Who’s New for Fall’s Art in the Barn? Introducing Baiba Osite and Mercedes Vicente

Baiba Osite and Mercedes Vicente are two more artists we are pleased to introduce whose work is included in Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries, our upcoming Art in the Barn exhibition this Fall.

City Walls driftwood wall sculpture Latvian artist by Baiba Osite
Detail: 1bo City Walls, Baiba Osite, driftwood, canvas, 70″ x 54″ x 4.5″, 2019. Photo Tom Grotta

Baiba Osite is from Latvia. Since graduating from the Latvian Academy of Art Textile Department and finishing her Master’s degree, she has participated in art exhibitions worldwide. Among those exhibitions were the biennial Textil Art of Today which traveled to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, International Fiber Art Biennial, From Lausanne to Beijing, China, the World Textile Art Biennial, Madrid, Spain, and the 3rd International Textile Competitions, Kyoto, Japan. She works in education and is a member of Latvian Artist Union and Textile Association. Recently, she has enriched her experience in two valuable residencies: ”Cite des Arts” in Paris and “Textilsetur” residency in Iceland. Osite leads a folk art textile studio. Partipants there spent two months sewing a safety net for Ukrainian national guards, a project they will continue again in the fall.

Detail: 1bo City Walls, Baiba Osite, driftwood, canvas, 70″ x 54″ x 4.5″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Osite is known for her work with different fiber materials including driftwood, glass beads, wire, metal spirals, wool and linen. “Historically,” Osite says, “these materials were used in household textiles. I assign to them contemporary understanding and concept.” The various materials are sources of inspiration for Osite to create new works. Her work is also inspired by traditional ethnographic patterns and influenced by different cultures.

The works that Osite will exhibit in Art for Allies are made from driftwood segments that she collects  on the shore of the Baltic Sea. One of Osite’s driftwod works, Substantia, was awarded the Acquisition Prize of Contextile 2018, the Contemporary Textile Art Biennial in Portugal. The work was based “on the paradoxical game between ‘being’ and ‘not being’ and the transformation of ‘being,’” Osite explains. Driftwood works like City Walls reflect her propensity for dissecting patterns from nature and recreating them in a new form. Osite created City Walls for the World Textile Association Biennial, Sustainable City in Madrid in 2019.

2mv Coralima, Mercedes Vicente, canvas, 13.5″ x 23.5″ x 12″, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

Mecedes Vicente is an artist based in Galicia, Spain, specializing in craft art. A regular participant in exhibitions around the world, Vicente is currently working with wood and textile projects, including sculptures made of canvas strips. Her work is influenced by the French artist Pierre Huyghe.

Born in Madrid in 1958, Mercedes Vicente’s family moved to various locations in Spain during her youth, an experience that pushed her to approach learning in a fundamentally self-taught manner. Initially, her art was pictorial, but it evolved into sculpture, with canvas as her primary medium. She loves the elastic, organic, flexible and translucent properties of the fabric with which she works. She must first prepare the untreated canvas by gluing it and priming it.

“When I started using this technique, I realised that people were amazed by such a manual process,” she says. “Then I started to think that what I was doing was within the realms of craftsmanship, art and design.” She chose fabric in part because it was easy to get hold of, since a member of her family worked in a factory producing canvas.

Vicente’s works often being or adapt a spiral shape. She told Thought Object about the significance of that shape. “Space is where the spiral arranges itself and where it’s subject to effects that impact it as if it were an architectural work: it’s exciting and moving how light acts upon the figure and how you can imagine yourself for a moment inside the spiral,” she points out. “This is part of the experience of space, dimensions, and volumes. It’s also the material with its finish and configuration and moreover, it’s the empty space around it where emotion lives.”

3mv Carinaria, Mercedes Vicente, canvas, 10″ x 13.75″ x 6″ , 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

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 Osite and Vicente, who are currently working in Europe. Reserve your spot in Eventbrite


Who’s New in Allies for Art? Anneke Klein and Aby Mackie

We are excited to include the work of five artists new to browngrotta arts in our upcoming exhibition, Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (October 8-16). Among these artists are Anneke Klein of the Netherlands and Aby Mackie who lives and works in Spain.

Detail: 1-2akl Family and Labels, Anneke Klein, hemp, cotton, linen, acrylic paint, 21.5″ x 21.25″, each. Photo by Tom Grotta

Anneke Klein of the Netherlands was originally educated as a goldsmith. Her passion for weaving was born from her struggle with hard and cold materials. In order to pursue her preference for warmth and softness in materials, she retrained herself as a weaver.  After a period of designing and manufacturing clothing, she worked on a commission for the American minimalist Richard Tuttle for his exhibition in the Vleeshal of the Frans Hals Museum and for Alexis Gautier in the Bozar Museum Brussels. She developed her own style for wall objects. As a goldsmith she learned to express in miniature. It suits her, and she often applies that approach in her textile works as an element for rhythm and repetition. “I create a variety of shapes, textures and structures to express my imagination of social themes,” she says. “It is an ever-growing process inspired by instinct and intuition, an investigation, a translation, as if looking through a symbolic lens at the everyday and the things that touch me emotionally. It stimulates social awareness in myself and probably the viewer, too.”

