Tag: Wendy Wahl

Artist RSVPs—International Artists Travel the World to Attend browngrotta’s Opening April 22nd

From across the globe to the beautiful rural and coastal landscape of Connecticut, artists traveling from four different countries and nine US states will attend browngrotta arts’ artist reception and opening this Saturday, April 22, 2017.

We are delighted to welcome these 16 national and international artists as we celebrate our 30th anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art.

Jennifer Falck Linssen

Jennifer Falck Linssen

Wendy Wahl

Wendy Wahl

John McQueen

John McQueen

Blair Tate

Blair Tate

Nancy Koenigsberg

Nancy Koenigsberg

Tamiko Kawata

Tamiko Kawata

Lewis Knauss

Lewis Knauss

Mary Giles

Mary Giles

Mary Merkel-Hess

Mary Merkel-Hess

Norma Minkowitz

Norma Minkowitz

Ferne Jacobs

Ferne Jacobs

Gizella K Warburton

Gizella K Warburton

Hisako Sekijima

Hisako Sekijima

Kyomi Iwata

Kyomi Iwata

Jin-Sook So

Jin-Sook So

Helena Hernmarck

Helena Hernmarck

As with our world-renowned collection of art textiles, dimensional art pieces and mixed media, many of our visiting artists represent acreative blend of diverse cultures and countries from all over the world, including Helena Hernmarck, originally from Sweden, now Connecticut, who continues to work with weavers in Sweden to create her tapestries; Jin-Sook So, from Korea, who has also lived for more than two decades in Sweden; Hisako Sekijima of Yokohama, Japan; and Gizella K Warburton from the UK.

We’re also pleased to welcome the following artists who are traveling from across the United States, including California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and of course our home state of Connecticut:

Each of the 16 artists expected to attend browngrotta arts’ artists reception and opening this Saturday will be available to offer insights into this unique combination of art forms, including textiles, sculptures, stitched work and sculptural baskets among others. Visit our Artists pages to learn more about our visiting artists’ techniques, inspirations and remarkable art forms.
The Artists Reception and Opening for Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years in art is at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897, April 22nd, 1 pm to 6 pm.


Blog: Artists Recommend Books – January Edition

Here are a few recommended books that missed the posting deadline for our previous Blog, Books Make Great Gifts. From Chris Drury in the UK, a title he considers a must in light of the Dakota Pipeline, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press), which won an American Book Award in 2015. As an antidote, he recommends A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (University of Chicago Press). Drury recommends two books from Korea, too, The Vegetarian by Hang Kang (Hogarth) and Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin (Vintage).

Wendy Wahl looked at the past year in providing her recommendations. “if the world has felt as wobbly to you as it has to me during 2016 then were on the same path,” she writes. “This isn’t to say that everything that transpired has been negative though there have been several traumatic events. The positive experiences have been just as surprising and memorable,” according to Wahl. She recommends a text on classic Indian spirituality, “that provides inspiration for healing and reframing perspectives, The Upanishads, introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran (Nigiri Press). This collection of teachings is as timely now as it was 2000 years ago. Understanding the following words from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (iv.4.5) could be useful,” she says. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny. The Mundaka Upanishad furnished the motto of the modern Indian nation, she notes, satyam eva jayate, nanritam, Truth alone prevails, not unreality” (iii.1.6).”Perhaps the global collective consciousness will awaken to this concept. I’m trying to remain hopeful.” Wahl adds that for readers interested in one of her favorite materials, Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky (W.W. Norton) is “a worthy read for a perspective on world history and a material that has had such an important role in its direction and documentation. I appreciated the author opening chapter fourteen with a quote from Denis Diderot, Encyclopedie,1 755: Indeed, the purpose of an encyclopedia is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth it’s general system to the men with whom we live, transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and that we should not die with out having rendered a service to the human race. Perhaps Diderot should have included – to the women with whom we live,” she concludes.


