Monthly archives: June, 2024

Discourse — the book, out now

Discourse: across generations catalog

Our 59th catalog, Discourse: art across generations and continents, is now available from the website. As you may know, we produce our catalogs in house. If you’ve purchased a copy, you should have gotten a Handle With Care insert that reads: ”Each browngrotta arts catalog is individually printed and hand bound. Once you have a copy in hand, please treat it gently. If you crack the spine to see if the pages will flutter out, they just might. So, please don’t. Thanks.” Our catalogs “have never been anything but labors of love,” Glenn Adamson observed on the occasion of our 50th catalog, “quite literally products of a family concern, a cottage industry.” (“Beyond Measure,” Glenn Adamson, Volume 50: Chronicling FIber Art for Three Decadesbrowngrotta arts, Wilton, CT, 2020.)

New Press

This Spring we had a brief delay in producing while we acquired a new printing press — smaller, faster, and with more bells and whistles. Our previous press, which we bought second-hand, had given up the ghost in May. But it did not give up until browngrotta arts had published more than a million pages, mostly on fiber art and artists. Our new printer has expanded features: it can handle heavier and larger sheets and spot varnish.

Mika Watanabe spread
Mika Watanabe spread

In Discourse: art across generations and continents, you’ll find work by 61 artists from 20 countries. There are 176 pages and hundreds of color photographs, including details. There are also short compilations of collections, exhibitions, and awards for each artist included.

Federica Luzzi spread
Federica Luzzi spread

Also included in the Discourse catalog is an insightful essay by Erika Diamond, an artist and curator and the Associate Director of CVA Galleries at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. In “Consonance of Strings,” Diamond identifies several themes that influence the artists in Discourse. These include textiles like Federica Luzzi’s and Mika Watanabe’s that mirror the human body, works like Stéphanie Jacques’ exploration of the void, that express a yearning for connection, and those  finding order in chaos and harmony in disorder like the subversively “crushed” baskets by Polly Barton. Diamond makes broader observations about textiles’ ability to provide interconnections and common ground for viewers. She compares textiles to quantum physics’ theory of vibrating strings of energy making up the world. Textiles, she sees as “… lines in space — stitches, braids, weavings — moving and bending in search of unity and reconciliation between even the most vastly different materials and ideas.”

installation spread
installation spread: works by Adela Akers, Thomas Hucker, Norma Minkowitz, Neha Puri Dhir, John McQueen on the left and Lia Cook, Ed Rossbach , Sue Lawty on the right

Get your copy of the Discourse catalog from our website: It’s a good read!

Dispatches: Washington, D.C.

We travelled to Washington, D.C. this past weekend in search of art and archival info. 

We had some delicious meals — Indian (The Bombay Club), Latin Fusion (Mercy Me), lox and bagels, (Call Your Mother) and returned to Shashuka (Tatte), a dish we first discovered in South Africa.

We did some great walking — DC is a very pedestrian-friendly town. 

We scheduled the trip as a celebration of textiles. We visited three exceptional exhibitions — Subversive, Skilled, Sublime at the Renwick, Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction at the National Gallery, Irresistible: The Global Patterns of Ikat at the George Washington University and The Textile Museum, and did some research on artists and art history at the Archives of American Art. (We’ll cover exhibition specifics in upcoming posts on arttextstyle.)

In addition to catching up with artists, curators, and friends at Sublime, we learned something interesting about the Renwick. The building was completed in 1874 and opened as DC’s first art museum, housing William Wilson Cochran’s collection of European and American art, In 1899, the building was comandeered by the Court of Claims. In the 1950s, the Court proposed demolishing the building. Happily, it was saved by First Lady, and tireless patron of the arts, Jacqueline Kennedy in 1963. President Lyndon Johnson transferred the building to the Smithsonian Institution for use as “a gallery of crafts, art, and design.” It was renovated in 1972 amd again in 2013. Between 2016 and 2023, 176,000 people have visited.

We also visited the National Gallery, East Building to see Woven Histories which has traveled from LACMA in California and which will arrive at MoMA in New York in 2025. We’ll share images and info about Woven Histories in a future post.

The National Gallery is a delight — an inspired building — widely considered I.M. Pei’s most ambitious architectural design. (Side note: David Ling, the architect behind the renovation and addition to browngrotta arts’ home/barn/gallery, worked for I.M. Pei.) The East Building houses the National Gallery’s collection of modern and contemporary art and temporary exhibitions. From the Alexander Calder sculpture in the lobby to the massive Urula von Rydingsvard wood sculpture and the striking Theaster Gates work on the 2nd floor mezzanine, to the permanent collection itself (500 works), there is much to see. Hard to pick just a few highlights but we wlll. They include: 45 Calder sculptures and paintings, a choice selection of works from the Washington Color School of the 50s and 60s, including Kenneth Noland and Alma Thomas, and an impressive collection of Mark Rothko paintings (who is a major influence for several artists who work with browngrotta arts).