Detail: 1-2am Between Chaos & Order 5 & 6, Aby Mackie, gilded gold lead deconstructed and reconfigured antique textiles, 72″ x 24″ each, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta

For Aby Mackie, an emerging artist who lives and works in Spain, the very act of making artwork is political. Mackie responds to current economic and social inequities in her country, particularly in housing and food, by confronting consumerism head on. “Everything I buy, from the materials for my artwork to the clothes that I wear, the furniture in my house to the books that I read, I buy second hand — recycling, reusing, reimagining — standing against the insane consumerism that adds to that sense of us all living in a system that is broken.” Mackie reconstructs textiles — cutting, painting, stitching, weaving and gilding them … a process of deconstruction and transformation. “The materials that I use,” she says, “are sourced from the local flea market, a practice that was born out of necessity to find cheap (but unique, high quality, interesting, often sumptuous) and free materials to use in my artwork. I go at the end of the day and buy up all the unwanted antique cloth, clothing, and domestic textile, collecting the discarded, such as flamenco dresses, Spanish plates, antique dolls, horse collars integrating them into my practice.” In Mackie’s hands, these “discards” are given a new life as elegant and engaging artworks. A rich mix of influences can be seen in Mackie’s work in terms of concept (the found object sculpture of Picasso, Miro, Tapies, Grau-Garriga), techniques and materials (Anatsui) and subject matter and aesthetic sense (Basquiat, Schwarz), inviting the viewer to create their own connections and interpretations and encouraging a personal storytelling through materiality.

Join us at browngrotta arts in Wilton, CT
for Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (October 8-16):

Exhibition Schedule:
Opening & Artists Reception (300-Visitor Cap)
Saturday, October 8th: 11AM to 6PM  
Viewing Dates & Times (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, Sunday October 9th: 11AM to 6 PM
Monday, October 10th – Saturday, October 15th: 10AM to 5PM 

Final Day (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, October 16th: 11AM to 6PM  

Address
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 068977

Safety protocols
Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • We will follow current state and federal guidelines surrounding COVID-19 • As of August 1, 2022, masks are not required • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

RESERVE YOUR TIME: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/allies-for-art-work-from-nato-related-countries-tickets-392833123447

Contact Information
P: 203.834.0623
E: art@browngrotta.com


Art Out and About: Exhibitions Here and Abroad

It’s September and it’s not just schools that are opening their doors. Tanned, rested and ready — museums and galleries like browngrotta arts are presenting fall events. Here’s a round up of some fiber events to view in the next few months.

NYTM
New York Textile Month
New York City and nearby locations
https://www.textilemonth.nyc

In New York, it’s NYTM — New York Textile Month.  That means range of activities — talks, films, studio visits, workshops, an in-window exhibition at Bergdorf Goodman, exhibitions at Mana Contemporary and elsewhere, and Eva Hesse’s Expanded Expansion at the Guggenheim — all celebrating textile art, making and conservation. Check out the NYTM website for suggestions, times, and dates.

Contemporary Weaving Artist Series 6: Kyoko Kumai
Through November 6, 2022
Nakahechi Museum of Art
891 Kinro Nakahechi-machi
Tanabe-shi Wakayama-ken Japan
Tel; 0739-65-0390 
https://www.tokyoartbeat.com/en/events/-/2022%2Fcontemporary-weaving-artist-series-vi-kyoko-kumai

Detail of Memory, Kyoko Kumai, stainless steel filaments, 41” x 19” x 19”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Since 2017, Tanabe City Museum of Art has been presenting Contemporary Weaving, an exhibition series that showcases outstanding contemporary weavers who create world-class works by combining traditional and unique materials and techniques with new weaving expressions that reflect the times. This year’s Contemporary Weaving Artist Series 6 features the art of Kyoko Kumai (1943), who has expanded the world of weaving through her innovative use of metallic threads, and continues to develop a variety of expressions that evoke light and wind.

Intellectual Beauty
2nd International Exhibition of Textile Art and Mixed Media
Museu Textil 
September 1 – February 28, 2022
Virtual
https://www.museutextil.com

Vessel from Intellectual Beauty by Jeannet Leenderste. Photo by Jeannet Leenderste

Rodrigo Franzao founded a fully envisioned virtual museum that focuses on the work of artists who “use textile strategies as support for their creations.” For Intellectual Beauty, Fanzao has gathered 43 artists from 18 countries, who have used their “sensitive reality to introduce to the beholder the sensorial perceptions of a reality emancipated from rules and theory, free and absorbed by inspiration.” You can view the entire exhibition, 116 artworks, including two by Jeannet Leenderste, online.

