A Preview of the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference at the Omni Grove Park Inn
by Kate Nixon
08/07/19 – this article has been updated to reflect the new order of the 2020 seminar speakers.
It was the style that changed America forever – and it’s returning to Asheville, North Carolina in February of 202o.
Each February for the past 32 years, Arts and Crafts collectors and bungalow owners from across America have journeyed to the historic 1913 Grove Park Inn overlooking Asheville, North Carolina. In 2020, the National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows makes its annual return to the Omni Grove Park Inn on Friday, February 21st, 2020 and runs for three days. The National Arts & Craft Conference and Shows will again feature Arts and Crafts antiques and contemporary items, educational seminars, hands-on workshops, historic house tours, and artisan demonstrations celebrating America’s only truly original style. Collectors and enthusiasts alike can expect to discover quality vintage Arts and Crafts antiques, as well as handcrafted contemporary items in the Arts & Crafts style, including new and antique jewelry, rugs, furniture, pottery, tiles, artwork, furniture, and metalware, showcasing the hand-craftsmanship and simple yet elegant designs, which are the hallmarks of the Arts and Crafts movement and philosophy.
The Exhibitor Shows
Admission to the shows not only gives you the chance to interact with exhibitors from all across the country, you can get an up-close look at an experienced tile maker and furniture specialist in our demonstrations. Local tilemaker Peg Morar will be on hand to demonstrate “the marking of an arts and crafts tile” while longtime conference demonstrator David Van Epps makes his return to show his expertise in arts and crafts furniture. For demonstration times, please see our upcoming catalog included in our bags given to conference events pass holders or on sale to the public for $10.00.
The shows will be held on Friday, February 21st from 1:00pm until 6:00pm; on Saturday, February 22nd from noon until 6:00pm; and on Sunday, February 23rd from 11:00am until 4:00pm. Adult admission for all three days is $10; student admission is $5; there is no charge for children under the age of 14. Outdoor parking at the Grove Park Inn will be free, as will be the first three hours of indoor garage parking.
The topics of the seminars chosen for 2020 run the range of exciting and intriguing content for everyone. On Friday evening, February 21st, historical portrayal actor Annette Baldwin will present her rendition in character and period dress of Jane Addams, the social justice icon and co-founder of Chicago’s Hull House. Baldwin’s performance will illuminate and bring to life the humanitarian and peace advocate’s warmth and strength of character, while depicting Addams’ journey to find meaning in her own life while striving to effect social change during the Arts and Crafts era.
On Saturday, the seminars continue as the life and times of George Ohr returns to the conference in a talk given by art history professor Ellen Lippert. An experienced presenter on Ohr, Lippert will reveal a comprehensive study of the Mad Potter of Biloxi covering his personal life, his professional works, and his under-appreciated tokens and oddities. Afterwards, stick around as historian Robert Rust presents the importance of Bert Hubbard – and how Bert saved the Roycroft Campus during the 1920s-30s.
On Saturday evening, the highly-anticipated premiere of “Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman” – the first feature film examining the life and work of Arts and Crafts movement pioneer Gustav Stickley – will be shown in the heritage ballroom. Work on the project began in 2015 and has included filming in five different states, and in over nine cities and numerous locations, including such iconic locales as Craftsman Farms and his Columbus Avenue home in Syracuse. The team behind the film has also interviewed numerous individuals related to the Stickley story including family members, historians, and collectors, as well as filming objects from the history of the Stickley legacy. Come enjoy the premiere with Stickley collectors and enthusiasts alike.
On Sunday, the day will kick off with a talk on Trench Arts & Crafts – historian and curator Ryan Berley will present on the little-known subject of handcrafted items made by soldiers in the wartime trenches and how VA hospitals and sanitariums trained wounded and gassed soldiers to make items in the Arts & Crafts style – not unlike local silversmith William Waldo Dodge, who was first trained in silversmithing at the Asheville VA hospital. The positive and therapeutic effects of crafting during the turbulence of wartime will be covered in Berley’s talk. Photographer Douglas Keister will also bring the storybook style of the Craftsman to Hollywood as he shows gorgeous photography of Bungalows in the Golden State. The brilliance of Gustav Stickley and his bungalows – symbols of the Arts & Crafts Movement – are put on display in a fun and visual journey as Keister takes us through the development of the iconic Bungalow style.
The Pre-Conference Workshops
If you’d like to participate in the head, heart, and hand process of making an arts and crafts item, you can sign up for a pre-conference workshop. Our workshops are a popular opportunity to provide students with the chance to learn from a Roycroft Master Artisan — and making their annual return to instruct these workshops are Master Artisans Laura Wilder, Frank Glapa, Natalie Richards, and Ron VanOstrand. Laura Wilder will return with “Arts & Crafts Printmaking” – Laura will demonstrate basic printmaking steps, and as you work, she will tell stories of triumph and tragedy, using some of her own prints to illustrate. Frank Glapa leads “Coppersmithing: Arts & Crafts Style with Frank Glapa” designed to get students started on the basics of copper repousse techniques, hammering and shaping your copper “tile” into an incredible piece of Arts & Crafts metalwork. The basics of embroidery will be covered in Natalie Richards’s workshop “Arts & Crafts Embroidery,” geared towards not only individuals new to embroidery, but attendees that have taken previous embroidery workshops. The class will focus on perfecting prominent stitches present in historic Arts & Crafts textiles. Lastly, Ron Van Ostrand will present “Small Art Metal Project” – a light workshop designed to introduce students to some of the tools and techniques used in the production of art metal objects and jewelry. Chasing, repoussé, stamping, sawing and hammering techniques will be used by students to craft keychains, pendant drops, or other small objects or jewelry.
The workshops on Coppersmithing, Printmaking, and Embroidery are all two half-day workshops in the Sammons Wing of the Grove Park Inn and cost $200.00 per person to sign up. The Small Art Metal Project Workshop with Ron Van Ostrand will take place 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM on Friday, February 21st and the cost is $100.00 per person to sign up. The workshops are not included in the cost of a conference events pass or an Arts and Crafts Weekend Package with the Grove Park Inn. The pre-conference workshops are a separate sign up process with separate costs. Please call the office starting August 5th to sign up for the workshops at the office of the National Arts and Crafts Conference at (828) 628-1915.
How to Register
Registering for the conference is a simple process. If you’d like to attend the seminars, small group discussion groups, book club discussions, Grove Park Inn and Biltmore Industries tours, take advantage of the Grove Park Inn continental breakfasts, and more, interested attendees will need a Conference Events Pass. If you plan to stay at the Grove Park Inn, you can obtain Conference Events Passes by reserving a one-person or two-person Arts and Crafts Weekend Package – room and board are included in the package. If you are not staying at the Grove Park Inn, you can purchase a Conference Events Pass either online by visiting our registration page, calling the office and paying for passes with an over-the-phone credit card payment, or you can send a check to our address:
25 Upper Brush Creek Road
Fletcher, NC 28732
If you are only interested in shopping the exhibitor shows, general admission is $10.00, which you can pay at the door.
“In just three days,” explained conference director Bruce Johnson, who has written several books on the Arts and Crafts era, “you will see more, do more, and learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement than you could anywhere else in an entire year.” Come see what collectors are talking about at the Grove Park Inn during the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference, February 21st – 23rd. To check on updates for the conference or to start the registration process, please visit our website http://www.arts-craftsconference.com.