Tag: Travel

Studio Visits Scotland

Scenic Edinburgh

Last November, Rhonda, Tom and Carter traveled to Scotland to visit Jo Barker, Sara Brennan and Lizzie Farey in their studios. Jo Barker and Sara Brennan have had their weaving studios at the WASPS Patriothall studios in Edinburgh for 30 years. WASPS (Workshop & Artists Studio Provision Scotland) is a charity that provides affordable studios to support artists, arts organizations, and creative businesses. We had a great time framing shots by their large light-filled windows, brick walls, curving stairways. We met another Patriothall artist, Paul Furneaux, while there. His work will be included in our upcoming exhibition Art + Identity: an international exhibition (April 27th – May 5th).

Edinburgh sunrise
Morning in Edinburgh
Photographing at Lizzie Farey’s Studio

Jo Barker and Sara Brennan will not participate in the April show because they are working full out for their upcoming exhibition at Drum Castle in Aberdeen. A Considered Place is an exhibition of work by Jo Barker, Sara Brennan, Susan Mowatt, Andrea Walsh and Jane Bustin who work in tapestry, ceramics, glass, cloth and paint that will run from April 21st to November 17th.

studi installation
Sara Brennan and Jo Barker installing tapestries

Walking around Stockbridge in Edinburgh was idyllic — George Street and Cow Gate. Restaurants were great and diverse — Scotch Corner, Wee Restaurant, Dishoom and the Blue Parrot Cantina. Our space in the Clarendon Luxury Apartments was spacious and well appointed. On our last day, we took a picturesque drive to Kirkcudbright, known as the Artists Town, to visit Lizzie Farey, coming back on a bus from Lockerbie. Lizzie works on sculptures of willow, also in an airy WASPS studio with an abundance of natural light in a pretty part of town. We are hoping Farey will be among the artists represented in Art + Identity.

Art Out and About: US

The opportunities to see great art are endless this summer! Heading to the West Coast for work? Take a detour and visit  the newly opened Nordic Museum to check out Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed in Seattle, WashingtonVisiting friends or family in the Northeast? Make plans to spend the day in New Haven and see Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library on Yale’s campus. Whether you are in the North, South, East or West there are a wide variety of strong exhibitions on display across the US this summer, here are a few of our favorites:

Grethe Wittrock's Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum

Grethe Wittrock’s Nordic Birds at the Nordic Museum in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Grethe Wittrock

Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed at the Nordic Museum, Seattle, Washington

The newly opened Nordic Museum hopes to share and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds through Nordic art. The museum is the largest in the US to honor the legacy of immigrants from the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Northern Exposure studies “how the Nordic character continues to redefine itself within an evolving global context” by challenging “perceptions of form, gender, identity, nature, technology and the body,” explains the Museum. The exhibition features work by internationally acclaimed artists, including Grethe Wittrock, Olafur Eliasson, Bjarne Melgaard, Jesper Just, Kim Simonsson and Cajsa Von Zeipel. Made of Danish sailcloth, Wittrock’s Nordic Birds immediately attracts the eye upon entering the exhibition. Northern Exposure: Contemporary Nordic Arts Revealed will be on display through September 16, 2018. For more information click HERE.

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Traces: Wonder by Lia Cook at the Racine Art Museum, Gift of Karen Johnson Boyd. Photo by Jon Bolton

Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM, Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin

The Racine Art Museum’s new exhibit Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM showcases art advocate and collector Karen Johnson Boyd’s collection of ceramic, clay and fiber art. The exhibition, which is broken up into a series of four individually titled exhibitions, with varying opening and closing dates, highlight Boyd’s interests, accomplishments and lifelong commitment to art. Throughout her life, Boyd was drawn to a diverse array of artistic styles and subjects. Boyd, who collected fiber in an encyclopedic fashion, supported artists of varying ages with varying regional, national and international reputations. Boyd’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home provided her with many display options for her fiber collection. Though baskets encompassed the majority of Boyd’s fiber collection, she regularly altered her environment, adding and subtracting works as she added to her collection. The exhibitions feature work from Dorothy Gill Barnes, Lia Cook, Kiyomi Iwata, Ferne Jacobs, John McQueen, Ed Rossbach, Hideho Tanaka, Mary Merkel-Hess, Norma Minkowitz, Lenore Tawney and Katherine Westphal. Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM will be on display at the Racine Art Museum through December 30th, with exhibited pieces changing over in mid-September. For more information on Honoring Karen Johnson Boyd: Collecting In-Depth at Home and at RAM visit the Racine Art Museum’s website HERE.

