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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

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.

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

Vignettes Opens This Week: An Abundance of Objects Opens this Week

An Abundance installation
An abundance of objects installation works by Mary Merkel-Hess, Lizzie Farey, Yashusia Kohyama, Polly Adams Sutton, Stéphanie Jacques, Mary Giles. Photo by Tom Grotta

We’ve found that objects — art, collectibles, mementos — contain magic. The right object in the right space has the power to prompt memories, evoke feelings, and exert a palpable energy on one’s surroundings. As Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer, authors of How to Live With Objects: A Guide to More Meaningful Interiors (Clarkson Potter 2023), observe“It matters less whether your interior is perfectly appointed and more that it’s authentically personal, unique, and filled with the objects you feel a connection to …. Imbued with the stories of where they came from and why we chose them, our objects radiate meaning into our space, triggering us to remember, feel, or think while giving our guests a tangible sense of our personality.” 

An Abundance of Objects installation
Vignettes installation: Mary Merkel-Hess, Paul Furneaux, Toshiko Takaezu, Kogetsu Kosuge, Norma Minkowitz, Markku Kosonen, Simone Pheulpin. Photo by Tom Grotta

An Abundance of Objects (October 7 – 15, browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT) celebrates that power. In it we have combined an eclectic collection of sculptures, ceramics, baskets, and mixed media works that inspire awe, admiration, and, sometimes, sheer delight. Glowing wall-hung silk cubes by Kiyomi Iwata share the gallery with woven “quivers” by Gary Trentham,  a vessel of tickets from Karyl Sisson, an elegant, asymmetrical form of clay by Yasuhisa Kohyama, and a folded textile cast in bronze by Eduardo Portillo and Maria Dávila.  

An abundance of Objects installation
from left to right works by: Willa Rogers, Neil and Francina Prince, Karyl Sisson, Norie Hatekayama, Stéphanie Jacques. Photo by Tom Grotta

Dedicated to the meticulously crafted and conceived, browngrotta arts is a unique source for impactful objets d’art. We promote the work of more than 100 artists from 32 countries, Our curation is a partnership — every item exhibited by browngrotta arts has been approved by both co-curators. It must be a piece each co-curator wants to live with and which gives us a spark of enjoyment that we want to share with gallery visitors. We’ve found a receptive audience for this approach. “It’s about the juxtaposition,” designer Pina Manzone says of the works found here, “the yin and the yang, the hard and the soft. Modern design has the feel of the handmade but it’s smooth and organized. These objects are tactile.” 

clockwise: Noriko Takimaya, Naomi Kobayashi, Jin-Sook So. Photo by Tom Grotta

In An Abundance of Objects there is much to admire and desire. There are works that reference nature, like Norie Hatakeyama’s wall-hung Complex Plaiting Two-force, which resembles an organic item, like coral or honeycomb. There are works that pay homage to past techniques like Tim Johnson’s Wall Pocket, using an ancient techniques that pairs daubing earth, ashes, and natural resins on a woven structure, and Willa Rogers’s basket of coiled pine needles a technique used by Native Americans and others. Still others, including Stéphanie Jacques’s one-legged figure, reimagine the human form. 

There are dozens of objects in Abundance. We hope this grouping will further collecting narratives and, for some, unleash the transformative magic that objects contain.

Schedule your visit on Eventbrite.

Art Assembled – New This Week in June

Welcome to our June Art Assembled blog, where we are thrilled to highlight the incredible art featured in our New This Week series. As the summer season kicks off, we are excited to showcase the works of Anne Wilson, Ed Rossbach, Adela Akers, and Katherine Westphal – four visionary artists who have left an indelible mark on the world of contemporary art.

Throughout the month of June, we have been captivated by the diverse and thought-provoking creations of these artists. From Wilson’s boundary-pushing fiber art to Rossbach’s innovative weaving techniques and unconventional materials, each artwork invites us to explore new dimensions of artistic expression.

