Monthly archives: January, 2024

Artists and bga Get Good Press

2023 was a good press year for artists we work with and for browngrotta arts. 2024 is off to a good start, too! Below are some highlights.

Neha Puri Dhir featured  in Elle Decor

The first week of January, Elle Decor covered the Young Collectors Global Weekend and featured the work of Neha Puri Dhir, observing that it “encapsulates a sophisticated sensibility”

selvedge feature James Bassler and Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila

The next week, the selvedge blog reported on the Threaded Visions: Contemporary Weavings from the Collection exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois. The blog featured images of James Bassler’s A Weaving and White Dwarf by Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila.

Masakazu Kobayashi’s retrospective in Kyoto, Japan, Masakazu Kobayahsi and his Contemporaries — Beyond Fiber Art (through March 10, 2024) was featured in the ETN online newsletter  this month.

Fern Jacobs feature article basketry+

In the Fall 2023/Winter 2024 issue of basketry+the cover story Pushing Boundaries,” by Barbara Delaney, pp. 2-7, featured on Ferne Jacobs. “Jacobs doesn’t want her work to be ‘pretty,'” Delaney wrote. “She hopes it’s interesting to others, take it has life and breath, and she will take risks to make that happen. She doesn’t want to be predictable either,…Her art shows that she definitely is not.”

Glen Kaufman article in Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot Winter 2023 issue of Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot featured an article by Rhonda Brown, Glen Kaufman: An Art Odyssey, pp. 42-47.

ETN Conference

In March 2023, Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila, lectured at “Codes: Stories in Textiles.” the European Textile Network conference in Lodz, Poland. In February, their work, Oceanica, was featured in the ETN online newsletter announcing the conference.

The Summer 2023 issue of NBO’s basketry+ featured Jeannet Leenderste in an artist profile, “Capturing Place in a Basket,” by Noelle Foye. The author, wrote about Leenderste’s experiments in making baskets with seaweed. “Leenderste loves to experiment and see where an idea might take her. Not knowing how to construct a basket simply meant an opportunity to play and explore in the studio.”

Simone Pheulpin on the cover of  Artemorbida

ArteMorbida profiled Simone Pheulpin in a cover article in July 2023 by Maria Rosaria Roseo.

ETN covers Włodzimierz Cygan solo exhibition

The ETN online newsletter reviewed Włodzimierz Cygan’s solo exhibition in Latvia, “At own pace,” in June. The article reported that Cygan loves experimentation with fiber optics within textile art trying to link the permanence of textile materials and a continuous change of the light.

artemorbida acclaim article

browngrotta arts’ Acclaim! exhibition garnered press coverage including an article in Arte Morbida’s April issue by Rhonda Brown, “In and Out of Favor Fiber Art Persisted: The Rewards of Recognition,” (pp. 45-51) and one in selvedge magazine’s online blog in April 2023.

olga-de-amaral in selvage

browngrotta arts Year in Review — 2023

We like to take a look back each January and to make plans for the year to come. Here’s a roundup for 2023.

Acclaim exhibition
Acclaim! exhibition at browngrotta arts

4 at browngrotta arts
Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists — more than 300 people attended live Vignettes: one venue, three exhibitions, three exhibitions in one: Glen Kaufman: Retrospective 1960-2010Dorothy Gill Barnes: a way with wood; An Abundance of Objects — more than 200 people attended live

Wordplay exhibition
WordPlay exhibition at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT. Photo by Tom Grotta

1 partnered exhibition elsewhere
WordPlay: Messages in Branches & Bark
Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT, co-curators, Debra Fram, Nancy Heller and browngrotta arts — 1597 people attended the exhibit.