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Text and Textile at The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, New Haven, Connecticut

In New Haven, Connecticut, The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library recently opened Text and Textile. The exhibition, which will be on display through August 12th, explores the relationship and intersection between text and textile in literature and politics.Text and Textile draws on Yale University’s phenomenal collection of literature tied to textiles, from Renaissance embroidered bindings to text from Anni Albers’ On Weaving. Additionally, the exhibition features: Gertrude Stein’s waistcoat; manuscript patterns and loom cards from French Jacquard mills; the first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s plays; the “Souper” paper dress by Andy Warhol; American samplers; Christa Wolf’s “Quilt Memories”; Zelda Fitzgerald’s paper dolls for her daughter; Edith Wharton’s manuscript drafts of “The House of Mirth”; an Incan quipu; poetry by Langston Hughes, Emily Dickinson, Susan Howe and Walt Whitman; and “The Kelmscott Chaucer” by William Morris. For more information on Text and Textile click HERE.

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Kaki Shibu by Nancy Moore Bess. Lent by Browngrotta Arts

Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Houston, Texas

The traveling exhibition Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America is now on display at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, Texas. The exhibition, which is set to travel around the United States through the end of 2019, chronicles the history of American basketry from its origins in Native American, immigrant and slave communities to its presence within the contemporary fine art world. Curated by Josephine Stealy and Kristin Schwain, the exhibition is divided into five sections: Cultural Origins, New Basketry, Living Traditions, Basket as Vessel and Beyond the Basket which aim to show you the evolution of basketry in America. Today, some contemporary artists seek to maintain and revive traditions practiced for centuries. However, other work to combine age-old techniques with nontraditional materials to generate cultural commentary. Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry In America features work by browngrotta arts’ artists Polly Adams Sutton, Mary Giles, Nancy Moore Bess, Christine Joy, Nancy Koenigsberg, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Ferne Jacobs, Gyöngy Laky, Kari Lønning, John McQueen, Norma Minkowitz, Leon Niehues, Ed Rossbach, Karyl Sisson and Kay Sekimachi.

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum

Kay Sekimachi in Handheld at the Aldrich Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta

Handheld at the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut

The Aldrich Museum’s new exhibition Handheld explores how contemporary artists’ and designers’ perceive the meaning of touch. Touch is one of the most intimate and sometimes unappreciated senses. Today, the feeling our hands are most familiar with are our that of our handheld devices and electronics. Touch is no longer solely used to hold objects such as pencils and tools, in fact, touch is increasingly taking the form of a swipe, where the sensation is ignored in favor to the flat visual landscapes of our own selection. “Handheld takes a multifarious approach—the hand as means of creation, a formal frame of reference” explains the Aldrich Museum. It serves the viewer as “a source of both delight and tension as they experience sensual objects in familiar domestic forms, scaled for touch, that can be looked upon but not felt.” The group exhibition, which features work by Kay Sekimachi will be on display until January 13, 2019. For more information on Handheld click HERE.

Dispatches: New Bedford, Mass — history, art and eats

We’ve all heard of the common stomping grounds of an affluent New England traveler. Many New Yorkers head to the Hamptons, but for those who are farther north (or willing to take a longer trek), Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket make up the holy trinity.

But for anyone who’s ready to switch things up, enjoy the opportunity to take a break from driving this summer by stopping in New Bedford, MA on your way to whichever classic summer vacation spot lies ahead. Whether you’ve visited before or it’s your first time stopping through, New Bedford will capture your heart with its rich history, quaint cobblestone streets and incredible art offerings.

New Bedford’s historic downtown boasts a working waterfront brings the nostalgia of old whaling days. Filled with a variety of restaurants, shops, and museums, the downtown district of New Bedford offers something for everyone while bringing the past to life. If you are looking for a lively experience, check out the North End of New Bedford; teeming with an array of cafes and bakeries, the North End illuminates New Bedford’s multicultural heritage.

More into the museum scene? Don’t miss the New Bedford Art Museum, Artworks!, which plays host this summer to Plunge: Explorations from Above and Below, a fascinating group exhibition of works influenced by water.
And because there’s so much to catch and so little time, press this list of to create your perfect New Bedford itinerary.


What to Do in New Bedford and environs:

New Bedford Whaling Museum

Above: Entry to the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Photo by Tom Grotta


The New Bedford Whaling Museum chronicles the history and impact of the “Old Dartmouth” whaling industry. Whale oil harvested by crews from New Bedford once lit the entire East Coast. The museum houses everything from whale skeletons and a model of the world’s largest whaling ship to work by internationally known maritime artists. The museum also gives you an opportunity to explore the importance of whale science and conservation, as well as informing you about what you can do to advance the cause.

