Tag: Stéphanie Jacques

Basket, Vessel, Object, Sculpture … the Challenge of Reinvention

Experimentation can fuel creativity and spark unexpected results. At browngrotta arts, we are continually impressed by our object-making artists’ ability — and willingness — to reinvent themselves rather than remain in a successful, but predictable, lane.

Ed Rossbachs
Ed Rossbach’s Open Structure, 1982 and Cedar: Export Bundle, 1993. Photos by Tom Grotta

Foremost among the experimenters was perhaps Ed Rossbach who tried unexpected materials and symbols in his baskets, vessels, and assemblages including plastic, cotton balls, cardboard and Mickey Mouse. When plaiting, weaving and lace-making had been thoroughly explored, he taught himself cedar basketmaking and turned to images of bison and Native Americans.

John McQueens
John McQueen’s Deer Head, 2010 and Untitled, 1983. Photos by Tom Grotta

John McQueen has also made deviations. Most of his sculptures are made of sticks and bark, but he sometimes veers from that path, incorporating cardboard, plastic and found objects.

Dorothy Gill Barnes
Dorothy Gill Barnes, Summer Pine, 1997, and Bark and Glass Triptych, 2010. Photos by Tom Grotta

The late Dorothy Gill Barnes was a weaver and manipulator of twigs and bark, as well, but later in her career, she changed her approach after collaborating with woodturners and glass makers. In Bark and Glass Triptych, for example, the rustic bark is still a primary component, but echoed by sleek glass interior.

Mary Merkel-Hess
Mary Merkel-Hess’s Rose Tipped Basket. 1992; Green-Tipped Basket, 1992 and Umbel, 1996. Photos by Tom Grotta

One of our first exhibitions at browngrotta arts featured Mary Merkel-Hess‘ jewel-toned vessels of reed and paper in blues and reds and even purple. The works were very popular and we sold nearly every one. Two years later, we asked Merkel-Hess to create work for another two-person exhibition. Rather than recreate her first successful show, however, she sculpted works of no color — new shapes, made of translucent gampi paper. They were wildly different, but equally well-received, inspiring collectors to acquire multiple works by Merkel-Hess, accompanying her on her artistic journey. Since then she has continued to work in color — but in larger scale and different forms. She still makes room for the minimal, however, like Among the Trees, II, her 2020 wall work of gampi and pencil.

Nancy Moore Bess
Nancy Moore Bess’s From Biwa to Tahoe, 2001 and Shiro Katach i-White Form, 2008, Photos by Tom Grotta

A difficulty with her hands and the movement required to make her small, twined basket forms, led Nancy Moore Bess to invent a new process involving carved foam shapes. Still working with variations of twining and knots, the carved forms allow her to rest her hands as she worked. The result was a completely new body of work that built on previous efforts.

Stépahnie Jacques
Séphanie Jacques’s Paniers-liens II & III, 2011 and Wall / Mur, 2013. Photos by Tom Grotta

Stéphanie Jacques is another relentless reinventer. Her basket-like sculptures have incorporated yarn and woodworking and clay. She has added performance, video and still photography to the mix as well.

Kari Lønning’s Bridge to Blue, 1995 and With a Flash of Blue, 2021. Photos by Tom Grotta

Kari Lønning invented the double-walled basket of smooth, round rattan, then reinvented her baskets with fine and variegated akebia vines.

Other artists at browngrotta arts have also made changes in materials and approach. Contact us at art@browngrotta.com if you want to know more about the specific path for any artist whose work we represent. Their predisposition to change and exploration keeps viewers engaged.


