Textile art exhibit is cut from a whole different cloth

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In an 1895 barn at the site of a renovated former horse farm, artwork hangs in the bright, open space — pieces ranging from deeply colored basket-like pieces by Mary Merkel-Hess to a composition made of rubbed ochre on paper with a woven map by Chris Drury.

These works are part of the exhibition at Wilton’s browngrotta arts, entitled “Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture.” It will take place from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 at the home of browngrotta’s owners and co-curators, Tom Grotta and his wife, Rhonda Brown, on Ridgefield Road. It will mark browngrotta arts’ 25 years promoting international textile art.

alt“The exhibit looks to the past and into the future,” said Mr. Grotta. “It will reflect the origins of the contemporary textile art and sculpture movement. There will also be current work by established and emerging artists to explain where the movement is now and to predict what’s ahead.”

The diverse and extensive field of artists from throughout the world includes Chang Yeonsoon, 2008 Artist of the Year at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, and American artists Lia Cook and Gyöngy Laky, who have “achieved international recognition,” according to Mr. Grotta.

Along with the tapestries, basketry, art textiles, fiber and ceramic pieces, a work by Sue Lawty, “Calculus” is a “contemplation made from thousands of tiny stones,” Mr. Grotta said.

“You’re not going to see this type of exhibit anywhere else,” he said.

How would he describe the aesthetic of textile art?

“I would say it’s minimalistic, a cross between Scandinavian and Japanese design, and technically beautiful,” Mr. Grotta said.

Browngrotta arts has produced 36 catalogs on contemporary textile art, featuring Mr. Grotta’s photographs and design and Ms. Brown’s “editorial oversight,” he said.

The 21st catalog, Art of Substance, won an American Graphic Design award.

Mr. Grotta graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a fine arts degree in photography, and has lectured on art textiles and fiber sculpture at various events throughout the country. His art photographs are included in several private collections, including the Museum of Modern Art in Portugal.

Ms. Brown is an attorney for a publishing company in New York, while also managing browngrotta’s editorial content for the catalogs, website (browngrotta.com) and Facebook page.

altBrowngotta arts represents “a uniquely global group of artists, more than 100 in all,” Mr. Grotta said. “We have placed artwork in dozens of private and corporate collections in the U.S. and abroad, as well as in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Arts and Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the St. Louis Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum.”

He said he hopes Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture will “encourage collectors and designers to view more at our website and our blog, arttextstyle.”

Still, their expansive Wilton gallery offers advantages for visitors. “Here, you can see how the art looks in space. … It captures the dimensionality.”

The artists reception and opening for Retro/Prospective: 25+ Years of Art Textiles and Sculpture will be held Saturday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 5 at browngrotta arts, 276 Ridgefield Road. From Oct. 28 through Nov. 4, the exhibition will be open from 10 to 5. For more information, call 203-834-0623, email art@browngrotta.com or visit browngrotta.com.

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