Contextile 2022
September 3 – October 31, 2022
Guimarães, Portugal

Landscape Here West, by Åse Ljones from the Intellectual Beauty exhibition. Photo by Helge Hansen.
Anthropocene by Neha Puri Dhir from Contextile 2022. Photo by Neha Puri Dhir.

Contextile 2022 – Contemporary Textile Art Biennial celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. The exhibition features 57 works by 50 artists from 34 countries chosen for their high creativity, originality and technical competence around the textile element, by construction, theme, concept or material used, as well as their adherence to the concept of Contextile 2022: RE-MAKE.  Among the artists included are Neha Puri Dhir of India. In addition, the Contextile organizers selected Norway as its invited country and are presenting work from 13 Norwegian textile artists including Åse Ljones.

X International Biennial of Contemporary Textile Art, “25 Years World Textile Art”
From November 3rd to December 15th, 2022
Miami International Fine Art (MIFA)
5900 NW 74th Ave
Miami, FL 33166
Colombia Consulate
280 Aragon Ave Coral Gables, FL 33134

https://wta-online.org/blog/x-biennial-of-contemporary-textile-art-wta-25-years/

This year 2022, WTA celebrates its 25th anniversary with the X International Biennial “25 YEARS WTA”, from October through December 2022. For the 10 th Biennial, more than ten countries will be interconnected to celebrate WTA history through salons featuring 25 artists each. A number of artists will have worked displayed in connection with this exhibition including Anneke Klein.

Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries
October 8-16, 2022
browngrotta arts
Wilton, Connecticut
http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php

Detail of River by Jolanta Owidzka, 1978 and Ultima Copper, Green, Orange vessels by Gertrud Hals, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Mindful of the impact that poitical events can have on artists and their art, browngrotta arts will present to work of nearly 50 artists from 21 NATO-related countries in Europe whose work reflects diverse perspectives and experiences. Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (October 8 – 16, 2022) will include art created under occupation, in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, art by those who left Hungary, Spain and Romania while occupied, and who left Russia in later years, including Jolanta Owidzka, Zofia Butrymowicz, and Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet of Poland and Luba Krejci and Jan Hladik of Czechoslovakia, Ceca Georgieva of Bulgaria, Gyöngy Laky (Hungary/US), Ritzi Jacobi (Romania/Germany), Adela Akers (Spain/US), Aleksandra Stoyanov (Ukraine/Israel) and Irina Kolineskova (Russia/Germany). Allies for Art will also include recently created art by artists living in Europe, including works by Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, Åse Ljones of Norway, Ulla-Maija Vikman of Finland, Heidrun Schimmel of Germany, Lilla Kulka and Włodmierz Cygan of Poland, and, five artists new to browngrotta arts, including, Esmé Hofman of the Netherlands, Aby Mackie of Spain and Baiba Osite of Latvia.

Reserve your space on Eventbrite.


Art Assembled: New This Week in August

There are few things we enjoy more than introducing you all to the brilliant art of the artists we have the honor to work with. This month, we showcased the work of artists: Heidrun Schimmel, Caroline Bartlett, Sue Lawty, Zofia Butrymowicz, and Włodzimierz Cygan. Read on to see what these artists have been busy creating!

Heidrun Schimmel
1hsc Behind the Lines of Thread, Heidrun Schimmel, cotton, steel, paper, 55″ x 74″ x 3.5″, 2004. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This German artist, Heidrun Schimmel, consistently impresses us with her detailed, handstitched artwork. Her ideas often stem from the soft, unstable and flexible qualities of the textile materials she works with. For the realization of her ideas, she stitches white cotton thread by hand onto transparent silk; which she has noted to be the simplest material and simplest technique: the stitch.

When asked about her process, Schimmel stated:

“Stitching by hand exclusively, I take my ideas from specific qualities of the thread and the stitching process. Behind the Lines of Thread shows the so-called “left side” of the thread lines. The tensions between these thread lines protect the “right side,” which the viewer cannot see. Each piece has its own individual shape and at the same time it enters into a relationship with all the other parts. “

Caroline Bartlett
21cb Every Ending has a New Beginning, Caroline Bartlett, hand-painted and mono-printed, stitched and manipulated linen, cotton threads 30” x 96”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Up next, we have the innovative work of UK textile artist, Caroline Bartlett. With textiles at the core of her practice, Bartlett’s artwork is often created in reference to historical, social and cultural associations. Bartlett’s practice is driven by questions – for example around the tensions between personal recollection and the public ways of remembrance and the potential of materials and objects to trigger recollection and association.