Join us as we delve into the artistic journeys of these remarkable individuals, uncovering the inspirations, techniques, and stories behind their extraordinary works!

Anne Wilson hair embroidery
1aw Areas of Disrepair F#27, Anne Wilson found cloth, hair and thread embroidery 15.5” x 12.625” x 2.5 1997

At the beginning of this month, we turned our spotlight to the extraordinary talent of Anne Wilson, a Chicago-based visual artist whose groundbreaking work pushes the boundaries of fiber art. Wilson’s artistic journey is a testament to her relentless pursuit of innovation and her ability to extend traditional processes into new media.

With her diverse range of mediums including sculpture, drawings, photography, performance, and stop-motion animations, Wilson seamlessly weaves together table linens, bed sheets, human hair, lace, glass, thread, and wire to create mesmerizing and thought-provoking compositions. Her art reflects a deep exploration of materiality, weaving together threads of emotion, history, and culture.

We think it’s safe to say that her meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail are evident in every piece she creates. Through her art, Wilson explores themes of identity, memory, and the complex interplay between the personal and the universal.

Ed Rossbach foam rubber weaving
216r Gateway, Ed Rossbach, yellow and white plastic, foam rubber and plastic tape, 56″ x 46.5″ x 10″, 1970.

Next, we direct our attention to the remarkable artist Ed Rossbach. Rossbach was a visionary who made significant contributions to the world of fiber art. His artistic journey spanned decades, and his innovative techniques and unique approach to materials left an indelible mark on the field.

Rossbach’s exploration of weaving went beyond traditional boundaries, as he fearlessly incorporated unconventional materials such as plastics, foam rubber, and plastic tape into his works. His creations defied categorization, blurring the lines between sculpture, textiles, and mixed media. With an astute eye for detail and a penchant for experimentation, Rossbach crafted intricate and captivating pieces that challenged the notions of what fiber art could be.

Throughout his career, Rossbach’s work evolved and diversified, showcasing his mastery of various artistic mediums. From his groundbreaking dimensional weaving in the 1960s to his later explorations of cast paper techniques and mixed-media sculpture, his artistic trajectory was one of continuous growth and innovation. Through his artworks, Rossbach invites us to reimagine the possibilities of fiber as a medium and challenges us to see the world in new and exciting ways, and he will be forever cherished for it!

Adela Akers accordion weaving
14aa Window, Adela Akers, sisal, linen and wool 30” x 108” x 6”, 1998. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Later in the month, we shifted our focus to the remarkable artist Adela Akers, a Spanish-born textile and fiber artist with a rich and influential career spanning several decades. Since the 1950s, Akers has been at the forefront of the modern fiber art movement, making groundbreaking contributions to the field.

Through her innovative techniques and profound artistic expressions, Akers continues to inspire and captivate audiences with her thought-provoking creations. Her work serves as a bridge between traditional textile practices and contemporary art, pushing boundaries and expanding the possibilities of fiber as a medium. Adela Akers’ legacy as a trailblazing artist and her unwavering commitment to her craft make her an indispensable figure in the world of contemporary fiber art.

Along the way, Akers has received many prestigious awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 2014, she was selected as an artist-in-residence at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, further solidifying her standing as an influential figure in the art community.

Katherine Westphal
46w Mir, Katherine Westphal, printed and drawn, dyed cotton patchwork 28” x 28” x 2.5”, 1997

Last, but certainly not least, we immerse ourselves in the captivating world of Katherine Westphal, a visionary artist known for her innovative approach to surface, pattern, and decoration in textiles, quilts, clothing, and baskets. Westphal’s artistic journey was marked by a distinct exploration of fractured and random images, which became a signature element of her work.

Her collages were a fusion of bold imagery and vibrant colors, reflecting her background and training as a painter. With a keen eye for composition and a willingness to experiment, she allowed the textile to evolve organically, embracing a process of building up and breaking down. Guided by her intuitive and visual senses, she incorporated techniques such as cutting, sewing, embroidery, quilting, tapestry, and fringing, until she felt the message was complete.

