Tag: Ed Rossbach

Discourse — the book, out now

Discourse: across generations catalog

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

New Press

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

Mika Watanabe spread
Mika Watanabe spread

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

Federica Luzzi spread
Federica Luzzi spread

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

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

Get your copy of the Discourse catalog from our website: https://store.browngrotta.com/c53-discourse-art-across-generations-and-continents/. It’s a good read!


A Lasting Legacy – Dorothy Liebes and artists at browngrotta

Rhonda Brown

Hommage á Dorothy Liebes: Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
Hommage á Dorothy Liebes I & 2, 1948-49 I, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, silk leather, aluminum, flourescent tubing (including some materials obtained from Dorothy Liebes) 54″ x 15″ x 15″ (each), 2001. Photo: Tom Grotta

Dorothy Liebes (1897 – 1972) was an influencer before the term was coined. Known as the “mother of modern weaving,” and initiator of “The Liebes Look” she served as a national arbiter of interior design and fashion trends reaching thousands of people through print magazines, television, film, and significant collaborations with architects and corporations from Frank Lloyd Wright to Dupont. Liebes created luminous, jewel-toned fabrics, often incorporating nontraditional materials and metallic threads.

Life Magazine, Dorothy Liebes

Her influence extended well beyond influencing consumer trends. She impacted the careers of numerous artists – some who only met her and studied her work and others who worked in her studios in San Francisco and New York.

Rossbach, plaited Metal Foil Baskets
120-121r Tribe of Baskets IV, Ed Rossbach, plaited metal foil, 14” x 3” x 3”, 13.5” x 3.5” x 3.5”, 1970. Photo by Tom Grotta

Ed Rossbach met Dorothy Liebes only in passing, but her influence on his work was marked. In 1940, after he had finished college, he visited an International Exposition at Treasure Island in California and saw the decorative arts exhibit that Dorothy Lieber had installed there. “I didn’t know anything about Dorothy Liebes, naturally,” he told Harriet Nathan in 1983. (Charles Edmund Rossbach, “Artist, Mentor, Professor, Writer,” an oral history conducted in 1983 by Harriet Nathan, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1987, p. 14.) “I saw these contemporary textiles and weavings and wrote in my diary that I would like to learn how to weave so that I could weave upholstery.” Years later, when Rossbach had moved to the Bay Area, he visited Liebes’s studio. He recounted being awestruck by the things she inserted into her warp, by her whole personality, and how she interacted with those who worked for her. (Lia Cook, “Ed Rossbach: Educator,” in Ed Rossbach: 40 Years of Exploration and Innovation in Fiber Art, Lark Books and Textile Museum, 1990.) Liebes “had a sense of [her] own importance,” he said later, in an interview with the Archives of American Art. (Oral history interview with Ed Rossbach, 2002 August 27-29. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.) Like Liebes, Rossbach would become known for incorporating non-traditional materials into his work.

Three other artists whose work is shown by browngrotta arts in Wilton, Connecticut – Sherri Smith, Glen Kaufman, and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette — were among Liebes’s studio alumni  — their experiences with the designer were evident throughout their artistic careers

1ss Linde Star, Sherri Smith, plaiting, discharge; cotton webbing, 34″ x 37″, 1976. Photo by Tom Grotta

Artist and educator, Sherri Smith, went to work in Dorothy Liebes’s studio after she completed MFA in weaving and textile design at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan in 1967. From there she went to Boris Knoll Fabrics, where she headed the Woven Design Department. Smith was well situated for her first major museum success — the inclusion of her piece Volcano No. 10, 1967 in MoMA’s Wall Hangings curated by Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen in 1969.

Portrait of Glen Kaufman, courtesy of Glen Kaufman estate

Glen Kaufman spent a year at Liebes’s New York studio from 1960 to 1961, after a Fulbright in Scandinavia. Kaufman was also a Cranbrook graduate. There he created handwoven pile rugs among other items. At the Liebes studio, he and Harry Soviak, a Cranbrook classmate, concentrated on carpet designs and created pillows in “wild colors.” The pair would try to “out-Dorothy Dorothy Liebes,” making pillows using Liebes’s daring color combinations and metallic yarn, Kaufman told Josephine Shea in an oral interview in 2008. He recalled that the designer “had this reputation of being the arbiter of interior taste. And she would put together things like red and pink and orange, which were absolutely out in left field,…”  (FN4 Oral history interview with Glen Kaufman, 2008 January 22-February 23, Josephine Shea.)

Glenn Kaufman Banner
500gk Banner, Glen Kaufman, silk, wood, 76″ x 41″ x .75″, 1960s. photo by Tom Grotta

Kaufman’s work from the early 60s like Banner, paired vibrant colors. In others, like Herringbone, Odd Man In and Polymaze, Kaufman continued to explore carpet making techniques. Over time, however, he adopted a more muted palette. Liebes remained enthusiastic but bemoaned the color change. In her essay for Cooper Hewitt exhibition on Liebes and her legacy, Erin Dowding quotes a 1967 letter from Liebes to Kaufman in which the designer writes about seeing his works, “which I thought were wonderful. I missed color, though, and I’m sure you do too.” (Glen Kaufman essay by Erin Dowding, Cooper Hewitt Museum).

