Meet This Year’s Arts & Crafts Research Fund Recipients

We’re pleased to introduce you to three incredibly dedicated scholars who will be putting in long hours in the coming months researching some exciting new topics in the world of Arts & Crafts. The thing they all have in common? They’re splitting over $7,000 awarded by the Arts & Crafts Research Fund to aid in their research costs!

The Arts & Crafts Research Fund was established in 2004 by Bruce Johnson, director of the National Arts & Crafts Conference, with the goal of providing financial assistance to researchers and writers involved in the Arts & Crafts movement. Each year the ACRF sponsors a Silent Auction at the National Arts & Crafts Conference in Asheville, North Carolina to raise money, which is distributed at no specific time during the following year. So then, without further ado, we proudly present the 2014 Arts & Crafts Research Fund Recipients!

Peter Goss, professor emeritus of architectural history at the College of Architecture and Planning, University of Utah, is presently engaged in researching and writing a book length manuscript on architect Taylor Woolley, who grew up in Salt Lack City. In 1908 Woolley gained employment in the Oak Park Studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. At that time, Wright was a rising start in what was then called “the new architecture of the Midwest.” However, in 1909 Wright sold his practice, left Oak Park with his lover Mamah Cheney and ended up in Berlin.

Shortly thereafter, Wright signed a contract with German publisher Ernst Wasmuth to produce a portfolio of his Prairie Style work from the 1890s to 1909. To accomplish this he invited his son, Lloyd, and Wooley to join him in Italy to work on the drawings. Goss’ work will attempt to trace Woolley’s interaction with Wright, which, until now, has not been tapped into, and Woolley’s role in other notable Chicago architecture offices before returning to his hometown of Salt Lake City where he then successfully practiced architecture for three more decades.

The second recipient is Bo Sullivan, designer, architectural historian and owner of Arcalus Period Design and Bolling & Company, the country’s leading source for original, museum-quality American wallpapers printed between 1880 and 1915. Appropriately enough, Sullivan’s research is centered on the work of M.H. Birge & Sons, an American art wallpaper company active in the early 20th century in Buffalo, New York.

Sullivan aims to document and share the story behind an industry-leading American company that produced some of the most important and influential Arts & Crafts wallpapers in the country during the first two decades of the early 20th century — a company that few enthusiasts and collectors are even aware of. The story of M.H. Birge & Sons has never been told and will open the eyes of Arts & Crafts lovers and collectors with a new view into the movement in America that will broaden and deepen appreciation.

And last — but absolutely not least — Barbara Rhines, author, editor and Arts & Crafts historian, will take a new spin on Craftsman Farms and the local food movement. Rhines’ research hopes to rediscover the farming activities and products of Arts & Crafts communities, such as The Roycrofters and Craftsman Farms and will explore Arts & Crafts writings espousing the virtues of farm life and healthy food. Rhines’ will also discuss the social action taken to assure safe nutrition for growing urban centers in a time when, faced with modernization and urbanization, much Arts & Crafts philosophy glorified agrarian life.

“The struggle between industrialization and a longing for a simple pastoral lifestyle has long been recognized as central to Arts & Crafts thought.” Rhines shares. “But as we have focused on the home furnishings and art produced by the movement, we have perhaps glossed over the actual work that was done to protect rural life and a healthy food supply.” Rhines hopes to tie together the original efforts by Arts & Crafts practitioners with today’s farm-to-table food movement, drawing in a whole new audience to the philosophy and ongoing relevance of the Arts & Crafts Movement.

Those of us involved with the Arts & Crafts Research Fund are very much looking forward to hearing back from this latest round of scholars. Please join us in congratulating them and wishing them well on their journey, wherever their research may take them. Cheers to you, Peter, Bo and Barbara!