The United States of Arts & Crafts Part 2
Arts and Crafts antiques dealer Gus Bostrom is back with the second half of his epic American road trip! Click here to re-read the first half of their grand adventure!
We arrived in Boston and headed straight for the Museum of Fine Arts and the air conditioning! They were having an exhibition on the Japanese woodblock print artist Hokusai. They have a stellar display of ceramics by Grueby and Saturday Evening Girls, but Alyson enjoyed taking pictures of Daddy posing as Paul Revere next to John Singleton Copley’s painting.
We visited JMW Gallery in downtown Boston. It has been almost 20 years since I had been there. Still in the same location. They have some of the best selection of pottery that you can find! Jim Messineo of JMW suggested that we check out the Mapparium. It’s a 30′ diameter stained glass globe that you get to walk through. Very cool, except they don’t allow pictures. The next day we were back at the Fine Arts Museum to take in the rest of the Arts & Crafts including a very nice display of a Greene & Greene fireplace (Culbertson House, Pasadena 1907, top photo). That evening we made a quick stop at Harvard Square. They’re never too young to start planting the seed…
Next we were off to Connecticut and visited Jerry Cohen before an all too brief visit to the Mystic Sea Port in Mystic, CT. We only had less than an hour as we had to catch the auto ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point, Long Island, NY, the farthest point that is still somewhat close to Connecticut. The beach at Orient Point was amazing! The rocks were like polished gems. This was our first, and as it turned out, only dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
The drive across Long Island was pleasant. Originally we were planning on coming in on a Sunday, but locals had warned us that the traffic coming back from the Hamptons was horrible, so we came in a day ahead. We stayed four nights at a Holiday Inn near Lagurdia Airport (closest place I could find to Manhattan that could accommodate our huge van). Sunday was the only day we dared drive into Manhattan with the large van and found street parking on the upper east side, only four blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art! We spent most of the day exploring everything from the Egyptian ruins and mummies, to the recreated Frank Lloyd Wright room and amazing Tiffany displays. When Alyson wanted to join the children’s art project, the docent asked her if she had ever heard of a painter named John Singer Sargent? Alyson said that she had and that he was the best painter of portraits because he really captured the faces. The docent was amazed that this was coming from an 8 year old, but what the docent didn’t realize was this was the only artist her and I had discussed at the Fine Arts Museum in Boston and Alyson remembered all about him.
Day two in New York City we went out by ferry to the Statue of Liberty (second photo). Behind the statue, they had a display of part of the original torch and I could see up close all the hammer marks showing that she was completely hand-hammered out of copper. The next day we visited the new 911 Memorial & Museum and then headed up to Rockefeller Center and went up to the top for a breathtaking view of Manhattan. Before leaving town, we stopped and visited Ray & Helen Groll in Flushing, NY. Ray will always be known as “The Metal Man” and used to exhibit at The Grove Park Inn Antiques Show.
We headed out of New York over the George Washington Bridge and into New Jersey. We visited Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms (third photo). Unfortunately, Craftsman Farms was closed on Wednesdays but so many people were following our photo blog of the trip, that the director arranged for us to have a private tour! I think someone pulled some strings but I’m not sure who? (Thank you, Ray Stubblebine!) Alyson enjoyed the kids “treasure hunt” looking for all sorts of Gustav Stickley details throughout the house. Hoa enjoyed how peaceful the whole place was. Aiden was just restless, but it was time for his nap…
From there we headed south to Toms River, NJ. My best friend from high school, Ethan, lives there with his wife, and 14 year old son. Ethan’s now an anesthesiologist working in NYC. I told Alyson that Ethan knows every Muppet song. As we were all swimming in his back yard swimming pool, Ethan, a 45 year old doctor and Alyson were singing Kermit the Frog’s Rainbow Connection. You had to be there…
After a quick stop in Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, we all headed to Washington DC. The first day we went to the National Portrait Gallery and then I gave the family a night tour of DC; the White House, the Treasury (right next door) and a stroll along the mall. Alyson took a great picture of the Jefferson Memorial reflected against the water at night.
The next day we headed over to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. Aiden could not contain his excitement. “Airplane! Airplane!” as we entered the museum. He’s just over a year and a half old. We also visited the Lincoln Memorial. Highlight: the Wright Brothers original plane Kitty Hawk. We had seen a reproduction at the Henry Ford Museum but now the real deal.
We visited a few other Smithsonian Museums including the National Gallery and got to see the only Leonardo de Vinci painting in America. There is a great story behind the acquisition of this painting. Andrew Mellon bought it directly from the Russian government, and the great art dealer, Joseph Duveen, was trumped by his client who bought the painting directly with no middle man! We then went on to the International Spy Museum. A bit of a tourist trap, but really cool. This was the only museum that was crowded.
After DC we headed south through the Carolinas and visited the metalsmith Chris Banish in Alpharetta, Georgia. Then Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and on into Texas. In Tyler, TX we visited my mom’s 94 year old aunt, my great aunt (Alyson’s great, great aunt). Then down to Bastrop, TX (east of Austin) and visited my wife’s sister Sharon. We spent the weekend there, hanging out the first day at her nail salon. My wife and Alyson both got their nails and toes done. They talked me into getting a pedicure. I’m not telling what color I got. You’ll have to ask me in person…
The next day we drove down to San Antonio and visited The Alamo. Another one of the few places that we visited that I had never been. River Walk in downtown San Antonio was really cool (fourth photo). The San Antonio River runs right through downtown and snakes through a sunken path lined with restaurants, hotels and shops that you can walk along. Even on the hottest days, this path is almost always shaded because of the tall buildings around it. A great juxtaposition of nature and city together.
That Monday we headed north to Dallas and had dinner with a client. Alyson got to play with his daughter that is only a little younger than her. They both had a great time, especially Alyson as she hadn’t played with any friends in weeks. Once dinner was over, the client and I excused ourselves from the others and Gus’ traveling road show began. I always travel with great Arts & Crafts pieces for sale, even on a vacation.
Then we headed West through Lubbock into New Mexico. In Arizona, we stopped at Meteor Crater. Alyson explained to both myself and Hoa that this was an impact crater and I said “Oh, just like Crater Lake in Oregon.” “No, Dad, that was created by a volcano.” This is the beginning of our children knowing more than us…
At the very end of Arizona, we decided to take a detour and go from Kingman, Arizona to Needles via the old Route 66 that winds through the desert mountains of old gold mining country and on the other side we were in Oatman, AZ. An old mining town, they have a family of donkeys that just roam the streets and the old wooden sidewalks and salons. It was 103 degrees and only getting hotter as we approached Needles, CA. Welcome to California, it’s 111 degrees!
After trekking through the Mojave Desert and passing from Barstow to Bakersfield, we headed up Interstate 5 into the Bay Area. We crested the Altamont Pass and into the Livermore Valley. Finally, the Bay Area, and home in the city of Alameda. 47 days later, 33 states and 10,180 miles. Is anyone else crazy enough to do what we did?
Many thanks to Gus for sharing such a wonderful journey with us all! For more information on Gus and California Historical Design, please visit www.acstickley.com.