Tag: Lilla Kulka

A Couple Collects: Sandy and Lou Grotta of the Grotta Collection

Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta
Sandy and Lou Grotta in front of the Grotta House from The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft published by Arnoldsche, photo by Tom Grotta

Next month, we will showcase 40 artists whose works part of the remarkable collection of Sandy and Lou Grotta, acquired during their nearly 70-year relationship. “In quality and depth, the Grotta collection of contemporary craft outshines all others, including what is in museums,” writes designer and curator Jack Lenor Larsen. In Artists from the Grotta Collection we will feature important works of fiber, ceramic and wood – just as the Grotta Collection does.

"The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft"
The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft

The Grottas’ acquisitions are housed in an architecturally significant home designed intentionally to showcase their art. The collection and their home are featured in a new book, The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craftwhich was photographed and designed by Tom Grotta.

Lila Kulka, Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125" x 77", 1989
A couple-themed work by Lila Kulka on of the artists in the Grotta Collection. Pair, sisal, wool, stilon, 125″ x 77″, 1989, photo by Tom Grotta

A well-regarded interior designer, Sandy Grotta (then Sandy Brown) met her husband, Lou Grotta, at the University of Michigan in 1953. After enrolling in multiple art history courses together, the couple quickly developed a mutual admiration for contemporary architecture which would grow to encompass the work of dozens of renowned craft artists. “In the early 1960s, walking out of the Museum of Modern Art, we stumbled upon the Museum of Contemporary Craft next door, ” she says. “The Museum’s exhibitions, many of whose objects were for sale in its store, caused a case of love at first sight. It quickly became a founding source of many craft purchases to follow. It was the site of our initial sighting of the wonderful walnut wood work of Edgar and Joyce Anderson.” Soon after, the Grotta commissioned the first work of what evolved into their becoming the most important collectors of Joyce and Shorty’s limited output over the next 30 years. The Andersons introduced them to their friends, ceramists Toshiko Takaezu and William Wyman. “[T]he Andersons were our bridge to other major makers in what we believe to have been the golden age of contemporary craft,” says Sandy, “and the impetus to my becoming our decorator going to interior design school and entering the field.” Lou’s interest in modern architecture and Scandinavian art also stems back to his early years as a student at the University of Michigan. In the early 80s Lou reunited with his New Jersey friend from summer camp, Richard Meier, and, despite differing opinions about craft and differences in opinion concerning craft materials, they decided to collaborate on the creation of The Grotta House. Over a span of five years, the three worked together to design and build a house that combined the Grottas’ unique appreciation for contemporary art and Meier’s formal elements of design.

Sauvages Diptych, Stephanie Jacques, willow, 51" x 18" x 12", 2014
Stephanie Jacques’ couple of willow: Sauvages, Diptych, willow, 51″ x 18″ x 12″, 2014, photo by Tom Grotta


Sandy and Lou continue their curation, still seeking dimensional textile art, sculpture and fine craft that enhances their collection. When it comes to aesthetic decisions, Lou says, the two early disagree. “Since day one, we’ve always been blessed with an amazing like/dislike simpatico. On rare occasions when we disagree, we honor the other’s veto power.” The results of that unique creative collaboration are documented in the more-than 300 photographs that make up The Grotta Home, which will be celebrated in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch runs from November 2nd to the 10th at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT.

Together Forever, Judy Mulford, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012
This work by Judy Mulford, celebrates partnerships like Sandy’s and Lou’s: Together Forever, mixed Media, 19.5” x 18.5” x 10”, 2012, photo by Tom Grotta


The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd, 1 pm to 6 pm; the hours for November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm. TheGrotta Home by Richard Meier: a Marriage of Architecture and Craft will be available throughout the exhibition and Tom will be available to sign it. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php.

See Me, Norma Minkowitz, mixed media, 11.75" x 22" x 6", 2019
Two heads contribute to a singular vision. Norma Minkowitz, See Me, mixed media, 11.75″ x 22″ x 6″, 2019. photo by Tom Grotta


Still Crazy…30 Years: The Catalog

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog Cover Naoko Serino and Mary Yagi

Still Crazy…30 Years: The Catalog

It’s big! It’s beautiful (if we do say so ourselves –and we do)! The catalog for our 30th anniversary is now available on our new shopping cart. The catalog — our 46th volume — contains 196 pages (plus the cover), 186 color photographs of work by 83 artists, artist statements, biographies, details and installation shots.