Earth Day Flashback – Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers

Barkbåden by Jane Balsgaard
32jb Barkbåden, Jane Balsgaard, peeled willow twigs and paper morbæbark, 17″ x 29″ x 14″, 2008-2009. Photo by Tom Grotta

At browngrotta arts, many of the artists we represent work with natural materials and express care and concern for the environment in their work. A few years ago, we worked worked with Jane Milosch, now Visiting Professorial Fellow, Provenance & Curatorial Studies, School of Culture & Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, to curate an exhibition of basketmakers working in natural materials. The exhibition, Green from the Get Go: International Contemporary Basketmakers, began at the Wayne Art Center in Pennsylvania then traveled to the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Michigan and the Morris Museum in New Jersey and was the subject of our 40th catalog http://store.browngrotta.com/green-from-the-get-go-international-contemporary-basketmakers/.

The exhibition featured 75 works by 33 artists from Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, UK and the US, all of whom took inspiration from Nature and the history of basketry. Some were early innovators of 20th-century art basketry, and others emerging talents. Below are some works by artists that were part of Green from the Get Go.

Wall / Mur by Stéphanie Jacques
8sj Wall / Mur, Stéphanie Jacques, willow, 59” x 90.5” x 13.75”, 2013. Photo by Tom Grotta

As Milosch wrote in her essay for the catalog, The Entanglement of Nature and Man, “The artists in this exhibition have a strong connection to the land, whether cultivated fields or wild prairies, marshes or forests. Several cultivate, harvest, and prepare the materials from which they construct their work. They have a respectful awareness of the origin of things, and of the interconnected aspects of nature and ecosystems, which are both fragile and resilient.” 

The Basket for the Crows  by Chris Drury
4cd The Basket for the Crows, Chris Drury, crow feathers, willow and hazel, 118″ x 12″ x 1.5″, 1986. Photo by Tom Grotta

Chris Drury’s work has taken him to seven continents, where he makes site-specific sculptures with indigenous flora and fauna he collects and employs in both a hunter-gatherer and scientist-like fashion, often with the help of regional communities. His Basket for Crows, 1986, a basket-like vessel made from crow feathers, accompanies a ladder or totem-like form. The shamanistic qualities of this particular combination recall universal symbols and myths about the here-and-now and the afterlife.

From the Old Haystack by Dorothy Gill Barnes
26dgb From the Old Haystack, Dorothy Gill Barnes, 2005. Photo by Tom Grotta

The late Ohio basketmaker and wood sculptor Dorothy Gill Barnes explained her use of materials as “respectfully harvested from nature” and that “the unique properties I find in bark, branches, roots, seaweed and stone suggest a work process to me. I want this problem solving to be evident in the finished piece.” Her Dendroglyph series began as experimental drawings on trees soon to be logged. While the sap is flowing up the trees, she carves into the bark, so that the drawings change organically. When she was satisfied with these “drawings,” she carefully removed the bark. Her White Pine Dendroglyph, 1995-99, combined these raw drawings with traditional woven basketry techniques, and the result is a kind of sculpted drawing, created in concert with a living tree.

Same Difference by John McQueen
21jm Same Difference, John McQueen, wood, sticks, bonsai, 54” x 60” x 24”, 2013. Photo by Tom Grotta

John McQueen’s Same Difference, 2013 draws attention to the cosmos and the relationship between the divine, man and Nature. He connects three seemingly disparate objects through something that is not visible but present in all: water, a necessary, life-nurturing resource for animals, plants and humans. These objects are displayed side-by-side, atop see-through basket-like pedestals, suggesting a kind of tenuous underpinning in their relationship to each other. All three draw water, but have their own history and function: the first is a hybrid human/elephant, which draws water through its trunk and recalls the Hindu god Ganesh, known as the patron of arts and sciences and the diva of intellect and wisdom; the second is a dead, but intact, bonsai tree with its stunted root structure that once drew water; and, the third is a manmade tool, a sump pump, engineered by humans to aid them in drawing water. McQueen comments, “Each piece is on its own stand, and they’re arranged in a line, like words. I’m trying to tell a story using what seem to be unrelated objects. I hope the viewer will say, ‘Why are these next to each other?’ and try to figure out a relationship.” 

The works in Green from the Get Go, compel the viewer to think of Nature in new ways,” wrote Milosch, —”sustaining us, providing mediums for art, acted on by man, and influencing us in return. It’s a sensual and spiritual journey that takes time and reason.” A journey with Nature that’s worth taking often. Happy Earth Day!