New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks!

Above: Facade of the New Bedford Art Museum, Photo by Tom Grotta


The New Bedford Art Museum is a must-see for visitors of all ages. The museum offers a diverse array of engaging artwork, as well as a dynamic and interactive experience for kids and an extensive collection for parents and art lovers. This summer, the New Bedford Art Museum collaborated with browngrotta arts to create Plunge: Explorations from Above and Below, a unique exhibit that combines 16 artists working in numerous media to create a body of work that pays tribute to the nautical and natural processes around us. Artist featured in Plunge used fish scales, Danish sail cloth, and even an old Moby Dick book as material for their work.  Plunge can be viewed at the New Bedford Art Museum until October 8th.

Above: Plunge: Explorations from Above and Below at the New Bedford Art Museum, Photo by Tom Grotta


The Seamen’s Bethel

Life at sea was exhausting and monotonous, after returning to landwhalers would spend the majority of their time and money at gambling dens, brothels and saloons. However, Quaker whalers in New Bedford saw this as a threat to the dignity and good order of their community. Therefore, the citizens of the town created the New Bedford Port Society for the Moral Improvement of Seamen, which offered church services to whalers before and after their whaling ventures. Due to the varying religions of the whalers, the church was declared non-denominational and is still that way today. Moby Dick’s author Herman Melville was one of the many whalers who found solace in the church before venturing out to sea.

New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center

The Fishing Heritage Center, which opened just over a year ago, works to share the story of New Bedford’s fishing community by educating the public about the history and culture of the fearless fishermen who spent their lives working to provide for the community. Where the Whaling Museum celebrates the past, the Fishing Heritage Center celebrates the contemporary fishing industry.The Center offers free admission and provides engaging educational programs for people of all ages.
More art is to be found in nearby Westport, MA.


Where to Stay:

In addition to the larger chains, like the Fairfield Inn, Seaport Inn and Conference Center in Fairhaven, the area is home to charming Bed and Breakfasts like the Cranberry Gardens Inn; in nearby Wareham, Massachusetts (Contact: 508-295-9475 www.bbonline.com) or the Delano Homestead & Gardens in Fairhaven (Contact: 508-992-5552; http://www.delanohomestead.com).



Above: Dedee Shattuck Gallery, Photo by Neil Alexander


Dedee Shattuck Gallery (Just 25 minutes West of New Bedford)

A contemporary art gallery situated among acres of meadows and forests in neighboring Westport, Massachusetts, the Dedee Shattuck Gallery exhibits an ever-broadening selection of noted international, national, regional and emerging artists, and select artistic gifts — jewelry, scarves, tableware — establishing a cultural destination in the heart of Westport, Massachusetts (Contact: 508-636-4177; Dedeeshattuckgallery@gmail.com).


Above: Partners Village Store & Kitchen, Photo by Tom Grotta


Partners Village Store and Kitchen (also 25 minutes West of New Bedford)

Just next door to the Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport is Partners Store and Kitchen offering gifts, toys, books, cards, candy, specialty foods — great coffee and light dining. Come to shop, stay for lunch (Contact: 508.636.2572; http://partnersvillagestore.com).
Decided to stay the night in New Bedford? You’ll be sure to find an option to please even the pickiest traveler.
Prefer a tried and true staple when choosing your accommodations? Post up at the Fairfield Inn or Seaport Inn and Conference Center in Fairhaven. Or, if B&Bs are more your style, the area is home to charming options like the Cranberry Gardens Inn, in nearby Wareham, MA or the Delano Homestead & Gardens in Fairhaven.
Your itinerary is almost complete – now for critical decisions. What will you eat?
There are some epic choices for fine dining in and near New Bedford.
A short walk from the New Bedford Whaling Museum, The Black Whale consistently serves phenomenal seafood. With a great drink menu and a great kids menu, the Black Whale is the perfect destination after a long day of sightseeing.
Cork Wine & Tapas is among the hidden gems of New Bedford. Offering a variety of wine flights, there is no chance you’ll leave this place displeased. Not to mention, the food is to die for. Cork’s menu offers everything from savory short rib tacos to delicious lobster crostini.
Margaret’s, in nearby Fairhaven, offers a variety like no other, and for an affordable price. Margaret’s is also known for their delicious breakfast; order the ‘Home Friends’ and I promise you won’t regret it. With amazing service and a cozy atmosphere, Margaret’s will become your home away from home.

