A New Book You Need To Own!
“Its nice to talk to someone who knows more about my family than I do.” — Bill van Erp.
After reading the latest Arts and Crafts book to be released this year, simply entitled Dirk van Erp, I would venture to say that Gus Bostrom knows more about Dirk van Erp, his family, and his work than anyone else, inside the family or out.
The San Francisco-based Gus Bostrom has taken a step only a few major Arts and Crafts dealers and collectors ever take. He has gathered all of his research on his favorite subject, that being Dirk van Erp, then has consulted the most ardent collectors and respected researchers, in this case Roger and Jean Moss, Isak Lindenauer, and a host of others, and tiptoed into that minefield every researcher and author both loves and fears — the subject’s family.
As a result, Gus Bostrom has now emerged as a recognized scholar on the subject of Dirk van Erp, for he has unselfishly shared every tidbit of information and knowledge he has harvested with anyone who adds this book to their collection.
And everyone should.
Even though I do not (yet) have an example of Dirk van Erp’s work — either his hammered copper and mica lamps or one of his more modest bowls or boxes, — I found myself captivated by the story of this coppersmith’s struggles, from leaving his new wife and family at home while he spent nearly a year fruitlessly searching for gold in Alaska, to struggling through failed partnerships and disruptive business challenges — including an early bankruptcy — while he sought to find his life’s work.
And thankfully for us, he did.
This 166-page soft cover book is a delight to read, for the writing is clear and precise, and the research is meticulously documented, leaving no doubt as to its accuracy. From the numerous unpublished, charmingly grainy, black-and-while photographs showing Dirk van Erp with his Churchill-like cigar clenched firmly between his teeth, to the four-color illustrations of piece after piece after piece — lamps, boxes, bowls, bookends, vases, and trays –all harmoniously formatted, this book sets a standard by which any future Arts and Crafts book should be judged.
Along the way, Gus Bostrom clears the air surrounding the short-lived partnership between Dirk van Erp and D’Arcy Gaw, documents the role played in the shop by the boyish and talented August Tiesselinck (with assistance from noted biographer Isak Lindenauer, author of August Tiesselinck: A Lifetime In Metal), identifies and dates the various critical shopmarks, and takes us inside the personal life of Dirk van Erp and his wife Mary, who upon the death of her 71-year-old husband in 1933, announced, “I am not going to live without Dirk.” Though only 62, she virtually willed herself to die — just five hours later.
These are the types of stories that provide us with insight into the life of a craftsman whose name we recognize, but about whom most of us know so precious little. Anyone who picks up this delightful book will not be able to leave it alone, for it represents the perfect blend of history, biography, scholarship, and analysis that every Arts and Crafts enthusiast seeks.
Note: The release of this book coincides with an exhibition of Dirk van Erp’s work and his tools being held at California Historical Design in Berkeley, CA, just until December 13. For more information on the exhibition or to order a copy of this limited edition book for just $40, please go to http://www.acstickley.com.
Get yours before they are gone!
– Bruce Johnson