in New York. “In researching books for the course,” she writes, “I was reintroduced to Fabrics: A Guide for Interior Designers and Architects, by Mary Paul Yates (W.W.Norton). Imagine my delight to see the inclusion of Fiber Art and the images from browngrotta arts. At a rare and used bookstore I came upon The Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery and Lore of the Persian Carpet by Brian MurphyThe Root of Wild Madder: Chasing the History, Mystery and Lore of the Persian Carpet by Brian Murphy (Simon and Schuster). The author takes the reader on a magic carpet ride traveling in the regions of its origins and destinations to tell the stories of the dyers, weavers and sellers of this remarkable art form. At my local public library I found Textiles --The Whole Story: Uses, Meanings, Significance by Beverly Gordon Textiles –The Whole Story: Uses, Meanings, Significance by Beverly Gordon (Thames and Hudson, 2011). With words and images she beautifully covers the uses, meanings and significance of textiles in the course of human history, as the subtitle suggests.” The Genome Rhapsodies
Randy Walker writes, “At the risk of appearing immodest, I’m recommending a book of poetry, The Genome Rhapsodies, that has one of my pieces on the cover. And I’m not even an avid poetry reader. When I was approached by Anna George Meek, a friend and accomplished poet, about using an image of my first public art installation, Woven Corncrib, on the cover of her new collection of poems, I was, of course, honored. But that’s not why I’m recommending this book. As we worked together to find an appropriate image, a series of conversations ensued over several months. These conversations were about histories, found objects, genetic material, fibers of all kinds woven throughout our lives. Gradually, I began to see clearly why Anna would venture to adorn her book, winner of the Richard Snyder Publication Prize and a product of over 15 years of work, with an image of an old steel corn crib woven with 300 pounds of salvaged fiber. Reading these poems, some deeply personal, opened an expansive view to me of a world that, as a primarily visual person, I don’t usually glimpse.” Tom and Rhonda recommend Organic Portraits, a photography book by John Cooper. Organic Portraits by John CooperCooper’s organic portraits will be on exhibit this Spring at the Morris Museum in New Jersey in conjunction with Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, from March 19 to June 26, 2015. “From the beginning,” Cooper explains, “the intent of the Organic Portraits project was to create a series of timeless and fundamentally beautiful images that would create awareness for—and help preserve—the world’s rainforests. In the 1950s, around the time I was born, about 15 percent of Earth’s landmass was covered with oxygen-generating and carbon-dioxide storing rainforests. At the time of this book’s publication, fewer than 70% of those forests remain. The aim of this project is to drive home the understanding that our rainforests— the lungs of our Earth— are both vital and in dire need of protection.” Cooper published Organic Portraits through a Kickstarter campaign; he is donating all profits from the book to the Rainforest Action Network Fund.

We hope your holidays provide you lots of leisure reading time!


browngrotta arts Returns to SOFA Chicago, November 5-8th

627mr PapelionIidae, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette wool, steel, 54” x 54” x 16”, 2000

627mr PapelionIidae, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
wool, steel, 54” x 54” x 16”, 2000

After a few-year hiatus, browngrotta arts will return to the Sculpture, Objects, and Functional Art Exposition at the Navy Pier in Chicago next month. We’ll be reprising our most recent exhibition, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, with different works for a number of artists, including Naoko Serino, Kay Sekimachi, Anda Klancic, Ritzi Jacobi, Randy Walker, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Lenore Tawney. Other artists whose work will be featured in browngrotta arts’ exhibit are Magdalena Abakanowicz, Adela Akers, Lia Cook, Sheila Hicks, Masakazu Kobayashi, Naomi Kobayashi, Luba Krejci, Jolanta Owidzka, Ed Rossbach, Sherri Smith, Carole Fréve, Susie Gillespie, Stéphanie Jacques, Tim Johnson, Marianne Kemp, Federica Luzzi, Rachel Max, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Michael Radyk and Gizella K Warburton. SOFA will publish a related essay, Fiber Art Pioneers: Pushing the Pliable Plane by Jo Ann C. Stabb,
on the origins of the contemporary fiber movement.