Books Make Great Gifts: 2014 Edition

As in previous years, artists represented by browngrotta arts have an eclectic and interesting list of books to recommend, art-related and otherwise. Thanks to dozen-plus artists who made suggestions, 18 books in all.

Tamiko Kawata reports that she had the chance to read a few books while icing her injured shoulder after therapy, first three times a day, then two times. She enjoyedHaruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. She is now reading — and enjoying — Even Back.Then.the.Fox.Was.the.HunterHerta Muller, Even Back Then, the Fox Was the Hunter.

Mary Merkel-Hess recommends Pilgrim.on.the.Great.Bird.ContinentPilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. “It is the gracefully written account of how, during his five years on the Beagle, Charles Darwin became an accomplished naturalist who could discern scientific truths from the creatures he studied. “ she writes. “Haupt documents this transformation by concentrating on Darwin’s lesser-known writings, particularly his notebooks. At points it reads like a travelogue and a manual for bird watchers. I found it fascinating.”

“I do not get to read books as much as I like,” writes Kiyomi Iwata, ” but the best book I read this year wasThe.Grief.of.Others.Leah.Hager.Cohen The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen. Even though she is very young — my daughter’s age — I found her prose most sensitive, insightful and compassionate. Her most recent book is No.Book.but.the.World.A.NovelNo Book for the World, which I am still reading.”

The most inspirational book Toshio Sekiji read this year was Korea.Economic.drilled.throughKorean Economy Drilled Through by Lee Hong Chang, which was originally published in Korea by Bobmun-sha,1999, the Japanese translation was by Hosei University Press in 2004. The book illuminates the dramatic changes from the medieval age to the modern age. It was one of a number of related books Toshio has read over the last two years as he prepared a report, “Korean Lacquer Culture through Neolithic Age to Modern Age” for the Bulletin of the Lacquer Art Museum in Wajima, Japan.

Ulla-Maija Vikman most enjoyed Flayed.ThoughtsNyljettyjä ajatuksia (Flayed Thoughts) by Juha Hurme. In Finnish only at this point, it’s a story of a 700-mile, 20-day rowing journey in which the characters eat, camp on islets and beaches and discuss what is essential and how what’s essential is transmitted.

There are two recommendations from Ruth Malinowski: The.Hare.With.Amber.EyesThe Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, recommended last year by Kay Sekimachi (and published by Rhonda’s other employer, FSG/Macmillan) and 1913: The Year Before the Storm1913.The.Year.Before.the.Storm by Florian Illies. The latter highlights developments in literature and art, as well as politics, covering the lives of Kafka, Rilke, Thomas Mann, Camille Claudel, Freud, Stalin, Hitler and some Royalty. Wars, love letters, art thefts and many more events from1913 are cleverly combined in 12 chapters, each reflecting a calendar month.

Ceca Georgieva rated ShantaramShantaram by Gregory David Roberts as her most inspirational read of the year. (Full disclosure, this one is also published by Rhonda’s other employer, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan and a book she also quite enjoyed. It’s been optioned by Johnny Depp and the movie is currently in production.)

“Of the many inspiring reads this year,” writes Wendy Wahl, “two authors stand out who had an impact on my work as a visual artist interested in the potency of printed text on paper. I was given The.Size.of.ThoughtsNicholson Baker’s The Size of Thoughts, by my husband when I was trying to weave together seemingly disparate yet connected ideas that sometimes are considered mundane and should be thought of as blessed into a cohesive short story. Baker’s style reminded me to keep doing what I was doing. I went onto read his Double.Fold.Libraries.and.the.Assault.on.PaperDouble Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, which became the inspiration for a sculpture I made this year that shares its name. One of my favorite library activities is to stroll through the stacks with my head cocked to one side and my index finger underlining titles vertically to see what’s there. I was delighted to come upon On Paper,On.Paper.The.Everything.of.Its.2000.Year.History The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas Basbanes, ‘a self-confessed bibliophiliac.’ I’ve checked this book out several times, paid late fees and, since I can’t write in this copy, I realize I must own it.”

