The unidentified collector is viewing three Teco Pottery pieces on the top shelf, plus two Teco Pottery pieces on the lower shelf, along with a Grueby vase to the far right. The Grueby Faience Company, founded in 1894, was an American ceramics company that produced distinctive vases and tiles during America’s Arts and Crafts Movement.
By Dasha Morgan- Each February for the past 29 years, Arts & Crafts enthusiasts, homeowners, and collectors from across the country have converged on Asheville’s Grove Park Inn for the three-day National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows. Featuring antiques dealers and vetted craftspeople in the daily afternoon shows, the February 17-19 Arts & Crafts Conference is expected to draw nearly 3000 people to the mountains of North Carolina. There will be approximately 120 of the country’s leading antiques dealers, artists and artisans, many book sellers, publishers and magazine editors, all exhibiting the best of the best of the Arts & Crafts movement. For a collector of this style, this is certainly a conference not to be missed.
In addition to the afternoon shows, the Arts and Crafts Conference also offers morning and evening seminars, walking tours of the Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Industries, daily small group discussions, demonstrations, workshops, and educational displays, and historic house tours.
Saturday and Sunday afternoons trolleys will leave the Grove Park Inn periodically—approximately every 30 minutes— to visit five houses of interest to Arts & Crafts attendees, as well as the general public. Ticket holders ($35) for this guided tour can get on and off the trolley at leisure to visit these historic homes at each stop, allowing approximately 3 hours for the full tour. The trolleys will visit the impressive stone Grove sales office at 324 Charlotte Street, which was designed by architect Richard Sharp Smith in 1909 for Edwin Grove. This is currently the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County’s office. At 48 Sunset Parkway they will see a home exemplary of English Arts & Crafts of the Tudor Style; at 55 Sunset Parkway they will find some unmistakable William Morris wallpaper on the walls. Two other homes on the tour are a Prairie-style house at 63 Macon Avenue and the historic Patton-Parker House, which was protected and preserved with the help of the Preservation Society. Tickets are available online at psabc.org or by calling the Preservation Society at 254-2343 or during the conference at the booth at the Grove Park Inn.
“This is the largest, most important gathering of Arts and Crafts collectors in the entire country,” explains founder and director Bruce Johnson, “and it only takes place once a year — and only here in Asheville.” The New York Times called it, “The most important weekend of the year for Arts and Crafts collectors.”
People from across western North Carolina have come to recognize and embrace this area’s close ties to the original Arts & Crafts movement that stressed hand craftsmanship, use of native materials, and themes drawn from nature. Pisgah Forest Pottery, Brown Pottery, Penland School, Brasstown, Biltmore Industries and The Artisans’ Shop are but a few of the early 20th century Arts and Crafts firms that sprouted in the mountains of North Carolina. “And that tradition continues today,” Johnson added. “Artisans still feel drawn to the mountains where they find their inspiration, as well as their materials.”
Arts & Crafts has been called the first American style. As bold and as brash as President Teddy Roosevelt, the Arts & 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. In 1910 the Arts & Crafts movement swept across the country, filling the small spaces with the handcrafted oak furniture of Gustave Stickley, matte green pottery by Grueby and Rookwood, mica lighting by the Roycroft Copper Shop and handwoven textiles decorated with cattails, gingko leaves and purple iris blossoms.
Some of the events of interest might be: Thursday afternoon and Friday, Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan Frank Glapa will hold a class on the basics of copper repossé techniques. Friday during the day Ann Chaves, noted textile curator, will lead a two-part class on Arts & Crafts embroidery and appliqué. Friday evening the first seminar Frank Lloyd Wright: Japanese arts as a Means to Organic Architecture, will be delivered by Kevin Nute a professor and architectural historian. Saturday morning Adrienne Spinozzi, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, will give a talk, Professional Aspirations: Women and the Art Pottery Movement, followed by historian David Cathers Arts & Crafts Electric Lighting: Beautiful, Useful, Inevitable. After the Saturday shows, Johnson will present a short seminar titled: Scott, Zelda & Tom, Literary Asheville. This will serve as an introduction to the film, Genius. For more detailed information on these and many more events, just go to www.Arts-CraftsConference.com.
Historian and author Bruce Johnson is making this a three-day celebration for the 30th anniversary of the National Arts & Crafts Conference. The weekend will include champagne and dessert social hours on Friday and Saturday evenings, drawings for items donated by the 120 exhibitors, and “Dancing on the Terrace” each evening. Tickets for the conference are only $10 for adults and $5 for students. The tickets are good for all three days. Hours are Friday, February 17 1:00-6:00pm; Saturday, February 18, Noon-6:00pm, and Sunday, February 19, 11:00am-4:00pm. The Grove Park Inn will be abuzz with activity for this stimulating conference, which revisits one of America’s earliest styles.