Monthly archives: February, 2024

Congratulations: The Loewe Foundation Craft Prize Short List!

Congratulations to Polly Adams Sutton and Ferne Jacobs who have been sort listed for the 2024 Loewe Craft Prize!

Polly Sutton basket and Ferne Jacobs Fiber Sculpture
14ps Berry, Polly Sutton, cedar bark, ash, wire, yellow cedar outer bark, 13″ x 12″ x 12″, 2022
7fj Shadow Figure, Ferne Jacobs, coiled and twined linen thread, 61″ x 11″ x 3″, 1980s. Photos by Tom Grotta

Loewe was founded in 1846 as a collective of artisans dedicated to leather making. Some of their leather artisans have been with Loewe for as many as 50 years. The Loewe School of Leather Craft in Madrid ensures these time-honored skills are passed on to new generations.

The Loewe Foundation Craft Prize was launched 70 years later in 2016 to illuminate excellence, innovation, and artistic vision in contemporary craftsmanship. Finalists represent makers of all ages, cultures and disciplines, selected by experts reviewing submissions from over 100 countries. “Craft is the essence of Loewe,” the firm quotes its creative director, Jonathan Anderson. “It is where our modernity lies, and it will always be relevant.” 

The Loewe Prize acknowledges international artisans over 18, of any gender, who demonstrate an exceptional ability to create objects of superior aesthetic value. All entries should: 1) fall within an area of applied arts, such as ceramics, bookbinding, enamelwork, jewellery, lacquer, metal, furniture, leather, textiles, glass, paper, wood, etc; 2) be an original work, handmade or partly handmade; 3) have been created in the last five years; 4) be one-of a-kind; 5) have won no prizes previously; and 6) demonstrate artistic intent. A jury composed of 13 leading figures from the world of design, architecture, journalism, criticism and museum curatorship — including a curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Director of the Design Museum in London — will select the winner of the 2024 Craft Prize from the short list of 30 artists. The prize awarded to the winner is 50,000 Euros in cash. The announcement will be made in the Spring of 2024.

works by Mercedes Vicente, Yeonsoon Chang, Jiro Yonezawa and Simone Pheulpin
clockwise: works by Mercedes Vicente, Yeonsoon Chang, Jiro Yonezawa and Simone Pheulpin. Photos by Tom Grotta

The Loewe Prize short list in other years has recognized many interesting artists including Joe Hogan of Ireland and Tanya Aguiñiga of the US.  Besides Sutton and Jacobs, other artists that browngrotta arts works with have been recognized through these competitions.  Mercedes Vicente of Spain and Yeonsoon Chang of Korea have both appeared on the short list in previous years. Simone Pheulpin of France was short listed and received a Special Mention award. Her work was displayed in the Design Museum in the UK. And Jiro Yonezawa of Japan has been involved in a Loewe creative initiative in which he created works of leather, adapting some of the techniques he uses to create bamboo sculptures.

Good Luck to Polly and Ferne!


Save the Date: browngrotta arts Spring Art in the Barn

We’ve spent the first weeks of 2024 summing up 2023 and looking at this year’s trends in art and design. Now we’ve got a more concrete prediction — our Spring Art in the Barn exhibition will run from Saturday, May 4 through Sunday, May 12, 2024. Discourse: art across generations and continents will explore the diversity in art textiles and fiber sculpture.

Blair Tate, Warren Seelig header
Details of tapestries by Blair Tate made in 2022 and Warren Seelig made more than 40 years earlier in 1976. Photo by Tom Grotta.

In Discourse, browngrotta arts will assemble a large and eclectic group of artworks that celebrate artists from different countries, who work with varied materials, and represent distinct artistic approaches. More than 50 artists from 20 countries will be featured.Included will be works from the art form’s origins 60 years ago, current mixed media works and sculpture, and pieces created in the decades between — enabling an intriguing look at intergenerational differences, material breakthroughs, and historical significance in fiber art.

Details: John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Norie Hatekayama
Details: John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Norie Hatekayama. Photo by Tom Grotta.

structural explorations
Despite their distinctiveness, the artists in Discourse share a common trait. Each possesses “material intelligence,” what author Glenn Adamson describes as “a deep understanding of the material world around us, an ability to read that material environment, and the know-how required to give it new form.” The works in Discourse reflect this mastery. Artists like John McQueen and Norma Minkowitz of the US and Norie Hatekayama and Naoko Serino of Japan engineer imaginative structures of unexpected materials — plaited paper tape, molded jute, crocheted linen, and pieced twigs and branches. 