The Artful Gift Guide: 5 Under $1500

Is there someone special on your gift list? Or maybe it’s you who deserves an inspirational, one-of-kind item to wake up to each morning?

One of these five works of art from our crated collection might fill the bill.

Tissus d’ombres, Stéphanie Jacques, print on canvas, wool embroidery, 35.5”x 35.5”, 2014

Tissues d’ombres is a stitched, image of basketry by Stéphanie Jacques of Belgium. Jacques works in a variety of media. She uses volume to give life to an unfilled interior space in her vessels and prints. This space allows her to speak of something other than what is shown by the visible form: the movements of the body, the desire, the intuitions, a certain savagery, something that remains alive despite everything, that pushes from the inside, cracks the carapaces, overflows. 

Silver Stream II, Greg Parsons, mercerized cotton, metallis, maple and magnets, 6″ x 30.5″, 2002

Silverstream II by Greg Parsons evokes a sparkling stream or a sky full of swift-moving cirrus clouds. Parsons is is a curator and a textile and product designer who has worked for Burberry among others. 

Orbit, Jiro Yonezawa, bamboo, urushi lacquer, 9.75″ x 13″ x 7.75″, 2019

Jiro Yonezawa is a master Japanese bamboo basketmaker. For Yonezawa, bamboo basketry is an expression of detailed precision. In baskets like Orbit, you can see the contrast of disciplined formality in technique and natural freedom in form that is characteristic of his work.

Aurora, Nancy Koenigsberg, coated copper wire, 8.5″ x 13″ x 13″, 2011

Nancy Koenigsberg sculpts works of copper and steel narrow gauge wire. In Aurora, lace-like layers allow for transparency, the passage of light and the formation of shadows. Lines cross and re-cross to create a complex network.

Ceramic Plate, Claude Vermette, ceramic, 9.75″ x 9.75″, 1980

This charming ceramic plate is by Claude Vermette, a artist from Montreal, Canada. Early in his career, Claude Vermette concentrated his efforts on architectural ceramics for which he created new forms of composition for clay, a wider variety of modules for tiles and bricks, and patented, new enamels. In his 25 years as ceramist, he produced large works in more than 100 public buildings, more than a dozen Montreal subway stations, and the General Motors building in New York. The latter part of his career was spent as painter.

These works can all be found at our store at http://store.browngrotta.com/art/.


Creative Quarantining: Artist Check-in 3

In our third set of reports creating under corona, artists in Japan, the UK and the US weigh in.

Hisako Sekijima at home wearing a mask
Hisako Sekijima at home wearing a Mask. Photo by Hisako Sekijima

For Hisako Sekijima, writing from Japan, wearing a mask is not that unusual. “Wearing sanitary masks has long been my mother’s remedy against flu and all kinds of infections. In my childhood, I felt awkward that I was always wearing  a mask of white gauze (of course handmade!) while no other friends in my class had to do so,” Hisako recalls. “But she might have learned by experience through the harder health situation of wartime when there was a lack of proper medicine and infection control required tangible protection.  My mother was born in 1919 when the Spanish Flu was pandemic. She is living her 100th year now. When the senior citizens home allows the families to visit, I will print and show her photos of fashionable masks. What will be her reaction? I cannot wait for that normal day to come.” 

Gizella Warburtons view from the bottom of her garden
Gizella Warburtons Garden view. Photo by Gizella Warburton

“… I have taken the ‘weaving’ out to the bottom of my garden,” says Gizella Warburton who is in the UK. “… listening to the birds… a rare and precious moment. I am busy developing new pieces, in-between planting veg and battling slugs.” And, she has tentatively launched an Instagram page: www.instagram.com/gizellakwarburton.