Five art books got the nod from our artist/correspondents including Iridescent.LightIridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art by Deloris Tarzan Ament with photographs by Mary Randlett. Dona Anderson “enjoyed immensely” Ament’s profiles of 21 artists who lived and worked in Washington State during formative periods in their careers, profiles that blend discussion of their work and commentary on the obstacles they faced and the influences they brought to bear on one another.

Scott Rothstein rates Bharany.CollectionsA Passionate Eye: Textiles, Paintings and Sculptures from the Bharany Collections, Giles Tillotson, ed. as a “great book.” Mr. Bharany is Scott’s “Indian Father.” He is very involved with textiles as well as paintings and other Indian art forms. Scott says, “I had tea with him three times a week when I lived there and we get back to India almost every year, mostly to spend time with him. He is around 88 years old, so we feel we need to be with him as much as we can.” The book on Judith Scott, Judith.Scott.Bound.UnboundJudith Scott, Bound and Unbound, he recommends, too — more for the photos than the text.

Nancy Koenigsberg found the volume created to accompany the traveling exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Fiber Sculpture 1960-presentFiber: Sculpture 1960 to the Present (available on our website, browngrotta.com), “a must read for fiber people,  makers and buyers — especially young artists who don’t know who some of these artists are. I was really surprised to discover that!!,” she says.

“My favorite book for this year,” writes Adela Akers, “is, without a doubt: In the Realm of NatureIn The Realm Of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi (available on our website, browngrotta.com). A beautiful book, well conceived with excellent writing by Signe S. Mayfield. The life history of these two wonderful artists is beautifully intertwined with perfect images of their work. What a pleasure!”

Wishing you all new year that provides plenty of time for pleasure reading!


Art News — Pulp Culture: Paper is the Medium

Morris Museum, Morristown New Jersey, photo by Tom Grotta

Morris Museum, Morristown New Jersey, photo by Tom Grotta

Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey

Takaaki Tanaka work "A Harden Nest" in front of the Morris Museum's Pulp Culture exhibit. Photo by Tom Grotta

Takaaki Tanaka work “A Harden Nest” in front of the Morris Museum’s Pulp Culture exhibit. Photo by Tom Grotta

Through December 7th

More than 80 works are presented in the Morris Museum’s current exhibition of art by contemporary artists who have stretched the boundaries of paper as a creative medium and source of inspiration.

A Red Grethe Wittrock among the works at the  Morris Museum, Pulp Culture exhibit, Photo by Tom Grotta

A Red Grethe Wittrock among the works at the Morris Museum, “Pulp Culture” exhibit, Photo by Tom Grotta

The exhibition includes surprising objects made from paper ranging from life-size sculptures of human figures and whimsical figures to geometrically complex folded objects to jewelry and paper dresses. The “paper” includes dollar bills, book pages, florists’ wrapping, dress patterns and more. Included are papermakers, sculptors and engineers, whose methods and materials include handmade paper pulp, folded paper, molded paper, recycled paper and cut paper.

Richard Meier Collages among the artists exhibited in "Pulp Culture" at the Morris Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Richard Meier Collages among the artists exhibited in “Pulp Culture” at the Morris Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Among those featured in Pulp Culture are architect Richard Meier, designer Massimo Vignelli and jeweler Robert Ebendorf. Ten of the 46 featured artists are represented by browngrotta arts. Takaaki Tanaka’s several-part paper pulp piece appears at the entrance. Wendy Wahl’s works made of Encyclopedia Britannica pages are also included along with

Morris Museum, Pulp Culture, Wendy Wahl, Kazue Honma, Merja Winqvist. Photo by Tom Grotta

Morris Museum, Pulp Culture, Wendy Wahl, Kazue Honma, Merja Winqvist. Photo by Tom Grotta

work by Dona Anderson. Jennifer Falck Linssen, Grethe Wittrock, Kay Sekimachi, Toshio Sekiji, Merja Winqvuist, Mary Merkel-Hess and Kazue Honma. The Morris Museum is at 6 Normandy Heights Road, Morristown, New Jersey and open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information: 973-971-3700 or www.morrismuseum.org.


