Exploring “The American Arts and Crafts Chair”

by Kate Nixon


The craftsmanship of the Arts & Crafts Chair will be the subject of a new exhibition coming to Parsippany-Troy Hills, New Jersey.

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms’ upcoming exhibition “The American Arts & Crafts Chair: A Message of Honesty and Joy” will open on Saturday, June 1, 2019 and run through Sunday, January 5, 2020. Guest curated by David Cathers, the exhibition will be installed in the Log House dining room. It will examine the American Arts and Crafts chair through thirteen featured side chairs, from early-20th-century handicraft-oriented manufacturers, among them Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops, the L. & J.G. Stickley Company and the Charles P. Limbert Company, and small craft-oriented workshops, including Charles Rohlfs, the Roycroft Shops, Byrdcliffe Arts Colony and Rose Valley Association.

The opening reception will take place Saturday, June 1st at 5:00 PM. Interested attendees can call 973-540-0311 to RSVP.


Gustav Stickley, Craftsman Workshops, c. 1904, Collection of Crab Tree Farm. Photo credit: Jonathan Clancy

The museum’s educational mission has been a key part of the exhibition’s development. As Executive Director Vonda Givens notes, “While many of museum’s supporters are steeped in Arts and Crafts knowledge, a significant portion of our audience is new to Arts and Crafts and craving deeper understanding. For the longtime Arts and Crafts fan, we hope this exhibition will feel like communing with old friends. For novices, we hope it will spark inspiration and provide foundational information on which to build.”

Along with featuring the vision and variety of chair makers who were contemporaries of Stickley, the exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive Visitor’s Guide presented by Toomey & Co. Auctioneers. The Guide, which begins with an essay by David Cathers, offers brief commentaries on each chair by distinguished writers including Kevin W. Tucker, Jill Thomas-Clark, Adrienne Spinozzi, Michael McCracken and Jonathan Clancy.  “We are very grateful for the underwriting support of Toomey & Co.,” says Givens and notes, “With their help, this high-quality and educational memento of the exhibition will be available to all visitors and included with admissions fees.”

Guests can expect to get an up-close look at the beauty of a well-crafted chair  – a point guest curator David Cathers was sure to emphasize right from the very beginning. “I wrote the proposal for the exhibition, and in my proposal I said that first and foremost I want the exhibition to be ‘a visual delight,’” says Cathers. “That has been one of the most important aims all along, and I think we’ve achieved it.” The exhibition will explore the practicality and appealing designs of these vital products and illustrates how these chairs brought a message of honesty and joy to their makers and owners. For more on David Cathers, please see this week’s Little Journeys.

The exhibition may be viewed on all regular tours of the Log House, which run hourly from 12 to 4 p.m., Thursday to Sunday each week. For the first time—on weekends only—it will be available for “drop-in” self-guided tours from 12 to 3:30 p.m. As always, all tours are free to Members. The Non Member fee for the full tour is $10 and $7 for a self-guided tour of the exhibition.

A Visitor’s Guide for the exhibit will be free with admissions for onsite visitors. For people who aren’t able to visit, the Visitor’s Guide will be offered online for a small fee to cover shipping and handling. The online guide will be available in early June. Attendees can call ahead of time to request the guide at 973-540-0311.



The American Arts & Crafts Chair:
A Message of Honesty & Joy

June 1, 2019 — January 5, 2020

The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms

Opening Reception
Saturday, June 1, 5:00 p.m.
Please RSVP to 973.540.0311


The exhibition will take place in the Log House dining room.


About the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms:

Our mission at the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms is to preserve, interpret, and make relevant the legacy and ideals of Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts movement by providing creative programming and authentic experiences that educate, engage and inspire diverse audiences.