Details: Gudrun Pagter, Warren Seelig, Blair Tate
Details: Gudrun Pagter, Warren Seelig, Blair Tate. Photos by Tom Grotta

fiber art … an evolution
Discourse also offers viewers a chance to make intergenerational and cross-continental comparisons. Included will be starkly graphic weavings by Warren Seelig (US) made in the 70s and 80s, and ones by Gudrun Pagter (DK), and Blair Tate (US) made 40+ years later. We have often observed a different sensibility among artists from Eastern Europe and those in Western Europe, Asia, and the US. Artists in Eastern Europe have a history, which began after World War II, of using items at hand to create works – sisal, rope, hemp, goat hair. A fierce energy is seen in these works; they are rugged and raw. By contrast, for artists who worked elsewhere in more traditional tapestry materials like wool, silk, linen – quietly refined works were often the result. Discourse will spotlight such regional contrasts. 

Details: Marian Bijlenga, Shoko Fukuda, Marianne Kemp
Details: Marian Bijlenga, Shoko Fukuda, Marianne Kemp. Photo by Tom Grotta.

material matters
Viewers to Discourse will also see a wide range of to material and technique approaches. Several artists make vastly different uses of paper — scrolling of encyclopedia pages by Wendy Wahl (US), knotted paper objects by Shoko Fukuda (JP), and sculptural works of rice paper by Pat Campbell (US). Three other artists, Adela Akers (US), Marianne Kemp (NL), and Marian Bijlenga (NL), use horsehair in vastly different ways. 

Details: Laura Foster Nicholson, Irina Kolesnikova, Anneke Klein
Details: Laura Foster Nicholson, Irina Kolesnikova, Anneke Klein. Photos by Tom Grotta.

the medium is the message
Some of the artists in Discourse, including Laura Foster Nicholson (US) Gyöngy Laky (US), and Irina Kolesnikova (RU/DE), use the medium of fiber art to make explicit statements about the modern world — about personal anxiety, communication, and humans’ impact on the environment. “I like to tease the brain – to promote or even provoke or cajole, a visual dialogue with the viewer,” says Gyöngy Laky (US). Her work, Anticipation, which spells out the word “Who?“ in applewood branches, presents a question. “Given the challenges, concerns, conflicts and other dangers we face today,” Laky says, “this question, underlies the search for a way forward to a better day.” Anneke Klein (NL) is interested in communication: In Dialogue — Her work is made up of two layers that hang, one in front of the other. When you change your position in front of Dialogue, the interaction between the two layers changes, as it does between two speakers.

Detail: Lia Cook
Detail: Lia Cook. Photo by Tom Grotta.

experiments in technique
Contemporary fiber art is by definition experimental. It arose when a group of artists used tapestry techniques to create abstract sculptures that hung off the wall. A work of parallel optical lines from studies Lia Cook (US) did for her master’s thesis in the 1970s will be included along with works reflecting Neha Puri Dhir’s (IN) currrent experiments dying silk and baskets by Esmé Hofman (NL) of black willow and elm that also incorporate color.

Detail: Aby Mackie
Detail: Aby Mackie. Photo by Tom Grotta.

fiber art has emotional appeal
Fiber art — art textiles, tapestries, and three-dimensional sculpture — engages us on a deeply personal level. Our first memories are of cloth, fuzzy blankets, soft towels and they remain strong ones. Scientists have shown that different parts of the brain light up when we look at a woven image and a photographic image of the same item. Aby Mackie (SP) sources and recycles used fabrics from flea markets, fabrics laden with memory. She is captivated by these silent witnesses to a life lived; a worn bed sheet, a stained tablecloth, a moth-eaten gown. Such artifacts bear the marks and physicality of human nature, possessing a poetic power. She gilds this repurposed material in works like We Can All Be Saved, leaving viewers to consider what creates value.

We invite you to draw comparisons and gain new perspectives of your own. See you in May!

Exhibition Details:
Discourse: art across generations and continents
May 4 – May 12, 2024
browngrotta arts
276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897

Gallery Dates/Hours:
Saturday, May 4th: 11am to 6pm [Opening & Artist Reception]
Sunday, May 5th: 11am to 6pm (40 visitors/ hour)
Monday, May 6th through Saturday, May 11th: 10am to 5pm (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, May 12th: 11am to 6pm [Final Day] (40 visitors/ hour)
Schedule your visit at POSH

Safety protocols: 
POSH reservations strongly encouraged • No narrow heels please 

Catalog:
A full-color catalog, browngrotta arts’ 59th, Discourse: art across generations and continents, will be published by the gallery in conjunction with the exhibition.


