Monthly archives: September, 2023

Art Assembled – New This Week in September

As September draws to a close, we’re eager to take a look back at the remarkable artworks that have graced our New This Week series during the month. Our focus has been twofold: shining a spotlight on the exceptional talents of Chiyoko Tanaka, Karyl Sisson, Glen Kaufman, and Gary Trentham, while also diligently crafting the final details of our eagerly anticipated exhibition, Vignettes: one venue, three exhibitions.

The excitement has been steadily building as we prepare to unveil this exceptional amalgamation of artistic excellence. Vignettes will offer a trifecta of exhibitions featuring the masterful craftsmanship of wood sculptor Dorothy Gill Barnes, the visionary weaving and surface design of Glen Kaufman, and An Abundance of Objects, a captivating showcase featuring a diverse array of baskets, ceramics, and sculptures crafted by over three dozen talented artists.

Join us as we revisit the highlights from our New This Week features in September, and stay tuned for the grand reveal of Vignettes at browngrotta arts next week, where art and creativity converge in a breathtaking display.

Chiyoko Tanaka
Grinded Fabric #282, Chiyoko Tanaka, handwoven, ground fabric (raw linen, ramie) with brick in plexiglass frame, 41″ x 15.875″ x 2.5″, 1995-1996. Photo by Tom Grotta.

As we ventured into September, our New This Week series kicked off with an exploration of art from Chiyoko Tanaka. Originating from Japan, Tanaka’s journey through the realm of textiles has been nothing short of extraordinary. Her distinctive approach to weaving transforms the very act of creation into a profound meditation on the passage of time.

At the heart of Tanaka’s work lies the meticulous process of weaving, where each weft thread becomes a testament to the moments that have slipped by. Once the cloth is woven, she embarks on a ritualistic “grinding” process, where she rubs the fabric ceaselessly with tools like brick or white stone. This unique technique results in textures that convey not only her artistic prowess but also the essence of time itself.

In the world of contemporary Japanese textiles, Chiyoko Tanaka’s work stands as a testament to the captivating interplay of tradition and innovation. Her art invites us to delve into the very fabric of time and texture, and we are thrilled to have shared her remarkable creations this September.

Karyl Sisson
103ks Red Ticket Faux Pot, Karyl Sisson, paper tickets, 9″ x 7″ x 7″, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.

As September continued to unfold, our spotlight turned towards renowned artist Karyl Sisson. Hailing from Los Angeles, Sisson’s art is an enchanting interplay of tradition and modernity, a fusion of the ordinary and the extraordinary. For over three decades, she has masterfully woven together the fibers of everyday life, breathing new life into discarded materials.

Sisson’s creations are a testament to her ability to find beauty in the overlooked and underappreciated. In her hands, paper straws are transformed into intricate sculptures that echo the patterns of cells and organisms, giving birth to objects that seem to grow organically.

Beyond the surface, Sisson’s work delves into the heart of domesticity and traditional gender roles, inviting us to reconsider the significance of the everyday. Her art isn’t just a celebration of creativity; it’s a profound reflection on our interconnectedness with the materials that surround us.

As we explored Sisson’s captivating creations this September, we were reminded that art can be found in the most unexpected places, awaiting those with the vision to see it. You can see her work in An Abundance of Objects, part of this Fall’s “Art in the Barn” exhibition at browngrotta arts October 7 through the 15th.

Glen Kaufman
013, 027, 094gk Sumi Swish, Stripes and Kasuri by Glen Kaufman. Mixed media/washi, fabric collage
21” x 41” x 2.5” (each), 2010. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Up next, we were privileged to feature the remarkable works of the late, renowned artist Glen Kaufman. Kaufman’s artistic legacy, spanning over four decades, left an indelible mark on the world of surface design. His creations were not just artworks; they were intricate dances between texture, form, and visual storytelling.

Kaufman’s artistic odyssey began with textural weaving and macramé, but his restless creativity led him to explore uncharted territories in the realm of surface design. His innovative approach was a fusion of traditional techniques and contemporary sensibilities, creating sculptural forms that challenged the boundaries of artistic expression. His later works, adorned with photo collages and the application of gold and silver leaf, reflected a profound connection with Japanese aesthetics and architecture, showcasing the global influence on his artistry.

As we celebrated Kaufman’s contributions this September, we were reminded that true artistry knows no boundaries of time or place. We’re honored to continue his legacy by featuring his art in our upcoming exhibition, Glen Kaufman: Elegant Eloquence and of three exhibitions that make up Vignettes!