Art Out and About: Exhibitions Across the US

Coast-to-coast cultural opportunities to enjoy in August and through to November.

Traced Memories by Adela Akers, photo by Tom Grotta

Traced Memories by Adela Akers, photo by Tom Grotta

San Francisco, California
Adela Akers: Traced Memories, Artist-in-Residence
Through August 31st
Wednesdays–Sundays, 1–5 pm, plus Friday nights until 8:45 pm
Artist Reception: Friday, August 29, 6–8:30 p.m.
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco de Young/Legion of Honor
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, California
https://deyoung.famsf.org/programs/artist-studio/august-artist-residence-adela-akers-traced-memories
Textile artist Adela Akers has moved her studio to the de Young for a month. Visitors to the new studio will learn how each choice in her art-making process contributes to the unique character and quality of her work. Throughout her residency, Akers will invite visitors to engage in hands-on activities that explore her creative process—from inspiration and research to preparation of the materials she has selected to convey her concept to creation and final presentation of the finished artworks. Akers’s work has been influenced and informed by pre-Columbian textiles and, most recently, paintings by women of the Mbuti people of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Journeying from one point to another has been a physical and transformative reality in her life, increasing her self-confidence and expanding her vision of the world. Akers feels fortunate to have made these geographical voyages and to have experienced country living’s broad horizons and quiet strength, the power of nature and the palpitating rhythm of cities.

Athena by Nancy Koenigsberg, photo by Tom Grotta

Athena by Nancy Koenigsberg, photo by Tom Grotta

Brockton, Massachusetts
Game Changers: Fiber Art Masters and Innovators
Through November 23rd
Fuller Craft Museum
455 Oak Street
Brockton, MA
http://fullercraft.org/press/game-changers-fiber-art-masters-and-innovators/
“Game changers” are artists, past and present, who continuously revisit traditional techniques and materials while developing revolutionary approaches in the realm of fiber art. Every work in the exhibition was chosen to showcase the individual practice of each invited artist. These creators epitomize the dynamism and fluidity of work in fiber. Artists featured in the exhibition include: Olga de Amaral, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Mary Bero, Nancy Moore Bess, Archie Brennan, John Cardin, Lia Cook, John Garrett, Jan Hopkins, Mary Lee Hu, Lissa Hunter, Diane Itter, Michael James, Naomi Kobayashi, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gyongy Laky, Chunghie Lee, Kari Lonning, Susan Martin Maffei, John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Michael F. Rohde, Ed Rossbach and Kay Sekimachi.

Midland Museum Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, photo by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Midland Museum Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, photo by Jennifer Falck Linssen

Midland, Michigan
Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture
Through September 7th
Alden B. Dow Museum
Midland Center for the Arts
1801 West Saint Andrews Road
Midland, Michigan
http://www.mcfta.org/ab-dow-museum-announces-summer-exhibitions-press-release/
The works by eight artists featured in Forming: The Synergy Between Basketry and Sculpture, including Jennifer Falck Linssen, were designed and executed as alternative approaches to sculptural form, in which the line dissolves between traditional basketry and contemporary sculpture. A selection of artists from across America inquisitively open our eyes to new alternatives in basketry and fiber-based sculptural form. The craftsmanship is superb, the creative and technical finesse is complex while the vision is beyond today yet with inspiration from long-revered fiber traditions.