“As age and experience expand, I find myself more aware of how I work,” said Caroline Bartlett. “I continue to actively need fresh challenges while knowing and recognizing limitations of self and the art world in general. Again the push/pull. No room for complacency.”

What a profound lens into her creative practice!

Sue Lawty
Sue Lawty 30sl Tacitum II hemp and linen on cotton warp 11.75” x 8.5” x 1″, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Tacitum II was created by acclaimed artist, Sue Lawty. Lawty is an England-based artist who is widely known for her meticulous exploration of the mediums she works with.

She has charted the journey of her understated and abstract works – stating that they are strongly influenced by a comprehensive engagement with remote landscape, geology and the passage of time.

Lawty’s work is rooted in the emotional, spiritual, and physical engagement with land through construction and repetitive structure, and the inspired creation behind her pieces shows!

Zofia Butrymowicz
7zb Marco, Zofia Butrymowicz, wool, 37″ x 34″, 1966. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This next piece holds a special place in our hearts as it comes from the late Zofia Butrymowicz. Butrymowicz has been recognized globally for her innovative works in the ‘60s and ‘70s – often using thread she spun herself in Poland during the post-war period when supplies were in a great shortage.

This work is made from wool sourced from Canadian artist, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. Back in 1969, Butrymowicz visited Canadian weaver, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and her husband, painter and ceramicist, Claude Vermette, outside Montreal where the couple lived and worked. Zofia stayed with the Vermettes for several months, using Mariette’s looms to create tapestries that were displayed with Claude’s ceramics at a local gallery.

To create this piece, Zofia “painted” the weavings made from Canadian wool with colors and shadings of yarns, including only a shimmering suggestion of a shape, often a circle, as she had done in other tapestries, but the glisten and sumptuousness of the yarn from Rousseau-Vermette used in this particular piece sets it apart from her other works.

19wc NOW, Włodzimierz Cygan, wool, sisal, 124″ x 62″, 2000. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Last, but not least, we highlighte the work of Włodzimierz Cygan. Cygan is known globally for his textile innovations. Growing up, Cygan lived in a city in Poland called Łódź, which has very strong textile traditions that inspired him to create the works of art you see today.

“When trying to determine why the means of artistic expression in tapestry was becoming archaic,” said Cygan, “I realized that one of the reasons might have to do with the custom of treating the threads of the weft as the chief medium of the visual message. . . . These observations led me to wonder how the artistic language of textiles might benefit from a warp whose strands would not be parallel and flat but convergent, curved or three dimensional ….”

As a result of these explorations, in some of Cygan’s works, the warp changes direction, enabling the weaving of circles or arcs.

We hope you enjoyed learning about these prominent contemporary artist.s If you like what we have highlighted this month, keep your eye out for more – we keep them coming every week.

In the meantime, mark your calendar for our upcoming Art in the Barn event, Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (October 8-16, 2022), it’s an event you won’t want to miss! Click here for more information and to reserve your spot.


Art as Far as the Eye Can See — Global Sourcing for Handcrafted Works

Happily, craft is resurgent, appreciation at a high point. The focus at browngrotta arts is art — one-of-kind, museum-quality art works made with attention to the hand and technique. But we are also advocates of adding handcrafted and mindfully made items to enhance every aspect of one’s life. 

From The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a marriage of architecture and art: plates: Edgar and Joyce Anderson, Richard Meier, James Makins, William Wyman, Lenore Tawney; centerpiece: Andreas Fabian; flatware (front): John Horn. Photo by Tom Grotta

We were involved with The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a marriage of architecture and art (Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart, Germany, 2019) — the book and the lives it chronicles. The book tells the story of Sandy and Lou Grotta who created, as Glenn Adamson explained, “a place for living with things, as well as looking at them, a place where craft can be appreciated for all its qualities: not just its stylistic and conceptual aspects, but how it feels in the hands.” (“A Vessel for Living,” The Grotta Home, p. 146). From tableware to pillows and throws, baskets for storage, and handmade furniture, clothing and even walking sticks, the Grottas chose things they loved to fit into a home they loved. When the Grottas began acquiring craft items 60 years ago it was a challenge to find working craftspeople — they did a lot of research. Today, however, thanks in part to the internet, it is easier to find such work. “Helped by this ease of distribution, a whole new generation of artisans is emerging,” says Adamson,”whose commitment to form and function recalls (and in many cases is directly inspired by) the great work produced in America in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Here, we suggest some sources that have caught our attention — but there are so many more. Use this as just a suggestive first step … set off on an exploration of your own, the journey, as the Grottas found, was more than half the fun.