Chris Drury at Home
Chris Drury at Home. Photo by Tom Grotta

“We are on lockdown here,” writes Chris Drury of he and his wife, poet Kay Syrad who are also in the UK, “but it is as good a place to be as ever and we are both busy. Luckily for me, my third year of the Lee Krasner award come through. Gives me the time to work on my retrospective book – Edge of Chaos.”

Pat Campbells view from th across the street
Pat Campbell’s view from across the street

“Just to let you know that Maine is in full spring bloom,” writes Pat Campbell. “I am back in the studio, now that it is warm and beautiful to work out there. I am making smaller pieces. Just across the street from me is a hill of thousands of daffodils  with the river beyond it. This is where I walk. I also walk on the beach. That is quite wonderful especially on a nice warm day. All goes well.”

Stéphanie Jacques home studio. Photo by Stéphanie Jacques

“At the begining of the lockdown,” wrote Stéphanie Jacques from Belgium, “I continued to drive to my studio which is on the other side of Brussels. But it was too depressing to meet no one there. So I moved my etching press and my needlework to my living room (and put my big dining table in my small kitchen). In the beginning, it was difficult to concentrate — too much information in my mind and too many emotions. I’ve tried to stopped listening to the news. To sew and to cycling are my remedies (Oh and Spotify also:-). I’m lucky, my apartment is very close to the countryside, so I can catch some feelings of freedom on my bike everyday. Lockdown does not change my way of working so much (well, that’s not completely true, in April I had to work on a community project that is postponed, until I don’t know when). But even as I try to focus on the positive, there is something frightening to see our lives reduced to fetching food … all this has further strengthened me in my desire to pursue the path of creation!”

Stay Safe, Stay Separate, Stay Inspired!


Art Assembled — New this Week from October

As we kick off Novembers with our release of the Grotta Collection exhibition and book launch, which runs from November 3rd to November 10th, https://www.artsy.net/show/browngrotta-arts-artists-from-the-grotta-collection-exhibition-and-book-launch, we’d like to take a look back on which artist made October so special for us. 

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

October starts the final quarter of the year, and it also brings in much excitement as the new year is nearing. With new beginnings, we began our New This Week feature in October with works from Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila. Their work is driven by their relationship with their surroundings and how their artwork can be communicated within a contemporary textile language. “ We have always been passionate about knowledge, experimentation and especially its reinterpretation within our own place and culture, in Mérida, in the Venezuelan Andes, we also work with local materials, such as cotton and alpaca from Peru and Bolivia, fiber from the moriche and chiqui-chique palm trees of the Orinoco River Delta and Amazon region, as well as dyes from the indigo plant. For us, color is crucial. Our interest in color starts at its very foundations: how it is obtained, where it is found in nature, in objects, in people. Through color, we discover the way to follow each project.” – Eduardo Portillo and Mariá Eugenia Dávila
For more on Eduardo Portillo & Mariá Eugenia Dávila visit Artist Link: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/portillo.php

Mary Giles figurative wall dolls
Mary Giles, 11mg Annointed Rank, waxed linen, wire, bone, paint, gesso, 10”(h) x 31”, 1997

We are always intrigued by the wide variety of artwork that we have the pleasure of showcasing here at browngrotta arts. We strive not only to share the final products but also behind the scenes of the processes that go into creating the work on that ends up on our gallery walls. Our next October New This Week artist was Mary Giles, a St. Croix, Minnesota based fiber artist, and sculptor.

Over the past four decades, Giles helped move the boundaries of basket weaving and earned international recognition for her art, which is characterized by coiled waxed-linen bases adorned with hammered metal or fine wire that brings to mind tree bark, fish scales, feathers or fur.
“My baskets express both action and reaction to what I have loved in the past and what I am discovering today.” Mary Giles
For more on Mary Giles visit Artist Link: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/giles.php

Willow boat basket sculpture
44cj Boat Becoming River, Christine Joy, willow 14” x 31” x 10”, 2018

