Acclaim! Catalog

Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists cover

In conjunction with our spring exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, we produced our 56th catalog. The 164-page volume features images of art by each of the 51 artists in the exhibition. It also includes detail shots and installation images of the works in space. 

Olga de Amaral spread

The 51 artists in Acclaim! like the others that we work with at browngrotta arts, have had their work acquired by museums and recognized by collectors. In addition, each of the artists included have achieved formal art acknowledgment in the form of an award or medal or exclusive membership. In the US, that may mean the award of a Gold Medal from the American Craft Council — 10 of the artists in Acclaim! belong to that group. In Canada, it means membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts, which three of our artists have achieved. The late-master weaver Peter Collingwood received an OBE, Order of the British Empire.Yeonsoon Chang of Korea was selected Artist of the Year, by the Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul. In France, Simone Pheulpin was awarded the Grand Prix de la Création de la Ville de Paris. Grethe Sørensen of Denmark and Agneta Hobin of Finland received the Nordic Award in Textiles; Sheila Hicks the French Legion of Honor, and so on.

Helena Hernmarck Spread

The catalog also includes an essay by Caroline Kipp, Acclaim! and the Art of Serious Play. Kipp (she/they) is a curator, artist, and historian. She holds a BFA in Fibers from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, an ALM in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and is currently a PhD student in Art History at the University of Maryland, College Park.From 2019 to 2023, Kipp was the Curator of Contemporary Art at The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in Washington, DC where she curated Anne Lindberg: what color is divine light?. Previously, she was the Curatorial Associate in the Department of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston where she was responsible for the contemporary decorative arts collection, including the Daphne Farago collection. She curated the Farago gallery rotations, Jack Bush: Radiant AbstractionCommunity Arts Initiative: Mindful Mandalas, and Community Arts Initiative: Endless Feast, co-curated Beyond the Loom: Fiber as Sculpture/Subversive Threads as part of Women Take the Floor and Perception is the Medium. Kipp served as the assistant and project manager on Cecilia Vicuna: Disappeared QuipuSheila HicksNan GoldinLorraine O’Grady: Family GainedCandice Breitz: Love StoryMaia Lynch: In Between, and Monuments to Us. Prior to this, Kipp was part of the MFA Boston’s Textile and Fashion Arts Department where she contributed research to the exhibition Gender Bending Fashion. She serves on the boards of the Textile Society of America (TSA) and the James Renwick Alliance for Craft (JRA). You can find her on Instagram at  @carolinekipp_curator.

Jane Sauer Spread
portrait by Photo: Eric Lee
Caroline Kipp. photo: Eric Lee

In the “very insightful and thoughtful” essay, Kipp writes about the importance of community, identifying fiber departments and exhibitions like the Lausanne Biennials, where artists interacted with peers from around the world. Kipp also writes about motivation, noting that these artists continued their work even without recognition, leading to “a contradictory point about accolades and honors: they represent high points within a career and simultaneously are rather anticlimactic.” Kipp observes that “the labor of artmaking is heavier and deeper than most people realize.” These artists have realized that it’s possible to turn a difficult task into a fulfilling one by engaging in the act of “serious play.” In artmaking, serious play is the heart of a sustained studio practice — leaning into uncertainty generates creativity. Kipp finds “playful” qualities in many of the works in claim!, experimental material choices and techniques, and innovative uses of color, form, and imagery. 

Dominic Di Mare Spread

Order a copy of Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, to learn more. One of our readers described it as “an important document much needed now.”

Then and Now … works across time

In compiling works for our Spring 2023 exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, we gathered works from several decades. Many of those included were artists with longstanding careers. They were pioneers, active in the early days of the fiber movement and still innovating today. At browngrotta arts, we have always sought to exhibit artists who are willing to experiment — push boundaries, reinvent themselves and the medium. Acclaim! offered many fascinating examples of artists whose work transformed throughout their careers.

Cherry Ys, Dorothy Gill Barnes, waxed linen, raffia, and cherry branches, 31.25″ x 15″ x 3.5″, 1970-1980.
Willow with Log, Dorothy Gill Barnes, willow, 40″ x 20″ x 15″, 1998. Photos by Tom Grotta.

In some cases, like Dorothy Gill Barnes’ work, a logical progression from earlier to current work is apparent. Cherry Ys is a study that Barnes had created when more traditional weaving was a larger part of her process. Some 30 years later she created Willow with Log — weaving again, but this time with a material she has mastered — tree bark. 

The Mourners, Dominic Di Mare, waxed linen, wood, (Back row from left to right: 48.5″ x 24″; 46″ x 24″; 50.5″ x 24″; 47″ x 24″) Front row from left to right: 49.5″ x 24″ ; 46.5″ x 24″; 48.5″ x 24″).
Mourning Station #4, Dominic Di Mare, hawthorn, handmade paper, silk, bone, bird’s egg, feathers, gold and wood beads, 13″ x 7″ x 7″, 1981. Photos by Tom Grotta.

