Monthly archives: October, 2011

Spinning Straw Into Gold: ACC Gold Medalists and Fellows at SOFA Chicago and Online

5R CEDAR EXPORT BUNDLE. Ed Rossbach, plaited cedar bark from Washington state with heat transfer drawing, waxed linen, rayon and rags, 5.5″ x 11″ x 9″, 1993, ©Tom Grotta, 2011

This year at SOFA Chicago (November 4-6) the American Craft Council (ACC) will recognize 28 artists who have been awarded an ACC Gold Medal between 1994 and 2010 in a display at the Navy Pier, curated by Michael Monroe. The ACC awards recognize those who have demonstrated outstanding artistic achievement and leadership in the field for 25 years or more.  Since 1981, the ACC has selected just under four dozen artists working in Fiber to receive a Gold Medal for consummate craftsmanship and/or join its College of Fellows.  We’ve mounted an online exhibition of 21 these artists on our website,, under Awards. Many of these artists are featured in the catalogs published by browngrotta arts and in the videos and other publications we offer. Works by Fellows and Medalists  Adela Akers, Dorothy Gill Barnes , Lia Cook, Helena Hernmarck, Gyöngy Laky, John McQueen and Norma Minkowitz are featured in our current exhibition,  Stimulus: art and its inceptionEnjoy the show.


Press News: Stimulus: art and its inception — our 40th catalog now available

Stumulus catalog front and back covers

We are very (and this will date me) jazzed about our 40th catalog, Stimulus: art and its inception. It’s a departure for us, not in the variety of artists and number of countries represented — sculpture, ceramics, art textiles and mixed media by 55 artists from 14 countries — but in what’s new — images and statements designed to give readers a sense of each artist’s creative process. For each of the pieces highlighted in exhibition, the process of finding an image to illustrate the genesis  — whether an event, an object, an emotion, a place —  and of working with the artists to share something of that process in words, was stimulating for Tom and me.  We were also energized by working with Jane Milosch, Director, Provenance Research Initiative, Smithsonian Institution, and former curator, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, who writes about creativity and its embodiment in this exhibition in the introductory essay.

Stimulus Catalog: Norma Minkowitz Compound with Stimulus

The stimuli identified by the artists in this catalog is diverse. Current events, like the earthquake in Japan and global warming, inspired some of the artists,  including Norma Minkowitz, whose stitched wall work, Compound, illustrates the attack on Osama Bin Laden. “I began in a spontaneous, unplanned manner,” Minkowitz explains, “arranging lines and subtle patterns, until I had a feeling of the direction it would take. Suddenly the linear image took on the apparition of an aerial view of the compound that I had seen in a newspaper article. Compound combines a replica of the space and my vision of the event.”

Mcqueen, Bess, LaBianca, Serino, Henriksen, Akers, Bijlenga, Hunt, Walker

Several artists, including John McQueen, Nancy Moore Bess, Lawrence La Bianca and Naoko Serino of Japan, have taken Nature as their inspiration. In Serino’s case, Generating-3 was inspired by a Philodendron selloum, which she tended for 22 years before it finally bloomed. Others were inspired by the efforts of previous artists.  Ane Henriksen of Denmark, considered the work of coverlet makers from the 1800s; Adela Akers‘ work references Mbuti designs from Africa. Palimpsest 1, a wall piece by Marian Bijlenga, of the Netherlands, was composed by following the pinholes on the walls of Dutch masterweaver Herman Scholten’s studio to recreate the nearly erased surface.
Still other artists looked to their immediate surroundings. Trio 4, a sculpture of twine and newspaper by Kate Hunt, was inspired by the goats who share her studio. Echoed Surface, an energy-charged object by Randy Walker, was made from a charred and deformed badminton racquet that he found near his home;  Re-Tire,  is a basket Dona Anderson created from a tire chain she found by the roadside.
The catalog is 140 pages and contains 197 color photographs.  It can be purchased on our website:


Don’t Miss: Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers at the Japan Society in New York

