Wednesday Morning: Arts and Crafts Week

The two women in my life – my wife Leigh Ann and my office assistant and website manager Alex – know that often the first words they hear from me each morning are, “I have an idea.”

Most of my ideas occur to me in the early morning hours, as I sit here in my office above my garage, sipping the first of several cups of coffee while my two cats crunch breakfast and wait for the sun to rise before we return to the house.

Half of my great ideas drop to the floor with a thud halfway across the room between my desk and Alex’s, as she rolls her eyes and patiently explains to me why they won’t work. Sometimes I have to agree; other times I just blunder ahead. Some work. Others don’t.

Last summer, after a trip to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, Illinois, I had an idea. In conjunction with the 25th anniversary Arts & Crafts Conference, we would organize an Arts & Crafts Heritage Week in Asheville. To make a long story short, something I am not particularly adept at doing, I received an official proclamation from Mayor Bellamy and enlisted the help of key individuals and organizations in organizing a series of events this week.

Last evening the Asheville-Buncombe County Preservation Society, which will be offering guided house tours this weekend during the Arts & Crafts Conference, hosted a panel discussion at the 1914 Masonic Temple designed by architect Richard Sharp Smith. The topic was “Challenges – and Solutions – In Restoring an Older House” and the panel consisted of a contractor, an architect and a historical preservation consultant.

And, like my talk on Monday night, I had no answer to the question everyone seemed to be asking: “How many people do you expect?”

And, again, they came through.

The historic, third-floor auditorium was packed with a diverse crowd of people who shared several things in common: a passion for older, often historic houses, an interest in the Arts & Crafts movement, and the desire to learn more about both.

Had we been able to, I think they would have stayed all evening, but the conversations and discussions continued as everyone made their way back down the stairs and out onto the street. My role in the evening was very minor, as I simply made a few opening remarks to the crowd, then sat back and watched as the energy sparked across the room.

My role in this weekend’s 25th anniversary Arts & Crafts Conference is about to take a similar turn. My to-do list for today is the shortest it has been for months: get the pipe-and-drape crew started assembling the booths for the show, then put out the signs for the Small Group Discussions, walking tours, demonstrations, exhibitors and workshops. Tomorrow the exhibitors start unpacking, and I step back and try to stay out of their way.

And like our modest Arts & Crafts Heritage Week here in Asheville, it all started twenty-five years ago with four simple, yet powerful words.

“I have an idea.”

Try it — and watch the energy spark.

Until tomorrow morning,

Thanks for stopping by.