Tag: Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila

Dispatches: Chicago, Threaded Visions, and the Art Institute

The Bean Chicago
The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago, photo by Tom Grotta

In our Art: Out and About columns we often recommend that people visit exhibitions in the US and abroad.  Last week, we took our own advice and took an art break, unusual for us to do just weeks before one of exhibitions, and flew to Chicago, Illinois for an overnight stay.

Eduardo artist talk
Eduardo Portillo and María Dávila being questioned by Art Institute Textile Curator Melinda Watt. Photo by Tom Grotta

The occasion was a chance to attend an artist talk at the Art Institute of Chicago by Venezuelan artists Eduardo Portillo and María DávilaWeaving a World, to catch up with Eduardo and María, and see Threaded Visions: Contemporary Weavings from the Collection (through August 26, 2024)at the Institute in person. The couple has worked together since 1983. They are, as the Institute notes, “dedicated, almost obsessively so, to exploring the intricacies of the material production of textiles” and they have traveled extensively in China and India to study the traditional techniques of indigo dye making, sericulture, and handweaving. Through their extensive travels they have found that fiber is an ideal vehicle for understanding other cultures, the world around them, and even the cosmos. 

White Dwarf Art Institute
Entrance to the Threaded Visions exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago. White Dwarf by María Dávila and Eduardo Portillo. Photo by Tom Grotta

In their lecture, Eduardo and María spoke about the ways in which they have endeavored to translate the topographical features of Venezuela, the rhythms of day and night, and cosmology into their weavings. White Dwarf, which opens the Threaded Visions exhibition, is an example. A white dwarf is what stars like the Sun become after they have exhausted their nuclear fuel. Near the end of its nuclear burning stage, this type of star expels most of its outer material, creating a luminous planetary nebula. White Dwarf, conveys this luminosity.

Ethel Stein and Lia Cook
Rhonda viewing works by Ethel Stein and Lia Cook. Photo by Tom Grotta

Thoughtfully curated by Christa C. Mayer Thurman curator, Melinda Watt, walking through the Threaded Visions exhibition was like a homecoming for us, the exhibit contains so many fine works by artists who are among our favorites. Among them, we found a truly exceptional Olga de Amaral that Watt had seen in the artist’s retrospective and acquired. The James Bassler work that is featured on exhibition promotional materials, A Weaving, is a four-selvaged work, a wedge weave, based on a blow-up from Kinko’s of a 5” x 8” weaving that Bassler made using thread spun from Trader Joe’s brown paper bags. We were also delighted to see two works by Ethel Stein that we had shown at browngrotta and very striking examples of work by Peter Collingwood and Lia Cook.

Cynthia Schira
ABC Drawn Quilt by Cynthia Schira. Photo by Tom Grotta

There were some surprises in Threaded Visions, too. Color Intersection M-II by Shigeo Kubota is a gem and we loved ABC Drawn Quilt by Cynthia Schira

Chicago is a special place — an excellent choice even for a whirlwind stay. The train from the airport is cheap and quick. Getting around once you are in the city is easy. There are a profusion of options for great food, art, and accommodations — at all price ranges. 

We Stand on the Shoulders of Ancestors
“We Stand on the Shoulders of Ancestors,” by Dorothy I. Burge, highlights the legacy of Colonel Charles Young, the third African American to graduate from West Point in 1889. In addition, to the portrait of Young, the quilt depicts 16 African American female West Point cadets raising their fists as a sign of unity and solidarity during Black Lives Matter demonstrations in 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We had time to experience the grandeur of the Chicago Cultural Center, a fascinating 100+-year old building that was a public library and Civil War Memorial and Surviving the Long Wars: Transformative Threads (through December 8, 2024) on exhibit there. The “American Indian Wars” and the ongoing “Global War on Terror” are two of the longest military conflicts in US history. These long wars are intertwined through similar military strategies that often profile, target, and devastate Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities while recruiting and enlisting people from these same groups. This tension is visible in the creative responses to these long wars by artists. Appropriate that the Grand Hall, which was built to honor the sacrifices of Union soldiers and their families, would host a reflection by artists impacted by other conflicts. The artworks in the exhibition draw from the artists’ respective creative traditions to repurpose military technology as a means of cultural resistance. The artists included are Dorothy I. Burge, a US military family member, Miridith Campbell (Kiowa), a US Marine Corps, Army, and Navy veteran, Mahwish Chishty (Pakistani-born American), and Melissa Doud (Ojibwe) a US Army veteran.

Chicago Culture Center
 The Center Hall at the Chicago Culture Center and its famed Tiffany Dome (30,000 pieces of glass!). Photo by Tom Grotta

Given more time we could have also visited Art Expo, the newish-American Writers Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Richard H. Driehaus Museum and much more. Just another excuse to visit again.

