Tag: Wendy Wahl

Volume 50 Art Focus: The Salon Wall

In our recent exhibition, Volume 50: Chronicling Fiber Art for Three Decadeswe featured a gallery wall with art by nine international artists from five countries.

works by Claude Vermette, Wendy Wahl, Caroline Bartlett, Toshiko Takaezu, Joyce Clear. Photo by Tom Grotta
Works by Claude Vermette, Wendy Wahl, Caroline Bartlett, Toshiko Takaezu, Joyce Seymore. Photo by Tom Grotta

Salon walls, or gallery walls as they are also called, are a favorite with designers, according to Invaluable, for a reason: they can be curated to fit an assortment of styles and work well in virtually any room. (“15 Gallery Walls to Suit Every Style,”  https://www.invaluable.com/blog/gallery-wall-ideas/utm_campaign=weeklyblog&utm_medium=email&utm_source=house&utm_content=blog092420 ) Salon walls “first became popular in France in the late 17th century,” according to the Invaluable article. “Salons across the country began displaying fine art from floor to ceiling, often because of the limited space, that encapsulated the artistic trends of the time. One of the first and most famous salon walls was displayed at the Palace of the Louvre in 1670, helping to establish the Louvre as a global destination for art.”

clockwise, from upper right: Mia Olsson, Jo Barker, Karyl Sisson, Debra Valoma, Jennifer Falck Linssen, Marian Bijlenga, Polly Barton, Åse Ljones. center: Wendy Wahl. Photo by Tom Grotta
clockwise, from upper right: Mia Olsson, Jo Barker, Karyl Sisson, Debra Valoma, Jennifer Falck Linssen, Marian Bijlenga, Polly Barton, Åse Ljones. center: Wendy Wahl. Photo by Tom Grotta

Our Volume 50 salon wall was a fitting testament to the 50 catalogs we have produced and were celebrating in this exhibition. In our 50 catalogs we have featured 172 artists from 28 countries. Our salon wall featured works by nine of those artists from five countries. Wendy Wahl creates work from pages of encyclopedias, leading readers to think about changes over the time to the way acquire information. Mia Olsson of Sweden created a work of brightly colored sisal, inspired by traditional, pleated folk costumes. We included Jo Barker’s tapestry, Cobalt Haze. People often think Barker’s lushly colored tapestries are oil paintings until they are close enough to see the meticulous detail. Lewis Knauss imagined a landscape of prayer flags in creating Prayer Mountain. For Deborah Valoma, simplicity is deceptive. The truth, she says, “scratched down in pencil, lies below the cross-hatched embellishments.” 

Jennifer Falck Linssen found inspiration in Asian ink paintings for her wall work, Mountain. The peaks in the paintings are a play of opposites: serene and forceful, solid and ethereal, strong and vulnerable. Mountain explores this duality and also the layered, often subtle, emotions of the human heart and its own dichotomy. Marian Bijlenga‘s graphic, playful work displays a fascination with patterning. This work was inspired by the geometric patterning of Korean bojagi, which is comparable to modernist paintings by such artists as Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee. In bojagi,small, colorful leftover scraps of fabrics are arranged and sewn together to construct larger artful cloths. The triple-stitched seams are iconic. This work, says the artist, specifically references the grid of these seams and the special Korean use of color. For Polly Barton, the technique of ikat serves as her paintbrush for producing contemporary works. From Norway, Åse Ljones uses a blizzard of stitches to create her works. “No stitch is ever a mistake,” she says. “A mistake is often what creates a dynamic in the work.” 

A salon wall is a great way to collect for people who are interested in different artists and different mediums. At browngrotta we’ve always suggested that clients had more wall space on which to display art — it just hadn’t been uncovered yet. We’ve created another salon wall in our non-gallery space. On it, we’ve combined oil paintings, fiber works, ceramics and photography. The wall can accommodate our continuing desire to collect — above, below and on the side.

works by Ed Rossbach. Photo by Tom Grotta
A gallery wall highlights weavings by Ed Rossbach. Photo by Tom Grotta

“A gallery wall is absolutely ideal for a small apartment, as it can give a room real interest, depth and a properly decorated feel without taking up any floor space — and thereby minimizing clutter,” Luci Douglas-Pennant, told The New York Times in 2017. Douglas-Pennant founded Etalage, with Victoria Leslie, an English company specializing in antique prints, vintage oil paintings and decorative pictures for gallery walls. “If you don’t have one large wall, gallery walls can be hung around windows, around doors, above bed heads, above and around fireplaces or even around cabinets in a kitchen.”