1cy AZUL Y NEGR Carolina Yrarrázaval rayon, cotton 116" x 40.5”, 2003

1cy AZUL Y NEGR
Carolina Yrarrázaval
rayon, cotton
116″ x 40.5”, 2003

Now in its 22nd year, SOFA CHICAGO is a must-attend art fair, attracting more than 36,000 collectors, museum groups, curators and art patrons to view museum-quality works of art from 70+ international galleries. After a nationwide competition, SOFA CHICAGO recently placed #7 in the USA Today Reader’s Choice 10 Best Art Events.New this year, SOFA CHICAGO will unveil a revamped floorplan created by Chicago architects Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker of Wrap Architecture. The re-envisioned design will create a more open and cohesive show layout, allowing visitors to explore the fair in a more engaging way. Changes include a new, centrally located main entrance where browngrotta arts’ booth, 921, will be located. Cheryl Noel of Wrap Architecture adds, “The most effective urban contexts contain distinct places within the larger space, corridors with visual interest and clear paths with fluid circulation. We believe this new floorplan will capture the spirit of the art and be an expression of the work itself, exploring form and materiality, with the same level of design rigor applied.”

1rw SAW PIECE NO.4 (AUTUMN) Randy Walker, salvaged bucksaw, steel rod, nylon thread 42" x 96" x 26", 2006, Photo by Tom Grotta

1rw SAW PIECE NO.4 (AUTUMN)
Randy Walker, salvaged bucksaw, steel rod, nylon thread
42″ x 96″ x 26″, 2006, Photo by Tom Grotta

On Friday, November 6th, from 12:30 to 2:30, Michael Radyk will be at browngrotta arts’ booth to discuss his Swan Point series, Jacquard textiles created to be cut and manipulated after being taken off the loom, in which Radyk was trying “to bring the artist’s hand back into the industrial Jacquard weaving process.” SOFA opens with a VIP preview on Thursday, November 5th, from 5 pm to 9 pm. The hours for Friday and Saturday are 11 am – 7 pm; and 12 to 6 pm on Sunday the 8th. SOFA is in the Festival Hall, Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue Chicago, IL 60611. Hope to see you there!


Influence and Evolution: The Catalog is Now Available

Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture...then and now catalog cover artwork by Federica Luzzi

Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now
catalog cover artwork by Federica Luzzi

Our Spring exhibition Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now explored the impact of artists – Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Lenore Tawney, Ed Rossbach and others – who took textiles off the wall in the 60s and 70s to create three-dimensional fiber sculpture. In Influence and Evolution, we paired early works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lia Cook, Kay Sekimachi and Françoise Grossen — artists who rebelled against tapestry tradition — with works from a later generation of artists, all born in 1960 or after. Fiber sculpture continues to evolve through this second group of artists, including María Eugenia Dávila and Eduardo Portillo of Venezuela,

Influencers Title page  Influence and Evolution catalog

Influencers Title page Influence and Evolution catalog

Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium, Naoko Serino of Japan and Anda Klancic of Slovenia. In our 160-page color exhibition catalog, Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and now, you can see the works in the exhibition. Each artist is represented by at least two works; images of details are included so that readers can experience the works fully. The catalog also includes an insightful essay, Bundling Time and Avant-garde Threadwork by Ezra Shales, PhD, Associate Professor, History of Art Department, Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. Influence and EvolutionShales write in his essay, “poses rich comparisons and asks the mind to sustain historical linkages. We feel the uneven texture of time, luring us into a multiplicity of artistic pasts and an open road of varied fibrous futures. An emphasis on plural possibilities makes this exhibition quite distinct from a tidy biblical story of genesis or masters and apprentices. We witness multiple intra-generational passing of batons as well as many artists changing horses midstream, as well they often do.” The three works in Influence and Evolution by Adela Akers that traverse five decades provide a fascinating view of the artistic progression Shales refers to. The curvilinear, draped forms of Summer and Winter 