Crown Fountain
Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Photo by Tom Grotta

More Art Out and About — exhibitions in the US and abroad

It’s busy summer for fans of fiber art. We have more must-see exhibitions to bring to your attention, from the long-awaited (at least by us!)  A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes  in New York to Beauty and The Unexpected in Stockholm, Sweden and some additional images from Denver, Riga and Portneuf.

Mariette Rousseau-Vermette
634mr Hommage á Dorothy Liebes, 1948-49 I, Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, silk leather, aluminum, fluorescent tubing (some materials obtained from Dorothy Liebes) , 54″ x 15″ x 15″, 2001. Photo by Tom Grotta.

New York, NY
A Dark, A Light, A Bright: The Designs of Dorothy Liebes
through February 4, 2024
Cooper Hewitt
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128
https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/dorothy-liebes/

From the 1930s through the 1960s, American textile designer, weaver, and color authority Dorothy Liebes (1897–1972) collaborated with some of the most prominent architects and designers of the time, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Henry Dreyfuss, Donald Deskey, Raymond Loewy, and Samuel Marx. Fashion designers, including Pauline Trigère, Adrian, and Bonnie Cashin, also used her fabrics, yielding some of the most distinctively American fashions of the mid-20th century. Artist Glen Kaufman and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette worked in her studios in New York and San Francisco. The “Liebes Look”—which combined vivid color, lush texture, and often a glint of metallic—became inextricably linked with the American modern aesthetic. This exhibition features more than 175 works—including textiles, textile samples, fashion, furniture, documents, and photographs — to highlight the powerful — but largely unacknowledged impact she has had on 20th-century design. 

Tawney, Laky, Knauss, Seelig details
clockwise: Lenore Tawney, Ioannes Fridericus, 1983, Collage, 8″ x 12.5,”, Photo by Inlån Dru
Gyongy Laky, Incident, natural, commercial wood, paint, bullets for building, 50″ x 50″ x 4.5″, 2012. Photo by Tom Grotta
Warren Seelig, Stone Carpet/ Shadowfield, 2005. Photo by Inlån Dru. Lewis Knauss, Tinder Dry Year: 2010, woven, knotted linen, hemp, paper twine, bamboo, 25″ x 25″ x 8.5″, 2010. Photo by Inlån Dru. 

Stockholm, Sweden
Beauty in the Unexpected: Modern and Contemporary Crafts
through January 21, 2024
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2
Stockholm, Sweden
https://www.nationalmuseum.se/en/exhibitions/beauty-and-the-unexpected

Nationalmuseum has invited Helen W. Drutt English, pioneering craft educator and gallerist of American Modern and Contemporary Crafts since the 1960s, to assemble a collection of objects drawn from the field of “American Crafts”. The selection of 81 works from the 1950s until today will in future enrich Nationalmuseum’s collections and will provide a possibility to look at American Crafts in the Nordic context. Fiber artists have a good representation – Lenore Tawney,Lewis KnaussWarren SeeligGyöngy Laky, Yvonne Bobroowicz, Deborah Rappoport, Nancy Worden, Rise Nagin, and Ted Hallman are all included in the collection.

Washington, DC
Shared Honors and Burdens: Renwick Invitational
through March 31, 2024
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum
1661 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC
https://www.si.edu/exhibitions/sharing-honors-and-burdens-renwick-invitational-2023:event-exhib-6575

The Renwick Invitational 2023 features artists Joe Feddersen (Arrow Lakes/Okanagan), Lily Hope (Tlingit), Ursala Hudson (Tlingit), Erica Lord (Athabaskan/Iñupiat), Geo Neptune (Passamaquoddy), and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe). Together, these artists present a fresh and nuanced vision of Native American art. The artists were selected for their work that expresses the honors and burdens that Native artists balance as they carry forward their cultural traditions. These artists highlight principles of respect, reciprocity, and responsibility through their work that addresses themes of environmentalism, displacement, and cultural connectedness.

Blair Tate
Work by Baiba Osite, Exodus, Riga, Latvia. Photo by Irina Versalyeva.

Riga, Latvia
Exodus: Baiba Osite
7th Riga International Textile and Fiber Art Triennial
through September 19, 2023
Dubulti Art Station
Riga, Latvia
https://www.lnmm.lv/en/museum-of-decorative-arts-and-design/news/programme-of-the-7th-riga-international-textile-and-fibre-art-triennial-quo-vadis-139

Baiba Osīte‘s wide-scope solo exhibition Exodus is part of the 7th Riga International Textile and Fiber Art Triennial QUO VADIS? The curator, Inga Šteimane, writes about Osite’s “paintings” made of pieces of wood washed out of the sea – “both landscape and abstract in conjunction, as well as archaic and modern ecological. The personal exhibition Exodus was created in a similar synthesis – the historical and the philosophically abstract are together, just like the experienced, felt and imagined.” For the artist, exodus [leaving] is a biblical theme that tells the story of the people of Israel coming out of slavery in Egypt, passing through the sea, escaping their persecutors and gaining their land and freedom. Osite says she has always been interested in this topic from the perspective of an individual’s life, but currently it is particularly relevant to the fate of one nation and humanity globally.” She sees parallels with what’s happening in Ukraine right now. “[T]hey’re fighting for their freedom,” she notes, “for their independence, for their respect among other nations. They’re just fighting it out in a very hard fight. And I think it doesn’t leave anyone indifferent.”