Our last stop was The Textile Museum at George Washington University for Irresistible…(Watch this space in future weeks for more on that ikat exhibition.) The Museum’s collection is truly remarkable — 21,000 objects in all, Rugs and Textiles from the Islamic World, East and Southeast Asian Textiles, African Textiles, and Indigenous American Textiles. In 2016, the Museum began collecting textiles from the 20th and 21st centuries to showcase textiles as a “vibrant medium of contemporary expression.” The contemporary collection includes works by Ed Rossbach, Lia Cook, Helena Hernmarck, Cynthia Schira, James Bassler, and Polly Barton. 

The Museum also houses one of the most significant textile study collections ever assembled. Nearly 4000 fragments from around the world are housed in the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, compiled by philanthropist and collector, Lloyd Cotsen, who was also a patron of browngrotta arts.

One of the great things about museum hopping in DC — so many of them are free!! We just scratched the surface in the three days we were there.

The National Museum of the American IndianNational Museum of African American History and Culture and National Museum of Women in the Arts are our first stops for our next trip. (If Rhonda hadn’t been there twice already, The International Spy Museum, would be high on the list, too — it’s great fun.)

More Pop-Ups Please!

Space 67 - bogarts Pop-Up installation
From left to right: Repos + Paix-side by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Embarrilado Azul by Carolina Yrarrázaval, Fire Fright and Range Fire by Lewis Knauss, CMA-CGM by Laura Foster Nicholson, Arm & Hammer by John McQueen and Peninsula by Mary Merkel-Hess. Photo by Tom Grotta

We had a chance to do an expanded Pop-Up at Space67 in Norwalk, CT last month. We were first asked to curate an exhibition that would be enjoyed by individuals who attended The Supper Club. Then, with the exhibition in place, we decided to create a public Pop Up for one day and invite our fans, people in Norwalk, and those just walking by. 

Haiti inspired Chicken Tender
Haiti-inspired, Braised chicken tender in creole sauce – yuka – plantain crisp – cilantro avocado salsa verde was one of extraordinary seven courses served at The Supper Club. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Supper Club dinner was a project of the Kitchen Incubator at the Village Community Foundation in Stamford, CT. The Incubator Program at The Village is a nonprofit program that supports local, diverse entrepreneurs and startups in the food and beverage industry. 

Supper Club Chefs
Chefs Xavier Santiago, Marta Garcia, and Ivan Romero, their crew, and Village Community Foundation President, Jon Winkel, addressing diners. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Supper Club at Space67 involved three exceptional chefs — Chef Xavier Santiago, Chef Marta Garcia, and Chef Ivan Romero — who, with a talented crew, prepared a 7-course meal with offerings from Colombia, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Dominican Republican. 

Supper Club at Space 67
Between courses at Space 67. Photo by Tom Grotta

Sixty people were served, music was provided by The Briefly Educated & Friends and a great time was had by all!

browngrotta Pop-up Space 67 art exhibition
Falling Fruit by John McQueen, Cimbreante by Eduardo and María Eugenia Dávila Portillo and Pre-Columbian Meets Mid-Century Modern by James Bassler. Photo by Carter Grotta

In support of the South American food and drinks (Cuba Libre, Clarified Piña Colada, and Hibiscus Lemonade) that were served, we chose a Pan-American theme for the works we exhibited: Continental Divide: Fiber Art from North and South America included artists from Chile, Venezuela, Canada, and the US. Falling Fruit by John McQueen, Carolina Yrråzaval’s Embarrilado AzulCimbreante by Eduardo Portillo and María Davila and CMA-CGM by Laura Foster Nicholson were among the most-commented-upon works in the exhibition.

John McQueen and MAry Merkel-Hess
Arm & Hammer by John McQueen and Peninsula by Mary Merkel-Hess. Photo by Tom Grotta

For the public Pop-Up we added work by Mary Merkel-Hess and a large sculpture by John McQueen.

Claude Vermette by the vaults
Coq-de-Bruyere by Claude Vermette by the Vaults. Photo by Tom Grotta

Pop-Ups serve an important objective of ours at browngrotta arts — to bring fine fiber art to more and varied audiences. Watch for more!