Midland, Michigan
Modern Twist: Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Art

Cocoon by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Cocoon by Jiro Yonezawa, photo by Tom Grotta

Through September 7th
Alden B. Dow Museum
Midlands Center for the Arts
1801 West Saint Andrews Road
Midland, Michigan
http://www.mcfta.org/ab-dow-museum-announces-summer-exhibitions-press-release/

Bamboo is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, shaping the country’s social, artistic, and spiritual landscape. Although bamboo is a prolific natural resource, it is a challenging artistic medium. There are fewer than 100 professional bamboo artists in Japan today. Mastering the art form requires decades of meticulous practice while learning how to harvest, split, and plait the bamboo. Modern Twist brings 38 exceptional works by 17 artists, including Jiro Yonezawa, to U.S. audiences, celebrating the artists who have helped to redefine a traditional craft as a modern genre, inventing unexpected new forms and pushing the medium to groundbreaking levels of conceptual, technical, and artistic ingenuity.

29ww EB mixed editions #12, Wendy Wahl, Encylodpedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24" x 32" x 1.5",  2011 photo by Tom Grotta

29ww EB mixed editions #12, Wendy Wahl, Encylodpedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011
photo by Tom Grotta

Jamestown, Rhode Island
PAPER-MADE
Through August 30th
Wed. – Sat. 10am – 2pm
Jamestown Arts Center
18 Valley Street
Jamestown, Rhode Island
http://www.jamestownartcenter.org/exhibitions
Paper art is emerging as a global phenomenon. PAPER-MADE explores paper’s transformation from an everyday object into an exquisite three dimensional sculptural artwork. The exhibit’s title PAPER-MADE is a reference to Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the “ready-made,” since paper is an everyday object. The alchemic transformation from simple paper to art highlights the artist’s creativity and demonstrates the limitless potential of the art form. Eighteen showcased artists, including Wendy Wahl, explore this material’s ephemeral nature and beauty. Each artist explores different qualities of paper, from hand-made paper and paper string, to site-specific installation made of book pages, from Korean joomchi paper to found lottery tickets and archival photographs.


Guest Post: Wendy Wahl on Big Beautiful Books

 “Branches Unbound”, Wendy Wahl at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Photo by: Jim West

Branches Unbound, Wendy Wahl’s work at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Photo by: Jim West

It’s not news that the world of printed text on paper is challenged in the 21st century by digital media and the reorganization of how information is created, distributed and accessed.  Knowledge saving and sharing continues to be reinvented – 5000 years ago the Incans used a device called a quipu made of string and knots for communication, 3000 years

 “Ed Ruscha” at Gagosian Gallery, Chelsea, photo by: Librado Romero

“Ed Ruscha” at Gagosian Gallery, Chelsea, photo by: Librado Romero

ago the Sumerians had libraries containing clay tablets while the Egyptians used papyrus and parchment scrolls. During the Han Dynasty the Chinese invented paper to write on and in the 15th century Europeans began printing with movable type to create a codex. In the 1970s computers were incorporated into the printing process.

photo #3.ww

Matej Kren’s, Book Cell at Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon Portugal. Photo by: Ferran Moreno Lanza

Social and environmental conditions along with technological developments influence the structure of books that are produced. These objects evolve to fit the needs of the cultures that use them. Today there

Erik Olofson’s furniture, courtesy of Big Cozy Books.

Erik Olofson’s furniture, courtesy of Big Cozy Books.

are e-readers with names like kindle, nook and ibook.  For nearly a decade my response to the current transformation has been to use discarded encyclopedias as a material to create art works and large scaled installations as an expression of the significance and potency of the printed word on paper.

Kansas City Public Library, Missouri. photo by Mike Sinclair

Kansas City Public Library, Missouri. photo by Mike Sinclair

The form of the book has been used physically and figuratively in paintings, in architecture, as furniture and as sculpture – in and out of the landscape. The medium is the message and, because of a typesetting error, more accurately, the massage. Thank you Marshall McLuhan.

“book outcropping” at Penistone Hill Country Park. courtesy of Google images.

Book outcropping at Penistone Hill Country Park. courtesy of Google images.

Three Gorges Dam Project, Tanziling Ridge - Yangtze River, China. Photo by  Sharon Wahl

The artist at the Three Gorges Dam Project, Tanziling Ridge – Yangtze River, China.
Photo by Sharon Wahl

Wendy Wahl


Guest Blog: Wendy Wahl on Newspapers Then and Now

The following story describes an obsession with a newspaper that some people may take for granted.  Perhaps at one point this desire was heightened because I had been included in the paper’s folds.