8 exhibitions to which browngrotta arts loaned works
Norma Minkowitz: Body to Soul
Fairfield University Art Gallery | Bellarmine Hall Fairfield, CT

Norma Minkowitz installation
Norma Minkowitz installation. Photo by Tom Grotta

Paper Town (work by Wendy Wahl) Fitchburg Art Museum | 185 Elm Street Fitchburg, MA 01420

Making a Mark: The Art of Self Expression, (work by Adela Akers, Helena Hernmarck, Tamiko Kawata, Sue Lawty, Aby Mackie, Norma Minkowitz, and Ulla-Maija Vikman) Women’s Art Center, East Hampton, NY

Indigo (work by Polly Barton, James Bassler, Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila, Chiyoko Tanaka, Yeonsoon Chang, Hiroyuki Shindo) Denver Botanical Garden, CO

Beyond Glass (work by Lawrence LaBianca) Wayne Art Center, PA

Lawrence LaBianca installation, Wayne Art Center, PA. Photo by Tom Grotta

Couples (work by James Bassler) Craft in America Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Ferne Jacobs: A Perfect World (work by Ferne Jacobs) Claremont Lewis Museum of Art, CA

Salon Art + Design with the Juan Garrido Gallery of Madrid, Spain (works by Mia Olsson, Ulla-Maija Vikman, Scott Rothstein, Carolina Yrarrázaval) Park Avenue Armory, New York, NY

Organization Acquisitions

White Dwarf tapestry, Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila and Sound by Christine Joy. Photos by Tom Grotta

Art Institute of Chicago, IL: White Dwarf, Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila
Yale University Gallery, New Haven, CT: Sound, Christine Joy
Cincinnati Museum, OH: Haystack River Teeth Basket, Dorothy Gill Barnes
Art in Embassies, Guadalajara: Cloud Formation, Christine Joy
Corporate acquisitions: Lucent: Jennfier Falck Linssen; Santa Cruz: Gerhardt Knoedel


4 catalogs
Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists
Glen Kaufman: Retrospective 1960-2010
Dorothy Gill Barnes: a way with wood
An Abundance of Objects

4 articles
“In and Out of Favor: Fiber Persisted. The Rewards of Recognition,” Rhonda Brown, ArteMorbida, April 2023
“browngrotta arts’ Spring Exhibition: Acclaim!,” selvedge magazine, April 11, 2023
“Vignettes: an exhibition triptych,” selvedge blog, October 1, 2023“
“Glen Kaufman: an Art Odyssey,” Rhonda Brown, Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, Winter 2023

Talks Live

WordPlay Exhibition Walkthrough with Co-Curator Tom Grotta, Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT — 44 people attended; 221 viewed online

Artist Talk: John McQueen, in conjunction with WordPlay: Messages in Branches & Bark, Flinn Gallery, Greenwich, CT— 78 people attended; 245 viewed online
Contemporary Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture, Ridgefield Library, CT, Tom Grotta
Perspectives: Assessing Contemporary Fiber Art, Appraisers Association of America, New York, NY, Tom Grotta  

Talks Online

Screwing With Order:  An Online Conversation with Gyöngy Laky, with the Flinn Gallery — 
77 people joined; 195 viewed since
Center Stage with Pamela Kuhn, WordPlay with Gyöngy Laky and Nancy Heller, Radio Interview
Art on the Rocks an art walkthrough with a twist: Acclaim!, Rhonda Brown 
Art on the Rocks an art walkthrough with a twist: Vignettes, Rhonda Brown

Viewing Rooms on Artsy
Spotlight: Work by Norma Minkowitz and Wendy Wahl
WordPlay: Redux
Glen Kaufman: Retrospective: 1960 – 2010
Dorothy Gill Barnes: collaboration with nature
An Abundance of Objects

23 Videos on YouTube 

browngrotta YouTube video channel

200,000 emails from browngrotta arts were opened
11,537 people engaged with our Facebook posts (that’s a 75% increase over last year)
Nearly 40,000 people liked our Instagram content (a 134% increase over last year)
We gained 1252 new followers to our Instagram account (a staggering 13,812% jump)
We posted 50 times on arttextstyle.

Thanks again for your support and attendance — we’ll keep the art coming in 2024!