Gary Trentham
2gt Untitled, Gary Trentham, wood fiber, 9″ x 11″ x 11″. Photo by Tom Grotta.

As we conclude our artistic journey through September, we pay tribute to the late Gary Trentham, a luminary in the realm of woven textiles and fiber sculptures. Trentham’s artistic roots ran deep, nurtured by a childhood fascination with textiles that would later become his creative muse.

Trentham’s distinctive path to artistic prominence is a testament to his passion and dedication. His baskets, with their quiver-like forms, challenged the conventional perception of textiles and sculpture. Trentham’s artistry was a symphony of form and function, where fabric became a malleable medium for his boundless imagination.

We look forward to featuring Trentham’s extraordinary creations in our upcoming exhibition, The Art of Abundance, one of three exhibitions in Vignettes.

As we close the chapter on September, we eagerly turn the pages to October, where our upcoming exhibition, Vignettes, awaits. We hope to see you all there!

Vignettes at browngrotta arts in October: Who’s New? Joe Feddersen

We are excited to be exhibiting two basketworks by Joe Feddersen in our upcoming exhibition An Abundance of Objects (October 7-18). 

Joe Feddersen's Agressive Attitude and Roll Call Baskets
1-2jfe Agressive Attitude, 2020, Roll Call, 2018, Feddersen,, twined wax linen, 10 x 5.75″ x 5.75″; 5.25″ x 4.5″ x 4.5″. Photo by Tom Grotta

Fedderson is a widely known, highly respected, multimedia artist and member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. His fine art prints, paintings, baskets, glass vessels, installations, and photography, are found in several prominent museum collections, including, that of the National Museum of the American Indian. He is one of six artists featured in Sharing Honors and Burdens at the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian through next March. The works in the Shared Honors and Burdens exhibition are culturally specific, yet communicate across cultural boundaries, weaving together stories of resilience, heritage, and shared experiences. 

Feddersen’s work has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions, and has been written about in a number of essays, catalogs, and books including a major retrospective and monograph titled Vital Signs at the Missoula Museum in Montana in 2008. “Arising from Plateau Indian iconographic interpretations of the human-environment relationship, Curator Rebecca J. Dobkins wrote in the exhibition notes, “Feddersen’s prints, weavings, and glass sculptures explore the relationships between contemporary urban place markers and indigenous design.” From the artist’s perspective, she says, Plateau basketweaving designs have resulted from generations of people living on the land and interpreting their relationship with the land through abstraction.

Detail Joe Feddersens aggressive attitude
Detail: 1jfe Aggressive Attitude, Feddersen, twined wax linen, 10 x 5.75″ x 5.75″, 2020. Photo by Tom Grotta

As he continued developing his Plateau Geometrics series, which was featured in Vital Signs, Feddersen decided he needed a fuller understanding of basketry and began learning from his friend Elizabeth Woody, an artist and poet who was a student of weaving. He returned to the Colville Reservation and talked, too, with renowned weaver Elaine Timentwa Emerson about basket designs. Dobkins writes, “For Feddersen, her assertion that design meaning was deeply rooted in location stood out above all else. In other words, the meaning of designs depends upon who the interpreter is and where he or she is from — a very local form of indigenous exegesis. To someone else, in the next valley, the same design may have a different meaning.” 

Feddersen has spoken about imagery he uses. In, Roll Call he told Cecile Ganteaume in his interview for the Archives of American Art (Oral history interview with Joe Feddersen, 2021 April 29 and May 6. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution) the imagery “is about the world around us” like “just stopping and thinking about what’s around you.” He cites a poem by William E. Stafford, called “Tracks.” The poet was on a train and saying, “Who’s around us?” On a fresh snow, you would see the tracks. And he would say, like, “Fox is here,” and so on. To Feddersen, it was “kind of who has survived.” And so he created the uniquely modern figures in Roll Call. “[W]e have like a television person here, and an android,” he said ,… “kind of a narrative about who’s here. And it also makes me think of those high school pictures, where they have the class pictures.”