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photo by Wendy Wahl

As I took the 106 steps from an east door of my home I focused on the sensation of my feet walking across the recently laid pavers, onto the gravel drive and through a break in the stonewall to the street to see if it had really arrived. I had waited over 20 years for this moment and I savored each stride with anticipation that was punctuated with my own sounds of excitement. Patient hopefulness described my wait to unfold the neatly layered sections to discover what was inside. Though I feared it wouldn’t be there like so many times before and all my expectations would be shattered, I still felt somehow today was different.

For several years I would get in my car and travel the approximate 10 miles roundtrip to Taylor’s Country Store where I had reserved my copy of the paper.  Back then Taylor’s could be described as a charming, dusty, ramshackle, screen-door-hits-you-on-the-way-in-and-out kind of place. The entrance was so close to the two-lane main road that when you pulled up to park in the allotted space you’d be lucky not to hit anything or anyone. Inside the store was something you had to physically experience. There was nothing there I would eat; many of the product expiration dates had been reached and much of the packaged food was unrecognizable. It was one of the few destinations between my house and pretty much anything else heading east towards the University of Rhode Island just beyond the Kingston train station.  The store marked the north end of the Great Swamp. Mom and Pop Taylor were the quintessential shopkeepers who were humorously kind. I would usually run into someone I knew there. Around the same time the Department of Transportation took out the rotaries aka suicide circles on Route 138, Taylor’s closed.  The Alternative Food Co-op moved in which I welcomed having nearby because you could purchase fresh, local fruits and vegetables, eggs and dry foods in bulk.  An Asian Market followed this that brought lemongrass, tamarind and an array of new flavors to my neighborhood; a delicious culinary addition to rural South County but neither carried the newspaper I wanted to wrap up in at least on the weekend.

In 1990 I contacted The New York Times to see if I could get the paper delivered.  I was instructed to fax my order in.  If you remember this was a time when answering machines were being challenged by the immediacy of the fax machine.  I saw it as the thin edge of the personal communications wedge. After getting no results from my requests via this technology I picked up the telephone, not a smart phone or a cordless, but a copper connected landline and made the call to the subscription office to create an account to get the paper delivered to my doorstep. The person on the other end of the phone seemed genuinely helpful to include me in the community of those who wake up to find “all the news that fit to print” within arms length.  The representative took my name, address and credit card information and told me that I should expect to wait 4-6 weeks for my first delivery.  I immediately put the expected date into my day-at-a-glance book and waited with great expectation.  I probably don’t have to tell you that it didn’t arrive and oddly enough they started to send subscriptions advertisements. When I called to find out what happened the explanation was that “currently there isn’t delivery of the Sunday Times in your area.” I was told it could be mailed and I may receive it on Wednesday or Thursday. Seriously?

Geographically Rhode Island isn’t that far away from New York and the whole state is the size of the county of Los Angeles.  Myself a native Angelino, I often think of the avocado and loquat trees that dotted the landscape and how the Santa Monica Mountains terminate at the sea.  My thoughts drift to a time where the scent of citrus from the fruit groves lingered in the air after passing through the San Gabriel valley on a two-hour drive to the snow-covered San Bernardino range.  I still remember the importance of our first RCA color console.  The latest in home technology that aired Walter Cronkite every evening, the Jetsons on Saturday mornings and the Ed Sullivan show on Sunday night but this didn’t change home delivery of several newspapers that were available at the time.  Looking back, it was an era of door-to-door sales of print subscriptions that included magazines, books and in our case the newspaper from the Big Apple.  I mistakenly assumed I could receive The New York Times delivered in New England.  Now I understand that even by Rhode Island driving standards I’m off the beaten track.  In order to get to where I live you have to travel off the main east west artery of the state passing through turf fields, an Audubon preserve bordered by a white pine forest, cross over a one lane bridge, go past a pottery up a winding hill and at the time down an unpaved road to arrive at the last house whose postal address was a rural route and where three town lines intersect in the road in front of the house.  I explained to the representative whom I hoped had a sympathetic ear that it was only two-and-a-half miles off the main road.  The representative told me there just weren’t enough people who wanted delivery in my neck of the woods.  I asked if they would just leave it at the end of the road so I could pick it up there. They stopped sending notices.