Dominic Di Mare is widely known for captivating sculptures of simple materials like carved hawthorn branches with delicate feathers, beads, paper, eggs, and horsehair. In Di Mare’s hands, these were transformed into intensely poetic and spiritual works which he made in the 79s. For Acclaim!, however, we were able to show Di Mare’s intriguing assemblages and a series of elegant weavings, The Mourners, that he had made in the 1960s.

Five Panel #2, Warren Seelig, corduroy weave 48″ x 55″ x 1″, 1972. Small Double Ended, Warren Seelig, nylon, stainless steel, 63″ x 33″ x 16.375, 1996, Photos by Thomas Grotta.

The transition from early to later work was even more dramatic in the works included in Acclaim! by Warren SeeligFive Panel #2 is a complex corduroy weaving from the 1970s. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t recognize, Small Double Ended, of metal and fiber, as a work by Seelig made nearly 25 years later.

Landform, Lia Cook, cotton, 14.25″ x 12″ x 2.25″, 1978; Legs, Lia Cook, cotton, 14.25″ x 12″ x 4.5″, 1977.Presence/Absence: In the Folds, Lia Cook, cotton, rayon; woven, 192” x 41”, 1997. Photos by Tom Grotta.

There are few artists who have mastered as many bodies of work as Lia CookAcclaim! included Landform and Legs, pop-art-like weavings that Cook made in the 70s, shortly after completing a Master’s degree in 1973. Also exhibited was Presence/Absence: In the Folds, created two decades later. By that time, Cook was creating works on a Jacquard loom based upon photographs. In between, she had worked with painted strips of cloth to create fabric mosaics of sorts and since, she has been integrated EEG reports into her weavings.

You can see all the works in Acclaim! in our online exhibition on Artsy. You can hear more about the works by joining us for Art on the Rocks, an art talkthrough with spirits! on Zoom on June 9, 2023.

View Two: Online Exhibitions on Artsy

Acclaim! on Artsy

Did you miss the in-person Spring exhibition at browngrotta arts last week? If so, good news! You can see all the works in Acclaim! Work from Award-Winning International Artists (even the sold ones) now on Artsy. There are installation shots on Artsy as well. 

Acclaim! in-person
We were visited by a bus load of art lovers from Canada. Photo by Rhonda Brown

Acclaim! was a go-to Spring event in Connecticut. Our attendance was up 30% over our last show. The mix of fiber art luminaries like Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, Dominic Di Mare and Peter Collingwood and accomplished artists newer to the field like Jo Barker, Anneke Klein and Mercedes Vicente was an potent one. 

Wordplay installation
Wordplay installation-Photo by Tom Grotta

Many visitors to Acclaim! also visited our sister show, WordPlay: Messages in Branches & Bark, which we co-curated with the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT.  WordPlay celebrates work by Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen in which words, puns, rebuses, and other messages to be coded and deciphered appear. 

Good news about WordPlay, too, closes today at 5. Beginning May 29th you can find the works from that exhibition in an Artsy Viewing Room. There will be great installation shots as well.

Thanks for keeping the art admiration going and visiting us on Artsy — this week and on May 29th.

Art Assembled – New this Week in April

Welcome to our April Art Assembled blog, where we are thrilled to showcase the incredible artists featured in our New This Week series. Last month, the artists highlighted in our New This Week series all happen to be included in our current exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists.

As we near the end of the exhibition, we’ve been enjoying seeing and meeting everyone at Acclaim! and invite those who haven’t had the chance to visit yet to come experience the stunning works of James Bassler, Adela Akers, Ed Rossbach, Helena Hernmarck, Mary Giles, and so many more while it’s still open! You have until this Sunday, May 7 to come check it out in person.

In the following paragraphs, we will dive deeper into the art of James Bassler, Adela Akers, Ed Rossbach, Helena Hernmarck, and Mary Giles, highlighting some of their stunning pieces on display in our exhibition.

James Bassler
17jb Unravelling, James Bassler, agave warp and weft, natural dyes, avocado seeds, weave madder root, wedge weave, embroidery, 28″ x 47″, 2022.

To kick off the month of April, we introduced you to the masterful textile artist James Bassler, whose piece “Unravelling” exemplifies his skill and creativity. Bassler’s unique style combines traditional weaving techniques with modern sensibilities, resulting in pieces that are both timeless and contemporary.

This particular piece features a map of the United States on PBS, illustrating the deep divide of the states and Bassler’s concern for the state of democracy. He wondered if our democracy is unraveling, leading him to name this piece “Unraveling.” He finished the piece on his 89th birthday.

Throughout his career, Bassler has received many accolades and honors for his art, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council.

