Cherishing Our Arts and Crafts Friends
I’m posting this week’s column on Sunday night at Gate 37 in the Newark International Airport, bracing myself for one of the shortest turnovers I have ever scheduled. Leigh Ann and I will (hopefully) arrive back in Asheville at 11:45pm tonight, and while she is calming down the dogs, Daisy and Jasper, I’ll be repacking for a 5:00am alarm in order to catch a 7:10am flight to San Diego.
What made the quick turnaround worth the inconvenience was the opportunity to spend the weekend with our Arts and Crafts friends at the annual gala in support of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. On Saturday morning we all gathered in the education center at Craftsman Farms to listen to six young scholars — all of college age — present their meticulous and well-organized research into various aspects of the Arts and Crafts movement. Any nervousness they felt standing in front of a somewhat aging group of Arts and Crafts veterans, many of whom had been instrumental in stopping the bulldozers from demolishing Craftsman Farms 25 years ago, was quickly overcome by their enthusiasm for their subjects.
After lingering over lunch at a nearby restaurant, sharing stories and catching up on various projects and discoveries, we all retreated to our hotel rooms and homes to change into our formal wear for the evening banquet at the Mountain Lakes clubhouse. The ballroom was filled to capacity and, as a trio played soft jazz in one corner, we continued to renew our friendships as we bid on items in the silent auction before sitting down to dinner.
Partway through our meal we paused to pay tribute to Davey and Nancy Willans, both former presidents of the Craftsman Farms’ board and long-time supporters and activists who have played vital roles in the resurrection of Gustav Stickley’s dream. They were the recipients of the Als Ik Kan Award, the highest honor given by the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in recognition of the efforts individuals have made not only to benefit Craftsman Farms, but the entire Arts and Crafts revival.
After dinner we enjoyed “battling” each other in a spirited bidding competition for everything from a weekend at the Roycroft Inn, golf outings, wine tastings, and a gourmet dinner in an Arts and Crafts home, to a Stickley magazine stand, a piece of decorated Marblehead pottery, and a weekend at the Grove Park Inn for the 28th National Arts and Crafts Conference in February.
And even that did not satisfy our desire for time with our fellow Arts and Crafts collectors, as we gravitated back to Craftsman Farms on Sunday afternoon to walk the grounds, explore the buildings, and watch for the bear cub who has decided this New Jersey oasis is a fine place to share with the deer.
As I sit here in the airport I think about how so many of us collect in something of a vacuum, out of face-to-face contact with other Arts and Crafts collectors; and how even though we don’t all collect the same objects, we seem to automatically have so much in common that the conversations never slow, never run dry, never end in awkward silence, and always are punctuated with laughter.
And we need these times together, almost as a reaffirmation of the importance to each of us of the Arts and Crafts philosophy, from the respect we gain for hand-craftsmanship to the goal of the Simple Life, and how much it shapes and guides us each day.
Until next Monday,
Meet an Arts and Crafts friend for lunch!
Top: Craftsman Farms today.
Middle: Catherine Mathis and Bob Burchell chatting with Barbara Weiskittel (board president) and Vonda Givens (executive director) between sessions.
If you have not received one, you can read and print out the brochure for the February 20-22 28th National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn right here: