A rare combination of private home and occasional public exhibition space, the house at 276 Ridgefield Road in Wilton, Connecticut serves as business headquarters, publishing house, art gallery and home to Tom Grotta, Rhonda Brown—and Cassidy the Australian Shepherd.
Tom and Rhonda have been building a business, a following, and a collection of a particular field of art for the past 30 years. The result is renowned browngrotta arts, a unique partnership that nearly eliminates the risks of finding and buying art online. In addition to their vivid, full-color art catalogues and digital presence, browngrotta offers virtual installations of works—to scale and with shadow—into proposed locations so architects, designers, and their clients can make inspired decisions.
“We’ve had an unusual business model from the start,” Brown says. She’s standing in her kitchen. Behind her on the walls, near her on tables and countertops, are woven works of art, sculptures of twine, sisal, or pine needles. Rather than being in a typical gallery space, browngrotta arts exhibits and photographs the work of the artists they represent in their home. Rather than curating a familiar collection of paintings and sculptures, Tom and Rhonda have been celebrating the exploration of fiber art techniques since 1987.
Textiles and woven materials, once considered the makings for “crafts”, made their way into the world of fine art as early as the 1950s with American painter Robert Rauschenberg and the Bulgarian artist Christo. Allowing the use of things like gauze, string, wood, paper, metal, and rubber tubing expanded the very definition of “fiber.” Collectors and artists alike had discovered a whole new arena in which to express themselves.
But more than that, Tom Grotta explains, “Fiber art can solve specific design problems, ideal for awkward spaces. It can act as a textural counterpoint or even an acoustical aid.” The work of the artists browngrotta arts represents is multi-dimensional, surprisingly beautiful and rewarding.
Although the carefully curated collection of works looks intimate and personal displayed in their home, Tom and Rhonda have found fiber artists all over the world – from Japan, the UK, Belgium, and France.
Although the annual exhibition in Wilton is not to be missed, browngrotta arts partners with public venues like the Morris Museum in New Jersey, the Bendheim Gallery of the Greenwich Arts Council, Connecticut, and the New Bedford Museum of Art in Massachusetts. Works by browngrotta artists can be seen in architecturally significant homes, commercial spaces, and major museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Yale Art Gallery, and the Whitney Museum of Art.
There will also be a 200-page catalogue of the works in the exhibition available at browngrotta.com after May 1st, 2017.
This year’s exhibition includes works from more than 80 artists, five 9-foot hanging panels in what’s usually the dining room, and two remarkable outdoor sculptures. Tom Grotta and Rhonda Brown invite art lovers to their home April 22 – April 30. Cassidy, as always, is excited for the chance to herd visitors from room to room.
276 Ridgefield Road