Craft Arts Visual Arts

National Arts and Crafts Conference

Photo by Ray Stubblebine

It was the style that shaped Asheville. While tourists snap photographs of Douglas Ellington’s Art Deco downtown masterworks—including Asheville City Hall, First Baptist Church of Asheville and the S&W Cafeteria building— tucked away in neighborhoods such as Norwood Park, West Asheville, Kenilworth, Grove Park, Albemarle Park and Montford is evidence of a more far-reaching influence: the Arts and Crafts movement.

Symbolized by modest, cost-efficient bungalows, the Arts and Crafts movement swept into Asheville at the turn of the century, along with an emphasis on handcrafted furniture, hand-thrown art pottery and hand-hammered metalware and lighting fixtures.

After later being pushed aside by the Mid-century Modernism craze, the Arts and Crafts revival began in earnest in 1988, with the first National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows held at the 1913 Omni Grove Park Inn, itself an Arts and Crafts masterpiece.

“That first year,” recalled conference founder and director Bruce Johnson, “we nearly had more people from California than the Carolinas, but as local people began to look around and recognize the Arts and Crafts influence in their homes and neighborhoods, this has become an Asheville event as much as a national conference.”

The 31st National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows returns to the historic Omni Grove Park Inn on Friday, February 16, through Sunday, February 18, where attendees will have a once-a-year opportunity to see the finest in vintage Arts and Crafts antiques (1895-1940) for sale, along with new furniture, art pottery, textiles, jewelry, rugs and cabinetry made by artisans from across the country working in the Arts and Crafts style.

“What started with just 300 attendees,” Johnson says, “now attracts nearly 3,000 people and serves as an important fundraiser for the Preservation Society and for the Asheville Art Museum, as well as benefiting local galleries, restaurants and shops.”

The shows are open to the public on Friday, February 16, from 1–6 p.m.; on Saturday, February 17, from noon until 6 p.m.; and on Sunday, February 18, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Outdoor parking is free, as are the first three hours of garage parking. For additional information, go to arts-craftsconference.com or call Bruce Johnson’s office at 828.628.1915.

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