A New Conference Addition

Anytime the subject of the approaching 30th anniversary National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn comes up, people invariably ask, “Are you pulling out all the stops this year?”

To which I reply, “I pull out all the stops every year.”

(All of which must be a reference to the stops on an organ, correct? Pulling them all out would mean every pipe is playing as loudly as possible.)

When I hosted the first Arts and Crafts Conference back in 1988, I had no idea there would be enough interest to justify a second one. After the second one, I had no idea if there would be enough interest to justify a third, and so it has gone on and on and on, for each year we erase the slate (another obscure idiom) and start over at zero.

And so, if I have an idea, I don’t hold it back for some future anniversary. I use it. Now.

Which is why I look forward to suggestions from those of you who have attended previous Arts and Crafts Conferences, such as the idea which exhibitor, designer and interior decorator Karen Hovde presented to me a few months ago of having an Asheville plein air painters group demonstrate their artistry at the February 17-19 Arts and Crafts Conference.

Plein air in February?

Yes, that was my first concern as well, but for every Plan A there can also be a Plan B.

And so I discussed the idea with the leader of the group (artists don’t always feel the need to elect presidents) and we decided it was at least worth a trial run. We set a date and a few weeks ago I met a wonderful group of artists in front of the Grove Park Inn on a beautiful Tuesday morning.

And they were a delight!

Just as the sun cleared the eastern ridgeline of Sunset Mountain around ten that morning and began illuminating the timeless boulders that since 1913 have been the walls of the Grove Park Inn, I stood at the front of the hotel and gazed out over the lawn, where a dozen or so artists were busy capturing their own interpretation of the historic six-story hotel. Some started with a sketch, others went to work with oils or water colors. Some opted to display the entire facade on their canvas, while others selected a specific detail to illuminate.

It was fascinating to watch, especially since they were so unabashed about letting me (along with several curious GPI guests) peer over their shoulders as they worked.

I finally had to leave at noon, but not before learning that they are all excited about returning each afternoon during the Arts and Crafts Conference to demonstrate their artistry and craft for us. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate, as it has for so many of our February conferences.

If not, well, I have until then to map out my Plan B.

Until next Monday,

Tell someone what a good job they are doing today.