Adela Akers
52aa Silver Waves, Adela Akers, linen, horsehair, paint & metal foil, 63” x 24”, 2014. Phot by Tom Grotta.

As the month continued, we introduced you to Adela Akers, a talented textile artist who uses mediums like metallic threads and horsehair to create a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow, evoking the movement of waves in the ocean. “Silver Waves” is a captivating piece that will leave you in awe of Akers’ skill and imagination. Her art is a beautiful representation of the delicate balance between nature and human creativity.

Born in the Czech Republic, Akers grew up in Venezuela and later moved to the United States. Her art is a beautiful representation of the delicate balance between nature and human creativity, and her pieces are included in many prestigious private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution.

Ed Rossbach
200r Eternal Summer, Ed Rossbach, 14″ x 8″, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Ed Rossbach was a master weaver and sculptor who revolutionized the world of basketry with his innovative use of ancient techniques and unconventional materials like plastics and newspaper.

His incorporation of pop culture references into his art is a testament to his imaginative prowess. Rossbach’s art invites the viewer to see beauty in the unexpected, and his unique style continues to inspire artists today.

Throughout his long and prolific career, Rossbach received many awards and honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Helena Hernmarck
62hh Tabula Rasa 2, Helena Hernmarck, wool, 53″ x 44″, 2010

Up next, we turned our attention to the visionary Swedish-born artist and handweaver, Helena Hernmarck. Hernmarck has revolutionized tapestry as a medium for modern architectural spaces. Her tapestries are renowned for their incredible illusion of movement, captivating viewers and transcending the boundaries of two-dimensional art.

Born in Stockholm, Hernmarck studied at the Handarbetets Vänner textile school in Stockholm before moving to the United States. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council.

Mary Giles
69mg Quill Bowl II, Mary Giles, waxed linen and porcupine quills, 4.5″ x 11.5″ x 11.5″, 1983

Last, but not least, we highlight the work of the late Mary Giles. Giles was a renowned artist who mastered the coiling technique associated with Native American basket traditions. Her work included striking wall pieces and freestanding sculptures that draw inspiration from the environment, human figures, and vessels.

Her signature style incorporated thin metal strips, some of which are shaped like human figures, layered over a surface or core. Her pieces are a beautiful representation of the connection between art and nature, and her work is included in many prestigious collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

There are only a couple of days left to experience the stunning works of the incredible artists in our Acclaim! exhibition in person. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to engage with the art and immerse yourself in the world of these talented artists. For more information on Acclaim! or to register, click here. We hope to see you there!

Sneak Peek: Acclaim! Opens Saturday

Colorful Jane Sauer fiber sculpture
15js Genesis, Jane Sauer, waxed linen and pigment, 11″ x 17″ x 8″, 2001. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Here are more images to pique your interest in our Spring “Art in the Barn” exhibition. Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists features more than 40 artists who have created art textiles, fiber sculpture and mixed media work from the 60s to the present. Each has received accolades, recognition, and awards. Among the works that will be included are several very rare and special works from the resale market.

Among these special works are Genesis, a colorful and whimsical work from 2001 by noted artist and gallerist Jane Sauer. The Smithsonian says that Sauer’s pieces “reflect her life as a mother to her children and as a productive, professional artist. [Her] closed baskets symbolize these different roles, evoking the sheltering environment of the womb and the ‘personal space’ that all artists require to create their work.”

Two Cynthia Schira textiles
1csh Nightfall, Cynthia Schira, cotton and linen with fabric backing, 28.5 x 28.5, 1979 and 2csh Spring Lyric, Cynthia Schira, cotton and linen with rod, 27″ x 26″, 1979

Another artist whose work we are excited to be including in Acclaim! is Cynthia Schira. Schira’s work often draws imagery from the notational codes, ciphers, and diagrams that visualize systems of knowledge in different disciplines and professions. The works in Acclaim!, Nightfall and Spring Lyric have that sense; they resemble notes jotted down in haste or using shorthand.

Warren Seelig stainless steel sculptures
5was Small Double Ended, Warren Seelig, nylon, stainless steel, 63″ x 33″ x 16.375; 6was Small White Wheel, Warren Seelig, nylon, stainless steel 62″ x 40″ x 12″, 1996. Photo by Tom Grotta.

New for browngrotta arts are also Warren Seelig’s works of metal and stone. Seelig has family ties to fiber milling and the textile industry and was exposed to both textiles and the textile manufacturing machinery. He received a BS from Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, where he created his first woven works, then an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1974. Seelig moved from woven works to unique structural, fan-like works using mylar frames and an innovative double-weave technique. He then shifted to suspended spoke-and-axle pieces and wall-mounted shadow fields, like White Wheel and Small Double Endedand Stone Shadowfield which viewers will see in Acclaim! Seelig has been regularly commissioned to create installations for corporate offices and convention centers. Seelig teaches, curates, and writes on various subjects related to textile, fiber, and material studies. 

