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A Shy Lady

Collector Sandy Grotta

Sandy Grotta wearing a necklace by David Watkins, a bracelet by Lisa Gralnick, and a ring by Alan Adler. A necklace by Laurie Hall hangs on the wall, photo: Tom Grotta

Pioneering crafts collector Sandy Grotta died in September 2021 at the age of 87. She and her husband, Lou, began collecting in 1957. Gijs Bakker remembers his friendship with her.

From Lou and Sandy Grotta’s collection: Necklaces by (left to right) Laurie Hall, Robert Ebendorf, Kiff Slemmons, Axel Russmeyer, Arline M. Fisch, Laurie Hall, Gijs Bakker, photo: Tom Grotta

A shy lady, of short stature, touched my arm and asked me to make something for her. It happened in 1989 during my retrospective at the Helen Drutt Gallery.

The lady was Sandy Grotta. She wanted her profile as the Profile Brooch to be made by me. I was very flattered and also nervous. How could I make her profile in the gallery without any equipment available?

From Lou and Sandy Grotta’s collection: Bracelets by David Watkins bracelets on wood tree by Tom Hucker, photo: Tom Grotta

Helen helped to find a spotlight for me to project Sandy’s profile on the wall. Then Sandy also ordered the Brooch Verkuyl, on exhibit in that same show. I had no idea who this lady was, but she made an enormous and powerful impression on me, a lady who knew what she wanted!

From Lou and Sandy Grotta’s collection: The ring tree, by Thomas Hucker holds (left branch, left to right) rings by Barbara Walter, Patty Fawn, Eva Eisler, Tone Vigeland, Giampaolo Babetto, Katja Schlegel; (right branch, left to right) rings by Martin Papcun, Charles Loloma, Axel Russmeyer, unknown, Brigitte von Wysiecki, Otto Künzli, Fritz Maierhofer; the shelves hold (left to right, top to bottom) work by Giampaolo Babetto, Shimji Nakaba, Christina Smith, Denise Wallace, Björn Weckström, Bent Gabrielsen, Shimji Nakaba, (stacked) Charles Loloma, Patty Fawn, Lella and Massimo Vignelli, Charles Loloma, Björn Weckström, Eva Eisler, Larry Gotsch, Eva Eisler, photo: Tom Grotta

And this is what I saw when Helen, together with Matthew, took me to Lou and Sandy’s impressive manor house, designed by Richard Meier, two years later, in 1991:

Sandy Grotta in front of her home, photo courtesy of Gijs Bakker

Sandy guided me around the house to show her beautiful collection of baskets, ceramics, jewelry, paintings, and furniture. We became friends and met on various occasions.

Sandy and Lou also commissioned me to make a piece of jewelry to celebrate their jubilee in 2003. (Editor’s note: This brooch is shown below at top left; it shows the two of them eating ice cream.)

From Lou and Sandy Grotta’s collection: Jewelry by Gijs Bakker, photo: Tom Grotta

A different piece, the Grotta Brooch, was based on the hilarious introduction her husband, Lou, spoke to me: “I deal with cable.” (Editor’s note: That brooch, pictured above at top right, shows Lou Grotta’s face drawn in metal.)

Sandy Grotta will be missed.

Sandy Grotta was a longstanding member of AJF.

Sandy Grotta wears a bracelet by David Watkins, a necklace by Gerd Rothmann, and earrings by Eva Eisler, photo: Tom Grotta

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