3 Day National Arts & Crafts Conference Returns - TribPapers

3 Day National Arts & Crafts Conference Returns

One will find incredibly beautiful hand crafted furniture at the Conference. Young people sought out affordable bungalows to be filled with solid oak furniture that would be both comfortable and durable.

AshevilleHappy days are here again. The 35th annual Arts & Crafts Conference will take place with in-person attendance at the Omni Grove Park Inn from February 18th – 20. For thirty-five years Bruce E. Johnson, founder and director, has been bringing the finest Arts & Crafts items from renowned dealers to Asheville for one weekend to be seen, studied and possibly bought at the Omni Grove Park Inn. The Arts & Crafts Movement has been called the first truly American style of living.  

“This is the largest, most important gathering of Arts and Crafts collectors in the entire country,” he explains, “and it only takes place once a year — and only here in Asheville.” 

As bold and as brash as President Teddy Roosevelt, the Arts and Crafts movement burst onto the American scene in 1901, pushing aside fussy Victorian morals, manners and furnishings. It replaced towering mansions with modest bungalows, and fragile walnut and velvet furniture with solid oak chairs and tanned leather upholstery. Led by reformers such as Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright, the Arts and Crafts movement sent ripples across America that are still being felt today. Young people then, just as today, sought out affordable bungalows to be filled with solid oak furniture that would be both comfortable and durable. Alongside it they opted for hand-hammered copper rather than Tiffany silver, local pottery rather than imported porcelain, and hand-embroidered curtains rather than dark, heavy draperies.

Local pottery, rather than fine china, was a hallmark of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Photo courtesy of the Arts & Crafts Conference.

Year after year, Johnson has coordinated an incredibly invigorating National Conference and Show. Arts and Crafts enthusiasts, homeowners, and collectors from across the country have converged on Asheville’s historic 1913 Grove Park Inn to participate in many activities and find a treasured item to take home. Featuring antiques dealers and vetted craftspeople in the daily afternoon shows, this year’s event is expected to again draw hundreds of people to the mountains of North Carolina. You will be able to find handcrafted contemporary items in the Arts and Crafts style, including new and antique jewelry, rugs, furniture, pottery, tiles, artwork, furniture, and metalware, showcasing the hand-craftsmanship and simple yet elegant designs which are the hallmarks of the Arts and Crafts movement and philosophy. This is a truly remarkable conference highlighting the quality craftsmanship of the Arts & Crafts period. Masks will be required to be worn at all times inside the Omni Grove Park Inn. Outdoor parking will be free, along with three hours of indoor garage parking.

Special Events 

Opening night, on Friday, February 18, Bruce Johnson will welcome everyone back to the Conference at 8:00 pm. This will be followed by Andre Chaves, a book collector and printer speaking on the Evolution of Arts & Crafts Design. Then Tom Folk, will present the story of Newcombe College artist Juanita Gonzales. More seminars will be presented on Saturday and Sunday.

Throughout the weekend, there are numerous events to attend. In addition to the afternoon shows, there are walking tours of the Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Industries, daily small group discussions, demonstrations, workshops, and educational displays. The choice is almost overwhelming. Here are just a few to consider. From 2:00 – 6:00pm,  David Van Epps will give demonstrations and speak about “Limbert Furniture Designs: From Ebon-Oak to Spade Cutouts and More.”  

In addition from 2:00 – 4:00 there will be demonstrations of Arts & Crafts Copper Hammering Techniques.  There will be time for questions and informal discussion at each session. 

Some fascinating Book Club and Movie discussions will be taking place. On Friday, February 18, Pat Bartinique will lead a discussion on the book “Making Magic: The Marion Mahony Griffin Story.”  She was a rising star in the world of architecture dominated by men. She worked in Chicago with the prominent Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School of Architecture. Then on Saturday from 3:00 – 4:00 pm Bartinique will lead a discussion of the F. Scott Fitzgerald book, “The Great Gatsby.”  The classic book will be discussed in its original library format and compared to two cinematic treatments of the novel. He and Zelda are known to have visited the Grove Park Inn many times. Another interesting movie that might be of interest: on Saturday night from 8:00 – 9:30pm a free award winning film will be presented, “The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt,” narrated by George C. Scott and with the music of John Philip Sousa.

Every year, PSABC is proud to offer a home tour as part of the National Arts & Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn.  All proceeds go to the Preservation Society to fund their efforts to protect and preserve Asheville and Buncombe County’s architectural heritage, which seems to be constantly under attack from developers. This year the Preservation Society will offer five or more unique historic homes for the Conference Home Tour with docents in the homes, who are able to point out significant architectural features in each house.  Buses will leave the hotel on Saturday & Sunday afternoon, from 1:00 to 3:30 with a ticket costing $35.00. Originally platted by E.W. Grove, this neighborhood is significant for its collection of houses that represent the prevailing design principles and construction practices of the early 20th century, including the Arts and Crafts movement. All homes are located in the National Register listing.

The Asheville Art Museum is offering a special private tour of the upcoming exhibit “Useful and Beautiful: Silvercraft by William Waldo Dodge” and a current exhibit “Walter B. Stephen Pottery: Cameo to Crystalline” is offered on Saturday, February 19 starting at 4:00pm. To register for a fee of $25,  go to AshevilleArt.org or call (828) 253-3227, ext. 124.  The Asheville Art Museum has the largest public collection of Dodge’s sterling silver bowls, tray and presentation pieces and of Pisgah Forest Pottery’s glazed, decorated and crystalline vases and bowl.  This is certainly an exhibit that should be of interest to conference attendees and many others.   

More information on all the conference seminar speakers, workshops, and events can be found at www.Arts-CraftsConference.com. The afternoon shows are open to the public from 1:00-6:00pm on Friday, February 18; from noon-6:00pm on Saturday, February 19; and from 11:00am-4:00pm on Sunday, February 20. The cost of admission is only $5 for all three days. Outdoor parking is free, as well as three hours in the indoor parking lots. For additional information, contact director Bruce Johnson at (828) 628-1915.

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