Detail Joe Feddersens Roll Call
Detail: 2jfe Roll Call (small), Joe Feddersen, twined wax linen, 5.25″ x 4.5″ x 4.5″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

You can see Small Roll Call in person at An Abundance of Objects at browngrotta arts October 7 through 15. Schedule your visit here

Can’t make the exhibition? You can see the works in the An Abundance of Objects catalog, available at

Vignettes is Less Than a Month Away: Who’s New? Kogetsu Kosuge and Aya Kajiwara

In our upcoming An Abundance of Objects exhibition (part of Vignettes: one venue, three exhibitions) October 7 – 15, we are pleased to include work by two well-known Japanese basketmakers, Aya Kajiwara and Kogetsu Kosuge.

Kogetsu Kosuge and Aya Kajiwara bamboo baskets
1kko Circular Flower Basket, Kogetsu Kosuge, bamboo, 17.5″ x 5″ x 3.75″, 2000’s; 1ka Spiral Pattern Basket, Aya Kajiwara, bamboo, 8″ x 11″ x 11″, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta

In 2000, Aya Kajiwara became the first woman admitted as a full member of the Japan Art Crafts Association. She attended the Beppu Occupational School, the foremost art school with a bamboo curriculum, studying with teachers who themselves were pupils of Living National Treasure artists (those certified as “Preservers of Important Intangible Cultural Properties”). Kajiwara’s work follows the tradition of the hanakago, baskets made for holding flower arrangements for special ceremonial ikebana. In Ikebana, these baskets are viewed as sculptures, rather than utilitarian objects. Many of her titles allude to landscape or parts of nature. Her works are composed of very narrow splits of bamboo, Kajiwara’s work has been included in the prestigious Traditional Craft Arts Exhibition several times. 

Kogetsu Kosuge bamboo basket detail
1kko Circular Flower Basket Detail, Kogetsu Kosuge, bamboo, 17.5″ x 5″ x 3.75″, 2000’s. Photo by Tom Grotta

Kogetsu Kosuge, who died in 2016, was the son of Chikudo Kosuge, a well-known bamboo artist on the Island of Sado. As a boy, Kogetsu spent many hours in his father’s studio learning bamboo basketry. In 1972, the Niigata Governor commissioned the artist to create a basket as a gift to the Emperor of Japan and six years later he became a full member of the Japan Craft Art Association.

Aya Kajiwara bamboo basket detail
1ka Spiral Pattern Basket, Aya Kajiwara, bamboo, 8″ x 11″ x 11″, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta

He primarily uses three techniques, hineri or twisted bamboo, the pine-needle pattern called matsuba-ami and masame-wari, in which lateral cuts are used to make narrow strips of bamboo. The artist told Tai Arts in 2009, that In each piece, he tries “to reflect my deeply held spiritual feelings and beliefs.” Among his prestigious awards are the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Prize at Japan’s Flower and Tea Ware Art Exhibition and the Niigata Nippo Prize at the 16th Prefectual Art Exhibition. 

See works by Kajiwara and Kogetsu — and many more — at An Abundance of Objects, part of browngrotta arts’ Fall 2023 “Art in the Barn” exhibition, Vignettes: one venue; three exhibitions this October 7th through October 15th. Reserve a time on Eventbrite. You can also order the catalog for An Abundance of Objects from our website: browngrotta.com, after October 6, 2023. 

Vignettes is Less Than a Month Away – What’s New? Ceramics by Karen Karnes Join Works by Toshiko Takaezu and Yasuhisa Kohyama

In An Abundance of Objects, this October 7th through the 15th, browngrotta arts will present a truly diverse group of eclectic engaging objects. Among them will be a series of ceramics by artists regularly shown at browngrotta, Toshiko Takeazu and Yasuhisa Kohyama, and two works by new-to-the-gallery artist Karen Karnes.

1kka Green-Lidded Vessel, Karen Karnes, salt-glazed stoneware, 10″ x 14″ x 14″, 1980’s. Photo by Tom Grotta

Karen Karnes is known for her functional, yet elegant forms — wheel-thrown pieces, salt-glazed pottery, cut-lidded vessels.  “Karen Karnes was a singular, powerful artistic voice in American studio pottery. She was the rare woman who was self-supported as a potter with no institutional affiliation,” wrote the New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana which has collected the artist’s work. Karnes attended Brooklyn College and graduated with a major in design. She studied ceramics practice in Italy, then returned to Alfred University in New York and began a graduate program in ceramics. She left to do a two-year residency at Black Mountain College, where she worked and studied alongside artists John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada, Josef Albers, and Peter Voulkos. In 2020, the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center recognized the artist’s extraordinary life’s work in the ceramic arts with a retrospective of her work. “Karnes has been a major influence on contemporary ceramic artists,” the museum wrote, “her creative vision spans more than 50 years of artistic excellence.”