Computer science, computing, student crafts, weaving at Berea College. which offers an academic program involving craft products. Photo by Crystal Wylie

Contemporary furniture and housewares brand, Design Within Reach, profiled Berea College in February. The College, in Kentucky, was founded by an abolitionist minister in 1855, was the first interracial, coeducational college in the South. It’s now tuition-free via a work-study arrangement, featuring a crafts program in which students create weaving, woodworking, and ceramics products that are then sold to help support the school. Remarkably, no student pays tution. In 2018, the College invited industrial designer Stephen Burks to collaborate. “Today, student craft is no longer just a factory of student labor,” he told DWR, “as it had been for nearly 100 years, but is transitioning into an academic program producing open-ended products.” The Crafting With Diversity collection is the result. Sold exclusively through DWR, it offers crafts interpreted in a modern way – for example, the Community Basket, fashioned from white oak bands joined together by sturdy aluminum links, or the striking Pixel table linens made of handwoven cotton. The full proceeds from all sales of the Crafting Diversity Collection will benefit Berea College. 

DWR has also partnered with Bolé Road Textiles which creates modern reinterpretations of traditional Ethiopian weaving motifs using heritage craft techniques. To realize her vision, founder Hana Getachew, born in Addis Abba and now in New York, enlists a network of Ethiopian weaving collectives and emerging women-led businesses in this growing handwoven industry. The resulting textiles are a testament to Ethiopia’s generational weaving traditions, its centuries-old craft techniques, and Getachew’s ambition to preserve and develop this rich legacy. “My long-term vision is to transform the industry into something that young weavers aspire to enter,” says Getachew. “I’d like to see handweaving be admired and considered a skilled and valuable profession. It needs to be treasured and recognized for what it is: an art form.”

The Selvedge Marketplace — a portion of its ARTISANS 2021.

The artisan marketplace offered by selvedge magazine is a global A to Z — Argentina to Zambia — source for consciously created works. There are portraits of the artisans and talks and  videos on the selvedge website. You’ll find dozens of objects that interest and delight there — from exuberant baskets by Baba Tree Basketry in Ghana and Canada to exquisite sweaters created by Maria Abdala Zolezzi, Knitwear & Weaving from Argentina.

A US craftsman that we’ve been watching for several years is Doug Johnston who creates coiled baskets and bowls.

Torse set by Doug Johnston, 2013. Photo by Doug Johnston Studio

Another comprehensive source for purposefully created design is the The Citizenry. The company believes our personal spaces, “deserve designs with a soul, a story, and a purpose.”  They travel to various countries, establishing sustainable relationships with artisans working only local materials. They site their commitment to providing fair wages, happy working environments, and sustaining grants to enable their artisan partners are able to take  their businesses to new places and to offer high-quality handmade goods at reasonable prices.

The Grottas often wondered, “Why doesn’t everyone live surrounded by handcrafted things?” Adamson agrees that it is a good question. “After all, buying handmade doesn’t have to be all that expensive. It provides satisfaction on levels beyond the purely aesthetic. And incidentally, it provides support to people who bring beauty into the world.” In a society awash with cheaply made, disposable objects, Adamson adds, the Grottas’ commitment to craftspeople and their creativity is worth replicating. 


Material Matters: Cultivating Cardboard

Cardboard is a popular medium for contemporary artists. New materials like cardboard were introduced to art making from the very beginning of the 20th century. The introduction of new materials (and techniques) and heretofore non-art materials helped drive change in art during the entire century.

Robert Rauchenberg, National Spinning / Red / Spring (Cardboard), 1971. The Menil Collection, Houston; available through Creative Commons licensing.

Perhaps the best known of the artists to incorporate cardboard was Robert Rauschenberg. “Rauschenberg has said he tries ‘to act in that gap between’ art and life, and there’s probably nothing more quotidian than a cardboard box. He uses them ‘as is,’ with their stains, tears, marks and worn labels revealing their history and creating a patina of wear and age. But he’s far from precious with the boxes, denting, tearing, flattening, crushing and combining them,” wrote Kelly Klaasmeyer, “Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Related Pieces,” Houston Press, May 10, 2007. You can learn more about Rauschenberg’s use of cardboard in this YouTube discussion between Susan Davidson, curator at Guggenheim and RRF Board member and David White, curator at Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (RRF) and Board member. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoiDZKRKZxM Robert Rauschenberg: Cardboards and Gluts, by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. 

More Fiber, Ed Rossbach, mixed media, 14″ x 9″ x 9″, 1987. Photo by Tom Grotta

Artists who work in textiles have tried on cardboard, too. Ed Rossbach was a pioneer in the field of textile art, creating nonfunctional baskets and sculptures from an extensive array of materials including cardboard cereal boxes, plastic tubing, and newspaper. “He was the first to use plastic tubing in works of art, the first to use such throwaway materials as newspaper and cardboard,” according to Rebecca A.T. Stevens, a consulting curator at the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C. His work redefined conventional notions about materials for fiber and textiles and the beauty in the discarded.