Art and Design Trends: 2024

Still firmly in the start of the year, New Year’s resolutions not abandoned yet, it’s an ideal time to explore the design trends that will define the aesthetic landscape of 2024. From color palettes to furniture styles, this year’s design pundits predict an array of options for transforming your living spaces into stylish and on-trend havens. Art can be an essential part of that transformation. Here are some of the 2024 insights we’ve compiled:

Color: the eternal appeal of blue
“One trend in particular is emerging as clear as the sky is blue,” says The Spruce, an interior design blog(“The 2024 Colors of the Year Point to One Trend You Need to Know,” Megan McCarty, November 7, 2023). Each fall, paint brands unveil their colors of the year, and for 2024, many of them declared shades of blue as the color to consider, including Skipping Stones by Dunn-Edwards, Blue Nova 825 by Benjamin Moore, Renew Blue by Valspar, Thermal by C@ Paints, Bay Blue by Minwax, and Bluebird by Krylon. Blue, as any of you who followed our 2018 exhibition Blue/Green: color, code, context know is elemental…sky and sea, infinite in hue, tone, intensity and variation…indigo, azure, sapphire, ultramarine. As metaphor, it connotes integrity, tranquilty.  It’s no wonder that it never really falls out of favor. The designers interviewed by The Spruce gave a number of reasons for including the color in one’s space. It’s calming and relaxing, subtle and subdued, and has a connection to nature. The Spruce quotes Chelse Thowe, the lead designer of Forge & Bow, sees a common thread in the paint brands’ colors of the year:  each is reminiscent of clear skies and calm waters. “Blue is trending because it connects us with nature and feels rejuvenating,” Thowe says. “It brings a sense of stillness and creates a sanctuary from our busy lives.” 

Micheline Beauchemin tapestry
1mb Totem aux Millefleurs Bleues, Micheline Beauchemin, wool, 84″ x 42″, 1980

Many artists who work with browngrotta arts use indigo and other shades of blue to evince natural themes.  In Totem aux Millefleurs BleuesMicheline Beauchemin chose blue, turquoise and green to create a calm atmosphere of forest and leaves. “…[T]he color, though dark,” she said, “will be brilliant and beautiful.” Still others, choose it for its metaphorical power.

Rachel Max basket
8rm Continuum, Rachel Max, dyed cane, plaited and twined, 15.5″x 17″ x 17″, 2018

Rachel Max’s work, Continuum, explores the artist’s ambivalence about blue. “It is cold yet often warm and comforting. It is a color of depth and distance, of darkness and light and dawn and dusk.” Blue is linked closely to the sea and sky, and Max says, like our lives, she says, they seem infinite yet each has a beginning and an end. Continuum is like a Mobius strip, illustrating the contrasts and opposites, the finite and infinite.

Biophilic Design/Return to Nature
Interior designers predict that homeowners will seek to create calming and harmonious environments in the coming year. Biophilic design, with its emphasis on incorporating natural elements into interiors, will continue to flourish, bringing the outdoors inside through the use of plants, natural materials, and organic textures, says ZDS, (“Exploring the biggest interior design trends 2024“). This trend is one also predicted to have a parallel in the art world. Artsy interviewed 15 curators on defining art themes for 2024 (“15 Leading Curators Predict the Defining Art Trends of 2024,” Artsy, Maxwell Rabb, January 12, 2024), including Amy Smith-Stewart, Chief Curator, at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut. Materials and methods carry meaning, Smith-Stewart told Artsy, “I predict we will see more artists incorporating organic materials or materials collected, grown, and harvested from the natural world into their work,” she said. Artists will seek to comment and address legacies of colonization, she predicts, as well as on issues of environmental justice and land use.

James Bassler weaving
16jb Things Past, James Bassler, single ply agave, 38.5” x 38.5” x 3.5”, 2021

At browngrotta, James Bassler’s use of agave in Things Past is part of a project to use the plant waste created by the making of tequila. Bassler’s friend, the artist Trine Ellitsgaard, organized an exhibition of works made from agave. She has worked with artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico to create fibers and spun thread from agave waste to spin into rugs and bags and art. 