Three works by Sheila Hicks from our 1996 exhibition: Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan
Sheila Hicks introduced us to the gallery wall in an exhibition she curated at browngrotta arts in 1996, Sheila Hicks: Joined by seven artists from Japan. In that exhibition, she displayed three of her works in the space between two windows.

For works of varying sizes and shapes to get you started on your own version of a salon wall, visit browngrotta.com, where we have images of dozens of available artworks to pique your interest.


Art Assembled: New this Week in July

We always want our blog to be a place for textile and fiber artists and collectors to be inspired, and a place to see and learn from the best. We started the summer off hot and July was no different. We kicked off the month of July with artist Lija Rage. She is influenced by many different cultures. She is particularly interested in drawings of ancient cultures on the walls of caves in different parts of the world. Eastern culture with its mysterious magic, drawings of runes in Scandinavia, Tibet and the mandala, Egyptian pyramid drawings. 

Lija Rage wall sculpture
3lr My Sun For Everyone, Lija Rage, bamboo, copper wire, fabric 46.5” x 58.75” x 1.25”, 2018

“Currently, I am interested in new technologies and their use in contemporary fiber art. Textile and fiber art for me are types of modern art that use fiber as their medium. It is the type of art that borders the four fine arts types with the same high requirements and tasks. I believe in its development in the modern world.” Lija Rage New This Week featuring My Sun For Everyone, by Lija Rage.

Tamiko Kawata safety pin wall art
34tk Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood 11″ x 11″ x 3″, 2014

We continued the month with works from Tamiko Kawata. Discarded materials are important to Tamiko Kawata, not only for environmental issues but also to reflect his current life. Her choice of materials and interpretation are influenced by the differences experiences between life in America and Japan where she grew up.

“Safety pins function variously as thread, yarn, clay or truss in my work process. I found them soon after I arrived from Japan, out of the necessity to shorten all-too-long American clothing. I noticed their smooth texture and their head- and tail-like details. In the beginning, I found ways to interlock them, as if weaving. I found constructing systems as I went along, using only the inherent structural properties of the pins, and now can create anything from “drawings” to three-dimensional, self-standing works.” Tamiko Kawata New This Week featuring Infinite, Tamiko Kawata, safety pin on canvas wrapped wood.

Wendy Wahl Encyclopedia art
32ww CE/EB #4, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica and Comptons pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011.
27ww EB ’62 vol. 17-18, Wendy Wahl
Encylopedia Britanica pages, poplar frame, 24″ x 32″ x 1.5″, 2011

One thing you could count on as a child was never having to look at an encyclopedia during the Summer and Wendy Wahl made sure of it! She continues to wow us with her use of this material, and she pushes them into a contemporary extreme, somewhere between art and object.
“My art has always been a protest against what I have met with in weaving. I started to use rope, horsehair, metal and fur because I needed these materials to give my vision expression and I did not care that they were not part of the tradition in the field.” Wendy Wahl New This Week featuring work from Wendy Wahl.

Kiyomi Iwata Ogara Choshi
21ki Fungus Three, Kiyomi Iwata, Ogara Choshi are gathered. The surface is embellished with gold leaf and French embroidery knots, 6.5” x 8” x 7.5”, 2018

We wrapped up the month with artist Kiyomi Iwata. In her work, she explores the boundaries of East and West through absence and presence, void and volume.

