Monthly archives: April, 2012

25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Naoko Serino

4ns Generating-4 detail, Naoko Serino, photo by Tom Grotta

At SOFA NY browngrotta arts will present two dramatic works of jute by Japanese artist Naoko Serino. “Jute is attractive as it is, transient but also solid,” explains Serino. “Transforming jute into a fibrous material, I feel that the possibilities of expression have opened up and been induced, and eventually a three-dimensional expression is born, containing both light and air.” In creating  Generating-3, which will be displayed at SOFA New York, Serino was inspired by a Philodendron selloum bud and flower that she tended for 22 years before it bloomed, for just one day. Serino was taken by its strength and beauty.

4ns Generating-4, Naoko Serino, jute, 39″ x 39″ x 6.5″, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta

Generating-4, a standalone sculpture of jute that is more than three feet high will also be displayed at SOFA NY. “When my inner memory is stimulated,” Serino says, “I turn the fundamental illusion into a ‘shape’ and  I am able to enjoy interacting with shapes far beyond my imagination.” Serino’s’s work was included in the Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition which traveled from Japan to the Japan Society in New York last year. her work has also appeared in the Museum Rijswijk,  Haag, the Netherlands; Kajima Ki Building, Tokyo, Japan; Church of San Francesco, Como, Italy; Musée des Beaux Arts, Tournai, Belgium;  Gwangju Art Museum,Korea;  Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China;  Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan; Urasoe Museum, Okinawa, Japan;  and St. Amandsberg Chapel, Ghent, Belgium.


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Hisako Sekijima

Intersection IV detail by Hisako Sekijima, photo by Tom Grotta

Japanese artist Hisako Sekijima is one of the 25 that browngrotta arts will promote at SOFA New York this year.   Sekijima has led the sculptural-basketry movement in Japan through her experimentation. She has expanded beyond her mastery of traditional techniques to offer new approaches to volume, mass, and space and new insights on the work of earlier times and ancient peoples. As Nancy More Bess has observed, Sekijima  is one of a distinguished few fiber artists, like Arai, Larsen, Liebes, McQueen, Rossbach–  who can be acclaimed as having changed perspectives on fiber.( “Hisako Sekijima: Explorer of Fiber Boundaries,” Nancy Moore Bess, Fiberarts, Summer 2002), “Sekijima has moved against popular current for more than 20 years…” Bess wrote.

523hs Intersection IV, Hisako Sekijima, walnut, plaited14.5″€ x 19″€ x 3.75″€, 2006, photo by Tom Grotta

“She was the exception–in Western terms, the renegade. Although now respected by many in Japan, sought after as adviser and authority, she remains outside the formal hierarchy of traditional basketry there. Her recognition, for now, comes from other highly regarded artists, her former students, collectors who earnestly vie for her newest work, gallery owners, and art authorities (including Jack Lenor Larsen, Rupert Faulkner, and Janet Koplos).” Sekijima’s work was included in the Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers exhibition which traveled from Japan to the Japan Society in New York last year.  Sekijima’s work has also been exhibited at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan; Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan; Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England; Museum of Arts and Crafts, Hamburg, Germany; Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Japan; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; Academy of Design, Kuopio, Finland and the Bellevue Art Museum, Washington.


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Heidrun Schimmel

Day and Night Detail by Heidrun Schimmel, photo by Tom Grotta

Day and Night by German artist Heidrun Schimmel is one of the works that browngrotta arts will exhibit at SOFA NY in April. Schimmel is interested in the connection between fiber/fabric/textile and the human being. Mythologically, she notes, thread is connected to human existence. Its length and quality are metaphors for the duration and character of our lives, thus the expression, “…hanging by a thread…” Schimmel takes her ideas from the special characteristics of textiles, such as softness, flexibility, fragility. Her  working process is very simple: she stitches by hand using white cotton thread on transparent black silk or cotton fabrics. From the tensions between the multiple thread layers result deformations: the work itself finds its final form through the combination of control and chance.This focus on “material as matter” results in forms that cannot be projected in advance. Day and Night was specifically influenced by the work of Japanese designers Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto whose work has inspired Schimmel since the 1980s.

29hsc Day and Night Heidrun Schimmel, white cotton thread, black transparent silk fabric, 71″€ x 34″€ x 7″€, 1995/2010, photo by Tom Grotta

Schimmel’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues in Europe Asia and the US, including the Institute of Modern Art, Nuremberg, Germany; Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead, England; Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pennsylvania; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York; Sonje Museum of Contemporary Art, Kyongju, Korea; Quinta Isabela Museum, Valencia, Venezuela; Central Museum of Textiles, Lodz, Poland; and the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, England.

