Category: Art Textiles

Japandí: Shared Sensibilities, Side by Side

In curating and installing our current exhibition, Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences we paired works in which we saw similarities and parallels. Here are some examples of affinities we saw. Join us at Japandí through October 3rd and find your own.

Jiro Yonezawa, Ecdysis, bamboo, urushi lacquer, 27” x 8” x 5.75”, 2019; Mia Olsson, Together, relief, sisal fibers, acrylic, 17.75” x 15” x 3”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta

Minimalism is an aesthetic element appreciated by artists in Japan and the Nordic countries and listed as part of Japandi. Here, a minimalist work, Together, by Mia Olsson of Sweden sits aside an abstract bamboo sculpture, Ecdysis, 2019, by Jiro Yonezawa. Yonezawa uses bamboo strips to create a multitude of simple, nontraditional forms.  

Agneta Hobin Mica
Detail: Agneta Hobin, Claire De Lune II, Untitled, mica, steel, 18” x 27” x 2.5”, 2001-2

Meticulous craftsmanship is another Japandi element. Stainless steel fibers are masterfully incorporated into the work of three of the artists in this exhibition. Agneta Hobin of Finland weaves the fine threads into mesh, incorporating mica and folding the material into shapes — fans, strips and bridges. Jin-Sook So’s work is informed by time spent in Korea, Sweden and Japan. She uses transparent stainless steel mesh cloth, folded, stitched, painted and electroplated to create shimmering objects for the wall or tabletop. The past and present are referenced in So’s work in ways that are strikingly modern and original.  She has used steel mesh to create contemporary Korean pojagi and to re-envision common objects — chairs, boxes and bowls. Kyoko Kumai of Japan spins the fibers into ethereal, silver landscapes.

Kyoko Kumai Steel detail
32kk Memory, Kyoko Kumai, stainless steel filaments, 41” x 19” x 19”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta
Jin-Sook So steel mesh construction detail
Detail: Konstruktion B, Jin-Sook So, steel mesh, electroplated, silver, gold, paint and steel thread, 18.75″ x 19.75″ x 2.55″, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta

Another aspect of the Japandi approach is an appreciation of natural and sustainable materials. Both Norwegian-American Kari Lønning and Japanese artists Kazue Honma work in akebia— a vine, harvested thousands of miles apart. Here are details of Lønning’s multicolored rendering of akebia and a plaited work of mulberry from Kazue Honma. Both artists highlight the wide variation of colors found in the material with which they work.

Detail: Kari Lønning, 74kl Akebia Tower, akebia, 10.5” x 4” x 4.5”, 2021
Kazue Honma Plaited basket
Detail: Kazue Honma, Capricious Plaiting, plaited paper, mulberry bark, 10.5″ x 18″ x 12.5″, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

Join us at our Fall Art in the Barn exhibition, Japandí: shared aesthetics and influences through October 3rd, see our parallel pairings and envision some of your own. 39 artists present more than 150 works. browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. 

We’ve expanded our hours during the week.

Wednesday, September 29th through Saturday, October 2nd: 10 to 6

Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6

Advanced time reservations are mandatory • Masks required • Covid protocols • No high heels please (barn floors). http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/japandi.php

A full-color catalog, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences, is available for order at: https://store.browngrotta.com/japandi-shared-aesthetics-and-influences/


We’ve been hard at work — come see the results. Japandí opens this week!

Our Japandí exhibition features 39 artists from Japan, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden and over 150 individual works. Here are details about just a few of the artworks that the exhibition includes.

Ane Henrsen portrait
Ane Henriksen preparing the material for Reserve. Photo by Ole Gravesen

A striking wall work, Reserve, by Ane Henriksen of Denmark is featured in Japandí. Henriksen originally found the material covered with oil spots, washed up along the sea by the west coast of Denmark – fishermen use it, on the table in the galley, so the plates don’t slide of when they are on the high seas. The piece also incorporates webbed, rubber matting, colored with acrylic paint. The warp is silk glued together with viscose (from Japan). “Nature is threatened,” says Henriksen. “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 and spur thoughts of how human activity is a threat against nature. By framing the nature motif museum-like in a solid oak frame, I try to make you aware how we store small natural remains in reserves – in the same way we store exquisite objects from our past history in our museums.”

Birgit Birkkjaer portrait
Birgit Birkkjaer at work. Photo by Kræn Ole Birkkjær

Also included in the exhibition are baskets by Danish artist Birgit Birkkjaer. They are made of black linen and Japanese tatami paper yarn (black and hand dyed with rust). “The technique I used for the structure is rya,” she reports, “which was known in Scandinavia already in the Viking Age — and from the 1950s until the 1970s as a trend started by Danish/Finnish artist collectives. So, the baskets have roots in both Japan and Scandinavia.”

Norie Hatakeyama portrait
Norie Hatakeyama creating paper-plaited work. Photo by Ray Tanaka

Among the works on display from Japan are intricately plaited objects created by Norie Hatakeyama. The artist works with factory-made paper-packing tape to realize her geometric concerns. It is an experimental material that enables her to break free from traditional limitations.

“My work stems from an impulse to redefine both material and method,” says Hatakeyama. Her intricately plaited, three-dimensional works possess the energy of growing organisms. “The works ‘defy the viewer to imagine how they were accomplished,’”art critic and author Janet Koplos has observed.

Jiro Yonezawa at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine. Photo by Tom Grotta

Jiro Yonezawa is also represented in Japandí with several works. Yonezawa is known for innovative bamboo basketry based on traditional techniques. He says that his recent baskets “represent a search for the beauty and precision in nature and a way to balance the chaos evident in these times.” The search for balance and harmony is one of the elements attributed to Japandi style.