Portrait of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. Photo by Tom Grotta

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette’s experience with Dorothy Liebes was perhaps the most formative. The details of the year she worked in Lieben’s California studio have been compiled and generously shared with us by Anne Newlands. Newlands is the author of Weaving Modernist Art: the Life and Work of Mariette Rousseau-Vermette and the guest curator of an upcoming retrospective of Rousseau-Vermette’s work at the Musée National des Beaux-arts du Quebec in Quebec City in 2025.  

After graduation from the École des beaux-arts in Montreal in 1948, Mariette, then Rousseau, later Rousseau-Vermette, looked to the United States to further her education, unlike fellow students who travelled to France. She was inspired by a 1947 issue of Life magazine in which an article titled “Top Weaver” introduced her to the innovative Dorothy Liebes studio in San Francisco. Years later, she described the impact: “The article blew me away — this magnificent woman was radically changing textiles in the United States, she was returning them to art. For her, textures, colours, techniques had no limits.” (Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, public lecture, Musée du Québec, 23 August 1992. Translation by Judith Terry. Cited Anne Newlands.) In addition to Liebes’s innovations with non-traditional weaving materials, Rousseau-Vermette said she was captivated by Liebes’s “prophetic instinct for trends in color.”

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette maquette
Mariette Rousseau-Vermette maquette for stairwell commission. Photo by Tom Grotta

After graduation, despite the fact that she spoke little English at the time, Rousseau traveled to San Francisco for two reasons: to secure a job or an internship at the Liebes studio and to study at the California College of Arts and Crafts in nearby Oakland. Her mornings were spent at the college in Oakland, and in the afternoons she waited patiently in the reception area of the Liebes studio, her thick sample books from the École des beaux-arts on her lap, trying to convince the studio to hire her. With a determination that would become legendary, Rousseau-Vermette returned daily and finally Dorothy Liebes relented, saying that she could not pay her (although later she would), but that she would let her work. (Material on Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. Cited by Anne Newlands.)  “Try — Do not be afraid — Make ‘research’ a pleasure – Share with others. These are the ‘gifts’ I received during my stay in Dorothy Liebes’s studio.” Rousseau-Vermette wrote. “At the end of the 1940s, Dorothy Liebes’s endless energy and joie de vivre, and the friendship among her thirteen assistants, started me on the path that became my way of life.” (Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, “Fiber-Optic and Other Weavings,” in Wiredbrowngrotta arts, 2001.)

Roy Thompson Hall ceiling by Mariette Rousseau Vermette
Roy Thompson Hall. Building designed by architect Arthur Erickson; ceiling sculpture by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. Photo by Tom Grotta

Like Liebes, much of Rousseau-Vermette’s career was devoted to creating textile works on commission to mediate architectural spaces, notably, The Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto, Exxon in New York City and Arthur Erikson’s Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Working with architects was central to Leibes’s practice. As Alexa Griffith Winton has noted, “Liebes encountered architectural blueprints and quickly learned to read them.” (“’None of Us is Sentimental’: About the Hand: Dorothy Liebes, Handweaving, and Design for Industry,” Alexa Griffith Winton,The Journal of Modern Craft, Volume 4—Issue 3, November 2011, pp. 255.) Rousseau would follow suit; her most preferred commissions would be those that involved collaborations with architects. Her files were thick with blueprints and architectural drawings. Where buildings were hard and cold, Liebes’s textiles were warm and soft says. Like Liebes, Rousseau-Vermette’s brilliance came from building and bridging a tension between textiles and architecture. (“How the Mother of Modern Weaving Transformed the World of Design,” Sonja Anderson, Smithsonian Magazine, July 19, 2023.)

Brilliant coloration also featured in Rousseau-Vermette’s work and she utilized unique materials as Liebes’ did. Canadian architect, Arthur Erikson, wrote of a series of color fields of luscious color and texture composed vertically or horizontally of combed wool that he commissioned for a building in Vancouver, B.C. “I found the simplicity of her work blended perfectly with the simple structural expression of the building, the building transformed through the artist’s eye.” (Arthur Erickson, “Introduction,” in Wiredbrowngrotta arts, 2001.)

626mr Elégante, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, wool, optical fiber, metallic thread, mylar, 48″ x 48″, 2000. Photo by Tom Grotta

In the 1990s, Rousseau created a series innovative weavings, like Elegante, that incorporate optical fiber. Another work from 2001, Hommage á Liebes, incorporates silk, leather and fluorescent tubes, some of it material that Rousseau-Vermette had sourced from Liebes. In its title, the student explicitly credits the mentor as an impetus for her work. Liebes also influenced the way in which Rousseau-Vermette would manage her studio. Like Liebes, Rousseau-Vermette created detailed cartons and maquettes for each of the 644 tapestries she created in her career. Her meticulous notes are now in the archives of the National Gallery of Canada. She was motivated by Liebes’s success as an independent owner-operator, holding as she did a singular place in the male-dominated business world.