Gizella K Warburton installation
Works by Gizella K Warburton at the Natural (Re)Sources exhibition in Wales. Photo by the artist.

Denbighshire, UK
Natural (Re)Sources
through September 24, 2023
Ruthin Gallery
Gallery 1
Denbighshire, UK
through September 24, 2023
http://ruthincraftcentre.org.uk/whats-on/coming-soon-gallery-1/

Natural (Re)Sources looks at the origin of an artist’s chosen materials. This doesn’t mean that the finished work looks as if it has just been collected from a forest floor, or dug from the ground without intervention, but rather that the material basis for work that is “of the earth” in various forms. The exhibition is curated by Gregory Parsons and includes work by Laura Bacon and  Gizella K Warburton.

Karen Hassinger sculpture
installation by Maren Hassinger. Photos courtesy of LongHouse Reserve.

East Hampton NY
Maren Hassinger: Monuments
through December 31, 2023
LongHouse Reserve
133 Hands Creek Road
East Hampton NY 
Artist: Maren Hassinger

A native of Los Angeles, Maren Hassinger (b.1947) is a multimedia artist whose practice bridges fiber arts, installation, performance, and sculpture. Incorporating everyday materials such as wire, rope, newspapers, plastic bags, petals, and dirt, Hassinger’s art explores the subjects of movement, family, love, nature, the environment, consumerism, identity, and race.

East Hampton NY
A Summer Arrangement: Object & Thing
weekends through December 31, 2023
LongHouse Reserve
133 Hands Creek Road
East Hampton NY
Exhibition: A Summer Arrangement

While you are at LongHouse, visit A Summer Arrangement: Object & Thing at LongHouse features works by several artists and designers, including works from the collection of LongHouse founder Jack Lenor Larsen (1927-2020).

Stéphanie Jacques sculpture
Works by Stéphanie Jacques at the Biennial du Lin in Quebec. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Quebec, Canada
International Linen Biennial in Portneuf (BILP)
through October 1, 2023
Heritage sites throughout Deschambault-Grondines 
Quebec, Canada
https://www.artemorbida.com/biennale-internationale-du-lin-de-portneuf-bilp-2023/?lang=en

Anneke Klein (the Netherlands) Blair Tate (United States of America) Stéphanie Jacques (Belgium), Carole Frève (Québec) are all participants in the international Biennial of Linen in Portneuf, Canada now on view. The BILP is a cultural event showcasing works of professional artists exploring new ideas inspired by linen and flax, covering both technical and conceptual aspects. The subject of flax and linen is addressed through themes as varied as contemporary visual arts, crafts and design. The event takes place in different heritage sites of Deschambault-Grondines every odd year, since 2005.

indigo installation
Photos: Denver Botanic Gardens © Scott Dressel-Martin.

Denver, Colorado
Indigo 
Denver Botanic Garden
York Street Location
Denver, Colorado
through November 5, 2023

Open now, the Indigo exhibition at the Denver Botanic Garden features work by Polly BartonEduardo Portillo and Mariá DávilaChiyoko TanakaHiroyuki Shindo, and Yeonsoon Chang, as well as other artists from across the globe. 

Kyoko Kumai sculpture
Memory by Kyoko Kumai in the Toshiba Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Gallery in London. Phots courtesy of the artist.

London, UK
Japanese Contemporary Craft
Victoria & Albert Museum
Japan, Room 45, The Toshiba Gallery
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
through July 2025
https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1731010/memory-sculpture-kumai-kyoko/

The V&A’s spectacular Japan collections feature ceramics, lacquer, arms and armour, woodwork, metalwork, textiles and dress, prints, paintings, sculpture and modern and contemporary studio crafts. Currently on display, Memory by Kyoko Kumai.

Enjoy!


Art Assembled: New This Week in May

May was a busy month for the browngrotta arts family. Throughout May, we launched our spring exhibition, Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textiles and mixed media art, and it was quite the success! Throughout the month, we introduced some exceptional art to you all. Just in case you missed it, we’re recapping it all here.

Blair Tate
16bt RePair, Blair Tate, linen, cotton rope and aluminum 83” x 58”, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta.

this piece, RePair, was created by American artist Blair Tate. Tate has been exploring flat woven grids in her work since the 70s. When interviewed about her art, more specifically weaving, Tate said:

“In weaving there is a direct analogy between textile and text – the construction of fabric and the process of writing. Both have methodical underpinnings that provide the framework for development. Both woven strips and written sentences can be rearranged to re-contextualize, to forge relationships, to develop meaning.”  