Please join us!

The hours of the exhibtion are: 

Opening and Artist Reception: Saturday, September 25th: 11 to 6

Sunday, September 26th: 11 to 6

Monday, September 27th through Saturday October 2nd: 10 to 5

Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6

Advanced time reservations are mandatory; Appropriate Covid protocols will be followed. Masks will be required. There is a full-color catalog, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences, prepared for the exhibition available at for pre-order at:  https://store.browngrotta.com/japandi-shared-aesthetics-and-influences/


Elements of Japandi: Hygge Meets Wabi Sabi

browngrotta arts’ Fall “Art in the Barn” exhibition, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences opens on Saturday, September 25th at 11 a.m. and runs through October 3rd. The exhibition features 39 artists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Japan and explores artistic affinities among artists from Scandinavia and Japan. Artwork and design from these areas often incorporate several elements — natural materials and sustainability, minimalism and exquisite craftsmanship. In addition, some observers see similarities between the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi and the Scandinavian concept of hygge as making up a fourth aesthetic element that the regions share.

Writer Lucie Ayres notes that, “[i]n traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete (rough and organic textures. worn and weathered objects, colors that mimic nature) …. Hygge is a [related] Danish and Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment (soft textures, sentimental items, comfortable environs).”  (“A Knowledge Post: The Difference Between Wabi-Sabi, Hygge and Feng Shui,” Lucie Ayres, 22 Interiors, March 26, 2020).

Subcontinet by Toshio Sekiji
Toshio Sekiji, 28ts Subcontinent, red, green, black, natural lacquer, Hindi (Delhi), Malayalam (Kerala State) newspapers, 77.25” x 73.25” x 2.625”, 1998. Photo by Tom Grotta

Several artists in the Japandi exhibition evidence an appreciation for repurposing and appreciating materials as wabi-sabi envisions. Toshio Sekiji’s works are made of newspapers from Japan and India; one of Kazue Honma’s works is of Japanese telephone book pages. Paper is a material that creates an atmosphere as well as art. Eva Vargö, a Swedish artist who has spent many years in Japan, describes how Washington paper, when produced in the traditional way, has a special quality — light filters through paper from lamps and shoji screen doors creates a warm and special feeling, in keeping with the sense encompassed in wabi-sabi and hygge.

Japan by Eva Vargo
Eva Vargö, 7ev Japandí, Japanese and Korean book papers, 23.5” x 22.375” x 2.5”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta

Vargö admires the way the Japanese recreate worn textiles into new garments in boro and recreate cracked ceramics with lacquer through kintsugi. That’s the reason she reuses old Japanese and Korean book papers and lets them “find ways into my weavings.” By giving them a second life she honors those who have planted the trees, produced the paper, made the books, filled them with words and also their readers.

Reserve by Ane Henriksen
Ane Henriksen, 30ah Reserve , linen, silk, acrylic painted rubber matting, oak frame, 93.75” x 127.625” x 2.5”, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

“Anything made by real craftsmanship – objects created out of wood, ceramics, wool, leather and so on – is hyggeligt …. ‘The rustic, organic surface of something imperfect, and something that has been or will be affected by age appeals to the touch of hygge,” writes Meik Wiking, author of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living (The Happiness Institute Series) William Morrow, 2017). Danish artist Åne Henriksen’s work uses the non-skid material from the backside of carpets and series of knots to create contemplative images that are engaging from a distance, and rough and textured up close. Jane Balsgaard, also from Denmark, uses wood and paper to create objects that reference boats and sails and wings, referencing the old as well as the organic by sometimes incorporating artifacts in her works.

Polynesian Boat by Jane Balsgaard
Janes Balsgaard, piece of Polynesian boat creates an artifact. Photo by Nils Holm, From Înfluences from Japan in Danish Art and Design, 1870 – 2010, Mirjam Gelfer-Jorgensen.

“I’ve never been to Scandinavia,” says Keiji Nio, “but I admire the Scandinavian lifestyle. The interior of my living room, furniture and textiles have been used for more than 25 years, but I still feel the simple and natural life that does not feel old.” Nio finds that artists from Japan and Scandinavia each have an affinity for calming colors. “When I saw the production process of the students from Finland at the university where I work, I was convinced that they had a similar shy character and simple color scheme similar to the Japanese.”

Join us at Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences to experience accents of wabi-sabi and hygge in person. The exhibition features 39 artists from Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The hours of exhibition are: Opening and Artist Reception: Saturday, September 25th, 11 to 6

Sunday, September 26th: 11 to 6

Monday, September 27th through Saturday October 2nd: 10 to 5

Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6 

20 people/hour; Advance reservations are mandatory; Covid protocols will be followed. 

There will be a full-color catalog prepared for the exhibition available at browngrotta.com on September 24th.


Elements of Japandi: Minimalism and Simplicity

The term Japandi combines Japan and Scandinavia to reference aesthetic approaches shared by artisans in the two areas. browngrotta arts will be explore these affinities in our upcoming exhibition, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences (September 25 – October 3, 2021)Among the approaches that these cultures share is an appreciation for minimalism and simplicity. “Minimalist and mid-century designers have always been inspired by the design culture of Japan, so the cross between Scandinavian and Japanese design is rooted in a storied tradition. Today, in the Japandi style, we see more of a fusion of these two aesthetics, which makes them feel like equal partners in the space,” observes Alessandra Wood, Vice President of Style, Modsy (Jessica Bennett, “Japandi Style Is the Laidback Home Trend We’ve Been Waiting For,” Better Homes and Gardens, January 05, 2021).