A new rhythm developed where I would call the toll-free subscription number every few months to go through the motions of creating an account only to be met with the same results.  After the millennium my efforts dwindled to every six months and then perhaps once a year.  Then suddenly sometime in 2007 they began to send offers again letting me know that delivery was available in my area.  I took the bait each time over and over again.  I was delighted to see my invitation to get home delivery and at an introductory price of 50% off in my mailbox.  I would dutifully fill out the form, repost it and back it up with a call where I would be informed that in fact it would be on its way.  Yes, it’s finally happening – I’d dance about and sing hallelujah!  My husband would look at me with a raised eyebrow “are you going to fall for it again?”  Always hopeful, my response was “indeed.” But as you can guess, it didn’t happen.  To my family I must have seemed so pathetic to continue on this ridiculous ride for years.  Eventually I stopped responding to the solicitations giving up on the prospects of it ever happening.  However, in early April last year I received a notice in the mail from the subscription office that delivery was available.  I thought, what have I got to lose?  I called.

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photo by Webdy Wahl

Admittedly I’d become relatively skeptical but perhaps this was the moment – the time had arrived when I would actually be able to get it delivered.  If this sounds like a promotional ad for The New York Times, perhaps it is.  Drum roll please…last year on a Sunday morning in May I went to my Providence Journal box where I had requested the Times be placed, a logical idea since both papers are now printed and delivered from the same location, to see if it was there and it was!  It would have been enough that it arrived at all but it was Mother’s Day and it had the Travel of the Times magazine – armchair candy.  So pleased to have the newspaper in my hands I began separating the paper by quickly scanning and then for the moment setting aside the front page because it’s too grim to take in the global inequities so early in the day.  The striking contrast of headlines and stories to the needed advertisements to keep it printed is unsettling.  I move on to the SundayReview, my favorite section, where I’m confident I will discover something that will inform my work.  That week I was introduced to Alice E. Kober, the instrumental backstage player in deciphering Linear B, “an unknown language in an unknown script” as described by linguist Margalit Fox author of recently released The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code.  It made me think about lost civilizations.  In that same section was a news analysis titled The Hidden World Under Our Feet.  As a mycophile and tree hugger it caught my eye.  Jim Robbins articulates the idea that “the world’s ocean of soil is one of our largest reservoirs of biodiversity” and that “the complex soil ecosystem is highly evolved and sophisticated”. His new release The Man Who Planted Trees  (different from the book with the same title by Jean Giono, published in 1953 and I suspect inspired by) documents one nurseryman’s quest to clone the biggest trees on the planet in order to save our forests and ecosystem.  I’m feeling gratified for all my efforts.  Then it’s on to each section: Arts and Leisure, Travel, BookReview, SundayBusiness, SundayStyles, SportsSunday, and the Magazine where I’m puzzled, challenged and humbled by Will Shortz.  Unfortunately the New England edition doesn’t have a classified section. Nostalgia wafts in on a zephyr and I can see my father in his plaid wool robe sitting at the kitchen table, the overhead fixture illuminating the plate of peanut butter filled celery troughs and his reflection in the sliding glass door, reading the want ads out of curiosity.  For me some weeks the paper is devoured the day it arrives and is then left lying about the house and studio to be reread and reused.  There is something so comforting about curling up on the sofa or sitting at the round table with a really good newspaper.  I enjoy the feel of it between my fingers, the smell of the ink and that familiar font that I now need magnifiers to read.