Did you know that Weeping willow trees, which are native to northern China, are beautiful and fascinating trees whose lush, curved form is instantly recognizable? Did you also know that in addition to her basketmaking addiction, Christine Joy is also addicted to the smell of willow branches. In her studio, you will find willow branches that are piled high, and even when she doesn’t have time to make something, she takes a little visit into her very own willow heaven as much as she can. “Because it takes so long for one work of art, it has really become my own art therapy, which is ironic because that is what I got my degree in, to help others through art,” Joy said. “But now making these expressions is my. Willow is my life.” 
For more on Christine Joy visit Artist Link: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/joy.php

Stéphanie Jacques installation
10sj Retournement en cours I, Stephanie Jacques, 36″ x 77″ x 14″, 2014-2016

One of the great joys we have is having the opportunity to share such fantastic work with incredible artists from all over the world. It is a pleasure sharing works from Stéphanie Jacques from Belgium in our new book The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft. Stéphanie Jacques once said, “Connecting things is the foundation of my work: hard and soft, old and new, valuable and trivial, conscious and unconscious, human and plant.”
For more on Stéphanie Jacques visit: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/jacques.php


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


The Grotta Collection Opens at bga November 2nd: Who’s New

Our Fall exhibition, Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch opens at browngrotta arts in Wilton, CT on November 2nd. The exhibition highlights significant works of fiber and dimensional art by more than 40 artists collected by Sandy and Louis Grotta.

Thomas Hucker,  Ledge Table
Thomas Hucker, Ledge Table, black palm wood with Holly inlay (gloss laquer finish), split oak, stained black (oil finih), egg shell lacquer, 201517″ x 42″ x 42″

The Grotta Collection represents nearly 70 years of arts patronage and a unique kinship fostered by the Grottas among pioneering contemporary craft makers in the fields of textile art, sculpture, furniture and jewelry. The Grottas are long-time patrons of Museum of Arts and Design and the American Craft Museum in New York. The private collection is housed in an architecturally significant home designed by Richard Meier in the 1980s known as The Grotta House. Among the 40 artists whose work is included in the exhibition, browngrotta will showcase five artists, new to browngrotta arts — Thomas Hucker, Dominic DiMare, William Wyman, Bill Accorsi and Toshiko Takeazu. These artists work in various craft media and their work is showcased in the Grotta collection. Here’s a preview:

Thomas Hucker is a studio furniture maker in Jersey City, NJ. He trained with fifth-generation German cabinetmaker Leonard Hilgner and also Jere Osgood at Boston University’s Program in Artisanry. In 1990, he studied product design at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. Hucker’s work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In 2016, he received the Furniture Society’s Award of Distinction. In 2018, he became a Fellow of the American Craft Council.

Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare
Fetish Box , Dominic Di Mare , (a memorial to his father, the wand symbolizes an oar) paper, paint, Hawthrone wood, Golden Pheasant feathers, silk, bird bone, bone ring and fish, gold and gold leaf, quote by Robert Merrick, 13″ x 3.5″ x 2″, 2003

Dominic Di Mare received acclaim for pioneering dimensional weaving in the 1960s, cast paper in the 1970s, and mixed-media sculpture from the 1970s through the 1990s. “Among his most alluring sculptures are carved hawthorn branches with delicate feathers, beads, paper, and horsehair,” wrote the San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design in his 2018 retrospective. These are simple materials, but in Di Mare’s hands they were transformed into intensely poetic works.” The son of a Sicilian-American fisherman who grew up on the water in Monterey, California, Di Mare’s work features related symbols, fish and hooks and lines and water. He is an American Craft Council Gold Medal recipient. His work is represented in numerous museum collections, ranging from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Plate with daughter Lisa,  William Wyman
1ww Plate with daughter Lisa, William Wyman, ceramic, 8” diamter, 1961,

William Wyman began his career as a professional potter in 1953. He established Herring Run Pottery in 1962, with fellow potter, Michael Cohen. Wyman is known for a series of stoneware slab built vessels. In the 1960s Wyman dipped his smaller slab vessels in multiple glazes creating patterns of flowing colors. In 1965, after time spent in Honduras, he began to create undecorated, unglazed geometric-driven structures inspired by Mayan ruins which he called “Temples.” His work is in a number of museum collections, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New Hampshire, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, Museum of Arts and Design, New York, New York, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, PennsylvaniaSmithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery, Washington, D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