Grethe Wittrock Detail
The Second Cousin, Grethe Wittrock (Denmark) white paperyarn knotted on steelplate, 67” x 78.75”, 2006. Photo by Tom Grotta

Danish artist Grethe Wittrock’s work includes expanses of twisted paper strands in single colors — minimal and simple yet powerful expressions of what Finnish Designer Alvar Aalto called “the language of materials.” Wittrock observed the similar appreciation for minimalism firsthand when she traveled to Japan and studied with Japanese paper makers and renowned indigo dyer, Shihoko Fukomoto. “I started to uncover what Nordic sensibilities are by living abroad,” Wittrock says. “I lived in Kyoto, and saw an aesthetic in Japanese design similar to the Nordic tradition. You could say that there is an agreement that less is more. As they say in the Nordic countries ‘even less is even more.’”

Tamika Kawata
Tamika Kawata, Permutation 7, Japanese safety pins, canvas on a wood board, 32” x 29.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Japanese artists have made similar observations. Tamiko Kawata, born in Japan, but living in New York for many years, reports working as an artist/designer position with a prominent glass company in Tokyo after four years of sculpture composition, architectural drawing and photography courses at University. “In those years, I often discussed the affinities of Scandinavian craft works with my colleagues. ‘Why do we appreciate skilful craft works? How can we produce them with a similar approach to understanding the skills in handicrafts and understanding the natural materials and the appreciation for simplicity that we share ?’” Kawata’s very first design, a set of crystal glass bowls, were exhibited with Scandinavian works in the SEIBU department store in Tokyo in 1959. They were purchased by Swedish artist/designer Stig Lindbergh who pronounced them the “most original glass designs in Japan.” It was so thrilling to me,” she says. “I was just 23 years old.” 

Gudrun Pagter detail
Detail of Gudrun Pagter’s http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/pagter.php Thin Green Horizon, sisal, linen and flax, 45.5” x 55.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Gudrun Pagter is another Danish artist whose abstract works in primary colors reflect the modernism for which Scandinavia is known. “From the exotic and foreign land we find an aesthetically common understanding of a minimalist idiom,” Pagter says, “an understanding of the core of a composition — that is, cutting off everything ‘unnecessary.'” Pagter expresses this minimalist idiom in her work. In Thin, Green Horizon, her composition expresses a form of landscape. It might be the horizon between heaven and sea, or between heaven and earth, she says. In any case, the framed field shifts the horizontal line. There is a shade of difference between the two blue colors, the blue is slightly lighter in the framed field. The thin, horizontal line is made with many shades of blue and green thin linen. The main color is blue, but the thin, green horizon is essential to the whole picture. Pagter notes, “My old weaving teacher at the School of Design, said 40 years ago, ‘you have to be brave to express oneself simply, as a minimalist’ … I’m brave enough now, maybe!!”  

Kay Sekimachi weavings
Lines 2017, 10 Lines, 11 Lines, 17 Lines, 25 Squares, Kay Sekimachi linen, polyester warp, permanent marker, 13.5” x 13.5”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

A series of simple weavings by Kay Sekimachi, a Japanese-American artist who lives in California, is a testament to restraint. Her spare markings on handwoven fabrics reference the paintings of Paul Klee and Agnes Martin .”Order is fundamental,” to the Japanese approach, observes Hema Interiors in its style blog, “but it’s an order based on balance, fleeing from symmetry and overly controlled spaces. The decorative elements are important to give personal brushstrokes to the spaces, always resorting to simple and organic elements”  (“Wabi Sabi Interiors,” Comparar Estilios de Decoración, Hema Interiors).

Join us at Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences to see more examples of ways these elements are exchanged and expressed. The exhibition features 39 artists from Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark. The hours of exhibtion are: Opening and Artist Reception: Saturday, September 25th: 11 to 6; Sunday, September 26th: 11 to 6; Monday, September 27th through Saturday October 2nd: 10 to 5; Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6; Advanced time reservations are mandatory; Appropriate Covid protocols will be followed. There will be a full-color catalog prepared for the exhibition available at browngrotta.com on September 24th.


Lives well lived: Sandra Grotta

Sandra Grotta at her 80th birthday party. Jewelry by David Watkins, Gerd Rothmann and Eva Eisler. Photo by Tom Grotta

browngrotta arts is devasted by the loss of Sandra Grotta, our extraordinary collector and patron and mother and grandmother. Sandy and her husband Lou have been pivotal in the growth of browngrotta arts through their advice and unerring support. Sandy graduated from the University of Michigan and the New York School of Interior Design. For four decades, she provided interior design assistance to dozens of clients — many through more than one home and office. She encouraged them to live with craft art, as she and Lou had done, placing works by Toshiko Takezu, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Helena Hernmarck, Gyöngy Laky, Markku Kosonen, Mary Merkel-Hess and many other artists in her clients’ homes. Among her greatest design talents was persuading people to de-accession pieces they had inherited, but never loved, to make way for art and furnishings that provided them joy. Sandy was a uniquely confident collector and she shared that conviction with her clients.  

Her own collecting journey began in the late 1950s, when she and Lou first stepped into the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City after a visit to the Museum of Modern Art. “The Museum’s exhibitions, many of whose objects were for sale in its store, caused a case of love at first sight. It quickly became a founding source of many craft purchases to follow,” Sandy told Patricia Malarcher in 1982 (“Crafts,” The New York Times, Patricia Malarcher, October 24, 1982). It was a walnut table ”with heart” on view at MoCC that would irrevocably alter the collectors’ approach. The table was by Joyce and Edgar Anderson, also from New Jersey. The Grottas sought the artists out and commissioned the first of many works commissioned and acquired throughout the artists’ lifetimes, including a roll-top desk, maple server and a sofa-and-table unit that now live in browngrotta arts’ gallery space. She followed the advice she would give to others:  “When we saw the Andersons’ woodwork,” Sandy remembered, “we knew everything else had to go,” Sandy told Glenn Adamson. From the success of that first commission, the Grottas’ art exploration path was set. The Andersons introduced the Grottas to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “The Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” Sandy said, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator.”  