Westphal’s artistic legacy continues to inspire and influence contemporary fiber artists, as her boundary-pushing spirit and commitment to creative exploration remain as relevant today as ever.

As we conclude our journey through the remarkable artworks of Anne Wilson, Ed Rossbach, Adela Akers, and Katherine Westphal, we are left in awe of the depth and diversity of their artistic contributions. These artists have pushed boundaries, challenged conventions, and invited us to see the world through their unique perspectives. We hope that this month’s Art Assembled blog has inspired you, sparked your curiosity, and ignited a newfound appreciation for the power of art. Join us again next month as we continue to explore the captivating world of contemporary art and introduce you to more extraordinary artists. Thank you for joining us on this artistic adventure!

View Two: Online Exhibitions on Artsy

Acclaim! on Artsy

Did you miss the in-person Spring exhibition at browngrotta arts last week? If so, good news! You can see all the works in Acclaim! Work from Award-Winning International Artists (even the sold ones) now on Artsy. There are installation shots on Artsy as well. 

Acclaim! in-person
We were visited by a bus load of art lovers from Canada. Photo by Rhonda Brown

Acclaim! was a go-to Spring event in Connecticut. Our attendance was up 30% over our last show. The mix of fiber art luminaries like Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, Dominic Di Mare and Peter Collingwood and accomplished artists newer to the field like Jo Barker, Anneke Klein and Mercedes Vicente was an potent one. 

Wordplay installation
Wordplay installation-Photo by Tom Grotta

Many visitors to Acclaim! also visited our sister show, WordPlay: Messages in Branches & Bark, which we co-curated with the Flinn Gallery at the Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT.  WordPlay celebrates work by Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen in which words, puns, rebuses, and other messages to be coded and deciphered appear. 

Good news about WordPlay, too, closes today at 5. Beginning May 29th you can find the works from that exhibition in an Artsy Viewing Room. There will be great installation shots as well.

Thanks for keeping the art admiration going and visiting us on Artsy — this week and on May 29th.

What to Visit On Your Trip to browngrotta arts April 29 – May 7

There are lots of things happening in our neighborhood this Spring. If you are planning to join us at browngrotta arts’ Spring exhibition (and we hope you are) there are some stops of note you can make along the way. Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists runs from April 29 to May 7, at browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut. Here are some additional destinations to add to your trip.

Wordplay installation Flinn Gallery Greenwich Library
photo by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Bark, work by John McQueen and Gyöngy Laky.  browngrotta arts has partnered with the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, 101 West Putnam Avenue. You’ll see forty-plus works by these talented and innovative artists.

Black Art in America

The Bruce Museum, is featuring Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America, which explores how Black artists of our time critically engage with the past and present. The Bruce is located in downtown Greenwich at 1 Museum Drive.

Rainbow in the Dark
photo courtesy Jenna Bascom Photography

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Westport presents Rainbow in the Dark, a solo exhibition by German contemporary artist Anselm Reyle. Anselm Reyle’s best-known works include his foil and strip paintings and his sculptures. Remnants of consumer society, discarded materials, symbols of urbanity, and industrial change play a central role in his works. MoCA is at 19 Newtown Turnpike.

The Glass House
photo by Tom Grotta

New Canaan:
The iconic Glass House, built between 1949 and 1995 by architect Philip Johnson, is a National Trust Historic Site located in New Canaan. The pastoral 49-acre landscape comprises 14 structures, including the Glass House (1949), and features a permanent collection of 20th-century painting and sculpture. Advance reservations are recommended. The Glass House is at 199 Elm Street.

The Shed
photo by Tom Grotta

If you come to browngrotta arts April 29th or 30th, or May 3-6th, you may be able to visit the Kudos Shed that features an exhibition of work by Robert Longo. The concept is that of Fernando Luis Alvarez, the owner of the Alvarez Gallery, which we learned about from an interview with Alvarez in Good Morning Wilton. The Kudos Shed is in Wilton’s historic Cannondale area. Reservations are recommended.

Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning installation. Photo by Tom Grotta
photo by Tom Grotta

We look forward to seeing you at our spring “Art in the Barn” exhibition in Wilton. Details are below.
Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning Artists
browngrotta arts
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897
Artist Reception and Opening: April 29, from 11am to 6 pm
Remaining Days
Sunday, April 30th: 11AM to 6 PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Monday, May 1st – Saturday, May 6th: 10AM to 5PM (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, May 7th: 11AM to 6PM [Final Day] (40 visitors/ hour)

Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

Hope you can have an art adventure this spring!

Reserve a spot here: RESERVE

Mapmatics: Maps as Elements in Art

Detail:  Next Year in Jerusalem, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered maps of Jerusalem, 48" x 28" unframed, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.
Detail: Next Year in Jerusalem, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered maps of Jerusalem, 48″ x 28″ unframed, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta.

“Many artists have used maps to tell wide-ranging stories about conflict, migration, identity, and social, cultural, or political networks,” notes the Museum of Modern Art in New York (Maps, Borders and Networks). “While we often regard maps as objective representations, they are in fact laden with subjective views of the world. And maps change over time. Borders and boundaries are constantly in flux, shifting with wars and politics and in response to changes in international relations.” Numerous names have been suggested for various strains of this intersection: “psychogeography,” “locative media,” “experimental geography,” “site specific art,” “new genre public art,””critical cartography,” and “critical spatial practices.” (Art and Cartography online). We coined “mapmatics” and we like it. Like the study of math, it suggests an abstract view of number, quantity, and space taken by maps in art. Like math, mapmatics may be studied in its own right or as applied in collage or sculpture. 

NY Street Map Collage, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered New York street maps
NY Street Map Collage, Toshio Sekiji, lacquered New York street maps, 29″ x 40″, 1997. Photo by Tom Grotta

Toshio Sekiji of Japan, for example, uses maps to explore the merge of cultures in collage/weavings — as well as repurposed newspapers and book pages. His works have included weavings of maps of New York streets, and the subway system and of Jerusalem where ancient and modern cultures collide. “New stories are created atop the old,” he says, by reading the strips of papers and the areas he has enhanced, by selection and sometimes with lacquer. When the strips are woven, the result is a tapestry of almost-symbols, a tapestry that vanishes at the border of meaning.

I Am Here, Marion Hildebrandt
I Am Here, Marion Hildebrandt, Napa Valley topographical maps and ash strips, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta.

In I Am Here, the late Marian Hildebrandt makes a personal statement about her artistic identity. Hildebrandt gathered materials for her baskets and structures exclusively from riverbeds, ravines, meadows, and woods near her home in Napa Valley, California. That process is reflected in her use of a topographical map of Napa to create this work.

Ladakh I, Chris Drury, woven maps of Leh region of Himalayas and Karakoram, together with earth rubbed paper from the same area pressed into a bowl shape and set into a paper square painted with watercolor and rubbed with charcoal, mounted on hardboard and backed with timber, 48″ x 48″ x 5″, 1997-98. Photo by Tom Grotta.  

Chris Drury uses maps — preprinted and hand drawn — as a “schematic way of mapping place and experience.” In Ladakh I, he has mixedEarth-pigmented paper and maps woven into a convex bowl, mounted into paper covered board with blue water color and charcoal to document a trip there.