Fungus Three is made from ogarami choshi. Even though they are all created in the same manner, the elements are all different shapes and tones. The individual pieces are gathered together to make one large bundle. This was inspired by a saying I heard: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’  This seems a good thought to keep in mind during these trying times.” Kiyomi Iwata  New This Week featuring work from Kiyomi Iwata


On Redefining the Medium

In an artspace article last spring, “8 ‘Unbeweavable’ Textile Artists Redefining the Traditional Medium,” the author, Jillian Billard, profiled eight contemporary textile artists who keep the historical and cultural significance of the medium in mind, while addressing topics ranging from colonialism, to power dynamics, to disposal and regeneration.

Listening In Caroline Bartlett, mixed media; wooden rings stretched with archival crepeline, wool, linen tape, perspex,
2.75″ x 17″ x 17″; 5″ x 17″ x 17″; 6″ x 17″ x 17″, 2011. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Several of the artists represented by browngrotta arts take a similar approach, including, Caroline Bartlett, who explores the historical, social and cultural associations of textiles and their ability to trigger a memory. Listening In, for example, resulted from Bartlett’s review of accession cards that “bore witness” to the health and state of textile items in the collection of the Whitworth Museum. The cards described work undertaken to preserve and stabilize each artifact, to endeavors to fill in gaps in the history and making of the object across time and space. In creating works in this series, Bartlett says, “I think of skin, bone, membrane; a layered dermis, and of networks of social, industrial, public and private relations, processes and materiality connecting the building itself with the idea of cloth as silent witness to the intimacies and routines of daily lives.”

Deborah Valoma in her Studio in Minnesota. Photo by Tom Grotta.


Deborah Valoma is an artist and historian. Intensely research-based, her studio practice harnesses the nuances of the humble, yet poetically charged textile medium. Using hand construction techniques and cutting-edge digital weaving technology, her work hugs the edges of traditional practice. She upholds traditional customs and at the same time, unravels long-held stereotypes. Drawing on a growing body of scholarship on textiles, she has developed a rigorous series of textile history and theory courses for students from differing disciplines interested the theoretical discourses in the field of textiles. Valoma believes that students must locate themselves within historical lineages in order to understand the historical terrain they walk (and sometimes trip) through daily. Historical analysis draws a three-dimensional spatial and temporal map, providing much-needed reference points.

Interior Passages, Ferne Jacobs, 
coiled and twined waxed linen thread
, 54” x 16” x 4”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Artist Ferne Jacobs explores feminist themes in her work. “My art is made in an attempt to serve the sacred in the feminine, listening and creating a relationship with my own inner nature. Interior Passages is an example “In the world I find myself in today, feminine values are often desecrated.  I am beginning to understand that there is no such thing as a ‘second class citizen’ — anywhere, anytime. There are aspects of world culture where weak people try to control others; because that is the only way they feel their own existence.” Interior Passages resists that approach. “Interior Passages knows she exists,” Jacobs notes. “She needs no one to tell her who she is or what she is.  She knows her value, and I expect the world to respect this inner understanding.  When it doesn’t, I think it moves toward a destructiveness that can be devastating.”


Regeneration is a theme in the work of both Karyl Sisson and Wendy Wahl. Sisson give new lives to common domestic items like paper drinking straws, zippers and measuring tales. Wahl’s work with repurposed encyclopedias raises questions about how we process information, use resources and assign value to things.


Art Assembled: New This Week May

Ulla-Maija Vikman. Reflect, painted viscose and linen, 62.5” x 54”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

Reflect, Ulla-Maija Vikman, painted viscose and linen, 62.5” x 54”, 2017. Photo by Tom Grotta

May was quite a busy and exciting month here at browngrotta arts. We ended April and kicked off May with our annual Art in the Barn Exhibition, Blue/Green: color/code/context. The exhibition attracted a record-breaking crowd that swarmed from all areas near and far. In addition to the opening itself, we hosted “Art-Ocean-Energy” a fundraiser for Ports of Cause as well as an IDCEC accredited presentation “Material Matters: Integrating Art Textiles and Fiber Sculpture in Architecture and Interior.” We also published our new catalog Blue/Green: color/code/context. The catalog–our 48th volume–features work by 57 artists from over 15 countries. Blue/Green: color/code/context is available for purchase on our online store and Amazon.