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photo by Wendy Wahl

Newspapers have many uses beyond their primary function to communicate information and ideas.  Among these the most intriguing is as a medium for making art.  Picasso immediately comes to mind as appropriator of the material.  In 1909, Fillippo Marinetti coerced Le Figaro to print his controversial manifesto promoting the Futurist movement.  In the 21st century Jim Hodges covered a newspaper from Amman, Jordan in 24k gold.  An exhibition celebrating the relationship between newspapers and the arts titled Shock of the News at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC documents these and many other 20th century artists using newspaper as a medium for the message. Print-Inspired Art: All The News That’s Fit To Paint : NPR .

I embrace the reality of digital access to information at my fingertips like a library on the desktop – when the technology is working.  Recently while scrolling through the TED Talks I came across a presentation by Jacek Utko, a Polish newspaper designer and former architect who is questioning the notion that newspapers can be saved by reconnecting readers through good design and content choices.  Something along the lines of form follows function.  www.ted.com/…/jacek_utko_asks_can_design
Now as I walk back to my house carrying the newspapers each week I feel a sense of relief in finally having The New York Times delivered directly on Sunday.  Unfortunately sometimes this feeling is too quickly followed by the fear that now that I can have it delivered it might go out of print altogether and soon not be physically delivered anywhere.

 Wendy Wahl

February 12, 2014


Upcoming: Guest Posts on arttextstyle

Art, architecture and the environment are upcoming topics for guest bloggers on arttextstyle.com over the next few months.

David Ling, Wend Wahl & Gyöngy Laky, photos by Tom Grotta

David Ling, Wend Wahl & Gyöngy Laky, photos by Tom Grotta

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.
OF TWO MINDS: Artists who Create 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.


The Year in Books: Art, Life and Learning — Part 1

World Book EncylopediaIt’s been a literary trip back in time for some of browngrotta arts’ artists this year. Every day since February, Wendy Wahl has chosen something at random to read from a well-preserved, slightly earthy smelling set of the 1957 World Book Encyclopaedia. “This pursuit began,” she explains, “when I brought the volumes into the house from the studio to use as a barricade on furniture for my then one-year old Labrador Retriever. It kept her off the sofa but when I wasn’t looking she decided to explore Volumes A and N-O to see how they tasted. Volume M stands out in my memory, the letter of moving water. Included on the glossy pages are mangoes, mathematics, music, Moscow, Mexico, Morocco, molybdenum, money, minerals, medicine, manuscripts, Magna Carta, Mozart, Mendelssohn, monotype, mimeograph, motion pictures, moons, meteors, Mary, Moses, Mohammed, Manet, Monet, Matisse, milk, meat, mushroom, Madison, Marx but no Mandela. It has been revealing to look at these entries through the lens of the editors writing fifty-six years ago; War& PeaceI’m interested in how and what is presented and this 40th edition’s place in the 20th century.” Mary Merkel-Hess spent the entire autumn of this year reading one book – War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. “My husband and I and a few others read it under the tutelage of an enthusiastic, young Russian professor,” she writes, “who served tea cakes and strong coffee during each of our discussions. Yes, it’s a great book and our study quickly led us to consider the history surrounding the book (Napoleonic wars), the complicated and fascinating Tolstoy family (especially the marriage of Leo and Sonya) and the use of the book and characters in other works of art – music and film. There is an American film version of the book starring Audrey Hepburn and a much better Russian film version which runs to 8 hours or so. We and our fellow classmates were captivated and the writing was, of course, superb. We read the new translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. I am not exactly recommending War and Peace, but if you would like to be submersed for awhile, able to ignore the news and unable to engage in topical conversation, I do recommend choosing it or another of the ‘great books’ as a way to take the focus off your regular life. I am now considering TheIdiotDostoyevskiThe Idiot by Dostoyevski (the favorite book of Pope Francis) or Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann, which my daughter gave me a few years ago. Either way, I know I am in for the perfect escape.” Look for more recommendations in our next post.


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.