Gerhardt Knodel Jacquard weavings
1gkn Santa Cruz, Gerhardt Knodel, cotton twill tape painted and printed before weaving, Mylar, metallic gimp, linen, lined with cotton fabric, 24.75” x 57” x 1.5”, 1981. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Gerhardt Knodel is another artist new for browngrotta arts. Knodel has contributed to the evolution and identity of contemporary work in the fiber medium for more than four decades. For 25 years he led the graduate program in Fiber at Cranbrook Academy of Art, and subsequently was appointed Director, being awarded Director Emeritus in 2006. Knodel’s work with fiber includes installations, theater, architectural commissions, and the pictorial potential of weaving. In Acclaim! there are three works by Knodel each of which involves intricate patterning and interesting use of metallic threads. Santa Cruz features an image of the boardwalk in California; Jacquard Suite 7 and Jacquard Suite 10 interesting patterning.

29ddm Mourning Station #4, Dominic Di Mare, hawthorn, handmade paper, silk, bone, bird’s egg, feathers, gold and wood beads, 13″ x 7″ x 7″, 1981. Photo by Tom Grotta.

The works by Dominic Di Mare that is included in Acclaim! is particularly intriguing. It includes, The Mourners, a group of woven hangings from the early 60s. It also includes a work from 20 years later, Mourning Station #4, that features the artist’s characteristic assemblage of feathers, handmade paper, beads and woven silk, one of what the Smithsonian calls his, “enigmatic sculptures from handmade papers, polished hawthorne twigs, and feathers.”

Hope you can join us at Acclaim!

browngrotta arts
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897

Artist Reception and Opening: 
April 29, from 11am to 6 pm

Remaining Days:
Sunday, April 30th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Monday, May 1st – Saturday, May 6th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM [Final Day] (40 visitors/ hour)

Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

Reserve a spot:

8ddm The Mourners, Dominic Di Mare, waxed linen, wood, (Back row from left to right: 48.5″ x 24″; 46″ x 24″; 50.5″ x 24″; 47″ x 24″) Front row from left to right: 49.5″ x 24″ ; 46.5″ x 24″; 48.5″ x 24″) 1962-63. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Sneak Peek: Acclaim! Opens Next Saturday – The Luminaries

Ed Rossbach plastic Wall Hanging
Gateway, Ed Rossbach, yellow and white plastic, foam rubber and plastic tape, 53.5″ x 56″ x 2.5″, 1970, photo by Tom Grotta

Our Spring “Art in the Barn,” Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artistsis a truly stellar event. We’ve gathered work by 51 luminaries in art textiles, sculpture and mixed media for this exhibition. Each of them has achieved some formal recognition — an Artist of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, a Gold Medal or honor from a king (of Sweden) or queen (of the UK). Works from the 60s join works from 2023 — offering viewers perspective on the contemporary fiber art movement from its origins to the present. Here’s your sneak peak at the work by some of the best-known of the prominent artists that make up Acclaim!

Mickey Mouse Bowl by Ed Rossbach
New Mickey Bowl, Ed Rossbach, paper and various fibers, 12.5″ x 12.5″ x 12.5″, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta

Among the artists included in Acclaim! is Ed Rossbach. Rossbach is known as the “father of contemporary basketry.” Relentlessly inventive, he experimented with materials and techniques and encouraged and inspired others to do the same. Acclaim! includes two quintessential examples of Ed’s ouevre. One is a wall hanging, Gateway, constructed of plastic, tape, and foam rubber, which now seems like a particularly prescient contemplation on the intersections between materiality and climate change. The other work, The New Mickey Bowl, is a large basket featuring Mickey Mouse. Rossbach often used pop imagery in his work, including John Travolta and pages from Sports Illustrated, but Mickey Mouse for an image he used repeatedly in various forms, woven, transferred, crocheted. There was irony in the choice. Rossbach said, “I like Mickey Mouse. I think it’s partly because it’s a defensive attitude on my part, that what people think very much is Mickey Mouse. They refer to the classes that you teach as Mickey Mouse classes, and everything is just dismissed as, ‘It’s Mickey Mouse.'” Rossbach found that embracing Mickey was a way to respond. “So I put a Mickey Mouse on baskets and the most elaborate textile; I wove Mickey Mouse in double damask,” he told an interviewer laughing. “I did him in ikats. I’ve done a lot of Mickey Mouses. And Mickey Mouses sell,” he added wryly. 

