The DIY visual is not simply a product of indie craft programs. Asheville locals, always in close proximity to mountain handicrafts, were primed for the Arts and Crafts movement more than a century back. That trend toward quality and workmanship came about in response to the industrialization that gripped the end of the Victorian era. “Stress and anxieties about industrial life sustained a favorable revaluation of handcraftsmanship and precapitalist forms of culture and society,” says an essay on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website.
The Arts and Crafts style of handcrafted furnishings, pottery, metalware and more arrangeded with the American Craftsman cottage homes developedintegrateded West Asheville, Kenilworth and Montford areas. These single-story, modest houses– unlike the Victorian estates formerly in fashion– didn’t require servants for maintenance and upkeep.
Cottages have held a special place in the hearts of homeowners ever sincesince, and Asheville’s Craftsman-style houses are preferred today more than ever. “The popularity of the cottage home, nationally and in your area, implies a big rebirth in [the Arts and Crafts motion],” says Bruce Johnson, creator and director of the National Arts amp; Crafts Conference and Antiques Show at the Omni Grove Park Inn. The yearly event runs from Friday-Sunday, Feb. 20-22.
“People in those strong bungalow communities are looking for d cor to match their houses,” states Johnson. The Arts amp; Crafts Conference’s buddy shows (comprising the Antiques Show, “the country’s largest and most vital of the year,” according to the event’s website; and the Contemporary Craftsfirms Show with “interpretations and precise replicas of Arts amp; Crafts antiques”) offer homeowners the opportunity to shopbuy duration accessories. This isn’t really just furniture. You can outfit your entire house with what is represented at the program, says Johnson.
A historian and author, Johnson established the conference in 1987 while working on a story about the Grove Park Inn for Nation Living. I believed, ‘‘ We have to do an Arts and Crafts conference here.’ [Asheville] was an Arts and Crafts gem that nobody knewfound out about.”
The inn itself, developedintegrateded 1913, still has many of the original Arts and Crafts dressers, desks and rocking chairs in its spaces. The Roycroft stamp, marking the sought after works by a prominent reformist craft neighborhood, can be discovered throughout the inn (most significantly on the grandfather clock in the Great Hall).
Arts and Crafts movement products were often made in little, family-owned factories. George and Edith Vanderbilt funded one such workshop, the Biltmore Estate Industries, in 1905. It produced bookends, picture frames, furniture and hand-carved bowls in Biltmore Village before being offered to Grove Park Inn designer and manager Fred Seeley in 1917 and moved to the inn’s home. Today, that developing homes the Grovewood Gallery.
Despite those regional ties, Johnson says that early conferences hosted more visitors from California than from North Carolina. Participation has grown from 300 the first year to more than 2,000 anticipated at this year’s show (consisting of about 25 participants who have never ever missed a conference).
“It really took off here in the last Twenty Years. It started as more of a nationwide destination, but Asheville is now the Arts and Crafts capital of the South,” Johnson says. “We bring into play regional organizations and local professionals, so we’re supporting locals.” Location artists on this year’s roster include jeweler Amy Brandenburg, furnishings maker Rob Kleber and fabric artist Sherree Sorrells, amongstto name a few. The Asheville Art Museum holds a fundraising reception on Saturday night, and the Asheville-Buncombe County Conservation Society hosts architectural bus tours leaving from the Grove Park Inn. The conference likewise boasts seminars, group conversations, workshops, booksellers, magazine publishers and nonprofit companies.
At the programs, “Prices vary from $100 to $100,000,” states Johnson. One past showcase included a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed chair, and there are exceptional examples of Stickley furnishings, another popular Arts and Crafts brand name. However, “even if you’re not in the market for one of these rarities, you can still go see them.”
WHAT: The National Arts amp; Crafts Conference, Arts-CraftsConference. com
WHERE: Omni Grove Park Inn
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, Feb. 20-22. $10 for adults/$5 for students. Tickets are greatbenefit all three days. Free outdoor parking, indoor parking is totally free for the first three hours