Crossing and Recrossing the Rivers of Iceland, Chris Drury, handwritten text in ink, on canvas backed peat impregnated paper. 74.75" x 30.625" x 2.625", 2003
Crossing and Recrossing the Rivers of Iceland, Chris Drury, handwritten text in ink, on canvas backed peat impregnated paper. 74.75″ x 30.625″ x 2.625″, 2003

In Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland, Drury used hand-written text in ink, on canvas-backed, peat-impregnated paper, to list and repeat all the rivers crossed on a six-day walk from Porsmork to Landmanalauga. “My friend Phil,” Drury explains, “a climber who had developed a heart condition, came with me on this walk. On the fourth day we were hit by a storm and waited out the night in a hut. Anchoring Crossing and Re-Crossing the Rivers of Iceland is a satellite image of that storm. The following day, we started for the next hut, crossed a cold river and climbed 2000 feet to a snow-covered plateau where the storm returned. Phil, who was cold and tired, announced he wasn’t going to make it.” He was, in fact, having a heart attack – his heart was shutting down. He swallowed pills, given him by his doctor for just such an emergency, which saved his life and made it to the hut. “The double vortex in Crossing and Re-Crossing is a pattern called a ‘Cardiac Twist,’ ” Drury says, “a term referring to blood flows in the heart. The storm we were caught in had that same pattern.” 

Migration, antique wooden shoe form, thread, map pins, maps: McNally’s System of Geography, 1868; Swinton’s Elementary Geography, 1875, 9.5 x 3 x 3.25 in, 2022. Photo by Carole Kunstadt.

By contrast, Carole Kunstadt, a collagist, painter, book arts and fiber artist, maps a more metaphysical journey. By combining disparate found objects, ephemera, antique maps, and illustrations she aims to present new levels of involvement. “Beyond the experience of a specific space/time, we are brought to other places, fantasies and experiences through these combinations,” she writes. Such imaginings include the whimsical map-wrapped foot that makes up Migration, which leaves the viewer wondering where has it been and where it is going. Kunstadt’s work is currently on display at the Olive Free Library in West Shokan, New York in cARTography: alternate routes, through May 6th. “By altering the context, format, and purpose of a map,” the curator explains, “this group of ten artists presents a diversity of approaches that are thought provoking and visually exciting.” 

Want to learn more? Visit Maps as Art an online exhibition at the University of Michigan or MoMA Learning: Maps, Borders, and Networks.

Rhonda Brown

Art Assembled – New this Week in February

February was an exceptional month for browngrotta arts, as we delved into the creative works of several contemporary artists. Our team worked tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming spring exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, which is set to launch on April 29 and run until May 7. As part of our New This Week feature, we had the pleasure of introducing you to some of the remarkable art from Jennifer Falck Linssen, Ethel Stein, Jiro Yonezawa, and Chris Drury.

Each artist has a unique perspective and artistic style, which we’re excited to share with you. Jennifer Falck Linssen’s intricate, three-dimensional sculptures demonstrate her keen eye for detail and love of nature. Ethel Stein’s intricate handwoven artworks showcase her mastery of textile arts, while Jiro Yonezawa’s beautiful basketry work combines traditional techniques with contemporary flair. Finally, Chris Drury’s installations and sculptures explore the relationship between humans and the natural world.

We can’t wait for you to experience some of these incredible artists for yourself at our upcoming exhibition. Until then, we invite you to learn more about their inspiring works and delve into their creative processes.

Jennifer Falck Linssen
17jl Nestled (Katagami-style hand-carved paper and metal sculpture), Jennifer Falck Linssen, archival cotton paper, aluminum, coated copper wire, waxed linen, paint and varnish, 36” x 17” x 7”, 2019

To kick off the month, we introduced you all to the remarkable work of Jennifer Falck Linssen, an American artist who creates stunning sculptures using hand-carved paper and metal. Linssen’s work is a testament to her belief in the power of pattern and light to convey the beauty and resilience of nature.

As a practitioner of the ancient art of katagami, Linssen seeks to honor this traditional Japanese paper- carving technique while exploring the transformative qualities of light and space in her artwork. Through her sculptures, she creates solid yet open structures that bridge the gap between the minute and the vast, freezing moments in time and immortalizing them in intricate patterns of light and shadow.

Linssen’s work is truly an ode to the enduring beauty of nature.

Ethel Stein
55es Jack Straws, Ethel Stein, mercerized cotton, 44” x 33” x 1.5”, 2008. Photos by Tom Grotta.

