From Friday, February 21, through Sunday, February 23, Bruce Johnson and the Omni Grove Park Inn host the 33rd annual National Arts and Crafts Conference. Afternoon selling shows are open to the public and feature more than 100 juried Arts and Crafts artisans and antiques dealers exhibiting handcrafted furniture, art pottery, rugs, textiles, jewelry, artwork and metalware in the Arts and Crafts style.
“Each year the antiques dealers and craftspeople who exhibit bring their very best pieces to the conference, and each year they get better and better,” says Johnson. “This February we will have some new dealers and craftspeople bringing fresh pieces, some never seen before, to this show.”
When Johnson organized the first conference in 1988, approximately 300 people and 30 antiques dealers attended, some coming from as far away as California, New York and Michigan. The conference has returned to the Grove Park Inn, one of the most famous Arts and Crafts structures in the US, each year since and now attracts nearly 3,000 visitors.
“People continue to appreciate the clean lines, natural colors and craftsmanship that go into every example, new and vintage, made in the Arts and Crafts style,” says Johnson. “Add to that the durability inherent in that craftsmanship, plus the decorative themes drawn from nature, and people discover that Arts and Crafts is more than a style; it’s a lifestyle.”
In addition to the shows offering antiques and newly crafted work for purchase, the conference offers seminars on everything from the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement to a beginners guide to collecting art pottery. Workshops cover coppersmithing, jewelry making, block printmaking and Arts and Crafts embroidery. Other activities include demonstrations, walking tours and home tours of Arts and Crafts bungalows in Asheville’s Norwood Park neighborhood.
“People are always interested to see how real families live in historic homes,” says Jessie Landl, director of development and programming for The Preservation Society of Asheville & Buncombe County. “The homes are beautiful, but they are not house museums and it is interesting to see how modern families make them work.”
The Omni Grove Park Inn is located at 290 Macon Avenue, Asheville. Shows are open Friday from 1–6 p.m., Saturday from 12–6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A three-day pass is $10. Outdoor parking is free, as are the first three hours of garage parking. For more information, visit Arts-CraftsConference.com or call Bruce Johnson at 828.628.1915.