Teeter, John McQueen, table, shingles, stick, cardboard, 86″ x 54″ x 12″, 2014. Photo by Tom Grotta
Raillery, John McQueen, cardboard, 40” x 77” x 12”, 2014. Photo by Tom Grotta
A Saw, John McQueen, cardboard, 11″ x 10″ x 34″, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta

John McQueen’s three-dimensional works are created from the materials he finds near his rural New York State farm, including twigs, bark, flowers, weeds, and vines—anything that comes from the earth, and increasingly, manmade materials like cardboard and plastic that he wants to draw attention to. McQueen prides himself on not needing to go the arts supply store. His several-part sculpture, Teeter, includes cardboard, shingles from a lake house and a hand, originally created as the mold for another project. Raillery is made of the corrugated cardboard that surrounded a Murphy bed. And, to accompany Man’s-Naturehe created a three-dimensional chainsaw of cardboard.

21ar Black on Cardboard, Axel Russmeyer, sphere from polyester thread card board bobbins over a solid wood sphere, tan and dark gray ribbon, 4″ x 4″ x 4″, 2009. Photo by Tom Grotta

Axel Russmeyer ties cardboard thread-covered bobbins to create spheres, which reference textile making and the spheres that he makes from tiny glass beads. Lewis Knauss used cardboard-framed photographic slides in Old Technology Landscape. Still others use it to direct their work — Dorothy Liebes made sample shades of gold lurex glued to cardboard. Gyöngy Laky creates templates of letters and symbols of cardboard from which she builds her works of wood.

Wayne White, an Emmy-winning set designer for PeeWee’s Playhouse summarizes the attraction — cardboard has a “hard aesthetic” and a “tendency to do awkward things.” (“The Magic of Cardboard – Artist Spotlight,” Pactivate,com, June 3, 2021.)

Cardboard art even made international news this month, as Chicago school children created a 784-foot Ukranian flag from cardboard cereal boxes https://www.fox32chicago.com/news/chicago-high-school-students-attempt-to-set-world-record-for-largest-mosaic-made-out-of-cereal-boxes?taid=62f4468958b19d0001fadd0a&utm_campaign=trueanthem&utm_medium=trueanthem&utm_source=twitter. Using yellow and gold cardboard from 5000 boxes (Corn Pops and Rice Krispies), they’ve created a record-breaking-sized mosaic of the Ukrainian flag while raising funds for humanitarian causes in the Ukraine.


Save the Date: Fall Art in the Barn, October 8 – 16, 2022

Gudrun Pagter Tapestries
Gudrun Pagter’s 13-17gp 8 Red Vertical, 3 Blue Horizontal, 6 Blue Vertical, 1 Red Vertical and 1 Red Horizontal installation of tapestries. Photo by Tom Grotta

Join us for this Fall’s Art in the Barn event at browngrotta arts: Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries. 

Political instability can bring about unexpected and engaging art. It can influence an individual artist’s career for a lifetime. The current upheaval in the Ukraine and the security concerns of neighboring European countries suggests echoes experiences of artists exhibited by browngrotta arts who have lived in, fled, or emigrated from repressive regimes. It weighs, too, on the minds of those working in the surrounding nations. German artist, Heidrun Schimmel says that living in a country, united and secure in NATO since 1989, “its now hard for us to learn: … everything is hanging by a thread…”

Baiba Osite driftwood wall sculpture
1bo City Walls, Baiba Osite, driftwood, canvas, 70″ x 54″ x 4.5″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta

Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related countries (browngrotta arts, October 8 – 16, 2022) will feature nearly 50 artists and will 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 ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, art by those who left Hungary, Romania and Spain while occupied, and art by other artists who left Russia in later years. Gyöngy Laky’s family, for example, escaped from Soviet-occupied Hungary after World War II — to Austria, then America, experiences that are reflected in her politically themed works. Adela Akers’ family left Franco’s Spain, first for Cuba, then to the US. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Ritzi Jacobi’s expressive work in tapestry, abstract by nature, allowed her to circumvent the Romanian government’s preference for academic, figurative art which supported communist ideology. 

Luba Krejci thread drawing
5lk untitled Detail, Luba Krejci, thread drawing, 39″ x 48″ x 2.5″, circa 1970s. Photo by Tom Grotta

Other artists in the exhibition from Eastern Europe, including Jolanta Owidzka, Zofia Butrymowicz, Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, and Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet of Poland and Luba Krejci and Jan Hladik of Czechoslovakia, were introduced to US audiences in the 1960s through 1980s by Chicago gallerists Jacques and Anne Baruch who spirited their work out of countries under oppressive regimes. On August 20, 1968, for example, the Baruchs left Prague after meeting with artists, just five hours before Soviet tanks rolled into the city and brutally ended a brief period of democratic reforms. 