25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Lija Rage

Animal, Lija Rage, photo by Tom Grotta

At SOFA NY this April, browngrotta arts will introduce the work of Latvian artist Lija Rage. Rage’s work is influenced by different cultures that she plunges into with the help of literature. Rage says she is  particularly interested in drawings of ancient cultures on the walls of caves in different parts of world; Eastern culture with its mysterious magic, drawings of runes in Scandinavia, Tibet and the mandala, Egyptian pyramid drawings. “World culture,”she says, “seems close and colorful to me due to its diversity.” For Rage’s work Animal, one of two that browngrotta arts will display at SOFA NY, Rage was inspired by prehistoric cave drawings. These drawings illustrate myths, Rage explains, “not only about our past, but about masculine and feminine, about pagans and Christians, about God and good and evil and about the eternal meaning of human existence.” Rage used silk and copper threads in Animal, to illustrate the mystical effect that cave drawings have on her.

Animal, Lija Rage, silk, metallic thread, flax, 46″ x 65″, 2006 photo by Tom Grotta

Rage’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Decorative + Applied Art Museum, Riga, Latvia; Contemporary Art Museum, Liege, Belgium; Cheongju, Korea; Artist Union of Latvia Art Collection, Riga; Art Museum of Oulu, Finland; Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, England; Exhibition Hall Arsenals, State Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia; Beauvais, France; Artist Union Gallery Riga Latvia ; Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallinn, Estonia; Riga Gallery, Latvia; Kaunas, Lithuania; UNESCO Exhibition Hall, Paris, France.
Rage received the Special Prize in the 5th Cheongju International Craft Biennial and the Grand Prix, at the Baltic Applied Art Triennial.

25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Norma Minkowitz

COMPOUND Detail by Norma Minkowitz, photo by Tom Grotta


Norma Minkowitz is one of the 25 artists whose work browngrotta arts will highlight at SOFA NY. Among the works by Minkowitz  that will be displayed is Compound, which illustrates the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Her inspiration for the piece was unexpected, she explains.

45nm Compound, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 70″€ x 54.75″€ x 1.5″€, 2011, photo by Tom Grotta

“I was already working on a wall piece, starting in a spontaneous, unplanned manner 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 Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan that I had recently read about and viewed in a newspaper article. The aerial view of the compound became both a replica of the actual space as well as an imaginary vision that I had.” Minkowitz is a National Endowment of the Arts grant recipient, a Fellow of the American Craft Council and a James Renwick Alliance Master of the Medium. The Alliance describes her as a sculptor, who ” has transformed the traditionally feminine art of crochet into a medium for figurative sculpture. The transparent openness of the crochet allows her to draw in three dimensions to reflect the psychological ideas beneath the surface.” Minkowitz’ work is included in numerous permanaent museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York; De Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, California; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut.

25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: John McQueen

KNOT ANATOMY Detail, John McQueen, photo by Tom Grotta

At SOFA NY, browngrotta arts will  show the work of American artist, John McQueen. The sculptor began exploring abstracted basketforms of natural materials in the 70s. Each of his pieces, is complete in its expression, Elizabeth Broun, then-direcor of the of the National Museum of Art has written “[T]aken together, they constitute a new language capable of telling our most intimate concerns….His genius lies in finding a simple declarative means of speaking about paradox, excesses, and fundamental truth. Today, when abstraction is often found insufficient to our needs, McQueen proves again that abstract form can contain our deepest thoughts.” ( From John McQueen: The Language of Containment, Renwick Gallery of the National Musuem of American Art, 1992, p. 7.) McQueen has received National Endowment for the Arts fellowships  in 1977, 1979 and 1986 and is a Fellow of the American Craft Council. His work is included in a number of permanent museum collections including the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, Smithsonian Institution, New York, New York; Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan;

14jm KNOT ANATOMY, John McQueen, bark tied with string, 13″ x 25″ x 18″, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta

National Museum of Decorative Arts, Trondheim, Norway; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, North Carolina; Museum of Arts & Design, New York, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Racine Art Museum, Racine, Wisconsin; Renwick Gallery, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; and the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut. McQueen creates basket and vessel formsand wall works from materials that he finds near his rural New York State farm, including twigs, bark, flowers, weeds, and vines—anything that comes from the earth.  In other sculptures, he “draws” with sticks, creating three-dimensional letters, books and other forms. Of trees, so significant in many of his works, McQueen has written: When I go to the woods I know I am not a tree…I go to the trees knowing their names…Trees do not know their names…I undo their dimensional reality…I put them to use….


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Sue Lawty

CALCULUS Detail, Sue Lawty

At SOFA NY 2012, browngrotta arts will exhibit stone drawings and weavings of lead and linen by UK artist Sue Lawty. Lawty’s constructed pieces and drawings in two and three dimensions explore repetition and interval in raffia, hemp, linen, lead, stone or shadow.