Toshiko Takaezu glazed stoneware. Photo by Tom Grotta

At browngrotta arts we have been honored to exhibit the work of Toshiko Takaezu and Yasuhisa Kohyama for some time. Takaezu was an accomplished ceramist whose work has reached a new level of international prominence in recent years. Her work was featured in the prestigious Venice Biennial in 2022. The exhibition wrote that the Hawaiian artist’s skill in the art of ceramics was honed during an extended visit to Japan on which she explored her cultural roots. “Whether larger than a person or small enough to hold in one’s palm, her wheel-thrown or hand-shaped works from the 1960s on are rounded, richly decorated, hollow objects resembling ordinary pots but not intended to hold anything. Takaezu’s elongated or spherical works almost completely enclose an empty space that is inaccessible to the gaze and, like a soul in a body, makes them unique. Even when installed in groups, as in her series …, each preserves its own totemic identity.”  The artist’s will be featured in the upcoming, Toshiko Takaezu: Shaping Abstraction, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, and in a large-scale touring retrospective (and catalog) organized by The Isamu Noguchi Museum and Garden Museum in Long Island City, New York in 2024. An Abundance of Objects, will include four of Takeazu’s work. 

55yk Hajibito, Yasuhisa Kohyama, ceramic, 15.5″ x 10″ x 6″, 2023. Photo by Tom Grotta

Yasuhisa Kohyama’s masterful ceramics are inspired by the ancient Shigaraki, Jomon, and Yayoi ceramics of Japan. Kohyama has played a significant part in reviving the use of the traditional Japanese anagama wood-firing kiln. He was the first potter in his area to build such a kiln since the Middle Ages. Using the distinctive Shigaraki clay and a wood-firing kiln, he has created modern ceramic vessels and sculpture, which are vigorous and new, but timeless in their beauty. Kohyama shapes his asymmetrical forms using a piano string, thereby creating distinctive, rough surfaces. The clay with its nuggets of feldspar creates a tactile quality not often seen in contemporary work. No glazes are used, but the wood ash and the placement in the kiln produce an extraordinary array of colors and shading on the surface. In the Abundance exhibition, browngrotta arts will highlight Hajibito a new work by Kohyama.

See works by Karnes, Takaezu, and Kohyama — and 30+ other artists – at An Abundance of Objects, part of browngrotta arts’ Fall 2023 “Art in the Barn” exhibition, Vignettes: one venue; three exhibitions this October 7th through October 15th. Schedule your visit on Eventbrite.

Vignettes is Less Than a Month Away: Who’s New? Neil and Francine Prince and Willa Rogers

1fnp Sea Grass Vessel, Neil and Francine Prince, sea grass, waxed linen, 6″ x 8″ x 8″; 1wr Torrey Pine Needles, Willa Rogers, pine needles, cbbage tree, waxed linen, 4″ x 8″ x 8″

This week, more on An Abundance of Objects, part of Vignettes: one venue; three exhibitions, this Fall’s exhibition at browngrotta arts (October 7 – 15). Abundance will feature works by several artists not shown before at the gallery, including basketmakers Francina and Neil Prince of the US and Willa Rogers of New Zealand.

The Princes and Rogers create vessels made of pine needles among other materials. All civilizations have created baskets — ancient Romans, Japanese, and Chinese. They predate pottery and stone carvings. The earliest example of basketry, sections of twined baskets and sandals, was found in Utah, circa 7000 BCE. Native Americans have been masterful basketmakers for centuries. The Seminoles, for example, utilized a sea shell as a sewing needle to sew bundles of pine needles together with sisal or swamp grass.The technique of creating crafts from pine needles is known as coiling. 

1fnp Detail: Sea Grass Vessel, Neil and Francine Prince, sea grass, waxed linen, 6″ x 8″ x 8″

“Both Fran and I were initially (and are continually) attracted to the coiled fiber process by the repetitive rhythmic sequence,” Neil Prince was quoted in the catalog for The Tactile Vessel exhibition, curated by Jack Lenor Larsen at the Erie Museum in New York in 1989.  “The pure structural simplicity of our construction is described by the helix, a universal mathematical principal underlying galaxies as well as DNA. A basket created from a continuous helical coil of fibers represents a personal crystallization of space and time.” An Abundance of Objects will include Sea Grass Vessel by the Princes — made of sea grass and waxed linen. “We feel as though we’re preserving part of the natural life by using what’s available to us: locally available pine needles, sea grasses and palm blooms,” Prince said. John Vanco, then-Director of the Erie Museum described its collection which includes the Princes, as “small-yet-definitive,” containing “works by virtually every key artist who has made the basket a familiar form in late 20th century art.”