Bill Accorsi was a college athlete, planning to become a football coach, when on a class trip he saw a Matisse exhibit. He says that was his first exposure to art, and it started him on a different journey, as he eventually became an largely self-taught artist himself. Now, at age 88, he can look back on a lifetime of creating outsider art and folk art. His sculptures—some in metal using wire, buttons and beads, others in wood—show people and animals in poses that are whimsical and fun. Often his figures merge into each other as jigsaw puzzles. Bright and pastel colors are an important feature of his work. He is an award-winning author/illustrator of 10 books, including Apple, Apple, Alligator; 10 Button Book; 10 Color Book; Friendship’s First Thanksgiving and a book on Rachel Carson.

Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu
1tt Undulating Moon Pot, Toshiko Takeazu, ceramic vase with blue and black highlights, signed with double T mark on bottom (partially covered by glaze), 15” x 5” x 5” , c. 1960

Toshiko Takaezu was born to Japanese immigrant parents in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, on 17 June 1922. She moved to Honolulu in 1940, where she worked at the Hawaii Potter’s Guild creating identical pieces and practicing glazing. She attended Saturday classes at the Honolulu Museum of Art School (1947–1949)[5] and attended the University of Hawaii. From 1951 to 1954, she continued her studies at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1951), where she befriended Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell, who became her mentor. Takaezu earned an award after her first year of study, acknowledging her as an outstanding student in the clay department. In 1955, Takaezu traveled to Japan, where she studied Zen Buddhism, tea ceremony and the techniques of traditional Japanese pottery, which influenced her work. While studying in Japan, she visited Shoji Hamada, an influential Japanese potters. She taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Honolulu Academy of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey for 25 years. Her work is part of the permanent collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, among many others. She is a recipient of the Gold Metal of the American Craft Council and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant. 


Additional artists included in Artists from the Grotta Collection: exhibition and book launch are Naomi Kobayashi, Norma Minkowitz, Sara Brennan, Stéphanie Jacques, Axel Russmeyer and Mariette Rousseau-Vermette. See the full artist list here: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php. The exhibition at browngrotta arts runs from November 2nd through November 10th, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. The Artists Reception and Opening is November 2nd from 1 pm to 6 pm. The hours November 3rd – 10th are 10 am to 5 pm.


Sneak Peek: Save the Date: art + identity opens April 27th

Mary Merkel-Hess, Last Light paper, paper cord 14” x 31” x 15”, 2018

This year’s annual Art in the Barn exhibition at browngrotta arts, art + identity: an international view, opens on April 27th with an Artists Reception and Opening from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT. From April 28th through May 5th, you can view the exhibition from 10 to 5.

In art + identity, more than 50 artists explore the influence that birthplace, residence, travel and study have had on the development of their art. The work reflects the influence of five continents and includes art textiles, sculpture and ceramics and mixed media. The artists have lived and worked in 22 countries including Japan, Finland, Nigeria, India, Russia, Israel, Canada, Chile and the US. These artists’ approaches to the theme are decidedly individual but similarities and differences among their works create an intriguing dialogue about the influence of culture and geography and spur questions about the universality of art.

Gudrun Pagter, Framed linen, sisal, and flax 64.75” x 59.75”, 2018

Among the artists participating is Gudrun Pagter of Denmark, whose work reflects a serene and abstract Scandinavian sensibility. American Mary Merkel-Hess is inspired by the prairie of her native Midwest. Her work, Last Light, was inspired by a line from Willa Cather, “the whole prairie was like the bush that burned with fire and was not consumed.”  Stéphanie Jacques from Belgium looked inward to explore identity, creating a structure of cubes and parallelepipeds made of willow. “I dance in my studio,” she says, “searching through my movement for a relationship with this form.  I set up the camera and take photos.  My face is veiled. The frame is fixed.  As the shooting advances, a story appears….A series of portraits follows….Each image incarnates a new state, another state.” American artist Norma Minkowitz’ work, The Path, also speaks to the personal and the universal — “the path we each take regardless of who we are or where we began.” 