Influence and Evolution, Adela Akers spread

(1977; restored 2014), he notes, resemble “both a ruffle and a row of ancient mourners.” Midnight, from 1988, by contrast, is hard-edged, “a monumental window into an alternative architectural space.” And Akers recent work, Silver Waves, completed in 2014, is “an intimate surface with linear imagery” whose horsehair bristles “almost invite a caress if they did not seem to be a defensive adaptation.” Juxtapose Silver Waves with American Michael Radyk’s Swan Point (2013) and and Dutch artist, Marianne Kemp’s Red Fody (2013) that also features horsehair,  and catalog readers are likely to understand  Shales’ query: should we categorize woven forms as a logical temporal narrative or inevitable sequence of linked inquiries? Shales is a guest curator of Pathmakers: Women in Art, Craft and Design, Midcentury and

Influence and Evolution, Sheila Hicks spread

Influence and Evolution, Sheila Hicks spread

Today currently at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York which features more than 100 works, by a core cadre of women—including Ruth Asawa, Sheila Hicks, Karen Karnes, Dorothy Liebes, Toshiko Takaezu, Lenore Tawney, and Eva Zeisel—who had impact and influence as designers, artists and teachers, using materials in innovative ways. To order a copy of Influence and Evolution: Fiber Sculpture…then and nowour 43rd catalog, visit browngrotta.com.

80.89

Influence and Evolution, Stéphanie Jacques spread


Influence and Evolution Update: More Innovators

Details of works by Anda Klancic, Stephanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, photos by Tom Grotta

Details of works by Anda Klancic, Stephanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, photos by Tom Grotta

This April’s exhibition at browngrotta arts, includes 15 artists whose work we believe shows the experimental approach to materials and methods that characterized the fiber art movement in its early days, in the the 1960s. Six of these 15, Anda Klancic, Stéphanie Jacques, Naoko Serino, Susie Gillespie, Carolina Yrarrázaval and Randy Walker are not new to browngrotta arts, but they do epitomize an approach that deftly combines exploration and technical mastery. Anda Klancic of Slovenia for example, has won awards and holds patent on the techniques she has developed to create lace-like works using a sewing machine. Naoko Serino of Japan blows air into jute to create surprisingly luminous, magical forms. Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium is an innovative sculptor in willow and clay, who also uses photography, video and performance to explore larger questions of identity. As one observer wrote “watch her voids and shadows carefully as they are rich with meaning.” Susie Gillespie of the UK combines natural materials, including hand-spun nettle, with a novel mix of techniques, broken borders, insets and slits and twining, to create works with a sense of earth, stone, vegetation and decomposition, that

15cy Mar Y Arena, Carolina Yrarrázaval, silk and linen 69” x 31, 2012. Photo by Tom Grotta

appear old, yet feel new. Throughout her career, Carolina Yrarrázaval of Chile has investigated and adapted traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques. Her highly accomplished, abstract weavings are austere and sensual at the the same time. American artist, Randy Walker, takes an architectural approach, creating interesting and elegant constructions that use fine threads, cords and ropes to re-envision humble found objects.

8rw Collider Randy Walker steel, nylon 29.75” x 31.5” x 12”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Recent works by this diverse group of artists will be featured in Influence and Evolution, Fiber sculpture…then and now, at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut from April 24th – May 3rd. The Artists Reception and Opening is on Saturday April 25th, 1pm to 6pm. The hours for Sunday April 27th through May 3rd are 10am to 5pm. To make an appointment earlier than 10am or later than 5pm, call: 203-834-0623.