James Bassler
14jb On Inca Time, James Bassler, four selvedge weaving (scaffold weave) handspun and commercial wool, silk, linen, ramie, sisal, cotton, natural and synthetic dyes, 43″ x 36.75″, 2019. Photo by Tom Grotta.

American textile artist James Bassler did not disappoint when it comes to On Inca Time. This piece was created with inspiration from Pre-Columbian Andean Cultures, which you can see displayed through the checkerboard pattern throughout the four-selvedge weave. For decades Bassler has applied ancient techniques and materials to create works with contemporary themes, and we remain in awe of the outcome!

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila
22pd Océano Cósmico, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, silk, cotton,
alpaca, indigo and copper leaf, 59” x 31”, 2022. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Océano Cósmico was created by Venezuelan artists Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila

These artists’ work is often driven by their relationship with their surroundings and how their ideas can be communicated within a contemporary textile language. Océano Cósmico reflects their conception of an imagined Cosmos, “a parallel world that we still see in the midst of changing times.” They also aim to promote an understanding and appreciation of natural dyes as an element in textiles, their importance as a means to preserve and disseminate cultural values and as a medium of contemporary expression. 

Norma Minkowitz
95nm Mother Mine, Norma Minkowitz, Mixed media
(My Mother’s Gloves) and fiber, 6.5″ x 11.75″ x 8″, 1984. Photo by Tom Grotta.

This profound artwork comes from one of our favorite artists, Norma Minkowitz. This particular piece of work incorporates a pair of gloves her mother owned as a tribute. 

Pat Campbell
36pc Mandela IV, Pat Campbell, rice paper, reed and wood, 19.75″ x 14.5″ x 9.875″, 2012

This exceptional piece of art comes from American artist, Pat Campbell. Often, Campbell’s intricate, airy pieces are influenced by Japanese shoji screen, which is traditionally made of rice paper. When asked about the why behind the her medium of choice, Campbell said: 

“Paper is exciting to work with. It is a fragile material that can be easily ripped or torn,” said Pat Campbell.” It is a natural choice of material for my work. It provides the translucency I am seeking in constructions.”

We drop new art every week, so follow us on social media to keep up with the art we bring into the fold! To get your hands on some art of your own, checkout our exhibition: Crowdsourcing the Collective: a survey of textiles and mixed media art, which is available online until June 13.


Adaptation Opens Saturday at browngrotta arts, Wilton, CT

from left to right works by Paul Furneaux and Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila. Photo by Tom Grotta

This Saturday at 11 am, our Spring Art in the Barn exhibition: Adaption: Artists Respond to Change opens to the public. We can’t describe it better than ArteMorbida: the Textile Arts Magazine did. “This project is born from the reflection on how the world of art and its protagonists, the artists, had to rethink and redesign their action, when the pandemic, significantly affecting the global lifestyle, compelled everyone to a forced and repeated isolation,” the magazine wrote. “But the need to adapt their responses to change, generated by the complicated health situation, was only the beginning of a broader reflection that led the two curators [Rhonda Brown and Tom Grotta] to note that change itself is actually an evolutionary process immanent in human history, generative, full of opportunities and unexpected turns.”

Tapestries by Carolina Yrarrázaval. Photo by Tom Grotta

The 48 artists in Adaptation pose, and in some cases answer, a series of interesting questions about art. Does it offer solutions for dealing with daily stress? For facing larger social and global issues? How do artists use art to respond to unanticipated circumstances in their own lives. The work in the exhibition offers a wide variety of responses to these questions.

Several of artists wrote eloquently for the Adaptation catalog about how art has helped them manage the stress and upheaval of the past year. Ideally, for those who attend Adaptation: Artist’s Respond to Change that calming effect will be evident and even shared. 

pictured: works by Lawrence LaBianca, Włodzimierz Cygan, Chiyoko Tanaka, Gizella Warburton, Norma Minkowitz, Polly Adams Sutton

Wlodzimierz Cygan of Poland says the time of the pandemic allowed him to draw his attention to a “slightly different face of Everyday, the less grey one.”  He found that, “slowing down the pace of life, sometimes even eliminating some routine activities, helps one to taste each day separately and in the context of other days. Time seems to pass slower, I can stay focused longer.” Life has changed in Germany, Irina Kolesnikova told us. Before the pandemic, “we would travel a lot, often for a short time, a few days or a weekend. We got used to seeing the variety in the world, to visit different cities, to go to museums, to get acquainted with contemporary art. Suddenly, that life was put on pause, our social circle reduced to the size of our immediate environment.” Kolesnikova felt a need to dive deeper into herself and create a new series of small works, Letters from Quarantine, “to just work and enjoy the craft.”

clockwise: Adela Akers, Irina Kolesnikova, Ane Henriksen, Nancy Koenigsberg, Laura Foster Nicholson, Lawrence LaBianca, Gizella Warburton. Photo by Tom Grotta

Other artists were moved to create art that concerned larger social issues. Karyl Sisson’s Fractured III, makes use of vintage paper drinking straws to graphically represent in red and white the discontents seen and felt in America as the country grappled with police violence against Black Americans, polarized election politics and larger issues like climate change and the environment.  Climate change and the danger of floods and fire were reflected in the work of the several artists in Adaptation. New Yorker Nancy Koenigsberg created Approaching Storm, adding an even greater density of the grey, coated-copper wire that she generally works with to build a darkened image that serves as a warning for the gravity of current events.