Stéphanie Jacques, Avec ce que j’ai III, thread, willow, gesso, cotton prints, glue, forex., 41” x 70” x 18” 2016-17

For other artists, that sense of place is broader, transcending boundaries and reflecting effects of increased exchange among artists. “This exhibition of works transcends international borders, ” notes Dawn MacNutt of Canada, whose work in art + identity was inspired by ancient Greek sculpture viewed at the Metropolitan in New York and then in Greece. “My association with some of these artists goes back to the Lausanne Biennale in 1985 and the American Craft Museum’s Fiber: Five Decades in 1995. browngrotta arts provides an ongoing museum/gallery/melting pot of the work of international artists in textile materials and techniques. It also fosters the meeting together of the artists themselves…a rare opportunity and the icing on the cake!”

art + identity: an international view, April 27th-May 5th. browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897. 203.834.0623. For more info, visit: www.browngrotta.com.


Art Assembled: New This Week December

3lb Attached, Laura Ellon Bacon, Somerset willow – a variety called Dicky Meadows, 69” x 27.5” x 12”, 2013, photo by sophie mutevelian

It’s hard to believe another year had passed, but we are welcoming 2019 with open arms here at browngrotta arts. We are excited for all the great things to come in 2019, but we’ll shed a light on all the great art we shared on our social media throughout the month of December. From Laura Ellen Bacon’s Attached to Adela Akers Night Curtain there was quite a diverse line up on display in December.

To kick off the month of December we shared Laura Ellen Bacon’s Attached. Bacon, whom we had the pleasure of visiting on our trek through the United Kingdom, consistently creates stunning woven sculptures. Bacon’s unique weaving technique, such as exhibited in Attached sets her apart. The combination of her technique and the use of natural materials allows Bacon to slowly develop the weight and form of her work as she pleases, which she describes as, “Starting out with a frail framework and building curves from the inside out to achieve quite ‘muscular’ forms with a sense of movement, a sense of them being alive somehow.”

Endless, Rachel Max, plaited and twined cane, 10.75” x 12” x 9”, 2016, $3,750
Endless, Rachel Max, plaited and twined cane, 10.75” x 12” x 9”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

Next in the queue was Endless by Rachel Max. Made of plaited and twined cane, Endless’ unique form piques’ the viewers’ curiosity. Through sculptural basketry, Max investigates the relationship between lace and basket making techniques. Often inspired by natural shapes, Max enjoys exploring the concepts of containment and concealment in her work. With this exploration, Max has developed a technique of layering to form structures that probe into the relationship between lines, shadows and space.

Ce qu’il en reste VI, Stéphanie Jacques, willow, gesso, thread, 21.5” x 10.5” x 11”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

The origins of Stéphanie JacquesCe qu’il en reste VI is rooted in her adolescent years with scoliosis. Jacques spent many years wearing corrective corsets, which inhibited her from many activities, such as dance. This series of sculptures, known as the Miss Metonymy sculptures are built as vertebral columns. Jacques has spent many years trying to create a figure that stands up, however, leaving the idea of verticality allowed that to become possible.

Night Curtain, linen, horsehair, paint & metal, 38” x 36”, 2018
Night Curtain, linen, horsehair, paint & metal, 38” x 36”, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

To conclude 2018’s New This Week posts we shared Night Curtain by Adela Akers. Unique to Akers’ work is her utilization of horsehair and recycled metal foil strips from the tops of wine bottles. Incorporating metal into her work adds another dimension, one that becomes a veil through which metal can shine through. In Night Curtain the luster of metal and veil of horsehair is reminiscent of stars peeping through a thin curtain of clouds in the night sky.


Art Out and About: Abroad

Earlier this summer we published a blog post outlining current and upcoming exhibitions featuring browngrotta arts artists in North America. In addition to all of the exhibitions in North America, we have a ton of artists being featured in exhibitions abroad. Whether working in Denmark or vacationing in Greece take some time to relax and visit one of these spectacular exhibitions.

Jens Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen

Heltborg Museum (Thy, Denmark)

June 18-September 3

Ane Henriksen currently has a solo exhibition on view at the Heltborg Museum on the West Coast of Denmark. In Jens Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen, Henriksen uses weavings to interpret paintings by Jens Søndergaard. The weavings and paintings are on view at the Helborg Museum until September 3rd.

Jen Søndergaard with the touch of Ane Henriksen

 

A Darker Thread

Oriel Myrddin Gallery (Carmarthen, UK)

July 15-October 21  

Across the pond, there is A Darker Thread, at Oriel Myrddin Gallery in Carmarthen. Wales has been long celebrated for its’ distinctive textile design in both power-loomed blankets and hand stitched quilts. While all work in A Darker Thread references Welsh Culture or sense of place, artists were selected for their focus on the curious, the provocative, the humorous or the unpredictable. The exhibition features artists such as Alana Tyson, Laura Thomas and Ruth Harries. To compliment the exhibition there is a rich program of events over the summer for children and families. A Darker Thread is on show at the Oriel Myrddin until October 21st.

Treading Cloud by Spike Davis at A Darker Thread

Labyrinth

Mountados, Tinos, Greece

July 22-August 22

 

For Labyrinth, 10 artists were challenged to create a piece of art for a box that would hang above the streets of the village Mountados on the island of Tinos. The network created by the alleyways of cycladic villages is reminiscent of a labyrinth, therefore why the theme was chosen for Mountados. Though labyrinths are often seen as a place to get lost, they are instead the places to find oneself. “In these troubled and uncertain times, we are once again seeking a path. Here we are in this labyrinth, confronted with the idea of the inner journey that each of us pursues, in the face of our hesitation, our halts, our choices,” explains Mireille Liénard “It is the discovery of this labyrinth, but also this journey to the depths of ourselves, that this new edition of the Biennale of Mountados offers us.”             

Stéphanie Jacques for Labyrinth

Tapestry: Here and Now

The Holbourne Museum (Bath, UK)

June 23-October 1

Tapestry: Here & Now surveys contemporary tapestry while also showcasing some of the most innovative approaches to tapestry by a variety of international talent. This exhibit includes Sara Brennan and is curated by Dr. Lesley Millar, who wrote an essay in Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture. Each piece exhibits a development in the artist’s career, textile making or society as a whole. The exhibition also exemplifies how artists use their medium to engage with political, aesthetic and personal issues of contemporary relevance.  Edward McKnight Kauffer’s “The ‘Arts’ Tapestry” will be on public display for the first time. The tapestry depicts a muse-like figure holding an open book, while beside a globe and fluted ionic column, expressing the importance of understanding classical art and architecture. Tapestry: Here & Now will be on view at The Holbourne Museum, in Bath until October 1st.

Broken White Band with Pink by Sara Brennan, linen, wool, and cotton, 32” x 32”, 2008

 

Everyday matter, The Value of Textile Art

Textilmuseet, Borås

September 16 – January 28

Everyday matter, an exhibition presented by Nordic Textile Art (NTA) in collaboration with the Textile Museum of Sweden, chronicles the slow processes of textile art. The exhibition not only shows methods to eliminate time in the textile making process but also shows artists how to communicate through materiality. Every two years the European Textile Network holds a conference in a European country. This year, Borås and the Textile Museum of Sweden are co-hosting the conference. Four browngrotta arts artist have been selected to present work in Everyday matter, including Løvaas & Wagle,Ulla-Maija Wikman, Grethe Wittrock and Ane Henriksen.

Grethe Wittrock working on a piece for Everyday Matter