Things continued to heat up in February as we directed the spotlight on the late, great artist Ethel Stein. We are honored to represent Stein’s legacy and proud to call her a dear friend. Stein was a trailblazer in the world of fiber art, renowned for her intricate and awe-inspiring textile creations.

Stein’s work is distinguished by its rhythmic simplicity, which belies the technical complexity that went into its creation. Her art is truly timeless, standing the test of time and continuing to inspire generations of artists.

Stein’s passion for her craft is evident in every stitch, every weave, and every pattern of her work. Her dedication to exploring the possibilities of fiber art was unparalleled, and her legacy lives on through her beautiful creations.

Jiro Yonezawa
93jy Spring Wind, Jiro Yonezawa, bamboo, urushi laquer, 18.375” x 9.25” x 9.25”, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Up next: the breathtaking work of Jiro Yonezawa, a master craftsman who has dedicated nearly four decades of his career to the art of bamboo weaving. Yonezawa’s art is characterized by the interplay between disciplined formality and natural freedom, achieved through his exploration of traditional techniques.

Yonezawa’s bamboo baskets are an expression of detailed precision, each one a testament to his mastery of form and technique. But, beyond their stunning beauty, these baskets also contain an element of intrigue and complexity that speaks to something deeper.

As Yonezawa explains, “These baskets represent a search for the beauty and precision in nature and a way to balance the chaos evident in these times.” In a world that often seems to be spinning out of control, Yonezawa’s art provides a sense of order and harmony, a connection to the natural world that is both grounding and uplifting.

Through his work, Yonezawa invites us to contemplate the intricate beauty of the world around us, to find solace in the precision of nature, and to strive for balance in our own lives. We are honored to showcase his remarkable art, and we hope you join us in experiencing the magic of Yonezawa’s bamboo weaving for yourself at our spring exhibition.

Chris Drury
10cd Shredded Dollar, Chris Drury, US currency, 20″ x 19.5″ x .875″, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We concluded our showcase of new art throughout February with the artwork of Chris Drury, a world-renowned environmental artist whose pieces are as beautiful as they are thought-provoking. Drury’s use of natural materials and his ability to blend them seamlessly into their surroundings has earned him global recognition and admiration.

His site-specific artworks, often referred to as Land Art or Art in Nature, challenge us to rethink our relationship with the environment and the ways in which we interact with it. By creating sculptures that are both visually stunning and deeply connected to their surroundings, Drury reminds us of the delicate balance between humanity and the natural world.

The piece highlighted above, Shredded Dollar, incorporates US currency in its design. When asked about the meaning behind this choice, Drury remained deliberately ambiguous, stating, “I think it’s good if it’s ambiguous and can hold multiple meanings for different people. I never prescribe a specific meaning to anything.”

This openness to interpretation is characteristic of Drury’s work, and we invite you to engage with the art on our own terms and to draw your own conclusions.

At bga, we are constantly amazed by the incredible artists we have the privilege of collaborating with. Over the past month, we have been thrilled to showcase the work of some truly exceptional creators.

Through their art, these gifted individuals have challenged us to see the world in new and unexpected ways. As we look forward to our upcoming spring exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists, we invite you to continue following along with us. We promise to bring you even more exciting and inspiring art in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for your support, and we can’t wait to share our love of art with you.

Dispatches: An Art Install in Nantucket in December

Whale Sculpture in front of Nantucket store
Nantucket. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Who wants to visit Nantucket for the first time in December? Turns out we do — well Rhonda, anyway (Tom had been there years ago in warm weather). Installing an exciting commission was our reason for going. Even though it was chilly and the ferries were touch and go for the two days we were there, the island was still hopping. 

Main Street Nantucket Holiday decor
Shopping in Nantucket. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Retailers seriously gear up for the holidays here — decorating small trees in front of each store. Lights and imaginative window displays abound. The week before we went was their traditional Holiday Stroll — but there was still plenty of seasonal spirit by the time we arrived.

Tom installing Jennifer Linssen template
Tom installing a commission by Jennifer Falck Linssen. Photo by Rhonda Brown.

