By Emma Castleberry
The National Arts & Crafts Conference and Shows will take place at the Omni Grove Park Inn for three days beginning on Friday, February 16. The event, now in its 37th year, will feature seminars, demonstrations, workshops and historic house tours, all celebrating the American Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century and its contemporary revival. More than 100 exhibitors from all over the country will be present at the Arts & Crafts shows, sharing antiques and handcrafted contemporary items in the Arts and Crafts style including new and antique jewelry, rugs, furniture, pottery and tiles, artwork and metalware. The event, which features a conference side in addition to three selling shows, is about much more than pottery and furniture. “It’s also a study of a philosophy and a movement connected to social and economic reform that happened during the early 20th century,” says director Kate Nixon. “Not only are we studying the area of decorative arts with beautiful pieces made during that era but we’re studying the figures of that era who believed in handcrafted beauty and fought for significant change in response to the Industrial Era.”
On Saturday, the conference will offer a free, public screening of Tom Killion’s Journey to Hokusai, a documentary about a Californian printmaker who travels to Japan to learn the traditional Japanese method for printing by hand. The film will be introduced by Patti Bourgeois, owner of Japanese Woodblock Prints Gallery. “The Arts and Crafts movement coincided with japonisme, which is a French term for interest in all things Japanese following the opening of Japan to the world in the 1860s,” says Bourgeois. “The principles of Arts and Crafts as a movement are that objects should be useful, wellmade and beautiful, promoting craftsmanship. The Western world was taken by Japanese woodblock printing for its beauty and simplicity in design and many Western artists were influenced by this aesthetic.”
New to this year’s conference is a room dedicated to North Carolina artists and works, as well as an educational display case featuring the many works of Smithfield Art Pottery and Hillside Pottery, originating in Franklin. The conference will feature seven seminars on a variety of topics, including Hist-Ohr-y: The Last Chapter of George Ohr by David Rago; Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Homes and the People Who Built Them by Ray Stubblebine; and Homespun Heroines: Eleanor Vance, Charlotte Yale, and the Biltmore Industries Legacy by conference founder Bruce Johnson.
Not only is the Grove Park Inn a shining example of the Craftsman style but Asheville is home to many neighborhoods and bungalows that represent the aesthetic, making it a perfect location for the annual event. “The Craftsman style is continuing to come back into the interior design spotlight and continues to perfectly represent Asheville’s historic roots in natural healing,” says Nixon. “We live in an area known for natural riches, so it makes sense that Asheville natives are drawn to interiors that reflect the beauty of the natural.”
The Omni Grove Park Inn is located at 290 Macon Avenue, Asheville. The show is open Friday from 1–6 p.m., Saturday from 12–6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission for all three days is $10; student admission is $5; no charge for children under the age of 14. Outdoor parking at the Grove Park Inn is free as are the first three hours of indoor garage parking. For information including a full schedule of events and lodging options, visit Arts-CraftsConference.com or call the office of the National Arts and Crafts Conference at 828.628.1915.