To kick off May’s New This Week we shared Ulla-Maija Vikman’s Reflect. Made by hand-painting viscose yarn and linen, Vikman’s Reflect falls freely into space and forms varying color surfaces as air flow causing the uniquely painted fibers to move. Vikman found combining the color blue with textiles very interesting because of the way in which they juxtapose each other. “Textile is material and tactile. Blue is immaterial, airy and spacious,” explains Vikman.  

Changing Tides, Wendy Wahl, Encyclopedia Britannica pages, 27” x 42” x 1.75”, 2018. Photo by Tom Grotta

Next up we had Changing Tides by Wendy Wahl.  Made of 275 pages of 1988 Encyclopedia Britannica Annual of World Data, Changing Tides continues a series Wahl developed from her interest in expressing our station in time through the use of materials that have been a part of a particular collective consciousness. Wahl cut the encyclopedia pages into seven sections, for each of the continents, and thoughtfully scrolled and compressed into 1,925 whirls to symbolize the reality of rising water around the globe.

Blue Wave, Ferne Jacobs, coiled and twined waxed linen thread, 19” x 17.5” x 6”, 1994. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Blue Wave, Ferne Jacobs, coiled and twined waxed linen thread, 19” x 17.5” x 6”, 1994. Photo by Tom Grotta.

Lastly, Ferne Jacobs Blue Wave. Jacobs, who began making sculptural baskets in 1970, uses waxed linen to create intricate, coiled designs that evoke organic forms. Jacobs’ commitment to fiber sculptures grows out of a fascination that thread can be made solid, that by using only her hands and thread, she can create a form that can physically stand on its own.

 


Artists in the House: Who’s attending the Opening of Blue/Green: color/code/context on Saturday

Keiji Nio, Rough Sea of Sado,polyester, aramid fiber, 48.25” x 47.5”, 2016. Photo by Tom Grotta

The Artists Reception and Opening for Blue/Green: color/code/context occurs this Saturday at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut 06897. Eleven of the participating artists will be in attendance, enhancing what is always an energizing opportunity to experience our annual Art in the Barn event. Keiji Nio and his family are coming from Japan, Pat Campbell from Maine, Wendy Wahl from Rhode Island, Kiyomi Iwata from Virginia, Norma Minkowitz and Helena Hernmarck from Connecticut and Polly Barton, John McQueen, Nancy Koenigsberg, Lewis Knauss and Tamiko Kawata from New York. Wendy Wahl’s work is made of blue Encyclopedia Britannica pages; John McQueen used plastic bottles — a departure for him. Norma Minkowitz has created a detailed and magical stitched drawing and Lewis Knauss a work of pale, pale green and natural reed and twigs. Join us from 1-5 pm to see their work and that of 50 more artists. The artists will be available throughout the Barn, to answer questions about their work, their favorites or about the work of others. They’ll be wearing name tags — feel free to say hello. For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php; 203-834-0623. Or visit us during the week — Sunday April 29th – Sunday May 6th, 10-5 pm.


First Look: Blue/Green: color/code/context, April 28th – May 6th at bga, Wilton, CT

Blue Green exhibition Marian Bijlenga

30mb Dutch Blue (Oval), Marian Bijlenga
camelhair, fabric, stitched
35” x 35”, 2006, photo by Tom Grotta

For this year’s Art in the Barn exhibition, we asked artists to enter a blue or green period of their own and send us a work that conveyed one of the many meanings, connotations and moods of these colors. The result is Blue/Green: color/code/context, an exhibition of remarkably diverse works from more than 50 artists from 15 countries. Marian Bijlenga of the Netherlands, for example, has created an enigmatic wall work inspired by Dutch blue china fragments. The work is inspired, she says,  by the patterns of Chinese porcelain and the Japanese philosophy of the reuse of broken tiles and her collection of Dutch blue shards, collected in Amsterdam.

