Ellen Ramsey
Contemporary Tapestry

A Field Trip to Browngrotta Arts

This week I finally had the chance to see an exhibition of fiber art collected by Sandra and Louis Grotta. For thirty years, Browngrotta Arts has been the premiere gallery dealing in dimensional textile art, sculpture, and fine craft in the U.S., and for nearly that long, I have wanted to visit their ‘barn/gallery’ in Wilton, Connecticut. The gallery is rarely open to the public. They normally have an exhibition up for just one week, once, or at most twice, a year. 

The entrance foyer at browngrotta arts as currently installed. From left to right, work by  Helena Hernmarck, Stéphanie Jacques, Aleksandra Stoyanov, John McQueen, and Dawn McNutt

The art is displayed in every nook and cranny of the barn. I hope these pictures give you a sense of the experience of being there.

View from the kitchen. Basket by Mary Merkel-Hess far table, red baskets by Katherine Westphal, table sculpture by Axel Russmeyer, basket by Leon Niehues, and wall tapestries by Sara Brennan

Living room looking toward the door. On table, basket by Stéphanie Jacques, wall sculptures by Chang Yeonsoon, free standing sculpture by Kyoko Kumai,  tapestry by Lila Kulka

Living room from the door looking in. Wool and fur piece by Mariette Rousseau-Vermette, red silk sculptures by Kiyomi Iwata. Works on consul table by Masako Yoshida, Markku Kosonen,  Hisako Sekijima, and Aleksandra Stoyanov.

View of back den. Wall art by Chiyoko Tanaka, Jin Sook So, Dorothy Gill Barnes, Gyöngy Laky. Baskets by Karyl Sisson, Marion Hidenbrandt, Norma Minkowitz, Judy Mulford, Hisako Sekijima.

View of the office. Work by Ed Rossbach, Katherine Westphal, Tamiko Kawata, John McQueen,  Jin Sook So, Debra Valoma (on white  table), and others

Unfortunately, I have an upload limit on my blog template, so I can’t show you everything  I saw there. I will limit myself to tapestry and share my other favorites separately in a post on my Facebook page Ellen Ramsey Tapestry (which you should definitely “Like” or Follow if you don’t already).

The first thing one sees at the entrance to the gallery is an epic piece by Helena Hernmarck called “New York Bay 1884.”

Helena Hernmarck, “New York Bay 1884,” wool, 10’ x 13.5’, 1990

I suppose this is a relatively small Hernmarck tapestry by her standards. The really cool thing was that you could also view the full back of the tapestry. One never gets to inspect the back of Helena’s public installations, so this was a special treat, for me at least.

Hernmarck, “New York Bay 1884,” view of the back.  The back makes it clear that the tapestry was woven on its side.

There were three Sara Brennan tapestries on display. They are amazing to see in person. They look like they have little detail from afar, but up close you can see the intricate interweavings of dozens upon dozens of tones.

Sara Brennan, “Linen Tapestry with Broken Grey Line.” linen, wool, and cotton. 42.5” x 42”, 2014

Sara Brennan, “Dark Blue Line I,” line, wool, and cotton,  41” x 41”, 1999.

Another amazing tapestry was “From the First Person I,” by Aleksandra Stoyanov.

Aleksandra Stoyanov, “From the First Person I,” wool, silk, sisal, cotton, 55.6” x 49.25,” 1999

And last, but not least, I was taken by Lila Kulka’s tapestry “Odchodzacy (Departure II).”

Lila Kulka, “Odchodzacy (Departure II),” wool and cotton, 92” x 36”, 1993.

detail, “Odchodzacy (Departure II)”

browngrotta.com publishes a really great blog about the collection and the individual artists: http://arttextstyle.com.  I highly recommend taking a deep dive with it when you have time to fall into the internet rabbit hole.  I think you might be down there awhile.

The gallery has just published a large and glorious tome entitled “The Grotta Home by Richard Meier: A Marriage of Architecture and Craft,” with beautiful photos by Tom Grotta.  Next year the gallery celebrates the publishing of its 50th catalog with an exhibition of 50 specially commissioned works by 50 gallery artists called “50/50,” May 2 - May 10, 2020.

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