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31st National Arts & Crafts Conference Held in Asheville

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Textile Curator, Ann Chavaz, is teaching a basic Arts & Crafts embroidery class.

By Dasha Morgan- It is hard to imagine that so much activity can be packed into a long weekend by Bruce Johnson, director of the Arts & Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn. So much for collectors, exhibitors, and owners to see and learn; so many speakers, exhibitions, workshops and tours to participate in; the choice is overwhelming. The 31st year of the Arts & Crafts Conference is definitely still going strong with hundreds attending from all over the United States.

The Conference has three main features. 1)The Antiques Show is considered the country’s largest and most important Arts & Crafts antique show of the year. Many are known to be experts in their field and share their knowledge with attendees. 2) The Contemporary Craftsfirms Show has grown to include approximately 50 of the country’s finest artists, artisans, and craftsfirms selling both interpretations and accurate replicas of Arts & Crafts antiques. These works range from furniture, art pottery and metalware to rugs, textiles, jewelry, frames, tiles, clocks, lighting and art. 3) The Books, Magazines & More Show at the National Arts & Crafts Conference features a number of magazines and book publishers, representatives from such historical sites as the Roycroft Campus and Craftsman Farms, sellers of both old and new books and authors signing their works.

There were many other activities. The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms Conference held a Kick Off Party on Thursday night with BBQ and Southern comfort food, local craft beers and wine and live bluegrass music by the Bounty Farm band. On Thursday during the day Textile Curator, Ann Chavaz, held a basic Arts & Crafts embroidery class; Roycroft Renaissance Master Artisan, Frank Glapa, got people started on copper repose techniques; and Laura Wilder traveled back in time before ink jet printers and laptops to teach about carving and printing with linoleum blocks. Saturday the Asheville-Buncombe County Preservation Society organized a three hour bus tour of homes and buildings of interest. A local docent accompanied each home, pointing out the history and architectural features of interest. Proceeds of the tour benefited the Preservation Society’s efforts to preserve Asheville and Buncombe County’s historic architecture, including the Thomas Wolfe Cabin and the historic fire house on Merrimon Avenue. Included in this year’s tour were the J. A. Groves Home, c. 1926, a high style example of Tudor revival in the manner of a Cotswold’s English cottage and the historic William Jennings Bryan home. Mr. Bryan who is best known for his role in the 1925 Scopes trial, also served as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson and unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States. There were other amazing lectures and seminars to attend with fascinating speakers. You could have attended one on the Two Robineaus, Partners in Porcelain by Dr. Martin Eidelberg and one called “Beauty, Heart and Spirit, the Impossible Dream of Edward Curtis” by Christopher Cardozo.

It was indeed an action packed weekend at the Grove Park, focusing on the Arts & Crafts movement, thanks to the organizational skills of Bruce Johnson. People came from all over the United States to participate and learn more. Since 1913 the Grove Park Inn has been known as the mecca for Arts and Crafts enthusiasts. And since 1988 the Arts and Crafts Conference has been educating and entertaining Arts and Crafts enthusiasts at every level — from beginning collectors and bungalow owners to experienced auction and show veterans.

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