Sheila Hicks Wall Hanging
Araucario, Sheila Hicks, linen, cotton, nylon and araucario, 39.375″ x 39.375″ x 3.125″, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

From Sheila Hicks we have Araucaria, which incorporates cones from a evergreen coniferous tree. Hicks is a lauded American artist known for her innovative and experimental weavings and sculptural textile art that incorporate distinctive colors, natural materials, and personal narratives. Her diverse approach to textiles put her at the center of the burgeoning Fiber Art movement of the 1960s and ’70s, in which artists, were inventing new possibilities for pliable mediums. As the Museum of Modern Art has noted, Hicks is “[c]aptivated by structure, form, and color, she has looked to weaving cultures across the globe to shape her work at varying scales.” Hicks has exhibited internationally in both solo and group exhibitions. She was included in the 2017 Venice Biennial, 2014 Whitney Biennial in New York,  the 2012  São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Recent solo presentations include Lignes de Vie at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2018 and Free Threads 1954-2017 Museo Amparo, Mexico.” A major retrospective, Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, debuted at the Addison Gallery of American Art and traveled to the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC. 

Assemblage by Lenore Tawney
Book of Foot, Lenore Tawney, assemblage, 22.25″ x 5.375″ x 5.75″, 1996, photo by Tom Grotta

We have two works by Lenore Tawney in this exhibition. Lenore Tawney (1907 – 2007) was an American artist known for her groundbreaking work in fiber as well as for her drawings, collages, and assemblages. She, like Sheila Hicks, was at the center of the move to take textiles off the loom and off the wall. Her imagery and invention extended to her collages. There are two of those included in Acclaim!, Gift Pipe and The Book of Foot. They are both examples of Tawney’s collages that mixed found objects, newsprint and her drawings. She sent hundreds of postcard collages with cryptic, sometimes humorous messages to friends. 

1970s Olga de Amaral weaving
Untitled Columna, Olga de Amaral, cotton, wool, horsehair, 83.375” x 22”, 1970’s. Photo by Tom Grotta

An early weaving by the Colombian artist Olga de Amaral is included in Acclaim!. Columnar Untitled is a vividly colored tapestry that incorporates horsehair. She is an important figure in the development of Latin-American post-war abstraction. She is known for her large-scale abstract works made with fiber, gesso, paint and prescious metals. She studied at Cranbrook Scool of Art,  As her website explains, “she transforms the two-dimensional textile structure into sculptural presences that seamlessly blend art, craft, and design. I their engagement with materials and processes, her works become essentially unclassifiable and self reflective. 

Kay Sekimachi Leaf Bowl
Leaf Bowl, Kay Sekimachi, skeleton of big leaf maple, 5.75″ x 6″ x 6″, 2011, Photo by Tom Grotta

Also included in Acclaim! are two rare works by Kay Sekimachi. Sekimachi is an American fiber artist and weaver, best known for her three-dimensional woven monofilament hangings as well as her intricate baskets and bowls. The Smithsonian describes her artistic journey this way: “Kay Sekimachi learned to make origami figures and to paint and draw while in an incarceration camp for Japanese Americans during World War II.  She enrolled at the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1946, spent two summers at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, and by 1949 was weaving large, complex wall hangings. In the late 1970s, Sekimachi began to create small pots and bowls that combine Japanese paper with materials left over from her weaving.” In Acclaim!  we’ll exhibit one of Sekimachi’s prized leaf bowls and a blue paper basket through which threads are incorporated.

Hope you can join us later this month or in early May for Acclaim! Details appear below:

browngrotta arts
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897
Artist Reception and Opening: April 29, from 11am to 6 pm

Remaining Days:
Sunday, April 30th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Monday, May 1st – Saturday, May 6th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM [Final Day] (40 visitors/ hour)

Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

Reserve a spot:

What to Visit On Your Trip to browngrotta arts April 29 – May 7

There are lots of things happening in our neighborhood this Spring. If you are planning to join us at browngrotta arts’ Spring exhibition (and we hope you are) there are some stops of note you can make along the way. Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists runs from April 29 to May 7, at browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut. Here are some additional destinations to add to your trip.

Wordplay installation Flinn Gallery Greenwich Library
photo by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Bark, work by John McQueen and Gyöngy Laky.  browngrotta arts has partnered with the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. You’ll see forty-plus works by these talented and innovative artists.

Black Art in America

The Bruce Museum, is featuring Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America, which explores how Black artists of our time critically engage with the past and present. The Bruce is located in downtown Greenwich at 1 Museum Drive.

Rainbow in the Dark
photo courtesy Jenna Bascom Photography

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Westport presents Rainbow in the Dark, a solo exhibition by German contemporary artist Anselm Reyle. Anselm Reyle’s best-known works include his foil and strip paintings and his sculptures. Remnants of consumer society, discarded materials, symbols of urbanity, and industrial change play a central role in his works. MoCA is at 19 Newtown Turnpike.

The Glass House
photo by Tom Grotta

New Canaan:
The iconic Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a National Trust Historic Site located in New Canaan. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises 14 structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture. Advance reservations are recommended. The Glass House is at 199 Elm Street.