Allies for Art: Work from NATO-related Countries will also include works created by artists currently working in Europe, including Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, Åse Ljones of Norway, Włodmierz Cygan of Poland and, artists new to browngrotta arts, including Esmé Hofman of the Netherlands, Anneke Klein of Denmark, and Baiba Osite of Latvia. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color catalog, which will include an essay by Kate Bonansinga, Director, School of Art, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Exhibition Schedule:
Opening & Artists Reception (300 Visitor Cap)
Saturday, October 8th: 11AM to 6PM  

Viewing Dates & Times (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, Sunday October 9th: 11AM to 6 PM
Monday, October 10th – Saturday, October 15th: 10AM to 5PM 

Final Day (40 visitors/ hour)
Sunday, October 16th: 11AM to 6PM  

Address
276 Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 068977

Safety protocols
Eventbrite reservations strongly encouraged • We will follow current state and federal guidelines surrounding COVID-19 • As of August 1, 2022, masks are not required • No narrow heels please (barn floors)

RESERVE YOUR TIME: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/allies-for-art-work-from-nato-related-countries-tickets-392833123447

Contact Information
P: 203.834.0623
E: art@browngrotta.com


Dispatches: A Visit to Vancouver

Rhonda spent five great days in Vancouver last month. Here’s her report:

The artistic experiences began as soon as I disembarked at Vancouver International Airport. A rainforest experience has been recreated there, complete with birdsong, framed by a dramatic First Nations’ sculpture in the air. 

The visual feast continues outside. Like any good buffet, the offerings are numerous and varied — natural beauty vies with and public art everywhere one looks.

There are exciting and colorful murals on buildings large and small. Vancouver hosts an annual Mural Festival: https://vanmuralfest.ca. This year’s will last 11 days and sponsor 30 murals in eight neighborhoods. I came across a group of muralists near Stanley Park, protected by a Do Not Disturb the Artist sign. 

The architecture of Vancouver is wildly diverse —a combination of modern architectural styles, ranging from the 20th century Edwardian style to the 21st century modernist style. Arthur Erickson was a pioneer of the West Coast style which sought to integrate the natural environment into building design. Major stylistic influences were International Style, open space plans of Japanese architecture, the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and the work and talks given in Vancouver by Californian Richard Neutra. Erickson, Canada’s most influential architect, often worked with browngrotta arts’ first artist, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, including the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. 

Elsewhere, Granville Island, Stanley Park, the Waterfront — artful window displays, imaginatively painted buildings abound — even the concrete sidewalks are artful with their leaf imprints.

Intentional art offerings are just as voluminous. The most impressive of these is Erikson-designed Museum of Anthropology on the campus of the University of British Columbia. It’s dramatic Great Hall is under earthquake abatement, but the Museum’s collection of 46,000 objects (which you can see online http://collection-online.moa.ubc.ca) is more than enough reason to make a visit. (The Niobe Japanese Gardens and Treewalk both within walking distance are two more.)

The Museum is a pilgrimage for fiber fans — cases and cases of baskets and woven items from First Nation peoples and other geographic areas in the Multiversity Galleries. Ancient objects join ones as modern as a fish made from recycled fishing nets.

And then there’s the food, the walkability, the concern with sustainability and the friendliness of absolutely everyone. People stop and ask to help as soon as you pull out a map! Put it on your travel list — Vancouver is a must see!

Photos: Rhonda Brown


Art Assembled: New This Week in July

Things certainly don’t slow down in the summer over here at browngrotta arts, and July was a testament to that. This month, we’ve introduced you all to works by Lewis Knauss, Shoko Fukuda and Laura Foster Nicholson in our New This Week series. Read on to see what impressive work these artists have been busy creating.

Lewis Knauss
35lk Fire Fright, Lewis Knauss, hemp, linen, acrylic paint, 14.5″ x 14″ x 1.5″, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This colorful piece was created by American artist Lewis Knauss. This particular work was inspired by the environment; more specifically, fires and climate change that has occurred as an impact of over consumption of fossil fuels.

Knauss uses his work as a tool to explore his memories of place and his surroundings in a meaningful way.

Shoko Fukuda
2sf Bound Corners, Shoko Fukuda, ramie, monofilament, plastic, silicone, 5.5″ x 4.75″ x 5.5″, 2021

This complex and ethereal artwork comes from Shoko Fukuda. Fukuda is a basketmaker and Japanese artist that’s been making monumental strides in the art world for over a decade. Often, her work features materials like sisal, ramie and raffia.

