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.
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?
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!
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 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.)
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.)