Ceramic Blue Green exhibition

Yasuhisa Kohyama
51yk Kaze
ceramic
14.75” x 11.5” x 4.75”, 2017

Yasuhisa Kohyama has created, Kaze,  a ceramic with a grey-greenish cast, hand built and wood fired in an anagama kiln. “With the properties of the shigaraki clay and its inclusions of feldspar and silica, the high heat, the atmosphere in the kiln and the falling of the wood ash on the pots all present, warm colors as well as attractive markings can be captured on the surface of the clay,” Kohyama explains. “The blue-green and red-orange colors develop in the mid-section of the kiln; In the back of the kiln, a heavily reduced atmosphere creates rich dark gray and brown colors.”

Tapestry Blue Green exhibition

4gp Thin Green Horizon
Gudrun Pagter, sisal, linen and flax
45.25” x 55”, 2017

The Green Horizon is the striking abstract tapestry created by Gudrun Pager of Denmark for the exhibition. “Perhaps it is the horizon between heaven and sea, or between heaven and earth – or the line between heaven and earth?” Pagter muses. “The thin, horizontal line is made with many shades of blue and green thin linen. The main color is blue, but the thin, green horizon is essential to the whole picture.”

Wendy Wahl Blue Green exhibition

37ww Changing Tides
Encyclopedia Britannica pages
27” x 42”, 2018

Encylopedia Britanica pages are the material Wendy Wahl uses to express our  station in  time, recognizable as they are as  a   part  of  a  particular  collective  consciousness. Wahl’s Changing Tides is made of 275  pages of the 1988 Encyclopedia Britannica Annual of World Data, the only book in Wahl’s collection of EB volumes that contained blue paper. The pages were cut into seven sections, for each of the continents, contemplatively scrolled and compressed into 1925  whorls to symbolize the reality of rising water around the globe. These four are just a sampling of the more than 70 works that will be on display in the Blue/Green: color/code/context exhibition and in the companion catalog, which will be available at www.browngrotta.com after April 28th. To visit Blue/Green: color/code/contexthere are the details:  Saturday, April 28th, 1-6 pm: Opening and Artists Reception

Sunday April 29th – Sunday May 6th, Viewing Hours 10-5 pm.
For more info: http://www.browngrotta.com/Pages/calendar.php; 203-834-0623.
This year’s exhibition is co-sponsored by Litchfield Distillery.

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.


Artist RSVPs—International Artists Travel the World to Attend browngrotta’s Opening April 22nd

From across the globe to the beautiful rural and coastal landscape of Connecticut, artists traveling from four different countries and nine US states will attend browngrotta arts’ artist reception and opening this Saturday, April 22, 2017.

We are delighted to welcome these 16 national and international artists as we celebrate our 30th anniversary exhibition, Still Crazy After All These Years…30 years in art.

Jennifer Falck Linssen

Jennifer Falck Linssen

Wendy Wahl

Wendy Wahl

John McQueen

John McQueen

Blair Tate

Blair Tate

Nancy Koenigsberg

Nancy Koenigsberg

Tamiko Kawata

Tamiko Kawata

Lewis Knauss

Lewis Knauss

Mary Giles

Mary Giles

Mary Merkel-Hess

Mary Merkel-Hess

Norma Minkowitz

Norma Minkowitz

Ferne Jacobs

Ferne Jacobs

Gizella K Warburton

Gizella K Warburton

Hisako Sekijima

Hisako Sekijima

Kyomi Iwata

Kyomi Iwata

Jin-Sook So

Jin-Sook So

Helena Hernmarck

Helena Hernmarck

As with our world-renowned collection of art textiles, dimensional art pieces and mixed media, many of our visiting artists represent acreative blend of diverse cultures and countries from all over the world, including Helena Hernmarck, originally from Sweden, now Connecticut, who continues to work with weavers in Sweden to create her tapestries; Jin-Sook So, from Korea, who has also lived for more than two decades in Sweden; Hisako Sekijima of Yokohama, Japan; and Gizella K Warburton from the UK.

We’re also pleased to welcome the following artists who are traveling from across the United States, including California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin, and of course our home state of Connecticut:

Each of the 16 artists expected to attend browngrotta arts’ artists reception and opening this Saturday will be available to offer insights into this unique combination of art forms, including textiles, sculptures, stitched work and sculptural baskets among others. Visit our Artists pages to learn more about our visiting artists’ techniques, inspirations and remarkable art forms.
The Artists Reception and Opening for Still Crazy After All These Years…30 Years in art is at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road, Wilton, CT 06897, April 22nd, 1 pm to 6 pm.