High water appears in Laura Foster Nicholson’s view of Le Procuratie, which envisions a flooded Venice, metallic threads illustrating the rising waters. Works by Adela Akers and Neha Puri Dhir were influenced by wildfires in California and India, respectively.

left to right: Karyl Sisson, Jennifer Falck Linssen, Sue Lawty, Jin -Sook So

Still other artists found way to use their art as a meditative practice in order to face their sense of personal and public dislocation. For Jennifer Falck Linssen, the solution was to turn off all media, go outside and find inspiration in morning and evening light. For Paul Furneaux, initially cut off from his studio, the garden became an obsession as he undertook an extensive renovation.  Returning to art making, the spring colors, greens and yellows he had seen while gardening, created a new palette for his work.  Feeling the need for complete change, Hisako Sekijima turned away from basket finishing. Instead, immersing herself in the underlying processes of plaiting. Her explorations became both meditative and a process that led to new shapes. 

Experience these artists’ reflections on change in person. Schedule your appointment for Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adaptation-artists-respond-to-change-tickets-148974728423

The full-color catalog(our 51st) for Adaptation: Artists Respond to Change is available Friday May 7th:

http://store.browngrotta.com/adaption-artist-respond-to-change/


Art & Identity: A Sense of Place

In our 2019 Art in the Barn exhibition, we asked artists to address the theme of identity. In doing so, several of the participants in Art + Identity: an international view, wrote eloquently about places that have informed their work. For Mary Merkel-Hess, that place is the plains of Iowa, which viewers can feel when viewing her windblown, bladed shapes. A recent work made a vivid red orange was an homage to noted author, Willa Cather’s plains’ description, “the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed,” a view that Merkel-Hess says she has seen.

Micheline Beauchemin Golden Garden detail
Micheline Beauchemin 3mb Golden Garden nylon cord, metalic thread, sisal and plexiglass 42” x 10.5”, circa 1966-68

The late Micheline Beauchemin traveled extensively from her native Montreal. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, all influenced her work but depictions of the St. Lawrence River were a constant thread throughout her career. The river, “has always fascinated me,” she admitted, calling it, “a source of constant wonder” (Micheline Beauchemin, les éditions de passage, 2009). “Under a lemon yellow sky, this river, leaded at certain times, is inhabited in winter, with ice wings without shadows, fragile and stubborn, on which a thousand glittering lights change their colors in an apparent immobility.” To replicate these effects, she incorporated unexpected materials like glass, aluminum and acrylic blocks that glitter and reflect light and metallic threads to translate light of frost and ice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila Triple Weave
Triple weave Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila silk, alpaca, moriche, metalliic yarns, copper, natural dyes, 71” x 48.25”, 2016


Mérida, Venezuela, the place they live, and can always come back to, has been a primary influence on Eduardo Portillo’s and Maria Davila’s way of thinking, life and work. Its geography and people have given them a strong sense of place. Mérida is deep in the Andes Mountains, and the artists have been exploring this countryside for years. Centuries-old switchback trails or “chains” that historically helped to divide farms and provide a mountain path for farm animals have recently provided inspiration and the theme for a body of work, entitled Within the MountainsNebula, the first work from this group of textiles, is owned by the Cooper Hewitt Museum.

Birgit Birkkjærs  Ode for the Ocean
Birgit Birkkjær, 65bb Ode for the Ocean, linen and stones, shells, fossils, etc. from the sea 30” x 30” x 4,” 2019

Birgit Birkkjaer’s Ode for the Ocean is composed of many small woven boxes with items from the sea — stones, shells, fossils and so on — on their lids. ” It started as a diary-project when we moved to the sea some years ago,” she explains. “We moved from an area with woods, and as I have always used materials from the place where I live and where I travel, it was obvious I needed now to draw sea-related elements into my art work.”

Polly Bartons Continuum I, II, III detail
4pb Continuum I, II, III, Polly Barton, silk, double ikat, 19” x 52” x 1.75,” 2018

“I am born and raised in the Northeast,” says Polly Barton, “trained to weave in Japan, and have lived most of my life in the American Southwest. These disparate places find connection in the woven fabric that is my art, the internal reflections of landscape.” In works like Continuum i, ii, iii, Barton uses woven ikat as her “paintbrush,” to study native Southwestern sandstone. Nature’s shifting elements etched into the stone’s layered fascia reveal the bands of time. “Likewise, in threads dyed and woven, my essence is set in stone.”

