By Margot Clark-Junkins
Tiny houses sprouting from flowers, monkeys, birds, and ceiling-high dancers: what do they all have in common? These playful constructions are made of corrugated board —cardboard— and will be soon be featured in a solo exhibition, “Corrugated World: The Art of James Grashow,” opening March 16, 6-8pm at Flinn Gallery in the Greenwich Library.
A sculptor, printmaker, and illustrator, James Grashow has lived in Connecticut for 40 years. He has exhibited widely at museums and galleries, including DeCordova Sculpture Park & Museum, MassMOCA, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, and New Britain Museum of American Art. Grashow’s woodcut prints, which include album covers for high-profile musical groups such as Jethro Tull and the Yardbirds, are also included in the Flinn exhibition.
In preparation for the exhibit, which I am curating with Karen Sheer, we visited the artist in his studio. It was a magical space, filled to the rafters with a veritable menagerie of cardboard creations. An animated speaker, Grashow moved rapidly through the room, talking about his creative process while pointing out certain pieces with pride, running his fingers across their papery surfaces. His giant dancers on wheeled platforms could be rolled around the room. His life-size crane was completely covered in handmade feathers, all of cardboard. There were miniature houses, replete with shutters and shingles. Grashow picked up a woodblock covered with tiny gouge marks, then opened a flat-file drawer to show us the remarkably detailed corresponding woodcut print.
Collector and art dealer Allan Stone, who raised his family in Purchase, represented Grashow for decades, and it was Stone’s daughter, the filmmaker Olympia Stone, who made Grashow the subject of a penetrating documentary, “The Cardboard Bernini” (2012). The film chronicles the creation — and calculated destruction — of Grashow’s largest project, a cardboard replica of Bernini’s great fountain in Rome. The film offers a rare glimpse into the mind of an artist, showing us Grashow’s artistic methods, as well as his hopes, fears, and inspiration. It will be screened in Greenwich Library’s Cole Auditorium March 24 at 8, followed by a Q&A session with the artist. The exhibit runs through April 26.
<Flinn Gallery is open most days from 10-5, Thursday nights until 8, and Sundays 1-5. The not-for-profit gallery is supported by the Friends of Greenwich Library. Admission is free and events are open to the public.>
James Grashow, <Corrugated Dancers>, corrugated board on wheeled platform, 2014
James Grashow, <Black and White Houseplant>, paper, wood, and acrylic paint, 2016
James Grashow, <Statue of Liberty>, woodcut on Japanese paper, edition of 400, 1986
James Grashow, <Herons in the Stream,> corrugated board and wood
Artist James Grashow in his studio
Photos by Margot Clark-Junkins, Robert Grant, and Karen Sheer