Blog: Artists Recommend Books – January Edition

Here are a few recommended books that missed the posting deadline for our previous Blog, Books Make Great Gifts. From Chris Drury in the UK, a title he considers a must in light of the Dakota Pipeline, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press), which won an American Book Award in 2015. As an antidote, he recommends A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean (University of Chicago Press). Drury recommends two books from Korea, too, The Vegetarian by Hang Kang (Hogarth) and Please Look After Mother by Kyung-Sook Shin (Vintage).

Wendy Wahl looked at the past year in providing her recommendations. “if the world has felt as wobbly to you as it has to me during 2016 then were on the same path,” she writes. “This isn’t to say that everything that transpired has been negative though there have been several traumatic events. The positive experiences have been just as surprising and memorable,” according to Wahl. She recommends a text on classic Indian spirituality, “that provides inspiration for healing and reframing perspectives, The Upanishads, introduced and translated by Eknath Easwaran (Nigiri Press). This collection of teachings is as timely now as it was 2000 years ago. Understanding the following words from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (iv.4.5) could be useful,” she says. You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny. The Mundaka Upanishad furnished the motto of the modern Indian nation, she notes, satyam eva jayate, nanritam, Truth alone prevails, not unreality” (iii.1.6).”Perhaps the global collective consciousness will awaken to this concept. I’m trying to remain hopeful.” Wahl adds that for readers interested in one of her favorite materials, Paper: Paging Through History by Mark Kurlansky (W.W. Norton) is “a worthy read for a perspective on world history and a material that has had such an important role in its direction and documentation. I appreciated the author opening chapter fourteen with a quote from Denis Diderot, Encyclopedie,1 755: Indeed, the purpose of an encyclopedia is to collect knowledge disseminated around the globe; to set forth it’s general system to the men with whom we live, transmit it to those who will come after us, so that the work of preceding centuries will not become useless to the centuries to come; and so that our offspring, becoming better instructed, will at the same time become more virtuous and happy, and that we should not die with out having rendered a service to the human race. Perhaps Diderot should have included – to the women with whom we live,” she concludes.


Books Make Great Gifts: 2014 Edition

As in previous years, artists represented by browngrotta arts have an eclectic and interesting list of books to recommend, art-related and otherwise. Thanks to dozen-plus artists who made suggestions, 18 books in all.

Tamiko Kawata reports that she had the chance to read a few books while icing her injured shoulder after therapy, first three times a day, then two times. She enjoyedHaruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki Haruki Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. She is now reading — and enjoying — Even Back.Then.the.Fox.Was.the.HunterHerta Muller, Even Back Then, the Fox Was the Hunter.

Mary Merkel-Hess recommends Pilgrim.on.the.Great.Bird.ContinentPilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin’s Lost Notebooks by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. “It is the gracefully written account of how, during his five years on the Beagle, Charles Darwin became an accomplished naturalist who could discern scientific truths from the creatures he studied. “ she writes. “Haupt documents this transformation by concentrating on Darwin’s lesser-known writings, particularly his notebooks. At points it reads like a travelogue and a manual for bird watchers. I found it fascinating.”

“I do not get to read books as much as I like,” writes Kiyomi Iwata, ” but the best book I read this year wasThe.Grief.of.Others.Leah.Hager.Cohen The Grief of Others by Leah Hager Cohen. Even though she is very young — my daughter’s age — I found her prose most sensitive, insightful and compassionate. Her most recent book is No.Book.but.the.World.A.NovelNo Book for the World, which I am still reading.”

The most inspirational book Toshio Sekiji read this year was Korea.Economic.drilled.throughKorean Economy Drilled Through by Lee Hong Chang, which was originally published in Korea by Bobmun-sha,1999, the Japanese translation was by Hosei University Press in 2004. The book illuminates the dramatic changes from the medieval age to the modern age. It was one of a number of related books Toshio has read over the last two years as he prepared a report, “Korean Lacquer Culture through Neolithic Age to Modern Age” for the Bulletin of the Lacquer Art Museum in Wajima, Japan.