Willa Rogers New Zealand Basket Stamp 2002

Willa Rogers is a well-known basket artist from New Zealand who also works with locally sourced materials. Rogers creates her contemporary basketry using a range of plant fibers she collects — pine needles, flax, watsonia, nīkau, and phoenix palm, cabbage tree, and grapevine. The country issued an Art Meets Craft series of stamps that were published in New Zealand and Sweden that includes a Maori basket by Rogers.”Through her work, which is displayed in galleries throughout New Zealand, “ the issuers wrote, “she strives to convey ‘a feeling for history and for the unknown and unsung artists of past centuries.’” The Abundance exhibition includes a pine-needle basket by Rogers, from the collection of the late Dorothy Gill Barnes.

See works by Rogers and the Princes — and dozens of other artists— at An Abundance of Objects, part of browngrotta arts’ Fall 2023 “Art in the Barn” exhibition,  Vignettes: one venue; three exhibitions this October 7th through October 15th. Reserve a time on Eventbrite.

One Month Until Vignettes. Who’s New? Gary Trentham

At browngrotta arts, we have been collecting available works by basketmaker Gary Trentham for some time. In An Abundance of Objects, part of our Fall 2023 exhibition, Vignettes: one venue, three exhibitions, we will feature several of his vessels and a grouping of his quiver-like hangings. “I cannot imagine myself making an art statement except through the techniques, ideas, and forms of basketry,” Trentham was quoted in The Tactile Vessel (Erie Art Museum, New York, 1989), the publication for the eponymous exhibition curated for the Erie At Museum by Jack Lenor Larsen.

Gary Trentham Hanging Basket Collection
9-11, 1gt Hanging Basket-1-4, Gary Trentham, coiled linen, 59″(h), Photo by Tom Grotta.

Among the artist’s best-known works are hanging, three-dimensional forms in elongated cone shapes. Trentham won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts while teaching at Auburn University in the late 1970s. He took a summer off from teaching and devoted his time to making baskets that were meant to be suspended in the air. A series of works, inspired by Native American arrow quivers, including Hanging Baskets 1-4, were the result. The long, slender forms also evoke cocoons, as if something might be growing within the mass of tiny waving filaments.

Gary Trentham Hanging Basket
1gt Hanging Basket, Gary Trentham, coiled linen, 54″ x 3.25″. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Trentham worked in natural materials, knotting linen tightly, coiling paper, and brushing jute until it resembles silky fur. “I like simple, neutral-colored materials that let my forms show; they give me a feeling of safeness,” Trentham said. He explored a variety of techniques. Jack Larsen and Mildred Constantine describe the 1980 White Basket in their seminal book, The Art Fabric: Mainstream as, “[a] coiled basket is hidden by hundreds of braids. Their wiry crispness contrasts sharply with the outer fringe of brushed fiber, The braid yarns are attached by looping around a coils before plaiting.”

Gary Trentham Art Linen Basket
5gt Untitled Linen Basket, Gary Trentham, braiding, coiling, oblique linen, 8″ x 13″ x 13″, (flat: 6″ x 22″ x 22″), 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Trentham discovered basketry while studying at the University of Indiana in Bloomington. Joan Sterrenberg, who started the basketry program at Indiana, had studied with Ed Rossbach at the University of California, Berkeley. ” I knew immediately, when I was introduced to baskets by Joan Sterrenberg, that I had found my area,” Trentham said, “and I have never failed to be excited by it.”

Gary Trentham Artwork
4gt Untitled Basket, Gary Trentham, coiled and brushed jute basket, 6″ x 16″ x 17″, 1997

Trentham participated in several important exhibitions, including the International Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne, Switzerland and traveling exhibitions The Art Fabric: Mainstream and Interlacing: the Elemental Fabric.

Several examples of Trentham’s work are included in An Abundance of Objects, part of browngrotta arts’ Fall 2023 “Art in the Barn” exhibition this October 7th through October 15th. Reserve a time on Eventbrite.

Hope to see you there!