Ane Henriksen tapestry
30ah Reserve, Ane Henriksen, linen, silk, acrylic painted rubber matting, oak frame, 93.75” x 127.625” x 2.5”, 201

In Reserve, Ane Henriksen used material covered with oil spots, found washed up on the west coast of Denmark. Fishermen use the material on the tables in the galley, so the plates don’t slide off when on the high seas. The work highlights ecological peril. “Nature is threatened,” Henriksen says. “I hope this is expressed in my image, which at first glance can be seen as a peaceful, recognizable view of nature, but when you move closer and see the material, it might make you uneasy, and stir thoughts of how human activity is a threat against nature.” John McQueen has created provocative sculptures from twigs, branches and bark for many years. More recently, he has begun to add recycled plastics to highlight humans’ tenuous connection to nature. He illustrates this conflicted relationship in Arm & Hammer with a man stepping precariously on a snake made from recycled plastic bottles of detergent.

John McQueen sculpture
79jm Arm & Hammer, John McQueen, twigs, twine, plastic from, Arm & Hammer detergient bottles, 56” x 31” x 30”, 2006

Celebrating the 70s and Icons
Each year, 1stDibs, the e-commerce interior design and fine art marketplace, aims to quantify subtle shifts in designers’ taste with its Designer Survey (“The 1stDibs Guide to 2024 Interior Design Trends,” Introspective, Cara Greenberg, December 19, 2023). This year’s survey drew responses from more than 600 industry professionals. The results report what excites designers at this point in time, “what they’ve had quite enough of and what they anticipate sourcing to conjure sublime living spaces in the months to come.” 1st Dibs reports a fresh enthusiasm for the 1970s, which 27 percent of designers in the US and 29 percent in the UK cited as the era they’ll draw upon for inspiration in 2024. “[E]expect to see an updated version of 1970: “a curated, earth-toned Laurel Canyon look, if you will — organic, relaxed, and comforting.” The survey also found that iconic design has lasting power. “Iconic designs are revered for a reason. Their forms are so pure, their function so unimpeachable that their lasting popularity should come as no surprise.”

Glen Kaufman tapestry
188gk Abbot’s Mantle, Glen Kaufman, wool, 74″ x 36″ x 1.5″, 1971

We find the same purity in works from the 1970s by the icons of art textiles. Abbot’s Mantle made in 1971 by Glen Kaufman, reflects the experience in rug making and design that he gained at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, during a Fulbright in Scandinavia, and while working at Dorothy Liebes’ New York Design Studio. 

Katherine Westphal quilt
47w The puzzle of Floating World #2, Katherine Westphal, transfer print and quilting on cotton, 85″ x 68″, 1976

Puzzle of the Floating World (1976)by Katherine Westphal, who authored The Surface Designer’s Art: Contemporary, Fabric, Printers, Painters and Dyers (Lark Books,1993, Asheville, NC) contemporizes quilting. 

Sherri Smith weaving
1ss/r Linde Star, Sherri Smith, plaiting, discharge; cotton webbing, 36″ x 33.75″, 1976

Sherri Smith’s Linde Star is an imaginative stitched-and-plaited work, that was included in the seminal 1970s book, Beyond Weaving: the art fabric. Ritzi Jacobi, who was also featured in Beyond Weaving, 

Ritzi and Peter Jacobi goat hair tapestry
10rj Exotica Series, Ritzi and Peter Jacobi, cotton, goat hair and sisal, 114″ x 60″ x 6″, 1975

was known her heavily textured works, like Exotica Series  made with Peter Jacobi in 1975, in which the couple used unusual materials such as sisal, coconut fibers, and goat hair. 

Ed Rossbach Peruvian tapestry
78r Peruvian Tapestry, Ed Rossbach, printed weft, 20″ x 21″, 1972

 In Peruvian Tapestry (1972)Ed Rossbach, an influential artist, author, and teacher, continued his experiments re-envisioning traditional techniques. Peter Collingwood, knighted by the Queen of England, developed a practice that he called shaft switching to create complex and elegant works.

Peter Collingwood textile
5pco Microgauze 84, Peter Collingwood, warp: Black and natural linen; Weft: natural linen, 72″ x 8.375″ x .125″, 1970

Conclusion:
The design and art trends of 2024 suggest ways to create spaces that are not only visually appealing but also deeply reflective of your personality and lifestyle. We are happy to help you source works from browngrotta arts to enable that process.


Art Assembled – New This Week in January

At browngrotta arts, we’re kicking off the year with the same enthusiasm that propels us forward year after year. Throughout January, we’ve had the privilege of shining a spotlight on some extraordinary artists and their creations. The talents of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Warren Seeling, Nancy Moore Bess, Federica Luzzi, and Ethel Stein have graced our ‘New This Week’ series.