Paul Furneauxs City Trees II and City Lights II detail
1 & 2pf City Trees II and City Lights II, Paul Furneaux, Detail

For Paul Furneaux, geographic influences are varied, including time spent in Mexico, at Norwegian fjords and then, Japan, where he studied Japanese woodblock, Mokuhanga “After a workshop in Tokyo,” he writes, “I found myself in a beautful hidden-away park that I had found when I first studied there, soft cherry blossom interspersed with brutal modern architecture. When I returned to Scotland, I had forms made for me in tulip wood that I sealed and painted white. I spaced them on the wall, trying to recapture the moment. The forms say something about the architecture of those buildings but also imbue the soft sensual beauty of the trees, the park, the blossom, the soft evening light touching the sides of the harsh glass and concrete blocks.” 


Acquisition News

Diagonal, Kyoko Kumai, stainless steel, 2016.

We have learned about a host of acquisitions for artists who work with browngrotta arts’ since our acquisition reports last July and August 2018.  A large number of our artists’ work are now included in the collection of The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum thanks to the remarkable gift of the late Lloyd Cotsen, former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Neutrogena Corporation, which included 4,000 textiles, an endowment and equipment to support the textile collections he assembled.

Attitude, Lia Cook, Handwoven cotton and rayon, 1999.Photo by: Bruce M. White@ Lloyd E. Cotsen, 2016.

The gift includes the Cotsen Textile Traces Study Collection, one of the world’s most significant textile study collections ever assembled by an individual and The Box Project: Uncommon Threads, organized by Cotsen Foundation for Academic Research, which includes work by John Garrett, Helena Hernmarck, Agneta Hobin, Kiyomi Iwata, Lewis Knauss, Naomi Kobayashi, Nancy Koenigsberg, Gyöngy Laky, Heidrun Schimmel and Hisako Sekijima. Cotsen’s gift also included Lia Cook’s 1999 work, Attitude.

Other acquisitions of note:

Ed Rossbach: Bobbin Lace, 1970, was acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art, through browngrotta arts.

Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia DávilaNew Nebula, 2017, was acquired by the Toledo Art Museum in Ohio, through browngrotta arts.

Norma Minkowitz: The Minneapolis Institute of Art purchased a crocheted and stitched wall hanging called Journeys End, 2017, and a stitched drawing with collage and crochet, Lunar Landing, 2017.

Shin Young-ok: Rhymes from 2000 was acquired by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, Korea

Moot, Helena Hernmarck, wool, linen, cotton, 1971. Photo by Helena Hernmarck.

Chang Yeonsoon:  In addition to being a finalist for the Loewe Craft Prize in 2018, the Loewe Foundation in London collected three works of Chang Yeonsoon’s works in August, 2018.

Polly Barton: Fertile Ground, was chosen by the Art in Embassies program to be in the US Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Nancy Koenigsberg: Teal Concentric Boxes was a gift from Camille and Alex Cook to the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin.

Ampersand by Gyöngy Laky

Ethel Stein: Butah, 2011, went to the Art Institute of Chicago in Illinois through browngrotta arts.

Kyoko Kumai: Kumai’s tapestry, Diagonal, which was acquired by teh Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2016, is on display at the Museum until the end of July 2020. The National  Museum of Art in Riga, Latvia collected Kumai’s work in 2018.

Åse Ljones: Three pieces from Ljones’ series, It is Still Quiet, were acquired by KODE Museum, Bergen, Norway in 2017.

Adela Akers: In 2018 Akers’ work, Traced Memories, was acquired by The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/De Young Museum.

Gyöngy Laky: In addition to This Way and That, which is part of The Box Collection, which went to the The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, Seek, from 2016, was acquired by the United States State Department for the new Kosovo Embassy in Pristina. 

Helen Hernmarck: Moot, 1971 was acquired by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. 


NY Asian Art Week, Part II — Cross Currents: Artists Influenced by Japan

Ame II (Rain), Kay Sekimachi , linen, polyester, transfer dye, textile paint, plain and twill weave, 44″ x 6″, 2007. Photo by Tom Grotta.

We are continuing our celebration of New York’s Asian Art Week in this post. Many of the artists who work with browngrotta arts have spent time in Japan, studied Japanese art or methods or simply cite Japan as an important influence. Check out the Selvedge magazines Japan Blue issue, published in August that includes an article on Naomi Kobayashi and one, by Rhonda Brown, about the influence Japan has had on four artists who work with bga HERE.

