Living with Art
For over twenty years, Rhonda Brown and Tom Grotta have demonstrated a commitment to contemporary fiber art, unmatched by any other American gallery. Working from their home in Wilton CT, they co-direct browngrotta arts.
Representing many of the artists who helped define modern fiber art since the 1950s, this gallery reflects the cultivated eye and the sophisticated intellect of its directors. Uncompromising in their selections, work shown by Brown and Grotta is informed, with an emphasis on concept, supported by technique.
In the late 1940’s a small group of artists using traditional textile techniques took a bold new approach, creating free-standing sculpture as well as art for the wall. This art transcended function; basket techniques were used to create forms that were more sculpture than basket and basic weaving techniques were employed to fabricate large wall pieces that were unprecedented at the time. New art forms were created. Brown and Grotta exhibit artists whose work evolved from these early experiments.
Brown and Grotta have an international orientation, representing over 90 artists from around the world. Well-known masters, such as Lia Cook, Francoise Grossen, Helena Hernmarck, Sheila Hicks, Ritzi Jacobi, Norma Minkowitz and Ed Rossbach, are represented by the gallery. In addition, less familiar artists who have made innovative contributions to the field of fiber are exhibited.
The concept of “living with art” is important to Brown and Grotta. While they place work in corporate settings, they photograph art in context to convey to collectors how a sculpture might look on a living room side table or a wall piece would hang above a sofa. This is an unusual marketing approach, yet one that reflects their own experience. Art fills the Brown Grotta house. Their current space, a converted barn, is the second setting for browngrotta arts. The gallery started in a more conventional home, but after a few years it was clear a bigger space was required to accommodate many of the larger artworks.
In addition to showing work by appointment, Brown and Grotta take part in the SOFA art fairs each year in both New York City and Chicago. They have also organized exhibitions at smaller regional institutions.
While Brown and Grotta direct a commercial gallery, some of their efforts are similar to that of museum curators. Publishing has become a major part of browngrotta arts and the numerous catalogs they have produced are seen as important documents. In addition, their web site is a remarkable resource, consisting of hundreds of pages filled with text and images. Artists’ pages are extensive, complete with pictures, biographies, and individual artist statements. There are also pages with exhibition listings and general news related to the field.
For collectors of fiber, Rhonda Brown and Tom Grotta have established themselves as the authority on the new and innovative, as well as a source for historically significant work in the secondary market. Few galleries are as defined in their mission and consistent in their efforts.
Scott Rothstein is a textile artist. For more information about browngrotta arts, please visit www.browngrotta.com.