But, that’s just the beginning of the excitement. We’ve also been hard at work prepping for our next upcoming exhibition.. We will be sharing the details soon, so be sure to keep following along so you don’t miss out!

Until then, we invite you to recap on our past month of ‘New This Week’ features below.

 Ethel Stein
54es Rust Abstract, Ethel Stein, mercerized cotton lampas, 36” x 35.25” x 1”, 2005. Photo by Tom Grotta.

To start off our series for the month, we began by highlighting the late, Ethel Stein. With a career spanning decades, Stein left an indelible mark on the world of weaving and textile art. Her intricate and masterful creations were not only celebrated across the country but also earned her a solo exhibition at the prestigious Art Institute of Chicago in 2014.

What makes Stein’s artistic journey truly exceptional is her mastery of the drawloom—a skill that few contemporary weavers possess. This expertise allowed her to craft intricate textiles that were both technically advanced and visually captivating.

Her influence resonated across the globe, as her works found a place in exhibitions not only in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and beyond.

Federica Luzzi
13fl White Shell, Federica Luzzi, knotting technique, cotton cord, 15″ x 15″x 7.25″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Up next in January, we turned our focus to the talented Federica Luzzi. Luzzi’s vertical loom technique allows her to transform fibers from their traditional two-dimensional frame into captivating three-dimensional creations.

What truly sets Luzzi apart is her presentation. She curates her works in dimensional installations, where they appear as fragments of a galaxy, blending the macrocosm and microcosm seamlessly. Her artistry is akin to a magnetic aggregation of fragile bodies, meticulously arranged like constellations or an enigmatic form of writing.

At the core of Luzzi’s exploration lies a deep connection with nature. Her work delves into the intricate beauty of leaves, barks, seeds, and plant pods. Through her art, she unveils the hidden wonders of these organic elements, inviting viewers to ponder the intricate patterns of the natural world.

Nancy Moore Bess
71nmb Jakago I, Nancy Moore Bess, dyed, kiln-dried Japanese bamboo, waxed linen and cotton, 7.5″ x 4″ x 4″, 2007. Photo Tom Grotta.

Up next in our series, we highlighted the work of artist, Nancy Moore Bess. Based in California, Bess is an artist who views tradition as a reference point rather than a boundary. Her journey has revolved around the idea of mystery and containment within the realm of basketry, and she brings a unique twist to her creations using lids and closures inspired by her time living in Japan.

When creating, Bess seamlessly weaves together the practicality of traditional basketry with an enigmatic, and almost secretive allure. Her works beckon viewers to imagine the hidden treasures they might hold.

We are continuously impressed by the work Bess creates, and that’s exactly why we wanted to shine a light on her, so our audiences can see it too!

 Warren Seeling
7was.1 Shadowfield/ Colored Light/ Single by Warren Seeling, silver brazed stainless steel/ mixed colored plexiglass, 36” x 21” x 8”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Nearing the end of the month, we brought you all art from the one and only, Warren Seeling. Seelig’s impact on the art world is significant, with his work featured in over 30 major museum exhibitions worldwide. His relentless exploration of possibilities within textile and fiber art continues to inspire and challenge conventional ideas of texture, weight, and form.

Warren Seelig’s journey as an artist has been marked by a relentless pursuit of innovation. Back in the late ’70s, he ventured into creating structural, fan-like works, using mylar frames and introducing a unique double-weave technique that pushed the boundaries of traditional textile art. Over time, Seelig’s focus evolved, leading him to craft suspended spoke-and-axle pieces and wall-mounted shadow fields.

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
561mv.1 Repos + Paix, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, brushed wool, aluminum, 48″ x 54″, 1988.
Photo by Tom Grotta.

To close out our series for the month, we brought you art from the late artist, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. With a career spanning four decades, she left an indelible mark on the world of tapestries and sculptures, captivating collectors and commissions across the globe.

Rousseau-Vermette’s artistic journey took her from the Quebec School of Fine Arts to working alongside Dorothy Liebes in California. She later participated in five International Tapestry Biennials in Lausanne, using these opportunities to connect with artists worldwide. In the 1980s, she made significant contributions as part of the Art and Architecture program, ultimately heading the Fibers Department at the Banff Center for the Fine Arts.

It’s no wonder why her achievements are so widely recognized! She is truly one of the best.

We hope you enjoyed our January series! Stay tuned for more ‘New This Week’ features in the months ahead.