Sandra Grotta in her Maplewood, NJ living room
Sandra Grotta in her Maplewood, NJ living room surrounded by works by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, Peter Vouklos, William Wyman, Toshiko Takaezu, Rudy Autio, Joyce and Edgar Anderson and Charle Loloma. Photo by Tom Grotta

When Objects USA: the Johnson Wax Collection, opened in New York in 1972 at MoCC, by then renamed the American Craft Museum, the Grottas began discovering work further afield. ”Objects USA was my Bible,” Sandy told Malarcher describing how she would search out artists, ceramists, woodworkers and jewelers. A trip to Ariel, Washington, led the Grottas to commission an eight-foot-tall Kwakiutl totem pole for the front hall by Chief Don Lelooska. Sandy ordered a bracelet by Charles Loloma from a picture in a magazine. ”I always got a little nervous when the packages came, but I’ve never been disappointed,” Sandy told Malarcher. ”Craftsmen are a special breed.” Toshiko Takaezu, as an example, would require interested collectors like the Grottas to come by her studio in Princeton, NJ, a few times first to “interview” before she’d permit them to acquire special works. It took 15 years and several studio visits each year for the Grottas to convince the artist to part with the “moon pot” that anchors their formidable Takaezu collection. Jewelers Wendy Ramshaw and David Watkins in the UK also became dear friends as Sandy developed a world-class jewelry collection. At one point, in a relationship that included weekly transatlantic calls, Sandy told Wendy she needed “everyday earrings.” Wendy responded with earrings for every day – seven pairs in fact. “For me, the surprise was that they found me,” says John McQueen. “I lived in Western New York state far from the hubbub of the art world.” McQueen says that he discovered they the Grotta’s were completely open to any new aesthetic experience. “from that moment, we established a strong connection, that has led to a rapport that has continued through the years – a close personal and professional relationship.”

Sandy Grotta's bust by Norma Minkowitz
Norma Minkowitz’s portrait of Sandy Grotta sourounded by artwork’s by Alexander Lichtveld, Bodil Manz, Lenore Tawney, Ann Hollandale, Kay Sekimachi, Ed Rossbach, Toshiko Takaezu, Laurie Hall. Photo by Tom Grotta

Their accumulation of objects has grown to include more that 300 works of art and pieces of jewelry by dozens of artists, and with their Richard Meier home, has been the subject of two books. The most recent, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft, was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta of bga. They don’t consider themselves collectors in the traditional sense, content to exhibit art on just walls and surfaces. Sandy and Lou’s efforts were aimed at creating a home. They filled every aspect of their lives with handcrafted objects from silver- and tableware to teapots to clothing to studio jewelry and commissioned pillows, throws and canes, a direction she also recommended for her interior design clients. The result, writes Glenn Adamson in The Grotta Home,”is a home that is at once totally livable and deeply aesthetic.” Among the additional artists whose work the Grottas acquired for their home were wood worker Thomas Hucker, textile and fiber artists Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney and Norma Minkowitz, ceramists Peter Voulkos, Ken Ferguson and William Wyman and jewelers Gijs Bakker, Giampaolo Babetto, Axel Russmeyer and Eva Eisler. They have traveled to Japan, the UK, Czechoslovakia, Germany and across the US to view art and architecture and meet with artists.

Perhaps their most ambitious commission was the Grotta House, by Richard Meier. Designed to house and highlight craft and completed in 1989, it is a source of constant delight for the couple, with its shifting light, showcased views of woodlands and wildlife and engaging spaces for object installation. The Grottas were far more collaborative clients than is typical for Meier. “From our very first discussions,” Meier has written,”it was clear that their vast collection of craft objects and Sandy’s extensive experience as an interior designer would be an important in the design of the house.“ The sensitivity with which the collection was integrated into Meier’s design produced “an enduring harmony between an ever-changing set of objects and they space they occupy.” The unique synergy between objects and architecture is evident decades later, even as the collection has evolved.  Despite his “distinct — and ornament-free — visual language, Meier created a building that lets decorative objects take a leading role on the architectural stage,” notes Osman Can Yerebakan in Introspective magazine (“Tour a Richard Meier–Designed House That Celebrates American Craft,” Osman Can Yerebakan, Introspective, February 23, 2020). The house project had an unexpected benefit — a professional partnership between Sandy and Grotta House project manager, David Ling, that would result in memorable art exhibition and living spaces designed for the homes and offices of many of Sandy’s design clients.

Sandy and Lou became patrons of the American Craft Museum in 1970s. As a member of the Associates committee she organized several annual fundraisers for the Museum, including Art for the Table, E.A.T. at McDonald’s and Art to Wear, sometimes with her close friend, Jack Lenor Larsen, another assured acquirer, as co-chair. At the openings, she would sport an artist-made piece of jewelry or clothing, sometimes both, and often it was an item that arrived or was finished literally hours before the event. “I wear all my jewelry,” she told Metalsmith Magazine in 1991 (Donald Freundlich and Judith Miller, “The State of Metalsmithing and Jewelry,” Metalsmith Magazine, Fall 1991) “I love to go to a party where everyone is wearing pearls and show up in a wild necklace …. I have a house brooch by Künzli – a big red house that you wear on your shoulder. I can go to a party in a wild paper necklace and feel as good about it as someone else does in diamonds.” Sandy served on the Board of the by-then-renamed Museum of Arts and Design, stepping down in 2019. 