Dorothy Liebes exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt
Dorothy Liebes exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt. Photo by Tom Grotta

Want to know more? Liebes’s life and design have received renewed attention in the past year as a result of the expansive exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt in New York, with many resources available online. A lush volume accompanied the book, both entitled, A Dark, A Light, A Bright: the Designs of Dorothy Liebes.


Art Assembled – New This Week in April

April was all about highlighting new artists and gearing up for our upcoming exhibition Discourse: art across generations and continents (May 4 – 12, 2024). With just three short days until launch day, the exhibition, and all the featured artists, have been at the forefront of our minds! In case you missed any of our artist highlights from April, we’ve put together a recap for you. Read on for the full scoop!

Chiyoko Tanaka
4cht Grinded Fabric #3233, Chiyoko Tanaka, handwoven raw linen, ramie with brick, 17.25″ x 38.5″, 1988. Photo by Tom Grotta

To kick off the month, we featured the remarkable artwork of Chiyoko Tanaka. Tanaka’s art is a fascinating exploration of time, symbolized through the weaving of countless weft threads. Following the weaving process, Tanaka employs a unique technique she calls “grinding,” where the cloth is rubbed with specialized tools like bricks or white stones. This meticulous process adds depth and texture to her pieces.

Tanaka’s innovative approach has earned her numerous accolades, and we are honored to showcase her extraordinary work.

Mary Merkel-Hess
18mm.1 Seed Head, Mary Merkel-Hess, bamboo and paper, 11” x 9” x 9”, 1990. Photo by Tom Grotta

Next up in April, we turned our spotlight to artist Mary Merkel-Hess. Merkel-Hess is renowned for her captivating ‘landscape reports,’ intricate sculptural forms crafted from reed, bamboo, and paper, inspired by the serene natural landscapes of Iowa.

Merkel-Hess’s work has garnered high praise, notably becoming the first contemporary basket form to be acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. We’re thrilled to include her remarkable pieces in our upcoming exhibition, Discourse, launching this weekend.

 Ed Rossbach
78r Peruvian Tapestry, Ed Rossbach, printed weft, 20″ x 21″, 1972. Photo by Tom Grotta

Next, we highlighted the groundbreaking artwork of the late pioneer artist, Ed Rossbach. Renowned for his innovative approach to weaving, Rossbach fearlessly explored traditional techniques and unorthodox materials like plastics and newspaper. His visionary work transcended the boundaries of basketry, elevating it to a sculptural art form. Known for his imaginative flair, Rossbach infused his creations with unexpected imagery, including references to pop culture.

Rossbach’s iconic pieces will be featured in Discourse this weekend, adding to the rich tapestry of talent on display. We’re truly honored to showcase his groundbreaking work.

Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz
1ypb Cosmic Series, Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz, Knotted monofilament, gold leaf, 25″ x 20″ x 7″. Photo by Tom Grotta

We then turned our focus to the late, award-winning artist, Yvonne Pacanovsky Bobrowicz. Renowned in the art world for her mesmerizing sculptures crafted from synthetic monofilament, Bobrowicz’s work captivated audiences with its cascading and light-transmitting qualities. Her artistic vision was deeply rooted in the exploration of interconnections and continuum.

When reflecting on her creations, Bobrowicz expressed, “My work combines natural materials with synthetics, bridging opposites and exploring concepts of randomness and order.” Her pieces, adorned with elements like gold leaf and characterized by reflective surfaces, served as alchemically symbolic representations, unifying contrasting elements in various densities, scales, and configurations.

As expected, Bobrowicz’s exceptional artistry will be showcased in our exhibition this weekend, adding another layer of depth and intrigue to the collection.

 Lija Rage
7lr Home-II, Lija Rage, mixed media, wooden sticks, linen and copper, 53″ x 38″, 2020. Photo by Tom Grotta

Last, but certainly not least, we highlighted the work of artist Lija Rage. In her artistic process, Rage employs a unique approach, painting small sticks and wrapping them in copper wire, meticulously layering them through gluing and sewing until the artwork is brought to completion.

Rage’s pieces possess a timeless quality, distinguished by her vibrant color infusions that draw inspiration from the natural landscapes of Latvia, her home country.

Once again, Rage stands among the many talented artists featured in Discourse this weekend, contributing her distinctive vision and craftsmanship to the exhibition.

Thank you for reading and staying up to date on all our “New This Week” features in April. We hope to see you all in person at Discourse to see some of these works in person. Reserve your spot here.


Art Out and About

This Spring in Connecticut brings an abundance of daffodils and in the US and abroad a slew of art exhibitions. From Scotland to San Francisco to Seoul, we’ve rounded up some suggestions for you:

Jane Balsgaard
April 6 – May 5, 2024
Vejle Kunstforening
Søndermarksvaj 1
Vejle, Denmark 7100 
https://www.vejlekunstforeningmoellen.dk/

Jane Balsgaard paper and glass boat
Glass and handmade paper Boat by Jane Balsgaard. Photo by Jane Balsgaard

This exhibition of Jane Balsgaard’s art work of glass twigs and plant paper will open in Velje, Denmark this April.