The Shed
photo by Tom Grotta

If you come to browngrotta arts April 29th or 30th, or May 3-6th, you may be able to visit the Kudos Shed that features an exhibition of work by Robert Longo. The concept is that of Fernando Luis Alvarez, the owner of the Alvarez Gallery, which we learned about from an interview with Alvarez in Good Morning Wilton. The Kudos Shed is in Wilton’s historic Cannondale area. Reservations are recommended.

Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning installation. Photo by Tom Grotta
photo by Tom Grotta

We look forward to seeing you at our spring “Art in the Barn” exhibition in Wilton. Details are below.
Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning Artists
browngrotta arts
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897
Artist Reception and Opening: April 29, from 11am to 6 pm
Remaining Days
Sunday, April 30th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Monday, May 1st – Saturday, May 6th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM [Final Day] (40 visitors/ hour)

Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

Hope you can have an art adventure this spring!

Reserve a spot here: RESERVE

Mapmatics: Maps as Elements in Art

Detail:  Next Year in Jerusalem, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered maps of Jerusalem, 48" x 28" unframed, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.
Detail: Next Year in Jerusalem, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered maps of Jerusalem, 48″ x 28″ unframed, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.

“Many artists have used maps to tell wide-ranging stories about conflict, migration, identity, and social, cultural, or political networks,” notes the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Maps, Borders and Networks). “While we often regard maps as objective representations, they are in fact laden with subjective views of the world. And maps change over time. Borders and boundaries are constantly in flux, shifting with wars and politics and in response to changes in international relations.” Numerous names have been suggested for various strains of this intersection: “psychogeography,” “locative media,” “experimental geography,” “site specific art,” “new genre public art,””critical cartography,” and “critical spatial practices.” (Art and Cartography online). We coined “mapmatics” and we like it. Like the study of math, it suggests an abstract view of number, quantity, and space taken by maps in art. Like math, mapmatics may be studied in its own right or as applied in collage or sculpture. 

NY Street Map Collage, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered New York street maps
NY Street Map Collage, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered New York street maps, 29″ x 40″, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta

Toshio Sekiji of Japan, for example, uses maps to explore the merge of cultures in collage/weavings — as well as repurposed newspapers and book pages. His works have included weavings of maps of New York streets, and the subway system and of Jerusalem where ancient and modern cultures collide. “New stories are created atop the old,” he says, by reading the strips of papers and the areas he has enhanced, by selection and sometimes with lacquer. When the strips are woven, the result is a tapestry of almost-symbols, a tapestry that vanishes at the border of meaning.

I Am Here, Marion Hildebrandt
I Am Here, Marion Hildebrandt, Napa Valley topographical maps and ash strips, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta.

In I Am Here, the late Marian Hildebrandt makes a personal statement about her artistic identity. Hildebrandt gathered materials for her baskets and structures exclusively from riverbeds, ravines, meadows, and woods near her home in Napa Valley, California. That process is reflected in her use of a topographical map of Napa to create this work.

Ladakh I, Chris Drury, woven maps of Leh region of Himalayas and Karakoram, together with earth rubbed paper from the same area pressed into a bowl shape and set into a paper square painted with watercolor and rubbed with charcoal, mounted on hardboard and backed with timber, 48″ x 48″ x 5″, 1997-98. Photo by Tom Grotta.  

Chris Drury uses maps — preprinted and hand drawn — as a “schematic way of mapping place and experience.” In Ladakh I, he has mixedEarth-pigmented paper and maps woven into a convex bowl, mounted into paper covered board with blue water color and charcoal to document a trip there.

Crossing and Recrossing the Rivers of Iceland, Chris Drury, handwritten text in ink, on canvas backed peat impregnated paper. 74.75" x 30.625" x 2.625", 2003
Crossing and Recrossing the Rivers of Iceland, Chris Drury, handwritten text in ink, on canvas backed peat impregnated paper. 74.75″ x 30.625″ x 2.625″, 2003

In Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland, Drury used hand-written text in ink, on canvas-backed, peat-impregnated paper, to list and repeat all the rivers crossed on a six-day walk from Porsmork to Landmanalauga. “My friend Phil,” Drury explains, “a climber who had developed a heart condition, came with me on this walk. On the fourth day we were hit by a storm and waited out the night in a hut. Anchoring Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland is a satellite image of that storm. The following day, we started for the next hut, crossed a cold river and climbed 2000 feet to a snow-covered plateau where the storm returned. Phil, who was cold and tired, announced he wasn’t going to make it.” He was, in fact, having a heart attack – his heart was shutting down. He swallowed pills, given him by his doctor for just such an emergency, which saved his life and made it to the hut. “The double vortex in Crossing and Re-Crossing is a pattern called a ‘Cardiac Twist,’ ” Drury says, “a term referring to blood flows in the heart. The storm we were caught in had that same pattern.” 