Naomi Kobayashi, Kyoko Kumai and Takaaki Tanaka installation

We had the chance to attend the opening of Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition last month (which coincided with the addition of the Japan Society’s headquarters to the Landmark Preservation Commission’s roster of buildings in New York)
programs/gallery. The exhibition is significant in scale — 15 artists, some with room-size installations — and in the comprehensive portrait it provides of the practice of textile art in Japan today. The materials, techniques and sensibility of the pieces varies widely. “During the past decade,” writes in her essay for the exhibition catalog,  Hiroko Watanabe, a professor at Tama Art University and one of the participants in the exhibition, “the unique softness and flexibility of fabric — qualities shared by no other material — have inspired these artists to move beyond mere mastery to create daring, original works that hold the promise of still more impressive advances in the years to come.” There are five related lectures and workshops coming up in November and December:

Mastermind in Textile: An Evening with Dai Fujiwara
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30 PM;
Free-Form Saori Weaving Workshop
Sunday, November 20, 10 AM
Sunday, November 20, 1 PM
Irresistible Colors: Shibori-Dyeing Workshop
Saturday, December 3, 1 PM
Nature’s Inspiration: Embroidery Workshop
Saturday, December 10, 1 PM
Nature’s Inspiration: Embroidery Workshop
Saturday, December 10, 1 PM
All at the   Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, New York (212) 832-1155.

If you cannot get to New York, or you just want to learn more, there is a catalog, Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers, produced by Yale University and available from browngrotta arts
. There’s also a free Fiber Futures app with images and artist statements, and a video tour by Nihon NY,  on the exhibition, Episode 18,

Make a Day of It! Stimulus and Other Art Events Nearby

If you plan to come to Wilton between October 22nd and November 1st for Stimulus: art and its inception, consider adding a stop at one of our other local art venues to your trip. There are several exhibitions to choose from — all within 20 minutes of browngrotta arts:

Jessica Stockholder, Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood (partial installation view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield), 2011 Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Jessica Stockholder: Hollow Places Court in Ash-Tree Wood, a collaboration of sculptor Jessica Stockholder, cabinetmaker Clifford Moran and screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein utilizing the wood from a ailing 100-year old ash tree from the Aldrich’s grounds.
258 Main Street, Ridgefield
Tuesday – Sunday, 12 pm to 5 pm.

Norma Minkowitz at her New Cannan Library Opening

New Canaan Library

Drawn to the Edge: Sculpture and Drawings by Norma Minkowitz
151 Main Street, New Canaan
Monday -Thursday 9 am – 8 pm; Friday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; Sundays 12 pm – 5 pm

Silvermine Arts Guild, Joe Saccio, Elegy for Clint, Homage for Motherwell, Wood, 6′ x 3′ x 14″

Silvermine Arts Guild

Memory and Metamorphosis, an exhibit of sculptural works in a variety of sizes and materials, including wood, paper and fiber bindings, by Joseph Saccio.
Discovered Masterworks: The Extraordinary Collages of Larry Lewis, the Director’s Choice exhibit that features works by reclusive artist, Larry Lewis, as seen in the collage books that he began in the late 60s and continued to produce until his death in 2004.
1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan
Sunday: 1 pm – 5 pm; Monday -Tuesday: By Appointment; Wednesday-Saturday: 12 pm – 5 pm

Westport Arts Center

Love: In The Eye Of The Beholder, a members exhibition juried by David Kiehl of the Whitney Art Museum
51 Riverside Avenue, Westport
Monday – Friday, 10 am – 4 pm; Saturday – Sunday 12 pm – 4 pm

Update: Books Make Great Gifts 2010

Last December, in our who’s-reading-what survey, artist Kyomi Iwata selected Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 as the best book she read in 2010. (Lena McGrath Welker also selected Haruki Murakami, in her case, Kafka on the Shore , as her favorite read for 2010.) At the time, 1Q84 had yet to be translated into English, but there’s good news.  A massive volume (944 pages) will be released in an English translation on October 25, 2011. From Amazon, the book is: “A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.”