This year’s virtual 34th National Arts and Crafts Conference is a far cry from what our conference and show looked like in 1988, or what any conference or show looked like three decades ago. Long after vaccines, face masks, and stringent sanitary measures will have enabled us to move past this deadly rampage, life will not simply return to how it had been back then. Just as forecasters predict that a percentage of business air travel will forever be erased by a continued reliance on Zoom, some aspects of a virtual Arts and Crafts Conference may also remain in our lives, shaping our future plans.
And come March 1st, we are sure to have a better idea of what works in a virtual setting, as well as what does not.
Our decision to host a virtual Arts and Crafts Conference rather than to simply sit back and do nothing was motivated by the same feelings I had thirty-four years ago, when I walked for the first time into the towering Great Hall in the 1913 Grove Park Inn and said to myself, “This is what we need.”
In those early days of the Arts and Crafts revival, our only Arts and Crafts social and educational events were occasional auction house previews and museum exhibition openings. We always left lamenting the fact that we had no extended opportunity to get to know our fellow Arts and Crafts enthusiasts better and to form lasting friendships which would bridge the months and miles between our times together.
Our annual Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference and the annual American Art Pottery Association Convention demonstrated that we would take the time to travel to where other enthusiasts were gathering. I like to think we and the AAPA have inspired and encouraged historic sites and non-profit organizations, from the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms and the Gustav Stickley House Foundation in Syracuse to the Twin Cities Show in St. Paul and bungalow clubs across the country, to give people the opportunity to meet, to share, and to learn even more about the Arts and Crafts movement we embrace.
I hope that you, too, will not simply take a year off from the Arts and Crafts revival which has enriched our homes and our lives. Once lost, momentum is difficult to revive. While it will not have the intensity of three days inside the Grove Park Inn, our month-long virtual Arts and Crafts Conference is designed to give you even greater educational opportunities.
Instead of selecting just three Small Group Discussions, you can attend all twenty, plus three book club discussions. Instead of attending six seminars in the Heritage Ballroom, you can watch nearly thirty — all on your schedule from the comfort of your Morris chair while snacking on your popcorn. Enjoy demonstrations? We will offer you virtual trips inside studios and workshops you would never be able to access on your own.
Curious to get a sneak peek inside the new five-story Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement soon to open in St. Petersburg? We’ll have it right here for you, along with tours of historic Arts and Crafts sites across the country.
As for our famed National Arts and Crafts Shows, you will be able to shop them as well, also from the comfort of your home, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day – with no standing in line. How that will work I will explain right here in today’s Collector’s Guide.
So, I hope you will click on the link below that will take you to our new website and an evolving list of daily seminars, discussions, demonstrations, and tours which will all be starting on Monday, February 1st and running for an entire month.
Together we grow stronger.
Until next week,
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Arts and Crafts poet, essayist, and reformer