The Year in Books: Art, Life and Learning — Part 2

RichardDiebenkornAs always, art books are well represented among this year’s recommendations from browngrotta arts-affiliated artists, and at least one of the volumes offers life lessons, too.  Adela Akers writes that “the best books so far this year are the Diebenkorn catalogs for the exhibition at the de Young Museum,” which includes, Richard Diebenkorn, The Berkeley Years, 1953- 1966. Adela also recommends The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949-1992, both as “good reads that include wonderful reproductions.” 39b.SHEILA.HICKSThe comprehensive volume,  Kyoko_Kumai_bookWorks of Kyoko Kumai Metallic Textile Art, published earlier this year tops Kyoko Kumai’s list. The book’s text appears in English and Japanese and it includes a digital version of the book on cd. Naomi Kobayashi recommends  Sheila Hicks for its content and beautiful binding.  The.Hare.with.Amber.EyesKay Sekimachi listed The Hare with Amber Eyes. In it, Edmund de Waal,  a potter and curator of ceramics at the Victoria & Albert Museum, describes the experiences of his family, the Ephrussis, and explores the family’s large collection of Japanese netsuke, tiny hand-carved figures including a hare with amber eyes. La_Biennale_di_VeneziaIn Heidrun Schimmel’s view, the 55. Esposizione Internazionale d´Arte  was one of the best Biennials in Venice ever, and she enthused about the accompanying catalog, The Encyclopedic Palace, 55th International Art Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia. Its title was chosen by the director for the 55th Biennale as a reference to the 1955 design registered with the US Patent office by the self-taught artist Marino Auriti, depicting an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge and human discoveries, from the wheel to the satellite.  On the opposite side of Canale Grande writes Heidrun, “there is an important exhibition, Prima Materia, Punta della Dogana, Venezia, Dorsoduro, Pinault Collection, especially for artists who are working with material as matter. This exhibition continues through 2014, and is accompanied by a very good catalog, Caroline Bourgeois and Michael GovanPrima Materia,  edited by curators Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan.”  Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information by Manuel LimRandy Walker  read Visual Complexity: Mapping Patterns of Information by Manuel Lima this year.  “To me, network diagrams and their many variations are highly suggestive of fibrous connections. I am experimenting with the idea of my lines as connectors of different types of information.  The information can generate the connections. The book played an inspirational role in a new public art project I working on with Roosevelt High School here in Minneapolis to explore the network diagram in three dimensions. Here’s a link to the Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the project: Connections Gallery.”

Scrape_Willow_Until_It_Sings_Words_Work_Julia_ParkerAnd From Gyöngy Laky, a recommendation for a book and a for approaching life.  “Two artists I admire enormously, Julia Parker and Deborah Valoma, created, Scrape the Willow Until It Sings, The Words and Work of Julia Parker, one of the best books on basketry, life and art I have ever read. It was published this year by an exceptional book publisher, Heyday, Berkeley, California. Native American basketry, especially the work of indigenous people in California, has been, and continues to be, a major inspiration to me and my creative life. Julia Parker and the author Deborah ValomaValoma writes in the introduction, Julia Parker and other traditional practitioners have much to teach those of us in the academy. I would add, and to those not in the academy, as well. The vast personal experiences, broad and deep scope of historical evidence and creative wisdom that these two thoughtful women have brought together in this book is a gift to us all. Near the end I found a something that Parker said that feels like a guide: In our story – in our Indian way – we stop, look, and listen.  Stop. Think about yourself.  Rest yourself.  Rest your eyes, your hands.  Rest your body.  Look.  Look about you. Look at the smallest insect.  Look at the tallest trees, which have given us shelter and food.  And we listen.  Listen to the sound of the water flowing.  Listen to your elders, your teachers.  Listen to your grandmother, your grandfather, your parents.  And above all, listen to yourself.


Dispatches: Scottsdale, Old and New

photo by Tom Grotta

Tom in front of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, photo by Tom Grotta

We had reason to visit my old high school haunts in Scottsdale, Arizona earlier this month. It was a picturesque and delicious trip replete with stirring desert vistas and intriguing art and architecture site-ings.