Portrait of Sandy Grotta
Sandra Grotta Portrait in Florida Apartment in front of sculptures by Dawn MacNutt and a tapestry by Jun Tomita

From its inception, Sandy served as a trusted advisor, cheerleader and cherished client to browngrotta arts. She introduced us to artists, to her design clients and Museum colleagues. Questions of aesthetic judgment — are there too many works in this display? too much color? does this work feel unfinished? imitative? decorative? — were presented to her for review. (She was unerring on etiquette disputes, too.) The debt we owe her is enormous; the void she leaves is large indeed. We can only say thank you, we love you and your gifts will live on.

You can learn more about Sandy’s life and legacy on The Grotta House website: https://grottahouse.com and in the book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft available from browngrotta at: https://store.browngrotta.com/the-grotta-home-by-richard-meier-a-marriage-of-architecture-and-craft/.

The family appreciates memorial contributions to the Sandra and Louis Grotta Foundation, Inc., online at https://joingenerous.com/louis-and-sandra-grotta-foundation-inc-r5yelcd or by mail to The Louis and Sandra Grotta Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 766, New Vernon, NJ 07976-0000.


New for Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences – Meet Gjertrud Hals

Portrait of Gjertrud Halls
Artist portrait by Omar Sejnæs

The Fall 2021 exhibition, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences at browngrotta arts begins on September 25th and runs through October 3rd. It will explore common aesthetic approaches between artists in Scandinavian and Japan. It features 39 artists from Japan, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. One of those artists is Gjertrud Hals of Norway whose work will be shown at browngrotta arts for the first time.

Educated as a tapestry weaver, Hals soon began experimenting with other techniques. The manner in which fiber innovators Sheila Hicks, Claire Zeisler and Magdalena Abakanowicz explored the sculpture possibilities of the medium interested and informed her work. She has worked with fishing nets, cotton and linen threads, paper pulp, metals, crochet and lacework. Her breakthrough came in the late 1980s with Lava, an innovative series of urns made of cotton and flax pulp that were 3-feet high. These vessels marked her transition from textile to fiber art.

Terra 2021-2
2gh Terra 2021-2, Gjertrud Halls, linen thread, resin, 16.5″ x 10″ x 10″, 2021

Hals has spent time in many countries, including India, Jordan, Norway and Japan. Her experiences there influence her work, in the ways the Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences exhibition seeks to highlight. “I was born and raised on a small island on the northwestern coast of Norway,” she writes, “and this has to a large extent influenced my artwork. As a seasoned traveler I have observed many different cultures. Much of my artistic work is an attempt at expressing the connection between the islands micro-history and the world’s macro-history.”

Japan was one of the areas that has had a significant impact on Hals. “In my community, many men, and a few women, were working on ships sailing to America and the Far East. They were bringing home items from an exotic world; my uncle gave us a lamp of translucent shells that I never could get enough of! Since the few rare and exotic things we had in our modest post-war homes often were bought in places like Yokohama and Kobe, Japan early became the far away country I was dreaming of.” 

Terra 2021 details
Terra, 2021 series detail. Photo by Tom Grotta

Hals became interested in Zen Buddhism as a young artist in the 70s. Simplicity, meditation and paradox were aspects of Zen aesthetics that appealed to me.  So, when I eventually came to Japan, in 1989, I thought I was well informed.” However, she was not prepared for Shintoism, she writes, Japan’s ancient, nature-worshipping religion. which had a major impact on her. “Coming home, I felt a strong urge to find something in my own culture that could make sense of this experience. It led me to Voluspå; the Song of the Sybil, one of the most important epic poems in Norse mythology. Since then, I have returned to these sources again and again.”

Arte Morbida writes that Hals’ knitted vessels “show the close relationship between the three emotional components of our aesthetic perception: light, a living and impalpable material that conveys emotions and moods, shadow, that transforms and hides, and form, which gives body and substance to the idea.” 

Terra 2021-7-8
8gh Terra 2021-8, Gjertrud Halls, copper and iron wire, 8.25″ x 8.25″ x 8.25″, 2021; 7gh Terra 2021-7, Gjertrud Halls, twigs thread, paper pulp, 8″ x 9″ x 9″, 2021

We are delighted to present eight of Hals’ works at our upcoming exhibtion, Japandi: shared aesthetics and influences. The hours of exhibition are: Opening and Artist Reception: Saturday, September 25th: 11 to 6; Sunday, September 26th: 11 to 6; Monday, September 27th through Saturday October 2nd: 10 to 5; Sunday, October 3rd: 11 to 6; Advanced time reservations are mandatory; Appropriate Covid protocols will be followed. There will be a full-color catalog prepared for the exhibition available at browngrotta.com on September 24th.

Make an appointment through Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/japandi-shared-aesthetics-and-influences-tickets-165829802403.


Art Out and About – Exhibitions in the US and Abroad

With mask requirements and other safety protocols in place, museums worldwide are reopening with new exhibitions. From West to East — and a couple abroad — here are several worth traveling to see. Stay safe when you go!

