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Carolyn Dilcher-Stutz, Carved Two Frog Pot, 2012; glazed earthenware, 7 x 6 inches; Courtesy of the Artist

Well Crafted

On View Friday, October 12, 2012–Sunday, May 5, 2013

Margaret L. Wendt Gallery   R. William Doolittle Gallery  

Skilled, contemporary artisans have beautified homes void of a Van Erp or Tiffany lamp, a Grueby or Rookwood vase, or a plein air or naturalist painting. Well Crafted juxtaposes the old and the new in vignettes. Featured Arts and Crafts manufacturers include Karl Kipp, Charles Rohlfs, Heintz Art Metal and Roycroft. Contemporary artists in the exhibition are Carolyn Dilcher, Ann Perry-Smith, Janice McDuffie, Linda Michalek, Barry Yavener, Frank Glapa, Tom Pafk, Tom Kegler, Yvonne M. Stoklosa and Karl Heerdt.

 

The Arts and Crafts Movement began in 1860s England and spread to the United States in the 1890s. Its proponents, including John Ruskin, William Morris, and Charles Voysey, argued that industrialization had adversely affected the design and construction of utilitarian objects. This Movement, inspired by authors Emerson and Thoreau, would promote traditionally-trained craftsmen to produce objects with quality and integrity.

Movement notables would include: Charles Rennie McIntosh (furniture, textiles), Frank Lloyd Wright (architecture, Fur-niture, glass), Gustav Stickley (Furniture), Tiffany Studios (Glass, metal), Dirk Van Erp (metal,) and Rookwood (pottery). Regionally, the Roycroft produced furniture, metal ware, and books. Heintz Art Metal Shop and Karl Kipp produced metal ware and Charles Rohlfs created lavish Art Nouveau-inspired furniture.

Arts and Crafts objects were simple in form and patterns were generally inspired by nature. Emphasis was placed on ma-terials and construction quality - with construction elements often dictating the design feature. Occasionally, Art Nou-veau features would be incorporated.

The Decorative Arts Movement and the Great Depression each played a part in the demise of the Arts and Crafts Movement. However, a few companies, including Van Briggle Pottery and Stickley Furniture (L. and J.G.) managed to survive the storm and, after a succession of owners, have continued in operation to this day.

Renewed interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement began after a pivotal traveling exhibition organized by the Art Museum, Princeton University and the Art Institute of Chicago in 1972, The Arts and Crafts Movement in America, 1876-1916. Within a few years, the Stickley Company had begun reproducing period designs and the Roycrofters - At - Large - Association (RALA) had been established. Studio artisans, including Michael Adams (copper, lamps), had dotted the country.

While the 80s was met with a steady increase in the re-introduction of period designs, it was in the 90s that artisans began producing objects that appealed to consumer’s nostalgic past - since by then the term “organic” was, once again, a recipe for the human soul. Artisans filled the homes void of period objects - many financially unattainable or in museum collections. The rest is history….

-Bill Menshon, exhibition curator