Monthly archives: April, 2023

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