Conference Closeup: The Craftsman Reception (With a Special Guest!)


In this week’s Conference Closeup, we take a look at an annual event hosted by the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, taking place the Thursday evening before the beginning of the National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows. The yearly pre-Conference celebration will continue at the Grove Park Inn’s Skyline room and something new will be included for 2020’s reception that is sure to please the movie and documentary fan in your life. The life and work of Gustav Stickley will be celebrated this year with a special discussion from a filmmaker whose anticipated new documentary will be shown at the conference. Executive Director Vonda Givens tells us what to expect at the Craftsman Reception… Take it away, Vonda!


From the Desk of Executive Director Vonda Givens

With the National Arts and Crafts Conference less than two months away, I’m writing to invite you to begin your conference at the Craftsman Reception hosted by the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. The museum has hosted a party to kick off the conference for many years—so many years that we’re not sure when the tradition started. I’m biased, of course, but I speak from experience—this is conference #13 for me!—when I say that it’s a great way to launch your long weekend: Arrive a day early, settle into the hotel, and amble over to the Skyline Room for a little bite, a local beer and a big welcome from old and new friends (and support the museum while you do all of this!). Think of it as a friendly, relaxed first course before the hearty Arts-and-Crafts feast to come. This year we’re injecting a little movie magic into the proceedings. Read on to learn more. I’m looking forward to seeing you there.


The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms’ Craftsman Reception will kick off the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference on Thursday, February 20 from (new time!) 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Skyline Room of the Grove Park Inn. Attendees will enjoy light refreshments, including wine and local craft beer, at this pre-dinner event.

The Reception will include a special program featuring the documentary Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman, which will have a special screening at the conference on Saturday evening. Herb Stratford, the movie’s director, will take attendees “Inside the Documentary” in a conversation with Vonda Givens about the movie’s beginnings, its making, including exclusive footage from the crew’s two shoots at Craftsman Farms, his career and his longtime interest in Arts and Crafts.


An interview with Pete Mars, during the filming of the documentary in the Log House at Craftsman Farms.


Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman, the feature-length documentary that covers the life and works of Gustav Stickley, will be told through interviews, archival photos, and some of the best and most iconic works of furniture created by Stickley and his companies. The film traces Stickley’s rise, the creation of diverse businesses including The Craftsman Magazine, Craftsman Farms and his Manhattan store, along with his eventual loss of business and the rebirth and recognition of the movement he inspired. The film features key locations in his lifetime, such as the Syracuse Columbus Avenue house, where he lived and created the first Arts and Crafts interior, the pump house at Skaneateles Lake which he restored as a summer family camp, and of course the Log House at Craftsman Farms, as seen above.

Proceeds from the Reception will benefit the work of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, which this year includes the launch of the Stickley Museum Library, on the upper floor of its new Education Center (opening in 2020). The Stickley Museum library will feature the museum’s book collection, numbering roughly 2400 volumes, amassed throughout its 30-year existence and including rare books and catalogs, Craftsman magazines and a wide array of reference books. With a catalog that will be searchable online, the library and its reading room, which will be open to visitors by appointment, will make the museum’s collection much more accessible to the public. The Reception will support this effort and all of the museum’s efforts to ensure that the Arts and Crafts movement will continue to be studied and introduced to new generations.


The Stickley Museum Library and reading room will be installed on the upper floor of the new Education Center. Reception proceeds support this effort and all of the work of the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms.


Tickets are $125 ($35 is tax deductible).


Purchase your tickets at or by calling the museum’s administrative office at 973-540-0311.