She has said she’s interested in “distortion” as a characteristic of basket weaving:
“As I coil the thread around the core and shape it while holding the layers together, I look for the cause of distortion in the nature of the material, the direction of work and the angle of layers to effectively incorporate these elements into my work,” said Fukuda. “The elasticity and shape of the core significantly affect the weaving process, as the thread constantly holds back the force of the core trying to bounce back outward.”

Laura Foster Nicholson
Laura Foster Nicholson, 22lf CMA CGM, wool, mylar, cotton, 27.5” x 68”, 2021. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Last, but not least, we introduce you to the unique textile artwork of Laura Foster Nicholson. This American artist is known for her powerful hand woven tapestries that feature whimsical, engaging imagery. Much like the work of Lewis Knauss, Nicholson’s work is often created with the state of the world in mind – including theme’s of how climate change and over consumption is impacting our world today.

With fall quickly approaching, we want to give you all plenty of warning that we have some very exciting exhibitions in the works for you all. Keep your eyes pealed and follow along to see what impressive artwork we bring into our fold in the months to come!


Portraits in Thread

The Textile Museum at George Washington University in DC has a portrait exhibition in the works. Learning about the Museum’s plans got us thinking about works created by browngrotta artists that feature human likenesses. We have a preference for abstract works and find them easier to exhibit as a group in the gallery. As a result, we don’t exhibit many works that are figurative, but we do find faces rendered in textiles consistently appealing. They record a person’s existence, but traditionally reflect much more — power, status, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. Portraiture can be popular with artists because of the freedom of composition it involves — lighting, angle of the head, hair, clothes, background, facial expression — almost endless options. Below is a gallery of some engaging portraits by artists who have worked with browngrotta arts.

Process piece by ed Rossbach
Process Piece, Ed Rossbach, 15” x 15” x 2.5”, 1981. Photo by Tom Grotta

This deconstructed portrait by Ed Rossbach works on two levels — it appears to be a model of the way a likeness can be formed, and of course, it revels the likeness in black transferred onto fabric.

Ethel Stein portrait
Portrait, Ethel Stein mercerized cotton lampas (pre-dyed warp and weft) drawloom , controlled, 47” x 34.75” x 1” 1999. Photo by Tom Grotta

Portrait by Ethel Stein is an imagined depiction of a woman in contemplation while Helena Hernmarck’s On the Dock seems to capture an actual moment in time.

Helena Hernmarck tapestry
On the Dock, Helena Hernmarck, wool, 43″ x 57″, 2009. Photo by Tom Grotta

Marijike Arp portraits
DNA Unique, Marijike Arp, transparent foil, threads and paper, 66″ x 118″ x 1.5″, 2000. Photo by Tom Grotta

Marjike Arp made a statement about gender in DNA=Unique. The pair of subjects resemble one another and raise questions for the viewer: Are they related? Are they more similar than different? 

Iria Kolesnikova portraits
Photoatelier #11, Irina Kolesnikova, flax, silk, hand woven, 15.5” x 11.75”, 20” x 16” frame, 2004

Other artists also work from photographic images. Irina Kolesnikova, for example, likes old black-and-white old photos. “I play with images of these pictures, using silhouettes, details of dress, signs of profession. I make collage and imitate collage in woven technique. You can not recognize an exact person in these pieces, because it is not important for me …. I like a paradoxical combination of contemporary art language and ancient handweaving technque.”

From the First Person  by Aleksandra Stoyanov
Aleksandra Stoyanov, From the First Person I, wool, sisal, silk, cotton threads 55.6” x 49.25”, 1999

Ukrainian-born artist Aleksandra Stoyanov began making tapestries in 1987, building on her background in graphic and set design. Some of these are based on photographs from her family album. The images evoke memories; the position of the subjects’ heads on their sides suggests the importance of one’s vantage point in interpreting events.

Lia Cook Su Series
Su Series, Lia Cook cotton, rayon, woven 72” x 132”, 2010-2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

Lia Cook is a master of creating woven portraits from photographic images. Her Su Series Installation features 32 individual portraits. The exact same face, an image of Cook as a child, is used in each of the pieces but it is physically and materially translated differently each time through the weaving process. “The specific way each is translated creates a subtle and sometimes dramatic variation in emotional expression.” Cook says. “As one moves through the installation each iteration evokes a new response. The experience of the person viewing the piece is what is important to me. I am interested in the threshold at which the face dissolves first into pattern and then into a sensual tactile woven structure.  What does this discovery and the resulting intense desire to touch the work add to our already innate, almost automatic emotional response to seeing a face?… The viewer can experience sadness, happiness anger fear etc.  They don’t believe it is the same image”. It is fascinating to Cook — and to viewers of her work — that how an image is translated through the technical weaving process can change the emotional expression of the work.