Examples of this influence abound. Kay Sekimachi, for example, is a Japanese American, born in the California Bay area. During World War II, she was interned with her family in relocation centers for two years. There she learned origami and to paint and draw. She did not visit Japan until 1975, but she has said that when she reached her mother’s village, “I felt like I was coming home.” She brought back silk cocoons and later her aunt sent her banana fiber from Japan that she incorporated into her paper bowls. References to Japan in her oeuvre are inescapable — from the towers she has created from antique Japanese paper, to the delicate flax and paper bowls she makes in shapes that mimic Japanese porcelain to her series of takarabako or woven boxes.  

New Nebula, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila , silk, alpaca, moriche palm fiber dyed with Indigo, rumex spp, onion, eucalyptus, acid dyes, copper and metallic yarns, 74” x 49.25”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Jennifer Falck Linssen uses an ancient Japanese paper carving skill – katagami – to create her. Katagami are handcarved flat paper stencils. This 1,200-year-old technique is traditionally used to resist-print kimono textiles in katazome. By drawing with a small knife on mulberry and cotton papers and shaping this carved paper into three-dimensional sculpture, Linssen recontextualizes the humble stencil – sculpting forms of pattern, shadow, and light.

K Yama-Dori, Katherine Westphal, paper and linen, 40″ x 45″, 1983. Photo by Tom Grotta.


In Venezuela, Eduardo Portillo and Maria Eugenia Dávila, create complex textile works of multiple materials. Their works are woven using Orinoco moriche palm fiber, wool and cotton, dyed with indigo, cochineal and eucalyptus, copper and metal yarns and their own cultivated silk — as they have established the entire process of silk manufacture growing mulberry trees on the slopes of the Andes, rearing silkworms, obtaining the threads, coloring them with natural dyes. The couple devoted 10 years to the study of indigo dye and its culture in Japan and other countries in Southeast Asia before embarking on this work. They aim to promote an understanding and appreciation of natural dyes as an element in textiles, its importance as a means to preserve and disseminate cultural values and as a medium of contemporary expression.


For Katherine Westphal, the influences of ethnic and folk art — African, Japanese and Indonesian were found in her textiles, sculptures, baskets, prints, drawings and items of wearable art. She created many garments inspired by ethnic clothing – primarily Japanese and Chinese prototypes. Her participation in the Wearable Art movement validated this activity, writes JoAnn Stabb, and brought it recognition. In particular, at the invitation of the American Crafts Council headquarters in New York, she led a four-person contingent who presented several lectures and workshops on “Wearable Art from North America” at the World Crafts Council international symposium in Vienna, Austria, in 1980.

Red Earth Jar, Nancy Moore Bess,  waxed cotton & linen, carved acrylic incense box lid, 4.25″ x 5.5″ x 5.5″, 2007


“I am interested in the ‘traditional’ as a reference point, not as a boundary,” says Nancy Moore Bess. A California native, Bess has lived in Japan and authored, with Bibi Wein, Bamboo in Japan (Kodansha International, Tokyo, Japan 2001). Her first trip to Japan in 1986 defined the course of her work for the next three decades. “Japan has influenced my work in many ways,” she writes, “but they all overlap – traditional packaging, basketry, bamboo, the crossover influences of East/West, the vocabulary of defining beauty and craftsmanship.” In works like Boxed Packages, one can find allusions to packaging techniques like tsutsumu. Other works reference traditional forms such as tea caddies. Her Sabi Tea Jar series, for example, was inspired by old, sometimes rusty, water jars used in tea ceremony that she found at flea markets. 


Don’t forget to check out our online exhibition, An Unexpected Approach: Exploring Contemporary Asian Art Online by visiting browngrotta arts’ YouTube channel (HERE) and view each individual work in the exhibition on Artsy (HERE).


The Art of Giving Art – Interest-Free

Here are several artful ways to show your love is eternal — from an intimate artifact and a beaded box, to a handheld basket and an engaging wall work of dyed copper. The payments, however, don’t need to last a lifetime. You can purchase these works over time, interest-free as we have partnered with Art Money to make art more accessible. Art Money, a smart way to buy art, enables you to spread your payments over 10 months with 0% interest. Let us know if we can provide you more information about any of these choices or the artists featured — Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila, Rachel Max, Nancy Moore Bess, Jeanine Anderson, Jane Balsgaard and Gali Cnaani.


Artists on Anni Albers’ Enduring Influence

10 Lines 11 Lines 17 Lines 25 Squares, Kay Sekimachi, 6” x 6” each linen, polyester warp, permanent marker, 2017

As we noted in our last two blog posts, Anni Albers has been a profound influence for artists worldwide. Albers’ ability to combine the ancient craft of hand weaving with the language of modern art, finding within the two a multitude of ways to express modern life, led her to inspire numerous artists, from browngrotta arts, including Sue Lawty who wrote about her Albers’ influence on arttextstyle last week.

Fellow weaver and fiber artist Kay Sekimachi loved both Albers’ work and writings. When discussing Albers’ weaving method Sekimachi quoted Albers’ admonition, “You just have to listen to the threads,” adding, “that’s what keeps me going.” Sekimachi says that Albers’ book On Designing has served as her weaving “bible.”