The commission was prepared by Jennifer Falck Linssen for a beautiful, contemporary beach-y home. The artist sent us a full-size and detailed template to work from. There were 23 components for Tom to hang. The result was dramatic and ideal for the space. 

Aeolian by Jennifer Falck Linssen installed. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Loved our stay at The Brass Lantern Inn within walking distance of the main shopping area.

Brass Lantern Inn Nantucket
Sea Grill In
The Seagrille, Nantucket. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We enjoyed walking down the cobblestone streets and exploring the island’s many unique and quaint shops.

Day and night wreath
Nantucket. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Ended our single night there with a great dinner at the Seagrille — oysters, cranberries, scallops — all local delicacies. We’ll be happy to come back some day in the summer!

Who’s New in Allies for Art this Week? Meet Esmé Hofman

1-2eh Flat No 1 and Concave No 3, Esmé Hofman, fine skein willow and linden or lime wood, 4.875″ x 9.75″ x 9.75″, 2017 and 4.875″ x 9.5″ x 9.75″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Number five of the artists who are new to browngrotta arts and whose work will be featured in Art for Allies: Work from NATO-related countries (October 8-16) is Esmé Hofman of the Netherlands.

“I am a traditionally trained basketmaker” she says, “and learned the foundations of my craft at the German basketry school. Since then, I have increased my knowledge and repertoire by learning other crafts and through fellow craftspeople.” Hofman’s techniques and materials vary from the traditional to the contemporary using natural stems, leaves, bark, wire, plastics, vellum, paper and lots of color. She works for designers, artists, museums and private customers.

“Although fascinated by all the different possibilties,” she says, “my main focus is with the very time-consuming willow skeinwork, a nearly extinct basketry technique. This technique results in an extremely fine surface texture, almost like a textile, which enables me to create fine objects.” In skeinwork, material for this work is obtained by cleaving a long willow rod with a special wooden cleave. The long strips of willow are shaved by hand on a special shaving bench. With this type of work it is very important to work precisely. The skeins can be as small as one 10th of a millimeter. After shaving, the last remains of the bark are cleaned away. Every skeinwork object is worked around it’s own wooden mould. Skeinwork is very time consuming. Making a dish can take up to 40 hours or more. The result is a very fragile-looking piece which, when touched. is surprisingly strong and solid.

1-2eh Flat No 1 and Concave No 3, Esmé Hofman, fine skein willow and linden or lime wood, 4.875″ x 9.75″ x 9.75″, 2017 and 4.875″ x 9.5″ x 9.75″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Hofman takes a modern approach to her work, “I am prepared to look beyond the borders of this traditional handcraft. This gives me freedom to explore creative possibilities.” More recently, she says, she is focusing on more contemporary work. “As a traditional maker there are three pillars in my work, which are equally important. These are function, materials and technique. By letting the function go, I get more freedom to place an emphasis on form. This gives me freedom to explore new ways of making.”

Hofman’s work came to browngrotta’s attention when it was included in LOOKOUT, an exhibition at the Museo de la Pauma in Spain, curated by Tim Johnson and Monica Guilera. “With the global climatic crisis and continued demand for sustainable practice and a counterculture to consumerism,” the curators observed, “we can look towards specialists in plant materials to offer beautiful, practical and innovative solutions to today’s questions.”

2eh Concave No 3, Esmé Hofman, fine skein willow and linden or lime wood, 4.875″ x 9.5″ x 9.75″, 2019

Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (browngrotta arts, October 8 – 16, 2022) will feature nearly 50 artists and highlight work from 21 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, 18 countries in NATO and the three current applicants. The artists in the exhibition reflect diverse perspectives and experiences. Allies for Art will include art created under occupation, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, art by those who left Hungary, Romania and Spain while occupied, and art by other artists who left Russia in later years. Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related Countries will also include works created by artists, like Esmé Hofman, who are currently working in Europe. Reserve your spot in Eventbrite