Four Stories of Swedish Textile: Inger Bergstöm, Jin Sook So, Katka Beckham Ojala, Takao Momijama
March 20 – April 2, 2024
Suaenyo 339,
339 Pyeongchang-gil, Jongno-gu
Seoul, Korea 
http://sueno339.com/?ckattempt=1

Jin Sook Blue Wall painting
Blue and Gold electroplated wall textile by Jin-Sook So. Photo by Jin-Sook So

This is an exhibition of four very different art practices, including work in stainless steel mesh by Jin-Sook So. “Using textiles as an artistic medium opens up a world of possibilities, interpretations and expectations,” write the exhibition’s curators. “How the individual artist works in this realm is unpredictable and can lead to totally different genres and contexts. The exhibition, 4T – Four Swedish Stories of Textile, shows the works of a group of artists who despite their different expressions are united by an interest specifically for textile surfaces.”

Andy Warhol: The Textiles
Through May 18, 2024
Dovecot Studios
10 Infirmary Street
Edinburgh, SCOTLAND EH1 1LT
https://dovecotstudios.com/whats-on/andy-warhol-the-textiles

Andy Warhol Textiles
Andy Warhol Artworks © 2024 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by DACS, London.

Andy Warhol: The Textiles takes viewers on a journey through the unknown and unrecorded world of designs by the influential artist before his Silver Factory days. As the originators explain, by showcasing over 35 of Warhol’s textile patterns from the period, depicting an array of colorful objects; ice cream sundaes, delicious toffee apples, colorful buttons, cut lemons, pretzels, and jumping clowns, this exhibition demonstrates how textile and fashion design was a crucial stage in Warhol becoming one of the most iconic artists of the 20th century. A book accompanies the exhibition: Warhol: The Textiles.

Irresistible: The Global Patterns of Ikat
Through June 1, 2024
George Washington University and Textile Museum
701 21st St. NW
Washington, DC 20052 
museuminfo@gwu.edu

Irresistible Americas installation
Irresistible Americas photo by Kacey Chapman

Prized worldwide for producing vivid patterns and colors, the ancient resist-dyeing technique of ikat developed independently in communities across Asia, Africa and the Americas, where it continues to inspire artists and designers today. This exhibition explores the global phenomenon of ikat textiles through more than 70 masterful examples — ancient and contemporary — from countries as diverse as Japan, Indonesia, India, Uzbekistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Guatemala. Included are works by Polly Barton, Isabel Toledo, and Ed Rossbach.

Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art
Through June 16, 2024
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/weaving-abstraction-in-ancient-and-modern-art

Lenore Tawney in the Center of MET exhibit
Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Hyla Skopitz

The process of creating textiles has long been a springboard for artistic invention. In Weaving Abstraction in Ancient and Modern Art, two extraordinary bodies of work separated by at least 500 years are brought together to explore the striking connections between artists of the ancient Andes and those of the 20th century. The exhibition displays textiles by four distinguished modern practitioners—Anni Albers, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Olga de Amaral—alongside pieces by Andean artists from the first millennium BCE to the 16th century.

On and Off the Loom: Kay Sekimachi and 20th Century Fiber Art
Lecture and Video with Melissa Leventon and Ellin Klor
April 20. 2024
1 p.m. EDT
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118
https://www.textileartscouncil.org/post/on-and-off-the-loom-kay-sekimachi-and-20th-century-fiber-art

Kay Sekimachi Kiri Wood Paper Vessel
Kiri Wood Paper Vessel by Kay Sekimachi. Photo by Tom Grotta

Kay Sekimachi is esteemed as an innovator in contemporary fiber art. Her vision has had an impact on many outstanding artists. Sekimachi came of age at a boom time for fiber art, when many artists were experimenting with dimensional weaving both on and off the loom and were challenging old art world hierarchies in the process. In this talk in person and on Zoom, Melissa Leventon will discuss Sekimachi’s oeuvre within the wider context of fiber art in the 20th century.

Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction
Through July 28, 2024
National Art Gallery
East Building, Concourse Galleries
4th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 
https://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2024/woven-histories-textiles-modern-abstraction.html

Ed Rossbach Weaving and basket
Ed Rossbach, Damask Waterfall, 1977, LongHouse Reserve, © Ed Rossbach, photo © Charles Benton, courtesy The Artist’s Institute. Ed Rossbach, Lettuce Basket, 1982, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. Milton and Martha Dalitzky (M.2021.163.1), © Ed Rossbach, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

This transformative exhibition has moved from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the National Gallery in DC. It explores how abstract art and woven textiles have intertwined over the past hundred years.This transformative exhibition explores how abstract art and woven textiles have intertwined over the past hundred years. In the 20th century, textiles have often been considered lesser—as applied art, women’s work, or domestic craft. Woven Histories challenges the hierarchies that often separate textiles from fine arts. Putting into dialogue some 160 works by more than 50 creators from across generations and continents, including Katherine Westphal, Dorothy Gill Barnes, and Ed Rossbach, this exhibition explores the contributions of weaving and related techniques to abstraction, modernism’s preeminent art form.  The book that accompanies the exhibition, Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction, can be found on our website.