International Fiber Arts X 
through September 21, 2021
Sebastopol Center for the Arts 
282 South High Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472 
info@sebarts.org
https://www.sebarts.org

Dolphin of the Ganges
Neha Puri Dhir’s Dolphin of the Ganges. Photo by Neha Puri Dhir

Our own Neha Puri Dhir took 2nd place in the International Fiber Arts X exhibition at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in California. The winning work, Dolphin of the Ganges, was created in tribute to a sea creature that has become endangered. “I grew up on the banks of the River Ganges, in the picturesque town of Haridwar amongst lush forest and rich riverine life,” writes Dhir. “The Ganges Dolphin that once thrived in these waters has now disappeared – a victim of the pollution from indiscriminate development in this hilly region. This work is a memorial to a majestic creature and a warning against the irreversible damage caused by human activity.” Kyoko Kumai’s work, Moonlight Wind-L was also selected for the exhibition.

Kay Sekimachi: Geometries
through October 24, 2021
Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive
2155 Center Street Berkeley, CA
(510) 642-0808
bampfa@berkeley.edu 
https://bampfa.org/program/virtual/kay-sekimachi-geometries

Kay Sekimachi: Geometries
Kay Sekimachi: Geometries. Photo by Johnna Arnold

In nearby Berkeley, Kay Sekimachi: Geometries is on view. Curated by Janelle Porter, Geometries includes more than 50 objects that highlight the Sekimchi’s material and formal innovations across her career. First recognized for her woven monofilament sculptures, made between 1964 and 1974, Sekimachi has since used linear, pliable elements—monofilament, thread, and paper, among other materials—to create experimental objects that fold together art and craft, found and made, and Japanese and American artistic traditions. 

Olga de Amaral: To Weave a Rock
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Through September 19, 2021
Audrey Jones Beck Building
5601 Main Street
713.639.7300
https://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/olga-de-amaral-to-weave-a-rock

Olga de Amaral, Brumas (Mists), 2013, acrylic, gesso, and cotton on wood, courtesy of the artist. © Olga de Amaral / Photograph © Diego Amaral

Heading to Texas, in Houston is the first stop of a touring exhibition featuring the exquisite work of Olga de Amaral who has “pioneered her own visual language within the fiber arts movement. Her radical experimentation with color, form, material, composition, and space transforms weaving from a flat design element into an architectural component that defies the confines of any genre or medium.” It travels next to Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfiels Hills, Michigan. There is a catalog that accompanies the exhibition (https://www.amazon.com/Olga-Amaral-Houston-Museum-Fine/dp/3897905965/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=to+weave+a+rock&qid=1628505072&sr=8-1).

Art Japan: 2021 – 1921
Through September 24, 2021
1635 W St. Paul Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 252-0677 ext. 110
info@thewarehousemke.org
https://www.thewarehousemke.org/current

Existing -2-D, Naoko Serino, 2006 and Red Aperture, Kiyomi Iwata, 2009. Photos by Tom Grotta

In the Midwest, The Warehouse MKE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is exhibiting the second of its three-part look at art in Asia, Art Japan: 2021- 1921, curated by Annemarie Sawkins. The exhibition features over 120 woodblock prints, etchings, lithographs, calligraphy, drawings, photography, ceramics, basketry, and textiles, all from the extensive permanent collection of The Warehouse and includes work by Naoko Serino, Jiro Yonezawa, Kiyomi Iwata and Hiroyuki Shindo. The first exhibition in the trilogy was India: Photographs (2019). The third, Then and Now: China, opens October 8th, 2021.

Women Take the Floor
September 13 – November 28, 2021
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115 
617-267-9300
https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/women-take-the-floor

Women Take the Floor challenges the dominant history of 20th-century American art by focusing on the overlooked and underrepresented work and stories of women artists. The exhibition, began in 2019. The current reinstallation—or “takeover”—of Level 3 of the Art of the Americas Wing advocates for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in museums, the art world, and beyond. It features women painters, photographers and fiber artists among others.

The Social Fabric: Black Artistry in Fiber Arts, An Exhibition in Homage to Viki Craig
Through October 24, 2021
Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, NJ 07960
(973) 971-3700
info@morrismuseum.org

Deeply rooted in quilt-making tradition, today’s Black fiber arts incorporate conventional textile skills with contemporary art and design practices. The exhibition features 50 works by over 27 artists, including Aminah Robinson, Beverly McCutcheon, Bisa Washington, Carole Robinson, Clara Nartey, Denise Toney, Ellaree Pray and Faith Ringgold.

Abroad:

Echigo-Tsumari Mail Art Exhibition
Through October 31, 2021
Echigo-Tsumari Art Field
Gallery YUYAMA
446 Yuyama matsunoyama
Toka-machi Niigata-ken
025-532-2218 

Echigo-Tsumari Mail Art Exhibition including Reborn by Kyoko Kumai

Kyoko Kumai‘s 19.5″ stainless-steel sphere, Reborn, is included in an exhibition at the Gallery YUYAMA in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field through October 31st. Day trips are available to the Art Field which includes a number of out sculptures and structures. The site’s motto: “artworks waiting in the vast nature. Let’s go on a satoyama art walk!”

Britt Smelvaer: Around his father’s boat
Bømlo Kulturhus
Through August, 15 2021
Kulturhusvegen 20
5430 Bremnes, Norway
53423500 
post@bomlokulturhus.no
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://www.bomlokulturhus.no/program/sommarutstillinga-britt-smelvaer-omkring-baaten-hans-far/&prev=search&pto=aue

In Norway, graphic works by Britt Smelvaer tell of memories, knowing the connection and having roots fixed in the environment by the seacoast, and not far from what was in childhood. Learn more about the project here: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=da&u=https://svfk.dk/project/omkring-baaten-hans-far&prev=search&pto=aue

Britt Smelvaer work at the Hovedøya exhibition

A Sky of Mirror
Though September 12, 2021
Hovedøya Kunstal
Hovedøya, 0150 
Oslo, Norge
920 62 866
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=https://kunstsalen.no/&prev=search&pto=aue

The summer exhibition at Hovedøya features works by various artists including work by Britt Smelvaer created after a trip she made to Damascus, Syria.