Migration, antique wooden shoe form, thread, map pins, maps: McNally’s System of Geography, 1868; Swinton’s Elementary Geography, 1875, 9.5 x 3 x 3.25 in, 2022. Photo by Carole Kunstadt.

By contrast, Carole Kunstadt, a collagist, painter, book arts and fiber artist, maps a more metaphysical journey. By combining disparate found objects, ephemera, antique maps, and illustrations she aims to present new levels of involvement. “Beyond the experience of a specific space/time, we are brought to other places, fantasies and experiences through these combinations,” she writes. Such imaginings include the whimsical map-wrapped foot that makes up Migration, which leaves the viewer wondering where has it been and where it is going. Kunstadt’s work is currently on display at the Olive Free Library in West Shokan, New York in cARTography: alternate routes, through May 6th. “By altering the context, format, and purpose of a map,” the curator explains, “this group of ten artists presents a diversity of approaches that are thought provoking and visually exciting.” 

Want to learn more? Visit Maps as Art an online exhibition at the University of Michigan or MoMA Learning: Maps, Borders, and Networks.

Rhonda Brown

Art Assembled – New this Week in March

March has been an exciting month for browngrotta arts, as we continue to bring you the latest and greatest in contemporary art. Our team has been working hard to prepare for the upcoming spring exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, which will be launching on April 29 and running until May 7. As part of our New This Week feature, we have had the pleasure of introducing you to some of the remarkable art from Anneke Klein, Naomi Kobayashi, Shoko Fukuda, and Nancy Koenigsberg.

Each artist has a unique vision and artistic approach that we are thrilled to showcase. We invite you to take a closer look at the inspiring works of these artists and learn more about their creative processes. And, of course, we can’t wait for you to experience some of these artists in person at our upcoming exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists.

Anneke Klein
4akl Non Verbal, Anneke Klein, cotton, linen, hemp, acrylic paint, 28.75″ x 28.75″, 2020. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We are thrilled to introduce you to the captivating work of Anneke Klein, a Dutch artist who creates thought-provoking weavings that explore social themes. This month, we invited you all to view her work, Non Verbal, which is a stunning example of her ability to express her emotional responses to the world through diverse shapes, textures, and structures.

Klein’s creative process is guided by instinct and intuition, resulting in works that are deeply personal and reflective of her experiences. She continually investigates and translates her emotions and perceptions, aiming to stimulate social awareness in both herself and her viewers.

Through her weaving, Klein creates a sensory experience that captures the complexity of social dynamics. Her work evokes a range of emotions and interpretations, prompting viewers to consider the nuances of human relationships and interactions.

Naomi Kobayashi
66nko Cubic Harmony III, Naomi Kobayashi, koyori thread, washi paper, 5″ x 5″ x 5″, 1995. Photos by Tom Grotta.

Continuing our exploration of contemporary art, we turned our attention to the striking work of Naomi Kobayashi, a Japanese textile and sculpture artist with over 50 years of experience. Her work reflects her deep understanding of the ephemeral nature of life and her belief in the cycles of birth, growth, decay, and regeneration that shape our world.

The featured artwork, Cubic Harmony III, is a masterful installation that uses threads and strips of washi paper to create a delicate and intricate structure. Her meticulous technique involves layering and weaving the paper strips to produce a three-dimensional effect that plays with light and shadow. Through these methods, she creates an immersive experience that invites viewers to contemplate the beauty and fragility of existence.

What sets much of Kobayashi’s work apart is her use of calligraphy to add depth and meaning to her installations. She skillfully incorporates Japanese characters into many of her pieces, using them as a visual language to convey ideas and emotions. With Cubic Harmony III, she infuses her work with a sense of harmony and balance that echoes the natural world.

Shoko Fukuda
5sf Traced Contour II, Shoko Fukuda, ramie, monofilament, plastic, 6.5″ x 17″ x 3.5″, 2022 Photo by Tom Grotta.

In the month’s artistic journey, we had the pleasure of showcasing the unique work of Shoko Fukuda. If you don’t already know by now, Fukuda is a talented Japanese basketmaker and artist. Fukuda’s approach to basket weaving is centered around the concept of “distortion,” a theme she explores in her art by selecting materials and methods that allow for natural twists and turns to develop.

Her use of these elements creates a fascinating exploration of the possibilities inherent in basketry, resulting in stunning works of art such as Traced Contour II. Fukuda’s attention to detail and willingness to embrace the organic forms of her materials results in works that are both visually striking and thought-provoking.

Nancy Koenigsberg
73nk Wrap, Nancy Koenigsberg, steel wire, 63″ x 17″ x 17″, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta.