Art and Design Trends: 2024

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Art Out and About: Exhibitions Here and Abroad

It’s a fall full of cultural attractions — across the US and abroad. Hope you can take in one or two!

Tamiko Kawata’s Self Portrait, 1996 and Vertical Wave, 1986

Tamiko Kawata: Beyond Edge, Beyond Surface
November 1- 28, 2023
Opening Reception November 1 6-8 p.m.
Pollock Gallery
Meadows School of the Arts
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, Texas 
https://calendar.smu.edu/site/meadows/event/tamiko-kawata-beyond-edge-beyond-surface–opening-reception/

The artist will create an onsite installation on October 29 – 30th

Weaving at Black Mountain College:
Anni Albers,Trude Guermonprez, and Their Students
through January 6, 2023
Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Asheville, NC
https://www.blackmountaincollege.org/weaving/

Weaving at Black Mountain College Installation. photo by BMCM+AC staff featuring The Weaver, painted on the weaving studio door by Faith Murray Britton in 1942.

Weaving at Black Mountain College: Anni Albers,Trude Guermonprez, and Their Students will be the first exhibition devoted to textile practices at Black Mountain College (BMC). Celebrating 90 years since the college’s founding, the exhibition will reveal how weaving was a more significant part of BMC’s legendary art and design curriculum than previously assumed.

BMC’s weaving program was started in 1934 by Anni Albers and lasted until the College closed in 1956. About 10% of all Black Mountain College students took at least one class in weaving. Despite Albers’s elevated reputation, the persistent treatment of textile practices as women’s work or handicraft has often led to the discipline being ignored or underrepresented in previous scholarship and exhibitions about the College; this exhibition brings that work into the spotlight at last. The exhibition will also feature work by selected contemporary artists whose work connects to the legacies of the BMC weavers: Kay Sekimachi, Jen Bervin, Porfirio Gutiérrez, Susie Taylor, and Bana Haffar. They’ve produced a catalog for the exhibition, too, that will be available October 31st. 

Folding Silences
through November 9, 2023
D21 Art Projects
Paeo Las Palmas
Providencia, Chile
https://www.d21virtual.cl/2023/09/20/comunicado-plegando-silencios-de-carolina-yrarrazaval/

Installation shot, Folding Silences exhibition. Photo by Jorge Brantmayer.

Through November 9th, the exhibition Plegando Silencios by international artist Carolina Yrarrázaval can be visited at gallery D21. The exhibition consists of a series of 12 tapestries that the artist has worked on in recent years experimenting with materials of plant origin, mainly with coconut fiber, which is intervened to obtain suggestive reliefs, textures, and transparencies that demand a new look at the artist’s work. The creative act of dyeing, folding, and incorporating raw material is transformed into the initial structure of a textile work that s, the gallery says, “seduces and incites the search for new sensations.”

Woven Histories: textiles and modern abstraction
through January 21, 2024
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA
https://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/woven-histories-textiles-and-modern-abstraction

Ed Rossbach, Damask Waterfall, 1977, LongHouse Reserve, © Ed Rossbach, photo © Charles Benton, courtesy The Artist’s Institute. Ed Rossbach, Lettuce Basket, 1982, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Dr. Milton and Martha Dalitzky (M.2021.163.1), © Ed Rossbach, photo © Museum Associates/LACMA.

Woven Histories sheds light on a robust, if over-looked, strand in art history’s modernist narratives by tracing how, when, and why abstract art intersected with woven textiles (and such pre-loom technologies as basketry, knotting, and netting) over the past century. Included are 150 works by an international and transhistorical roster of artists that includes Ed RossbachKatherine Westphal, Anni Albers, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Kay SekimachiLenore Tawney, and Sheila Hicks. The exhibition reveals how shifting relations among abstract art, fashion, design, and craft shaped recurrent aesthetic, cultural, and socio-political forces, as they, in turn, were impacted by modernist art forms. It is accompanied by a book of essays and images, that can be purchased at browngrotta.com.

Takaezu & Tawney: An Artist is a Poet
through March 25, 2024
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Bentonville, AK
https://crystalbridges.org/calendar/toshiko-takaezu-lenore-tawney/

Portrait of Lenore Tawney and Toshiko Takaezu at browngrotta arts’ exhibition Lenore Tawney: celebrating five decades of work, 2000. Photo by Tom Grotta

Takaezu & Tawney: An Artist is a Poet debuts 12 new acquisitions to the Crystal Bridges collection that tell the story of a remarkable friendship between Toshiko Takaezu and Lenore Tawney. Curated by Windgate Curator of Craft Jen Padgett, the exhibition highlights how these two women shaped craft history in the US by expanding and redefining the possibilities of their preferred mediums: Takaezu in ceramics, Tawney in weaving. Takaezu and Tawney had a close relationship for decades, from 1957 until Tawney’s death in 2007. From 1977 to 1981, Tawney lived at Takaezu’s Quakertown, New Jersey, home and the two shared studio space.