The Nook Exhibition
Kunstbygningen in Vrå 
Through September 1st
Højskolevej 3A 
Vrå, Denmark-9760 
+45 9898 0410 
info@kunstbygningenvraa.dk
https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=da&u=https://www.kunstbygningenvraa.dk/vraa-udstillingen/&prev=search&pto=aue

Polynesian boat
Polynesian boat transformed to artifact by Jane Balsgaard. Photo by Nils Holm Christensen

In Denmark, an exhibition of mixed media scuptures and acrylic paintings by Jane Balsgaard appear in a group exhibition.

Carole Frève, Glass Sculptor
September 24, 2021 to January 23, 2022
Musée des métiers d’art du Québec (MUMAQ) 
615, avenue Sainte-Croix 
Montréal, QC, H4L 3X6, Canada
+1 514-747-7367

Open Up to You, Carole Frève
Open Up to You, Carole Frève, 2015. Photo by Tom Grotta

Carole Frève has always included two major components in her work: on the one hand, constant research on the combined techniques of glass and electro-formed copper and, on the other, the story the work tells the observer. This exhibition highlights work she ahs created over the span of a 20-year career.


Acquisition News – Part II, Abroad

More on museum acquisitions of works by artists from browngrotta arts in the last two years. We have 18 works to report on that have been acquired by institutions outside the US — from Norway to Lithuania to Italy to Japan and places in between.

Heidrun Schimmel
One of two works that comprise Hanging by a thread IV, handstitched by Heidrun Schimmel, 1986-1987, acquired in 2021 by the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg, Germany. Photo by: Monika Meinhart.

Heidrun Schimmel

Seven works by Heidrun Schimmel have been acquired since 2020. Two by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen in Dresden, two by Museum of Applied Art, Frankfurt and three by the Diocesan Musuem in Bamberg.

Kyoko Kumai
Furious Anger by Kyoko Kumai acquired by the Janina Monkute-Marks Art Museum in Kedainai, Lithuania. Photo by Takashi Hatakeyama

Kyoko Kumai

One work by Kyoko Kumai was acquired by the Angers Museums in Angers, France (Jean-Lurçat and the Museum of Contemporary Tapestry) and another by the Janina Monkute-Marks Art Museum in Kedainai, Lithuania.

Carolina Yrarrázaval
Medioevo, jute and linen, Carolina Yrarrázaval. One of two tapestries acquired by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Kyoto. Photo by Patricia Novoa.

Carolina Yrarrázaval

Two tapestries were selected on May of this year at Yrarrázaval’s exhibition in Kyoto by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Kyoto.

Åse Ljones

Åse Ljones

Åse Ljones‘ work, Atterskin, was purchased by Nordenfjeldske Art and Craft Museum in Trondheim , Norway in 2020 and Mylder was purchased The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, March 2021. 

Federica Luzzi
Federica Luzzi’s work acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Salerno, Italy. Photo by Federica Luzzi.

Federica Luzzi

An encased textile, Shell-Omaggio a Costanino Dardi, by Federica Luzzi was acquired by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Salerno, Italy for a collection curated by Fondazione Filiberto e Bianca Menna – Centro Studi D’Arte Contemporanea.

The textile object is suspended and anchored with nylon thread in a plexiglass box. Like a seed, with an aerodynamic shape that is structured for long movements and transport, it is closed in a box that prevents its natural and complete movement, it is trapped in it. “This work was done just before the outbreak of the pandemic,” Luzzi says. “So without knowing what would happen, but continuing my research on envelopes, I visualized even better the containment condition of a body.”

Simone Pheulpin
Eclosion Epingles by Simone Pheulpin, photo courtesy of Galerie Maison Parisienne.

Simone Pheulpin

Two artworks by Simone Pheulpin have been acquired by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs i(MAD) inn Paris in December 2019: Jéromine, Série Eclipse (2019); Eclosion Epingles (2019). Another, Détail VII (2021), will be acquired by the same museum in 2021. The acquisitions were organized by the Galerie Maison Parisienne in Paris.

Wlodzimierz Cygan
Organic by Wlodzimierz Cygan, acquired by TAMAT in Brussels, Belgium. Photo by This Way Design.

Wlodzimierz Cygan

In 2021, Organic (2018) by Wlodzimierz Cygan was acquired by the Musée de la Tapisserie et des Arts Textiles de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (TAMAT) in Tournai, Belgium.


Craft is Now an Art Market Force: Just 3 Weeks to Win a Lia Cook of Your Own

Lia Cook Spatial details
Details of Spatial Ikat III_1976; Spatial Ikat III-2, 1976; Space-Dyed-Weaving-2, 1975

Craft is now an “art market force,” according to the art platform Artsy, “How Craft Became an Art Market Force,” Benjamin Sutton, February 10, 2021. “The boundaries separating painting, ceramics, weaving, drawing, glassblowing, printmaking, and other processes and practices are now porous if not completely antiquated. This is plainly clear from visiting most major art museums where, increasingly, textiles share wall space with abstract paintings and glass, and clay sculptures sit on plinths alongside bronzes.”

