Monthly archives: October, 2021

Dispatches: Norwalk, New Canaan, Ridgefield, CT

Norwalk Art Space. Photo by Tom Grotta

When our in-person exhibition of Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences closed earlier this month, we headed out to enjoy some art-related activities in our neck of the words. First stop, the new Norwalk Art Space. The vision of the late-Alexandra Davern Korry, a trailblazing M &A lawyer, educator, civil rights advocate, and philanthropist. Korry wanted to create a space that would serve as a free hub for the arts, promoting under-represented local artists, enhancing educational opportunities for under-served students, and providing the public a welcoming space to enjoy art and music.  The former church has been transformed into an attractive and light-filled gallery and features the exceptional Art Space Cafe which provides foods from local vendors like Hoodoo Brown Barbecue, Darien Cheese Shop and Cloudy Lane Bakery. We enjoyed the work of Robert Cottingham on exhibit through October 21st, and look forward to seeing what’s next.

Views of Grace Farms, New Canaan, CT. Photos by Tom Grotta.

Next stop: Grace Farms in New Canaan which was established with the idea that space communicates and can inspire people to collaborate for good. To realize this vision, Grace Farms Foundation set out to create a multipurpose building nestled into the existing habitat that would enable visitors to experience nature, encounter the arts, pursue justice, foster community, and explore faith. Approximately 77 of the 80 acres are being preserved in perpetuity as open meadows, woods, wetlands, and ponds. The architect SANAA’s goal was to make the sensuous River building become part of the landscape without drawing attention to itself. 

Temporal Shift by Alison Shotz and a view from the walking paths at Grace Farms in New Canaan, CT. Photos by Tom Grotta.

We enjoyed the architecture and the artwork, particularly Temporal Shift by Alyson Shotz, a site-responsive sculpture that reacts with natural light, but nature is the big star here. The walking paths are expansive— rocks, ponds and cattails. The property can accommodate large crowds — in many spots, we felt as if we had the paths to ourselves.

Tim Prentice, Stainless Steel Banner, 2009, in the sculpture garden of the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We also took in an opening at the The Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield. We went, in particular, to see Karla Knight: Navigator. Knight has spent the last 40 years creating an impressive body of work that spans painting, drawing and photography, including a body of work she calls, “tapestries” which include reclaimed cotton cut from circa 1940s–50s seed and grain bags purchased on eBay. We wound up, however, most impressed by Hugo McCloud: from where I stand, curated by Richard Klein. McCloud’s career, says the museum, has been defined by “restless experimentation, an ongoing engagement with process, an exploration of the value of labor, a concern with disparities in social and racial economics, and with the nature of beauty.” He has integrated roofing metal, tar, and most recently single-use plastic shopping bags into his canvases in truly fascinating ways.

Hugo McCloud works, the Aldrich Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Also on view at the museum is Tim Prentice: After the Mobile | Outdoor Installation and a painter, Elise Tarver, whose exuberantly colorful works we liked a lot.Adrienne Elise Tarver: The Sun, the Moon, and the Truth.


Artist Focus: Tamiko Kawata

TAmiko Kawata portrait
Tamiko Kawata at SOFA NY exhibition. Photo by Tom Grotta

At first glance, Tamiko Kawata’s work is elegant and engaging. On closer inspection, viewers grow more intrigued as they recognize the materials are unexpected — safety pins, rubber bands, used pantyhose and newspaper. She has created arresting jewelry, sculpture, “painting” on canvas and installations. “I like to use overlooked, indigenous objects from our daily life for my medium,” she explains. “Discarded materials are important to me not only for environmental issues but also to reflect my current life.” Kawata studied art in Japan, receiving her BFA in Sculpture at Tsukuba University.  She explains that she was influenced by Bauhaus and Dada, and then the emergence of the Gutai Group, a Japanese avant-garde movement that began in 1954. All three art philosophies were particularly interested in unconventional materials. “These philosophies became a foundation for my way of thinking and for my art-making direction,” she says. In 1962, when she was 26, she came to New York, where she continues to live. 

While Kawata has made large works of newpapers and pantyhose, she is perhaps best known for her works made of safety pins. On arriving in the US, Kawata needed them to make her American-sized clothes fit. She found the pins

Rain Forset Installation
Rain Forest Photo courtesy of the artist.

in abundance in a dime store and has explored their potential as an art material ever since. The extent of that potential is surprising. Kawata has used pins of different size and colors to create dramatic installation works, like Rain Forest in which chains of pins that end in circles on the floor recall a rippling pond in Kyoto and the victims of the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. “I wanted to connect this beauty of nature and the atomic bomb victims,”
 she has explained. She uses the pins to create standalone sculptures of all shapes that can be displayed indoors or out.  She uses them to “draw” on canvas, too.