Tartan
through January 14, 2024
Victoria & Albert Museum
London, UK
https://www.vam.ac.uk/dundee/whatson/exhibitions/tartan

Louise Gray 2011. For her iconic collection ‘Up Your Look’, photo by Michael McGurk

If you are a fan of tartan (as we are), the V&A’s exhibition is for you. Tartan offers a thrilling view of over 300 mesmerizing objects showcasing tartan’s timeless appeal and rebellious spirit across fashion, architecture, art and design. See tartan worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Scottish soldier’s unwashed kilt from the trenches of WWI, and the Bay City Rollers trousers handmade by a lifelong fan.

And there is always our Artsy Viewing Room that you can visit without leaving home: Glen Kaufman: Retrospective 1980 – 2010.

Enjoy!


Art Assembled – New This Week in July

Welcome to our July Art Assembled blog, where we are thrilled to highlight the incredible art featured in our New This Week series. Throughout the past month, we had the privilege of showcasing the works of Jane Sauer, Mia Olsson, Mary Giles, Ed Rossbach, and Nancy Koenigsberg – four visionary artists who have left an indelible mark on the world of contemporary art.

During July, we were captivated by the diverse and thought-provoking creations of these artists. From Sauer’s intricate fiber art to Olsson’s evocative sculptures, and from Rossbach’s innovative weaving techniques to Koenigsberg’s mesmerizing wire sculptures, each artwork invited us to explore new dimensions of artistic expression.

Read on to delve into the artistic journeys of these remarkable individuals!

Jane Sauer
Cone Sculpture by Jane Sauer, waxed linen and acrylic paint , 21.75″ x 5″ x 5″, 1996.
Photo by Tom Grotta.

To kick things off, we celebrated the exceptional talent of Jane Sauer, an esteemed contemporary artist acclaimed for her remarkable exploration of fiber arts. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Sauer’s artistic journey began with a focus on painting before a serendipitous encounter with the vibrant fiber arts movement in 1972.

In the realm of fiber art, Sauer’s craft shines brilliantly through her closed basket forms, meticulously crafted from knotted and waxed linen. Her art invites viewers into a world of intimate spaces and personal connections, creating an ambiance reminiscent of the sheltering environment of the womb. Each of her beautifully intricate designs thoughtfully explores the concept of “personal space,” leaving us captivated by the delicate interplay between form and function.

Through her artistic expression, Sauer deftly weaves together threads of emotions, experiences, and memories, forming art pieces that speak to the heart and soul. Her ability to create compelling narratives through the interplay of fibers is a testament to her mastery of the craft and her unique artistic vision.

Mia Olsson
10mo Pleated, Golden, Mia Olsson, sisal fibers, 30.625″” x 27.125″ x 2.55″, 2020.
Photo by Tom Grotta.

To continue on with our New This Week series July, we showcased the transformative creations of Mia Olsson, a Swedish fiber artist whose work defies expectations and pushes the boundaries of textile fibers. With an alchemical touch, Olsson works her magic on prickly sisal fibers, transforming them into ethereal and semi-transparent wall sculptures that enthrall the senses.

In her artistic practice, Olsson delves deep into the inherent properties and characteristics of textile fibers, exploring their untapped potential with ingenuity and creativity. Her works, dyed in richly saturated warm tones, evoke a sense of intrigue and wonder, inviting us to contemplate the magic of materials and the boundless possibilities they hold.

Olsson’s artistry bridges the gap between the ethereal and the earthly, seamlessly blending the tactile and the visual. Her works exude a sense of lightness and delicacy, as if they were suspended between the realms of reality and imagination. With each piece, she invites us to explore the unseen aspects of fibers, shedding light on their versatile nature and the artistic expressions they can evoke.

Mary Giles
70mg Copper Divide, Mary Giles, waxed line, fine iron and copper wire and hammered copper wire, 2011-2013. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We then turned our attention to the remarkable talent of Mary Giles, a renowned artist celebrated for her mastery of the coiling technique. Within the world of fiber art, Giles stands out for her distinctive approach, which involves incorporating thin metal strips delicately shaped as human figures into her works. These metal elements are skillfully layered over a surface or core, adding a remarkable sense of depth and dimension to her creations.

Giles’s artistry transcends traditional boundaries, evoking both environmental features and human figures through her expert manipulation of materials. Her artworks serve as a captivating dialogue between art and nature, inviting us to explore the intricate relationship between humanity and the world around us.

Inspired by the sincerity and directness found in tribal art, Giles infuses her own artistic expression with a unique authenticity. Her works are a testament to her creative vision, one that honors traditional techniques while embracing innovation.

Ed Rossbach
213r Red Java, Ed Rossbach, mixed media, 8.75″ x 7.5″ x 7.5″, 1988. Photo by Tom Grotta

Ed Rossbach, a visionary artist whose contributions to the field of fiber art have left an enduring impact. Rossbach’s artistic journey spanned decades and was marked by fearless experimentation with unconventional materials and innovative weaving techniques.