Anniversary Alert: Six Ways to Pay Homage to Frank Lloyd Wright Who Would be 150 this Year

This year Frank Lloyd Wright would have been 150 on June 8th. The iconic architect continues to influence artists and designers decades after his death (How Today’s Designers Are Influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Principles,” Design Milk, June 8, 2017). He is, rightly, lionized” as Curbed notes, “for launching a modern, multifaceted American architecture.” For us, the iconic Falling Water (1936-1939) in Pennsylvania, which we visited many years ago, remains unforgettable as was our rehearsal dinner at Wright’s Arizona Biltmore (1928)  in Phoenix and each visit we’ve made to the Guggenheim in New York (1959). 

Falling Water, Left to Right: Sandy Grotta, Lou Grotta, Tracy Grotta, Rhonda Brown


There are any number of ways to pay homage to Wright in his birthday year. Here are six ways you can Do the Wright Thing:

1) Cover a wall or upholster a chair with a Wright Design. The home design company Schumacher, in collaboration with the Wright Foundation, has revived a collection of geometric-print textiles that the world-famous architect designed in 1955.

Frank Lloyd Wright Design, Schumacher DESIGN 103, BLUE & RED, 176880

2) Visit one of his creations in person — Fodors has compiled 10 suggestions: “10 of the best places to see his spectacular creations.” 

3) Better yet, if you can swing it, take a vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home. The architect designed more than 1,000 innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers and museums and hundreds of houses, Afar has compiled seven houses in seven states that can be rented for a week at a time, “Where to vacation in a Frank Lloyd Wright home.” 

4) Can’t leave home? Use your down time to build your own Frank Lloyd Wright building as a Kirigami model with paper. 


Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models: 14 Kirigami Buildings to Cut and Fold: Available for purchase HERE

5) Another in place activity, examine the plans and an image of Falling Water — once you’ve completed the two-sided puzzle available from the Frank Lloyd Wright Organization shop. 

Frank Lloyd Wright Fallingwater 2-sided 500 Piece Puzzle: Available for purchase HERE

6) And online, immerse yourself in all things Wright –the general in Curbed’s comprehensive review, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150:  The Curbed guide to the most famous architect in U.S. history, and then highly specific, in Artsy’s “7 Things You Didn’t Know About Frank Lloyd Wright.” Semi spoiler: like us, he was a Japanese art fan!  

Some Observations: On Light and Air

Recently I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art specifically to spend time immersed in the imagination of James Turrell whose retrospective covers fifty years of work exploring light, sky, perception, color, shape and architecture. http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/james-turrell-retrospective.   The meditative quality of this exhibition encourages the viewer to be a considered observer and allow what they see and perceive to be altered by their physical experience with the work.  Ultimately the transformative and ephemeral qualities of light exist in the mind of each person.  The artist gives us the opportunity to bathe our senses in illusion and reflection.

The next day on a non-stop eastbound flight traveling in the morning from Los Angeles to Boston I was seated on the north side of the airplane and could view the magnificent snow covered Rocky Mountains below rising from the earth with the suggestion of a world without grief.

photo by Wendy Wahl

photo by Wendy Wahl

In the minutes that followed I found myself focused on the carbon footprint that air travel leaves and thinking about the best way to balance my personal footprint. Knowing for the moment “I am where I am” my gaze returned to the framed light as we swiftly moved above the fruited plains. I watched until somewhere over the Great Lakes the image through the oval-edged window changed into another remarkable illuminated landscape.

photo by Wendy Wahl

photo by Wendy Wahl

As a commercial airline passenger for over four decades I have encountered a wide range of situations and had experiences that touch on almost every imaginable emotion. Each flight has a unique dimension heightened by the sounds, sights, smells and physical proximity of the other passengers in a tightly enclosed space. The curious activity of moving at fast speeds from one environment to another, around and about what has become a very small sphere in a short period of time, stimulates thought about place, perception and the possibility of portals. Having flown on Pan Am, Continental, Delta, American Airlines, United Airlines, Laker Airways, Peoples Express, Southwest, British Airways, Hawaiian Air, TWA, Qantas, Virgin Australia, Aero Mexico, China Air, Alitalia, Air India, Lufthansa, Air France, JetBlue and a number of puddle jumpers – I’m feeling that of all these, Virgin America has created an illusion of a different sort for air travelers through the use of color and light.


Wendy Wahl
March 2014