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Naoko Serino Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Michael Radyk Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Lilla Kulka Spread

Still Crazy...30 Years: The Catalog

Jo Barker Spread

The essay, is by Janet Koplos, a longtime editor at Art in America magazine, a contributing editor to Fiberarts, and a guest editor of American Craft. She is the author of Contemporary Japanese Sculpture (Abbeville, 1990) and co-author of Makers: A History of American Studio Craft (University of North Carolina Press, 2010). We have included a few sample spreads here. Each includes a full-page image of a work, a detail shot and an artist’s statement. There is additional artists’ biographical information in the back of the book. Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art can be purchased at www.browngrotta.com http://store.browngrotta.
com/still-crazy-after-all-these-years-30-years-in-art/.
Our shopping cart is mobile-device friendly and we now take PayPal.


November 26th: Our Online Exhibition Opens With an Offer for CyberMonday

On Monday, November 26th, browngrotta arts will present an online version of our 25th anniversary exhibition,Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture at browngrotta.com. The comprehensive exhibition highlights browngrotta arts’ 25 years promoting international contemporary art. Viewers can click on any image in the online exhibition to reach a page with more information about the artists and their work.

“Some works in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture reflect the early days of contemporary textile art and sculpture movement,” says Tom Grotta, founder and co-curator at browngrotta arts. “There are also current works by both established and emerging artists, which provide an indication of where the movement is now and where it may be headed.”

Since Monday the 26th is CyberMonday this year, sales of art, books, catalogs, videos or dvds placed online or by telephone that day will be discounted 10% (excluding tax and shipping). In addition, bga will make a donation to the International Child Art Foundation for each sale made from November 24th through December 31, 2012. Visit browngrotta.com. For more information call Tom at 203.834.0623 or email us at art@browngrotta.com.


Sneak Peek: Catalog No. 37, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection Catalog, Essay by Christa C. Mayer Thurman

catalog cover

Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection

The 37th catalog produced by browngrotta arts, Advocates for Art: Polish and Czech Fiber Artists from the Anne and Jacques Baruch Collection, will be available beginning November 10, 2010.

PALISADES (Detail), Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka, wool and sisal, 55″ x 70″, 1992

Prominent art dealers Anne and Jacques Baruch first opened the Jacques Baruch Gallery in Chicago in 1967. The Baruch’s gallery focused on contemporary art and artists from Central and Eastern Europe, which Jacques once described as “the finest work of tomorrow…not what is known…the new blood.” Many of the works presented at the gallery were by artists who began their careers under Communist occupation. The gallery’s early years coincided with worsening political conditions behind the Iron Curtain. On August 20, 1968, the Baruchs left Prague just five hours before Soviet tanks rolled into the city and brutally ended a brief period of democratic reforms.

LUNE DE MIEL I (Detail), Magdalena Abakanowicz, sisal and linen, 55″x 78″ x 8″, 1986

Making trips behind the Iron Curtain during these years was a complex and, at times, dangerous, way of making a living. Despite these difficulties, the couple managed to find a significant entourage of artists to exhibit, among them a group of innovative textile artists, who had gathered acclaim at the Lausanne Biennials of International Tapestry and other European exhibitions, but who were not well known in the US. “We were captivated by their energy, experiments and bold compositions,” Anne would write of the Polish fiber artists she and Jacques met in 1970. “Though there were…shortages of studios, materials and most necessities for daily life, all their problems did not hamper their work. Rather, it stimulated their creativity, and their use of sisal, rope, metal, horsehair and fleece as well as the traditional wool, flax and silk, revealed new artistic thought with results which were dynamic, highly personal and original.”