The Ceramic Presence in Modern Art: Selections from the Linda Leonard Schlenger Collection at the Yale Art Gallery in 2016 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuNAdtbxRPw) provided an early exhibition example of impactful intermixing of media. The exhibition featured over 80 objects from the Schlenger collection by leading 20th-century ceramicists—including Toshiko Takezu, Ruth Duckworth, Kenneth Price, Lucie Rie, and Peter Voulkos—alongside works in other media from the Yale University Art Gallery’s permanent collection by artists such as Hans Hofmann, Willem de Kooning, Isamu Noguchi, Mark Rothko, and Edward Ruscha. The Gallery recognized that, allthough critically lauded within the studio-craft movement, works by these ceramicists were only then coming to be recognized as integral to the wider field of contemporary art. This ecumenical approach is further illustrated in Making Knowing; Craft in Art 1950-2019  at the Whitney in New York (November 2019 until February of next year; https://whitney.org/exhibitions/making-knowing). The exhibition “foregrounds how visual artists have explored the materials, methods, and strategies of craft over the past seven decades. Some expand techniques with long histories, such as weaving, sewing, or pottery, while others experiment with textiles, thread, clay, beads, and glass, among other mediums.” It includes artists like Robert Raushenberg, Kiki Smith and Agnes Martin beside Robert Arneson, Sheila Hicks and Ron Nagle. Also exhibiting currently, Women in Abstraction, at the Pompidou Center through August 23rd (https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/program/calendar/event/OmzSxFv) .Transcending the traditional reductionist hierarchies between high and low art, the exhibition presents a history that includes dance, the decorative arts, photography and cinema and artists that include Ruth Asawa, Barbara Hepworth and Lenore Tawney. 

Fiber art has played a major part in this surge of interest and now through July 31st, you can be a part of this emerging trend. Enter the UncommonGood sweepstakes for an important Lia Cook tapestry. You’ll promote her work, fiber arts and the Breast Cancer Alliance in the process, and just maybe, add a remarkable work to your your personal collection.

Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art
Installation view of Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, November 22, 2019–January 2021). From left to right: Peter Voulkos, Red River, c. 1960; Robert Rauschenberg, Yoicks, 1954; Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.270, Hanging Six-Lobed, Complex Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form with Two Interior Spheres), 1955, refabricated 1957-58. Photograph by Ron Amstutz.

Spatial Ikat III-2, woven by Lia Cook in 1976 during a formative period for fiber art, will be the prize in a sweepstakes organized by UncommonGood, along with a $7,500 prize, a Zoom call with the artist and a copy of the catalog: Lia Cook: In the Folds – Works from 1973 – 1997. The tapestry was donated by browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut, as the latest of its Art for a Cause projects. The proceeds from the sweepstakes will go to the Breast Council Alliance.

Lia Cook works in a variety of media combining weaving with painting, photography, video and digital technology. Her current practice explores the sensuality of the woven image and the emotional connections to memories of touch and cloth. Long recognized as an innovator, Cook’s work has been featured in dozens of group and solo exhibitions worldwide. Her work is found in dozens of museum collections, including that of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

In Spatial Ikat III-2 Cook aimed to envelop the viewer in a work that was imposing and strident. She perfected the technique used in this work over a period of years. Distorting a plain weave with strenuous physical intervention, the lines undulate and create a topographical terrain, creating the illusion of massive threads moving over and under one another.

Spatial Ikat III-2
Spatial Ikat III-2 by Lia Cook

Donating to win this important tapestry, aids the Breast Cancer Alliance. BCA funds innovative research, breast surgery fellowships, regional education, dignified support and screening for the underserved. 

Enter the sweepstakes here: https://uncommongood.iohttps://uncommongood.io/sweepstakes/win-a-lia-cook-art-piece-valued-at-35000-and-7500-in-cash


Artist Focus: Carolina Yrarrázaval

Carolina Yrarrázaval portrait
Carolina Yrarrázaval portrait by Tom Grotta

Strength and refinement are words used by those who review or just experience Carolina Yrarrázaval’s elegant tapestries. For a 2003 solo exhibition at the Chilean Museum of Fine Art in Santiago, Sheila Hicks wrote of her works: “Somber steps/weaving dignity/without digression/relentless ascent/rigorous denial/without shame.” Yrarrázaval’s work features a formal and chromatic purity, achieved through the use of colors achieved through a personal dyeing process.

Tapestries by Carolina Yrarrázaval
Tapestries by Carolina Yrarrázaval. Photo by Tom Grotta

There are multiple influences reflected in Yrarrázaval’s work. A solo exhibition, Capas de Recuerdos, at the Centro Cultural Las Condes in 2019, was entitled Layer of Memories, reflecting the layers of weaving, years of research and volumes of textures that feature in her work. Yrarrázaval draws on different manifestations and cultures, from pre-Hispanic geometry to the subtlety and mystery of Japanese textiles. 

Detail of  Memoria Andina
Detail of Memoria Andina, Carolina Yrarrázaval, linen and cotton, 54.25″ x 25.25″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

For example, she lives on the Chilean coast and that environment infuses her work, which features blue greens, wavy lines and iridescent threads that reflect the colors of the beach and lines of the ocean and the horizon. She has traveled to India and Japan and cites costumes she saw there as another influence, evident in deep reds and indigos. She works in linen, jute, cotton, silk, raffia and hemp.

Amazonas, Carolina Yrarrázaval
17jy Amazonas, Carolina Yrarrázaval, yute, jute, raffia and silk, 35.5” x 39.25”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Traditional textiles are still another source of influence for Yrarrázaval. “Throughout my entire artistic career I have devoted myself to investigating traditional textile techniques from diverse cultures, especially Pre-Columbian techniques, trying to adapt them to my creative needs. Abstraction has always been present as an aesthetic aim, informing my choice of materials, forms, textures and colors. The simple proportions are guided by an intuitive sense that avoids the use of mathematical formulas.”