Material Matters: Indigo

Indigo dyeing is a universal practice. Textiles are produced with indigo throughout America, China, India, Africa, Central Asia, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam. “The process unfolds in the same manner the world over, involving exactly the same steps: cultivation or wild harvesting of the plant, extraction of the pigment, preparation of the dye bath, and dying of the cloth or yarn,” says Catherine Legrand, author of the gorgeous and expansive book, Indigo: the Color that Changed the World (Thames & Hudson, London, 2013). “The weaver and/or tailor or embroiderer then transforms the dyed cloth into garments of sublime beauty. From one end of the globe to the other I have seen people who work with indigo as if spellbound by its potential for for magical transformation.” 

indigo textiles by Barton, Bassler, Portillo
Indigo works by Polly Barton, James Bassler and Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila

Many of the artists at browngrotta arts work with indigo. Search for indigo on and you’ll find 81 works from Asia, the US, Europe, the UK and Venezuela. The artists include Ethel Stein (US), Hiroyuki Shindo (JP), Yeonsoon Chang (KO), Chiyoko Tanaka (JP), Glen Kaufman (US), Susie Gillespie (UK), Sue Lawty (UK), Heidrun Schimmel (DE), Kiyomi Iwata (JP/US), and Chiaki and Kaori Maki (JP). Among those proficient in ikat are Jim Bassler (US), Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila (VE) and Polly Barton (UK) whose works we loaned to Albuquerque Museum’s 2022 exhibition Indelible Blue: Indigo Around the World and the Denver Botanical Garden’s Indigo exhibition in 2023. These four share some of their thoughts on indigo below.

James Bassler Beetling
James Bassler pounding indigo cloth. Photo courtesy of James Bassler

“When we lived on the Pacific coast,” Jim Bassler (US) says, “I maintained an indigo pot most of the time. In the 1990s I became interested in a particular process used in Africa, with indigo, called beetle. It involved pounding the finished linen cloth with a wooden mallet called a beetle, to put a glossy finish on the cloth by flattening the fibers.  I wove four wedge-weave tapestries. After weaving them, I would put them on a flat cement surface, run water over the surface and beat them with a wooden mallet.  After a few mishaps — holes in the cloth — I learned to temper my force. The weavings became very stiff and flat. The interlocking linen fibers were locked into position. The series, all blue and natural linen, was based on a wedge shape, going from large to small.”

María Eugenia Dávila & Eduardo Portillo indigo dyeing
María Eugenia Dávila & Eduardo Portillo indigo dyeing. Photo courtesy of María Eugenia Dávila & Eduardo Portillo

Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Dávila in Venezuela also write about the indigo vat. “To travel in search for Indigo could be a motive for a lifetime itself, every “vat” is different, each vision is unique, a synthesis of history, culture and life,” the couple says, “at last we  decided to try to find our own blue and attempted to interlace this color with our searches, exploring the art of indigo dyeing, immersed in their vats again and over again, and bringing it to textiles structures that move us near to everyday blue moments: the night, the moon, the sky, the clouds, dawn, moments of everybody, moments filled with blue.” 

Indigo is the ultimate blue. It’s thought to be the color of wisdom and intuition, promoting deeper focus. “Blue is a color of multiple meanings,” say Portillo and Dávila. “It is also the color of hope as every day dawns and the blue accompanies us in the sky, in the sea and in the distant mountains. In 2002 we found the indigo blue and drew lines to see the color of the peoples of Southeast Asia, of the Desert’s blue men, the Andean textiles and blue jeans, the eternal blue.”

Indigo is the ultimate blue, thought to be the color of wisdom and intuition, promoting deeper focus. “Blue is a color of multiple meanings,” say Portillo and Davilá. “It is also the color of hope as every day dawns and the blue accompanies us in the sky, in the sea and in the distant mountains. In 2002 we found the indigo blue and drew lines to see the color of the peoples of Southeast Asia, of the desert’s blue men, the Andean textiles and blue jeans, the eternal blue.”

Polly Barton working on Synapse
Polly Barton working on Synapse. Photos courtesy of Polly Barton

The complex colors of indigo, which Polly Barton (US) often incorporates into her work, were an inspiration for her work Synapse. In making Synapse, Barton was inspired by a drawing of the shadow cast by her swift— the weaver’s tool for unwinding thread from a loose bundle onto a useful, untangled spool. “At the time,” she says, “my father had succumbed to Alzheimer’s.” Barton saw the “swirls of indigo blues, deep and cloudy, tied and locked into threads, as memories slipping away.” 

