by Kate Nixon
The 37th National Arts and Crafts Conference & Shows
February 16th – 18th, 2024
The Omni Grove Park Inn ~ Asheville, North Carolina
Come mid-February, Arts and Crafts Collectors will journey across the country to a top hotel steeped in the naturalistic style to both explore the historic Arts and Crafts movement and purchase from top dealers and contemporary artisans. While the shows offer the chance for collectors and enthusiasts to visit with favorite annual exhibitors and purchase Antiques and Contemporary Arts and Crafts works, the conference side of the weekend event offers a number of educational seminars exploring the works and figures associated with the movement. Scholarly debuts and unforgettable presentations are made at the yearly February conference and in 2024, seven presentations will be given on both the infamous and the unseen.
Friday, February 16th
The opening night at the conference, Friday, February 16th, will see stories connecting to two well known figures to the Arts and Crafts community. After the director’s opening remarks, ceramics expert and Antiques Roadshow appraiser David Rago will present on the history of George Ohr, the Mad Potter of Biloxi, MS. According to Rago, Ohr holds a spot right beside Frank Lloyd Wright as a top influence that came from the early 20th century on design for today. The last chapter of Ohr’s story, the story of where Ohr’s inventory of ceramic works ended up, and an explanation of Ohr’s ongoing influence comes to the Grove Park Inn in a presentation with as many twists and turns as Ohr’s vases. After a brief intermission, author Ray Stubblebine will reveal the stories of how a number of Gustav Stickley’s iconic Craftsman Homes were built and who built them. It will be a presentation filled with gorgeous photography of Arts and Crafts homes and interiors as well as the research on the architects and employees working for Stickley — sure to fascinate Stickley enthusiasts and architects alike!
Saturday, February 17th
The seminars continue Saturday morning after a continental breakfast provided by the Grove Park Inn. First up, Dr. Richard Mohr will tell the story of Frank Ingerson and George Dennison (The Boys) who establish a school dedicated to the life style, methods, and aesthetic of the American Arts & Crafts Movement in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California. The history of Ingerson and Dennison is shown through their dedication to the movement through the adoption of its lifestyle, their later careers as interior designers to the stars of Hollywood and the rich and famous (Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine, the Rockefellers, etc) and their own love story in “Partners In Beauty: The Boys, the Art and the Joy of Cathedral Oaks.” Next up, the Arts and
Crafts furniture from one of the country’s most important collections will be shown. Andrea Morgan, the director of collections from the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement in St. Petersburg, Florida, will show the furniture of the Two Red Roses Foundation collection; it will be a comprehensive presentation debuting a month after the special exhibit Masterpieces: Extraordinary works from the Two Red Roses Foundation showing highlights and examples of the permanent collection.
Attendees – and members of the general public – will be treated to a special presentation before the 8:00 PM Saturday evening movie, Tom Killion’s Journey to Hokusai. Patti Bourgeois of PatsPots and Japanese Woodblock Print Gallery will present “Hokusai’s Oeuvre” in which she will discuss Hokusai’s manga, the sketches made as a young artist that developed his talents and consumed his early life.
Tom Killion’s Journey to Hokusai, the feature-length documentary, follows the creative journey of woodblock print artist Tom Killion, a California landscape printer following the steps of Japanese artist Hokusai in making his landscape art inspired by the Golden State. After using a printing press, Tom travels to Kyoto, Japan to learn the traditional method of printing by hand with watercolor ink by Kenji Takenaka, a fifth-generation master printer. Tom discovers the history of printmaking and follows in the footprints of a master to where he spent his final days, connecting the two artists in two different eras. Admission is free for all, provided by the non-profit Arts & Crafts Research Fund.
Sunday, February 18th
On the last day of the conference, exciting new research will be shared about one of the country’s most well known vases: the famous Scarab vase carved by Adelaide Alsop Robineau. Who would have known that a 1901 visit by porcelain painter Adelaide Robineau to her friend Charles Volkmar’s pottery studio would change the course of 20th century ceramics? Garth Johnson, the Everson Museum of Art’s Paul Phillips and Sharon Sullivan Curator of Ceramics, will share the earth-shattering effects that Robineau’s publishing and pottery would have on the field of ceramics. Her powerful influence empowered her many students and friends to new heights, chiefly inspiring Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts (later the Everson Museum of Art) director Anna Wetherill Olmsted to found the Ceramic National exhibitions in 1932. Johnson will share new insights into Robineau’s achievements, personality, and motivations — and the results of a recent high-resolution scan of Robineau’s famed Scarab Vase that sheds new light on the vase’s construction in “The Butterfly Effect: Adelaide Alsop Robineau’s Empowering Effects on the World of Ceramics and Beyond.”
Lastly, a project years in the making was published in 2023 and the beloved author/our conference founder returns to the heritage ballroom. Bruce Johnson, the National Arts and Crafts Conference Founder and Advisor, will return to close the conference with “Homespun Heroines: Eleanor Vance, Charlotte Yale, and the Biltmore Industries Legacy.” Johnson will tell the story of Eleanor Vance and Charlotte Yale, the two young women hired by Edith Vanderbilt to produce handcrafted textiles and wooden items and to teach the young of Asheville how to handcraft. Author Bruce Johnson has recently published his book on Biltmore Industries and Tryon Toymakers, which you will be able to buy at the shows.
Access to all seminars can be purchased with a Conference Events Pass or reserving an Arts and Crafts Weekend Package with the Grove Park Inn for those enthusiasts who want to stay at the Grove Park Inn.
Please click here to visit Arts-CraftsConference.com for more information about registering for the conference.