550px-Valley_Ho_Hotel

Hotel Valley Ho, photo by Dru Bloomfield

Among them, the mid-century modern Hotel Valley Ho. The Hotel Valley Ho opened in 1956 and was a hideaway for Hollywood stars including Zsa Zsa Gabor, Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis and Bing Crosby. It also hosted Robert Wagner and Natalie Woods’ 1957 wedding reception. The hotel was saved from the wrecking ball in 2003 and re-opened in 2005 after an $80 million restoration, which Chicago reporter Hoekstra noted retained  the original “Jetsons-in-the-desert flavor”. We had a terrific lunch outside the pop-colored, revamped bar area. We saw similar  splashes of lime and aqua and orange that people have added to adobe and concrete facades throughout the city — a lively change from the olive that predominated in the 70s.

Rhonda and Carol underneath Randy Walkers "Entanglement"installation

Rhonda and Carol underneath Randy Walkers “Entanglement”installation, photo by Tom Grotta

We also found two art installations sponsored by Scottsdale’s Public Art Project. The first was Randy Walker’s Entanglement, his installation of solution-dyed acrylic braid at Scottsdale’s Bell Tower, which we knew about and made a point of finding and photographing.

randy walkers "Entanglement" installation detail

randy walkers “Entanglement” installation detail, photo by Tom Grotta

With Entanglement, Randy Walker asks “What if the boundary of container and contained was blurred?”   The other was Rachel Bowditch’s Memory Room, which we stumbled upon on Marshall Way, one of two art sites set up in empty storefronts, in the greatly diminished  gallery area of old Scottsdale. Loosely inspired by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and the concept of a “memory palace’” first attributed to the Greek poet Simonides (556-468 BC) and further developed by Giulio Camillo (1480-1544) , Memory Room is a durational multi-media performance installation that investigates the relationship between women, writing and memory.

Rachel Bowditch's Memory Room

Rachel Bowditch’s Memory Room

A “memory palace” is a mnemonic system to spatially organize memories using specific ‘loci’ or spatial locations organized along a predetermined path. When items need to be remembered, one walks along the path to recall one memory at a time.  Memory Room layers a series of “memory palaces” of women writers—Emily Dickenson, Zelda Fitzgerald, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Audre Lorde, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath among many others—all women who made an indelible mark on the world of literature. There are live performances that are documented by video cameras, but the storefront site includes some exquisite textiles on which memories are written and women are memorialized in photos.  We did a bit of memory walking in the area ourselves, happy to see the Sugar Bowl  still holds its own on Scottsdale Road and even better, that the cheese crisp and Gaudi-esque decor at Los Olivios are just as good as we remembered.

Los Olivios, photo by Tom Grotta

Los Olivios, photo by Tom Grotta

More than 60 years since it opened, the restaurant is still family-owned and the tortillas and salsas are still homey and handmade.


Against the Grain: Randy Walker’s Dream Elevator and Other News

 

photo by Randy Walker

photo by Randy Walker

December 2012 saw completion of Dream Elevator by Randy Walker for the City of St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  The structure is a 45-foot tall stainless-steel-and-concrete tower woven with custom-braided polyester rope.  The sculpture is inspired by the nearby Peavey-Haglin Grain Elevator of 1899, the first cylindrical concrete grain elevator in the world.

photo by Randy Walker

photo by Randy Walker

The dedication date of Dream Elevator is as yet undetermined. This year and next, Walker will be at work on at least four public commissions. First,  a permanent outdoor work, Sky Portal, for the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which will be visible from the sky as well as the ground. Second, Entanglement, in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Walker will use an existing bell tower as a framework for a fibrous wrapping.

photo by Randy Walker

photo by Randy Walker

Third, a temporary, site-specific installation will be built at the two main cargo shipping terminals in San Diego, California that will be part of WRAP: an artistic investigation of the San Diego Tidelands. Finally, Walker will work with his South Minneapolis community to create a large-scale, collaborative installation for which Walker received a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.


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.


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).