Ulla-Maija Vikman most enjoyed Flayed.ThoughtsNyljettyjä ajatuksia (Flayed Thoughts) by Juha Hurme. In Finnish only at this point, it’s a story of a 700-mile, 20-day rowing journey in which the characters eat, camp on islets and beaches and discuss what is essential and how what’s essential is transmitted.

There are two recommendations from Ruth Malinowski: The.Hare.With.Amber.EyesThe Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, recommended last year by Kay Sekimachi (and published by Rhonda’s other employer, FSG/Macmillan) and 1913: The Year Before the Storm1913.The.Year.Before.the.Storm by Florian Illies. The latter highlights developments in literature and art, as well as politics, covering the lives of Kafka, Rilke, Thomas Mann, Camille Claudel, Freud, Stalin, Hitler and some Royalty. Wars, love letters, art thefts and many more events from1913 are cleverly combined in 12 chapters, each reflecting a calendar month.

Ceca Georgieva rated ShantaramShantaram by Gregory David Roberts as her most inspirational read of the year. (Full disclosure, this one is also published by Rhonda’s other employer, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan and a book she also quite enjoyed. It’s been optioned by Johnny Depp and the movie is currently in production.)

“Of the many inspiring reads this year,” writes Wendy Wahl, “two authors stand out who had an impact on my work as a visual artist interested in the potency of printed text on paper. I was given The.Size.of.ThoughtsNicholson Baker’s The Size of Thoughts, by my husband when I was trying to weave together seemingly disparate yet connected ideas that sometimes are considered mundane and should be thought of as blessed into a cohesive short story. Baker’s style reminded me to keep doing what I was doing. I went onto read his Double.Fold.Libraries.and.the.Assault.on.PaperDouble Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, which became the inspiration for a sculpture I made this year that shares its name. One of my favorite library activities is to stroll through the stacks with my head cocked to one side and my index finger underlining titles vertically to see what’s there. I was delighted to come upon On Paper,On.Paper.The.Everything.of.Its.2000.Year.History The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History by Nicholas Basbanes, ‘a self-confessed bibliophiliac.’ I’ve checked this book out several times, paid late fees and, since I can’t write in this copy, I realize I must own it.”

Five art books got the nod from our artist/correspondents including Iridescent.LightIridescent Light: The Emergence of Northwest Art by Deloris Tarzan Ament with photographs by Mary Randlett. Dona Anderson “enjoyed immensely” Ament’s profiles of 21 artists who lived and worked in Washington State during formative periods in their careers, profiles that blend discussion of their work and commentary on the obstacles they faced and the influences they brought to bear on one another.

Scott Rothstein rates Bharany.CollectionsA Passionate Eye: Textiles, Paintings and Sculptures from the Bharany Collections, Giles Tillotson, ed. as a “great book.” Mr. Bharany is Scott’s “Indian Father.” He is very involved with textiles as well as paintings and other Indian art forms. Scott says, “I had tea with him three times a week when I lived there and we get back to India almost every year, mostly to spend time with him. He is around 88 years old, so we feel we need to be with him as much as we can.” The book on Judith Scott, Judith.Scott.Bound.UnboundJudith Scott, Bound and Unbound, he recommends, too — more for the photos than the text.

Nancy Koenigsberg found the volume created to accompany the traveling exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Fiber Sculpture 1960-presentFiber: Sculpture 1960 to the Present (available on our website, browngrotta.com), “a must read for fiber people,  makers and buyers — especially young artists who don’t know who some of these artists are. I was really surprised to discover that!!,” she says.

“My favorite book for this year,” writes Adela Akers, “is, without a doubt: In the Realm of NatureIn The Realm Of Nature: Bob Stocksdale & Kay Sekimachi (available on our website, browngrotta.com). A beautiful book, well conceived with excellent writing by Signe S. Mayfield. The life history of these two wonderful artists is beautifully intertwined with perfect images of their work. What a pleasure!”

Wishing you all new year that provides plenty of time for pleasure reading!