Saftey pin canvas
19tk Stillness Within, Tamiko Kawata, saftey pins, acrylic on canvas, 42″ x 48″, 2002-2004. Photo by Tom Grotta

Works like Stillness Within, surprise viewers who think they are looking at a painting or drawing but as they draw nearer that the artist’s “marks” are actually intentionally placed safety pins.

safety pin canvas
36tk Permutation 7, Tamiko Kawata, Japanese safety pins, canvas on a wood board 32” x 29.5” x 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

In Permutation 7, pins of different colors create a meditative mosaic. 

saftey pin sculpture
32tk Cactus, Tamiko Kawata , saftey pin, stainless steel wire, 16” x 18” x 17”, 2013. Photo by Tom Grotta

Kawata’s work is in numerous collections, including: Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York; Honolulu Contemporary Art Museum, Hawaii; Ishiguro Art Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Lafcadio Hearn/Yakumo Koizumi Art Museum, Matsue, Japan; Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, New York; Yusuke Aida Collection, Tokyo, Japan; Davis Brody & Bond Architects, New York, New York; Ishiguro Art Collection, Tokyo, Japan; LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, New York; PREC Institute, Tokyo, Japan; Buenno Premesela Art Collection, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including the Ucross Art Residency; American Academy for Arts and Letters, 2015 Purchase Award; Meet Factory Art Foundation Award,Solo Show and Residency, Prague, Czechoslovokia; Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant; McDowell Art Colony Residency and the Yaddo Art Colony, Louise Bourgeois Residency Award for Sculpture.

Safety pin installation
August Grove by Tamiko Kawata. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“My works are personal.” she says. “They are my visual diaries.”


Textile Happenings in the UK

October heralds the British Textile Biennial. You can download a guide to exhibitions, workshops and related events throughout the UK: https://britishtextilebiennial.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/BTB21-Whats-On-Guide-web.pdf. Among events of note: a solo exhibition of work by Caroline Bartlett, a group exhibition, Connected Cloth, featuring the 62 Group of Textile Artists and Sharon Brown’s, Stitched Stories, at the Queen Street Mill.

CAROLINE BARTLETT
Stilled by Caroline Bartlett installed at Salts Mill. Photo by Caroline Bartlett.

CAROLINE BARTLETT: A Restless Dynamic
Through December 11, 2021
Crafts Study Centre
University for the Creative Arts
Falkner Road
Farnham, Surrey GU9 7DS UK
T +44 (0) 1252 891450
https://www.csc.uca.ac.uk

Caroline Bartlett’s practice is driven by questions – for example around the tensions between personal recollection and the public ways of remembrance and the potential of materials and objects to trigger recollection and association. In this exhibition, curated by Professor Lesley Millar, Director of the International Textile Research Centre, Bartlett will be showing new work exploring ideas around continuity and change as a concept. While her response to the collection of the Crafts Study Centre started with the notion of investigating the work of Lucie Rie, this process was disrupted by the onset of the Covid Pandemic, leading her to reflect on the “ecology” of practice as it shifts between continuity and change, deliberate or otherwise and the indeterminates that destabilize the context of production. Included in the exhibition is Stilled which she made as a site-sensitive response to the Spinning Room at Salts Mill for the exhibition Cloth and Memory.

Fragment by Caren Garfen
Fragment by Caren Garfen in the Connected Cloth exhibition.

Connected Cloth: exploring the global nature of textiles
Through November 28, 2021
The Whitaker
Haslingden Road
Lancashire BB4 6RE UK
Tel: 01706260785 
Email: info@thewhitaker.org 

The theme of this year’s event by the, 62 Group of Textile Artists 

(http://www.62group.org.uk) focuses on the global context of textiles, textile production and the relationships textiles create both historically and now. The 62 Group is a highly regarded artists exhibiting group that aims to challenge the boundaries of textile practice through an ambitious and innovative annual program of exhibitions. Membership of the group is nternational and currently includes artists from Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, South Africa and USA. In Connected Cloth, members of the 62 Group have created new artworks that investigate this theme from a wide range of viewpoints and in divergent textile media, challenging viewers to consider the role that textile plays in all our lives and the many unexpected ways we find connection through cloth.

Sharon Brown Stitched Stories
Detail of work by Sharon Brown, from Sharon Brown: Stitched Stories.

Sharon Brown: Stitched Stories
Through October 2021
Queen Street Mill Textile Museum
Queen Street 
Burnley, BB10 2HX UK
https://events.lancashire.gov.uk/search/event_details.asp?eventid=10060&q=btb&area=allVenue&venue=Queen+St+Mill+Textile+Museum&daterange=

Sharon Brown presents new work at Queen Street Mill which reimagines found letters and documents connected to the history and workers of Lancashire cotton mills. Using freehand machine embroidery, Sharon celebrates and preserves fragments of the skills, structures and rhythms of generations of often forgotten lives spent working in the textile industry. Drawing with the sewing machine, creating layers of stitch that capture layers of history, these handwritten fragile papers reveal not only personal histories but also glimpses of global events and the social and cultural context in which they were written. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday of BTB21 Sharon will be on-site at Queen Street Mill working with her sewing machine to create a growing display of new textile work.