To wrap up our March art showcase, we present the captivating wire sculptures of Nancy Koenigsberg, a New York-based artist who has been recognized internationally.

Koenigsberg finds inspiration for her art in the bustling city streets that surround her, and she uses a variety of industrial materials like copper, steel, and aluminum wire to create intricate pieces that showcase the interplay between strength and delicacy. Her sculptures are a testament to the beauty of urban landscapes and the art that can be found within them.

We hope you enjoyed this look into some the incredible contemporary artists we represent – some, including Anneke Klein and Nancy Koengsberg will be on display at our upcoming exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists. If you’re in the area, we encourage you to come and experience these works of art in person. The exhibition will run from April 29 to May 7. For more information on Acclaim! or to register, click here.

Wordplay Opens Next Week!

Wordplay Header Graphic
153L Then 2012 , Gyöngy Laky, ash, commercial wood, paint, screws, 19” x 19”, 2012; 62jm The Other Side of the Moon, John McQueen, white pine bark and vine, 32″ x 18″ x 14″, 1992. Photo by Tom Grotta

It’s just one week until the opening of Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Barkpresented by browngrotta arts and the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT.  WordPlay highlights the work of Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen, artists known for innovative sculptures made of twigs and bark deftly combined with manmade materials. The works in Wordplay involve visual puns and puzzles, text and symbols that delighted viewers will want to decode. Both artists use materials found in nature in combination with unexpected manmade elements to create baskets and other recognizable forms, such as words, symbols, books, and animal and human figures. 

Gyöngy Laky in her studio
Gyöngy Laky in her studio. Photos by Tom Grotta

Textile artist and sculptor Gyöngy Laky (b. 1944) has been described as a “wood whisperer.” Her highly individual, puzzle-like assemblages of wood and found objects have helped to propel the growth of the modern fiber-arts movement. Laky is known for contemporary basketmaking, large, 3-dimensional letters, words, and symbols, and indoor and outdoor installations. She uses organic materials like apple branches and orchard trimmings and combines them with manufactured materials, such as screws, wire, zip-ties, golf tees, toothpicks, and coffee stirrers. Laky considers herself an “artist participant” and comments upon environmental and political issues that are of concern to her.

John McQueen in his studio
John McQueen in his studio. Photos by Tom Grotta

Sculptor John McQueen (b. 1943) uses willow, bamboo, birch bark, waxed string, found objects and manmade materials to create life-like animal and human images, and objects such as baskets and books that incorporate woven text. Nearly all of his works employ traditional basketmaking techniques, which he learned at Pueblo reservations in New Mexico in the 1970s. Some of McQueen’s sculptures and wall art images include flattened and cut pieces of plastic bottles, which he uses to comment on the relationship between the natural and manmade world. All of the letters and symbols in his books, baskets, and wall text pieces form words and messages, some obvious and others that lead to “ah-ha” moments when properly deciphered. 

Wordplay graphic with work by both artists
131L Deviation, Gyöngy Laky, apple, acrylic paint, screws, 30” x 60” x 2.5”, 2020; 58jm Scoundrels’ Chronicles, John McQueen, twigs, waxed twine (Pigeon, Starling, Vulture, Sparrow, Crow, Blue Jay), 4″ x 19″ x 19″ (closed), 1992. Photos by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches & Bark will include more than 50 sculptures by these two innovative artists. There are elements of wit, whimsy, and fantasy in many of the pieces, leaving visitors both awed and amused. All of the works on display are for sale and the proceeds go to the Friends of the Greenwich Library to support public programming for patrons of all ages.

Wordplay graphic with work by both artists
143L Equivoque, Gyöngy Laky, various prunings, dowels, 17” x 17” x 3” , 2004; 60jm Spekigntungs, John McQueen, willow, waxed string, 92″ x 109″, 2004. Photos by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Bark coincides with Earth Day. Laky and McQueen are deeply concerned with the state of the world – environmentally, politically, and socially. Laky will participate in an Online Artist Talk on April 20th at 7 pm EST. McQueen will be at the Flinn Gallery for an Artist Talk on April 30th at 2 pm. The exhibition is accessible for people of all ages and will include hands-on activities for children, such as a materials “touch box” and “I Spy” and word search puzzles for various skill levels. Find more details below: 

M, T, W, F, Sa 10 am – 5 pm Th 10 am – 8 pm
Su 1 pm – 5 pm

Thursday, March 30, 6 – 8 pm

Saturday, April 15, 2 pm – Tom Grotta – Walkthrough
Thursday, April 20, Online, 7 pm – Gyöngy Laky – Artist Talk
Saturday, April 30, 2 pm – John McQueen – Artist Talk

Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Second Floor 101 West Putnam Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 203.622.7947.

RESERVATIONS (Not required but recommended) 
Reservations for the artist talks and walkthrough are recommended but not required: EventBrite.