Neha Puri Dhir

Neha Puri Dhir, an India-based textile artist, whose captivating geometric-based work will be featured in our upcoming Art in the Barn exhibition, Art + Identity: an international view, has also been influenced by Albers. “I have always found Anni’s work as a modernist textile artist revolutionary. Her work has a visual language of simple and direct compositions which has deeply influenced my art practice.” Dhir believes the way in which she expresses interactions of colors and forms as simple compositions in her own work has been unconsciously inspired by Albers. Dhir has embodied Albers’ step-by-step approach to exploration, making that the underlying sensibility of her art practice.

Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila at the Albers Foundation

Mariá Dávila and Eduardo Portillo have approached Anni Albers’ legacy with intention. In late 2018, the couple spent a month at the Josef and Anni Albers’ Foundation in Bethany, Connecticut. The Foundation maintains two residential studios for visiting artists who exemplify the seriousness of purpose that characterized both Anni and Josef Albers. The residencies are designed to provide time, space, and solitude, with the benefit of access to the Foundation’s archives and library. The couple wrote to us a few times during their stay.Today we were at the Albers archive, we found the notes for the Annie’s book On Weaving and were very near to some of her works — a special day. Now our days are very intense, daytime for the Library, nighttime for the Studio. During these days we have been devoted almost completely to study Josef’s and Anni’s work and thoughts. It has been very helpful in understanding our own process. We are not working on the loom now, you will find us surrounded by books and  draft papers.”

When we visited them in Bethany in December, they told us:”The silence and the beauty here is a gift. Our lives at home are so busy and so intense that it is hard to focus and think about our work and its direction. Here, we are living an almost monastic life, studying and thinking nearly full-time spurred by the example of the Albers who were remarkably prolific.”

New Nebula, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila , silk, alpaca, moriche palm fiber dyed with Indigo, rumex spp, onion, eucalyptus, acid dyes, copper and metallic yarns, 74” x 49.25”, 2017


“The Foundation has thousands of works, which they are cataloging. Anni’s loom is here, but we did not come here to
weave, but to think and study. We are very interested in her pictorial works — where she tried to embody something tangible, like the sun or a landscape, metaphorically, in a weaving.”

“This place is unique, educating, mutating, extraordinary — so many adjectives you could choose. Anni opened the door for people to think about textiles differently. Now, with the Tate exhibition, she will open doors again.”

And on reflection, when the residency was nearly over: “Just a sentence, a few of her words, has been enough to enlighten our path. Her clear vision on how a weave is created allows us to transit with confidence to experimentation through the threads and the interchange that exists between ideas and materials. Revisiting her work makes us witnesses to her legacy.”


Art Assembled: New This Week August

The Path which Leads to Center 18-05, Chang Yeonsoon, abaca fiber, barberry roots dye, 100% pure gold, 17” x 17” x 6.5”, 2017.

On tap in August were spectacular pieces by Chang Yeonsoon, Norma Minkowitz, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila and Marian Bijlenga.


We kicked off August with Chang Yeonsoon’s The Path which Leads to Center 18-05. In much of her work, Yeonsoon dyes her fibers with indigo. However, in making The Path which Leads to Center 18-05 she used barberry root dye and 100% pure gold leaf. The process which Yeonsoon uses to apply the gold lead is a Korean technique called geumbak. Though geumbak is usually used with natural lacquer, Yeonsoon was able to create a new lacquer with gold leaf.

Trove, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 38” x 19” x 19”, 2018


On our trip to Norma Minkowitz’ studio this summer, which you can read about in our blog post HERE, we picked up
Trove. The sculpture is made using small trinkets Minkowitz has collected throughout her life, therefore the reason why she named it Trove. To take a closer look at Trove watch the video we made HERE

Transición, Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila, alpaca; metallic yarns and silver leaf; moriche palm fiber, silk, 56″ x 24.25”, 2018


Next up, we had Eduard Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila’s wall-hanging Transición. The wall-hanging’s vibrant purple hue makes the woven “mosaic” impossible to go unnoticed. Portillo and Dávila source and create all of their own materials. The Venezuelan couple grows their own mulberry trees on slopes of the Andes (Mulberry trees are the sole food source for silkworms), rear their own silkworms, obtain the silkworm threads and color the threads with their own natural dyes to use in making textiles.

Fish Scale, Marian Bijlenga, dyed fish scales, 64 x 113 x 1 in, 2012


To wrap-up the month of August, we shared Marian Bijlenga’s
Fish Scale. Bijlenga is not afraid of challenging herself to work with new materials. In the past, she has worked with materials such as horse hair, viscose, paper and glass. Her piece Fish Scale is in fact made with extremely delicate fish scales. In making the piece, Bijlenga carefully connected a network of scales using very fine thread, giving the illusion that the scales are floating in mid-air. To see Fish Scale in detail, check out THIS video.