Throughout his prolific career, Rossbach continued to evolve and diversify his artistic practice, showcasing his mastery of various mediums. From dimensional weaving in the 1960s to later explorations in cast paper techniques and mixed-media sculpture, Rossbach’s trajectory was one of continuous growth and innovation. His relentless pursuit of creative exploration and commitment to pushing the boundaries of fiber art make him a true pioneer in the field.

Rossbach’s artistic legacy remains a source of inspiration for contemporary fiber artists, as his ability to bridge the gap between traditional practices and cutting-edge techniques continues to resonate with artists and art enthusiasts alike. The trail he blazed in the world of fiber art will be forever cherished and celebrated.

Nancy Koenigsberg
1nak.1 5 Concentric Cubes, Nancy Koenigsberg, copper wire, 12” x 12” x 12”, 1995

Last, but certainly not least, we explored the world of Nancy Koenigsberg, a visionary artist hailing from the vibrant city of New York. Koenigsberg’s artistic prowess shines brilliantly in her captivating exploration of wire sculpture, where she fearlessly pushes the boundaries of artistic expression using copper, steel, and aluminum wire.

Through her meticulous craftsmanship, Koenigsberg creates wire grids that exude a mesmerizing visual and conceptual allure. The interplay of shiny and dull, fragile and industrial-strength materials adds a dynamic depth to her masterpieces, challenging our perceptions and inviting us to question the very essence of art.

Intrigued by her intuitive process, we find ourselves enchanted, as the artist expertly shapes and layers the wires into captivating forms. The resulting artworks evoke a sense of wonder, urging us to delve deeper into the enigmatic world she creates.

As we bring our exploration of the captivating worlds of Jane Sauer, Mia Olsson, Mary Giles, Ed Rossbach, and Nancy Koenigsberg to a close – we are filled with admiration for the ingenuity and artistry that each of these remarkable artists has brought to the world of fiber art. Join us again next month as we continue our journey through the captivating world of contemporary art, where we will introduce you to more visionary artists and their extraordinary creations!


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!


Face Forward: Exhibition Portraits

Tom Grotta’s passion since beginning to represent artists in art textiles and fiber sculpture has been to effectively present the work in photographs. With artwork, he aims to highlight the haptic quality of work made by hand and give viewers a sense of each work’s scale and presence. His portraits of artists often show them at work and give people a glimpse of their practice and passion. As a result, browngrotta arts receives regular requests to share Tom’s photographs for books and articles including Fiber: 1960 to the Present; Golden State of Craft; Tapestry: A Woven Narrative and The New York Times, Interior Design, selvedge; and FT: How to Spend It. He also gets requests to use his portraits in exhibitions — and we use them ourselves for that purpose. It’s always a thrill to see them blown up. In this post will share some of those with you.

Works by Toshiko Takaezu; portrait of Toshiko Takaezu by Tom Grotta at This Present MomentCrafting a Better World, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. Photo by Ted Rowland.

Last year, ceramist Toshiko Takaezu’s work was highlighted in a gallery space in This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC (at the same time her work was on exhibit at the Venice Biennial). Takaezu’s works were displayed aside a large portrait taken by Tom Grotta.

Portrait of Ethel Stein in front of her portrait at Ethel Stein: Master Weaver at the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Tom Grotta.

In 2014, we were thrilled to go to Chicago to attend the opening of Ethel Stein: Master Weaver, a one-person retrospective for Ethel Stein, then 96. She has been steadfastly “counter-trend,” as textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen observed, creating squares of quiet pattern to be placed on walls at a time when other textile artists were emphasizing the sculptural potential of fiber by working in three dimensions. Produced on a drawloom—a type of handloom that incorporates a figure harness capable of controlling each warp thread separately—her work seems deceptively simple, but as one understands the mysteries and complexities of this weaving method historically favored for creating figured textiles, the sophistication and challenge of her work become undeniable. The drawloom was donated to the Art Institute, as well — The exhibition included 38 of the artists works and a large version of Tom’s portrait. The portrait graced the cover of our catalog, Ethel Stein: Weaverwhich was sold in the Art Institute’s bookstore.

Portrait of Ed Rossbach in Ed Rossbach: Quiet Revolutionary at SOFA, Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Tom Grotta.

In 2004, browngrotta arts co-sponsored Ed Rossbach: Quiet Revolutionary, with LongHouse Reserve at the SOFA exhibition in Chicago. A diverse grouping of Rossbach’s works was included.  The exhibition had been organized first at the Cranbrook Academy of Arts in Michigan and then traveled to LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York.

Portrait of Judy Mulford at SOFA in front of the portrait in the special exhibition,  Judy Mulford: 80 Chairs. The portrait is of Mulford in her California studio. Photo by Tom Grotta.