LEATHER SKETCH (Detail), Jolanta Owidzka, high warp linen, sisal, leather 27″ x 45″ x 4″; 70 x 110cm, 1977

These artists included Magdalena Abakanowicz of Poland (whose tapestry Lune de Miel 2 is installed at Chicago’s McCormick Place and whose sculpture installation Agora,  a group of 106 iron cast figures, is in Chicago’s Grant Park), Jolanta Banaszkiewicz (Poland), Zofia Butrymowicz (Poland), Hanna Czajkowska (Poland), Jan Hladik (Czechoslovakia), Luba Krejci (Czechoslovakia), Lilla Kulka (Poland), Maria Laszkiewicz (Poland), Jolanta Owidzka (Poland), Agnieszka Ruszczynska-Szafranska (Poland), Wojciech Sadley (Poland), Anna Sledziewska (Poland), Anna Urbanowicz-Krowacka (Poland) and Krystyna Wojtyna-Drouet (Poland). It is work by this group of historically significant artists that is featured in this catalog.

CO-BOG ZLACZYL (WHAT GOD HAS JOINED), Lilla Kulkaa wool, silk 55″ X 48″, 1987

Christa C. Mayer Thurman has written an introductory essay about Jacques and Anne Baruch for the catalog. Thurman, who was the Chair and Curator of the Department of Textiles at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1967 through 2009, has also written brief essays about several of the 14 artists whose works are featured in the catalog. Thurman is the author and co-author of numerous books about textiles, including, Raiment for the Lord’s Service (1975); Claire Zeisler: a Retrospective (1979); Lissy Funk: A Retrospective (1989); and Textiles: The Art Institute of Chicago (1992). For European Tapestries in the Art Institute of Chicago (2008), Thurman was the general editor, contributed to the resulting volume as an author and oversaw the collection’s conservation. Thurman and her late husband, Lawrence S. Thurman were friends of the Baruchs for many years. During Thurman’s tenure at the Art Institute several textiles from behind the Iron Curtain entered the collection either as gifts, bequests or as purchases.

PODROZ (Journey) from the Kolodia series Agnieszka Ruszczynska-Szafranska linen, sisal, wool 60″ x 56″, 1986

The 76-page color catalog can be ordered from browngrotta arts beginning http://browngrotta.com/Pages/c35.php November 10, 2010.


Between the Lines: Drawings by Craft Artists

lisa.Hunter.Drawings.jpg Flight by Lissa Hunter

As I noted in an earlier post, we thoroughly enjoyed Different Lines: Drawings by Craft Artists at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts, which explores the lesser-known creative abilities of artists known for their work in ceramics, glass, jewelry, wood or textiles. Lissa Hunter’s drawings were a surprise and a delight, Vivian Beer’s and Dan Dailey’s are an interesting variations on the works for which they are better known. We took several photos, but rather than play the spoiler, we thought we’d offer you some images of other artist drawings — you have until February 27, 2011 to see the Fuller exhibit for yourself.

Bad, Bad, Bad

For Norma Minkowitz, whose work is part of the Fuller exhibit, drawing has always been fundamental to her work. ” As a student in 1958 at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York City,” she explains,” my primary focus was on drawing with pen and ink, and sketching with pencil. Early in my art, I experimented and worked with various combinations from soft sculpture to large wall hangings that were done in relief,  at times utilizing the linear elements of thread. In 1983, I crocheted around a shoe,  removed the shoe, and discovered that I had created a transparent form.  I felt that I was still drawing, but with fiber instead of pen and ink.”

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Our Stall, Tanforan, ca. 1942-1944 / Kay Sekimachi Stocksdale, artist. Drawing : 1 item : graphite ; 24 x 32 cm. Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi papers, 1937-2004. Archives of American Art.

Kay Sekimachi studied drawing and painting at the Tanforan relocation center (for Persons of Japanese Ancestry) when she was a teenager in World War II. The Smithsonian Archives of Art include this drawing by Sekimachi of Tanforan.

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Portfolio by Ed Rossbach

For Ed Rossbach, sketches sometimes presaged new work and other times were incorporated into collages or transferred onto directly onto baskets.

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Drawings by Lilla Kulka

Here is Lilla Kulka’s sketch of her works as she envisions them hanging in space as a group installation.

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Flower by Lenore Tawney

Lenore Tawney created geometric drawings in the 1960s, that preceded Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings. Years later, Tawney made three-dimensional sculptures of thread in plexiboxes based upon the “Drawings in Air” series.