“Give me two good reasons…..”

Many, many years ago, when I was an antiques dealer, we had a saying: the best thing that can happen to an antiques shop is to have one open next door.

The logic was simple — give people two reasons to come and they are twice as likely to make an effort.

This past weekend was the Gala Homecoming celebrating the 100th anniversary of the building of Craftsman Farms, Gustav Stickley’s spacious, two-story log home (trust me, it’s not a log cabin) on what had originally been a 650-acre working farm.

The activities planned for this special weekend gave hundreds of people more than just two reasons to make an effort to travel to New Jersey — and no one left disappointed. The beautiful fall weather made just walking the grounds around the log house, the stream and pond and the guest cottages a delightful journey. And the three grazing deer knew precisely when to make their appearance across the meadow….

But unlike many special events that leave nothing in their wake except fond memories, there are still two very good reasons for anyone who was not able to make it to the Gala Homecoming to travel to central New Jersey.

From now until January 2nd, the Newark Museum, which is only twenty minutes from Craftsman Farms, will be hosting the long-awaited exhibit “Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement.” Curator Kevin Tucker and his staff have literally labored for years on this exhibit and the accompanying catalog, and, like the weekend itself, no one left disappointed. I toured it twice in the three days I was in New Jersey and each time I walked away knowing something I had not known earlier.

I stood beside people who barely recognized Stickley’s name and beside people who had been collecting it all their adult lives and everyone came away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for all that Gustav Stickley had set out to accomplish.

So, the purpose of today’s column is not to make anyone regret not being able to attend the Gala Homecoming, but to point out that you have two very compelling reasons to make a journey to New Jersey during the next three months.

Craftsman Farms will still be open, giving you the opportunity to walk through a 1910 Arts & Crafts house furnished today very much like it looked when Gustav Stickley and his family lived there from 1910-1916. While it is technically the Stickley Museum, it feels more like a home, a very special Arts & Crafts home.

And down the road, just a short drive away, the Newark Museum takes an entirely different approach than the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. Here Kevin Tucker and his staff have assembled the largest and finest exhibit I have ever seen of Gustav Stickley furniture. Not only are many of Stickley’s famous masterworks on display, but you can also see many experimental designs that, for most of us, have always been just photographs or drawings in reference books.

Two special exhibits only twenty minutes apart.

Two great opportunities.

Until next Monday,

Bruce Johnson

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