Polly Barton indigo dyed threads
Polly Barton indigo-dyed threads. Photo courtesy of Polly Barton

Portillo and Dávila consider it a privilege to get closer to the processes to obtain indigo and to be part of the continuity over the time by using this unique color. “In a certain way,” they say, “we feel the imprint of those who preceded us is also reflected in our work.” To the couple,  textiles represent a way of thinking. They are “a means of expression in which some materials have their own voice and contribute in the construction of an idea, they are tangible and identifiable and may contain a history which does not necessarily have to be known to appreciate its attribute.” This is the case with indigo, “one of the oldest known dyes whose complex production methods has been created over the time according to the nuance of each culture fusing the past, present and future in a single color.”

Indigo self-portrait María Eugenia Dávila & Eduardo Portillo
Indigo self-portrait. María Eugenia Dávila & Eduardo Portillo

Get an Art Start to the New Year

Jin-Sook So, Flower Blue Bowls, steel mesh, electroplated silver, gold leaf, acrylic, steel thread (optional floating wood shelf) 2023. Photo by Tom Grotta

We wish all of you moments of comfort and joy in the New Year. We hope, too, for some glimmers of peace worldwide. Below are some suggestions for getting bursts of beauty, inspiration and entertainment throughout 2024.

• Immerse yourself in art.
Check out these exciting exhibitions before they close.

Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction
Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum, CA, through January 21, 2024

A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes
Cooper Hewitt, New York, NY, through February 4, 2024

Threaded Visions: Contemporary Weavings from the Collection
Art Institute of Chicago, IL, through August 26, 2024 

Inside Other Spaces. Environments by Women Artists 1956-1976
Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, through March 10, 2024

Circe: A Goddess for Our Time
Eastern University Connecticut University, Wlllamantic, through April 15, 2024

Making Their Mark
Shah Garg Foundation, New York, NY, though January 24, 2024

Double Weave: Bourne and Allen’s Modernist Textiles
Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, East Sussex, UK, through April 14, 2024

• Read an inspiring art book. 


From Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction, which The New York Times called a “best art book” of 2023, to Gyöngy Laky’s thoughts on poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Wendy Wahl’s on Adam Gopnik’s The Real Work: The Mystery of Mastery, find a profusion of artist recommendations and ours on arttextstyle, “Books Make Great Gifts, Part 1 and Part 2.”

• Prepare for an art-filled Spring. 

Irina Kolesnikova, Polly Sutton, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and Mary Merkel-Hess
Discourse: art across generations: art across continents: Left to right: Irina Kolesnikova, Polly Sutton, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and Mary Merkel-Hess. Photo by Tom Grotta

Plan ahead to visit upcoming exhibitions at browngrotta arts, including: Discourse: art across generations: art across continents, Wilton. CT, May 3 -12, 2024;  Subversive, Skilled, Sublime: Fiber Art by Women, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, May 31, 2024 -January 5, 2025, Toshiko Takaezu: Worlds Within, Noguchi Museum, Long Island, NY, March 20 – July 29, 2024 and  Lubaina Hamid: Lost Threads, The Holbourne Museum, Bath, UK, from January 19 – April 24, 2024.

• Cheer the New Year with a curated cocktail. 

Max holding prepared cocktail
Max Fanwick holding one of this year’s prepared cocktails. Photo by Michael Propersi

Wandering in Okayama, was created by Max Fanwick for the browngrotta arts’ exhibition Vignettes: one venue, three exhibitions. Okayama is the Peach Prefecture in Japan. The drink is a hat-tip to our fall exhibition of Glen Kaufman’s work. Kaufman headed the fiber design program at the University of Georgia, and spent much of his career in Japan at the university’s study abroad program. 

Wandering in Okayama
2oz Shochu
1oz Ginger Liquor
2oz Peach Nectar
1oz Lemon Juice
2oz Carbonated Water
Mix and Carbonate. Serve over Ice. 
Note: Only fill a soda stream 1/3 of the way and release from device VERY, VERY slowly. Substitute sparkling water if you’ve got no  carbonation equipment on hand.                                                         
Garnish with melon-balled pieces of peach soaked in a mixture of equal parts simple syrup, lemon juice and peach vodka for 24 hours.

Best Wishes for 2024!

Tom & Rhonda