At SOFA Chicago in 2017, we presented Judy Mulford’s 80 Empty Chairs. The installation featured a central sculpture entitled “What now?” she said. “What now?…What now?…What now?…” surrounded by 80 individually rendered chairs in frames. The intimate and emotional sculpture chronicles domestic life. The dollhouse chairs, dolls, buttons and embellishments used in the work were collected by the artist from family members, flea markets, antique stores and friends. Mulford spent a year on the work, which marked her then-upcoming 80th birthday. She also produced a limited-edition book, 80 Empty Chairs, as a part of this project.

Portraits of Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen in their respective studios at WordPlay: Messages in Bark & Branch at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Connecticut. Photos by Tom Grotta.

Most recently, this May, Tom’s portraits of Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen welcomed visitors to WordPlay: Messages in Bark & Branch at the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Connecticut. These portraits are among the several dozen Tom has taken in as part of what we call our studio visit project. We have been to California, Ohio, New York, the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands photographing artists. We hope to create more of these images to share with you.


Art Assembled – New this Week in April

Welcome to our April Art Assembled blog, where we are thrilled to showcase the incredible artists featured in our New This Week series. Last month, the artists highlighted in our New This Week series all happen to be included in our current exhibition, Acclaim! Work by Award-Winning International Artists.

As we near the end of the exhibition, we’ve been enjoying seeing and meeting everyone at Acclaim! and invite those who haven’t had the chance to visit yet to come experience the stunning works of James Bassler, Adela Akers, Ed Rossbach, Helena Hernmarck, Mary Giles, and so many more while it’s still open! You have until this Sunday, May 7 to come check it out in person.

In the following paragraphs, we will dive deeper into the art of James Bassler, Adela Akers, Ed Rossbach, Helena Hernmarck, and Mary Giles, highlighting some of their stunning pieces on display in our exhibition.

James Bassler
17jb Unravelling, James Bassler, agave warp and weft, natural dyes, avocado seeds, weave madder root, wedge weave, embroidery, 28″ x 47″, 2022.

To kick off the month of April, we introduced you to the masterful textile artist James Bassler, whose piece “Unravelling” exemplifies his skill and creativity. Bassler’s unique style combines traditional weaving techniques with modern sensibilities, resulting in pieces that are both timeless and contemporary.

This particular piece features a map of the United States on PBS, illustrating the deep divide of the states and Bassler’s concern for the state of democracy. He wondered if our democracy is unraveling, leading him to name this piece “Unraveling.” He finished the piece on his 89th birthday.

Throughout his career, Bassler has received many accolades and honors for his art, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council.

Adela Akers
52aa Silver Waves, Adela Akers, linen, horsehair, paint & metal foil, 63” x 24”, 2014. Phot by Tom Grotta.

As the month continued, we introduced you to Adela Akers, a talented textile artist who uses mediums like metallic threads and horsehair to create a mesmerizing interplay of light and shadow, evoking the movement of waves in the ocean. “Silver Waves” is a captivating piece that will leave you in awe of Akers’ skill and imagination. Her art is a beautiful representation of the delicate balance between nature and human creativity.

Born in the Czech Republic, Akers grew up in Venezuela and later moved to the United States. Her art is a beautiful representation of the delicate balance between nature and human creativity, and her pieces are included in many prestigious private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution.

Ed Rossbach
200r Eternal Summer, Ed Rossbach, 14″ x 8″, 1995. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Ed Rossbach was a master weaver and sculptor who revolutionized the world of basketry with his innovative use of ancient techniques and unconventional materials like plastics and newspaper.

His incorporation of pop culture references into his art is a testament to his imaginative prowess. Rossbach’s art invites the viewer to see beauty in the unexpected, and his unique style continues to inspire artists today.

Throughout his long and prolific career, Rossbach received many awards and honors, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Helena Hernmarck
62hh Tabula Rasa 2, Helena Hernmarck, wool, 53″ x 44″, 2010

Up next, we turned our attention to the visionary Swedish-born artist and handweaver, Helena Hernmarck. Hernmarck has revolutionized tapestry as a medium for modern architectural spaces. Her tapestries are renowned for their incredible illusion of movement, captivating viewers and transcending the boundaries of two-dimensional art.

Born in Stockholm, Hernmarck studied at the Handarbetets Vänner textile school in Stockholm before moving to the United States. She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Craft Council.

Mary Giles
69mg Quill Bowl II, Mary Giles, waxed linen and porcupine quills, 4.5″ x 11.5″ x 11.5″, 1983

Last, but not least, we highlight the work of the late Mary Giles. Giles was a renowned artist who mastered the coiling technique associated with Native American basket traditions. Her work included striking wall pieces and freestanding sculptures that draw inspiration from the environment, human figures, and vessels.

Her signature style incorporated thin metal strips, some of which are shaped like human figures, layered over a surface or core. Her pieces are a beautiful representation of the connection between art and nature, and her work is included in many prestigious collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

There are only a couple of days left to experience the stunning works of the incredible artists in our Acclaim! exhibition in person. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to engage with the art and immerse yourself in the world of these talented artists. For more information on Acclaim! or to register, click here. We hope to see you there!