While an artist in residence at the the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2005, Lawty collaborated on a project “Concealed-Discovered-Revealed” with the theme of structure and landscape. Lawty used the opportunity to explore and extend her textile vocabulary by creating a large site-specific stone drawing Order, that moved beyond the constraints of a frame. The 6-meter linear pieced drawing of fine stones wavered along the wall’s surface, like a woven structure. Eventually, Origin was removed to The Haymarket Hotel in London.

15sl CALCULUS, Sue Lawty, natural stones on gesso, 78.75″ x 118″, 2010

At SOFA NY, browngrotta arts will exhibit a more recent stone drawing by Lawty, Calculus. At first glance, Calculus appears simple — like a painting of many dots of many sizes.  On closer inspection, you realize that the 2 meter by 3 meter surface actually contains hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tiny stones, each smoothed by the sea and hand sorted to create what Emma Crichton-Miller has called a “beautifully choreographed march past the ignored.” Calculus is the Latin word for small stone as well as the name of a branch of mathematics based, like Lawty’s work, on the sum of infinitesimal differences. Lawty’s work  has appeared in numerous exhibitions in the UK and abroad, including the International Triennial of Tapestry in Lodz, Poland; the Bankfield Gallery and Museum in Halifax, UK; the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne, Australia and the Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum in Spokane, Washington.  On Friday, April 20th from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Lawty will present a lecture at SOFA NY, Rock – Linen – Lead,  about her work and her engagement with remote landscape, geology and the passage of time.





25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Gyongy Laky

DRY LAND DRIFTER Detail, Gyongy Laky, Photo by Tom Grotta

Gyöngy Laky’s sculptures, site-specific outdoor works, typography wall sculptures and vessels are composed of orchard debris and tree prunings, screws, nails, telephone wire or other nontraditional joinery like cable ties, food skewers, toothpicks and golf tees. Laky admits to a fascination with simple, improvisational constructions and architecture, such as scaffolding and fences. Her provocative works lead viewers to question what is and what is not waste in a throwaway culture —

115L DRY LAND DRIFTER, Gyongy Laky, dead tree, bullets for building, 32″ x 22″ 22″, 2010, photo by Tom Grotta

from the environment to war dead. At SOFA 2012, browngrotta arts will exhibit two of Laky’s works, including Dry Land Drifter, which is composed of dead tree baranches and bullets for building. Laky is a Fellow of the American Craft Council. Her work is in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California, the Smithsonian’s Renwick Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the  Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin.


25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Lawrence LaBianca

The Strong Are Saying Nothing DETAIL, PHOTO BY TOM GROTTA

Lawrence LaBianca wants “to be the blacksmith of the future.” His sculptures are both abstract and narrative, combining the natural, like branches,twigs and stones, and the manmade, including glass and metal  hinges and pulleys, in intriguing ways that create insightful messages about out role in the natural world. In The Strong Are Saying Nothing, one of two works by LaBianca that browngrotta arts will exhibit at SOFA NY 2012, the artist was influenced by the work of Robert Frost and by toy push puppets that become animated through kinetic activity.

5lb The Strong Are Saying Nothing Lawrence LaBianca, oak, steel, modified winch, steel cable102” x 32” x 24.5”, 2011, photo by Tom Grotta.

The result was an animated tree of oak, steel, cable and a modified winch, that requires the viewer to consider ideas of taming, manipulation, innocence and constraint. LaBianca just finished an artist’s residency at Anderson Ranch in Colorado. He is an Adjunct Professor at the California College of the Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; Craft and Folk Museum, San Francisco, California; Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, Massachusetts; Virginia Groot Foundation Visual Perspectives, Chicago, Illinois; Bucheon Gallery, San Francisco, California; Oliver Arts Center, Oakland, California; Richmond Art Center, California; Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, California; Bitters Gallery, Seattle, Washington.

25 at 25 at SOFA NY Countdown: Luba Krejci

Luba Krejci Thread Drawing, photo by Tom Grotta

At SOFA NY 2012, browngrotta arts will present two thread drawings from the 1970s by Czechoslovokian artist Luba Krejci (1925-2005).

Krejci was an extremely diversified artist who made lace, embroidered and printed textiles, created tapestries, straw figures, wickerwork and children’s clothing. She made handbags and hats and exhibited extensively in Europe, Canada, the United States, Japan, Russia, Argentina and New Zealand.

THREAD DRAWING, Luba Krejci, 18.5″ x 18, photo by Tom Grotta

Her most significant contribution to field of textile history, however, was her adaptation of the traditional needle and bobbin lace, to create a technique that she called nitak or “little threaded one,” which enabled her to draw with thread,  She generally created her pieces in black linen thread but white, red and light brown examples also exist. At SOFA, browngrotta arts will have examples of works in black and brown.

Krejci’s work is in numerous public collections, including those ofThe Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czechoslovakia; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, theNetherlands; Museum Bellerive, Lausanne, Switzerland; Slovak National Gallery, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York; Museum of Applied Arts, Brno, Czechoslovakia and the Czech
Ministry of Culture, Prague, Czechoslovakia.