Craftsman furniture fans will flock to new Stickley exhibition at San Diego Museum of Art
“Gustav Stickley & The American Arts and Crafts Movement,” the first nationally touring exhibition to focus on the artist’s career and his contributions to the history of American design and architecture, will show June 18–Sept. 11 at The San Diego Museum of Art. The collection contains furniture, metal ware and embroidered textiles, and the majority of objects come from private collections never seen by the public.
Focusing on Stickley’s most creative period, 1900 to 1913, the exhibition illuminates the vibrant identity of the “Craftsman” style that Stickley developed and furthered through his wares. Stickley offered customers a complete lifestyle based on his philosophy of simple design and quality materials, a philosophy disseminated both through his magazine, “The Craftsman,” and in his stores.
One of the highlights is the re-creation of the dining room first displayed in the 1903 Arts and Crafts Exhibition organized by Stickley and exhibited in his Syracuse Craftsman Building.
Other highlights include an armoire, c. 1907-1912, that Stickley kept for private use in the decades after he sold his business, and works showcasing his experimentation with different varnishes, which can still be seen as a patchwork of colors on the undersides of the drawers.
Also on view is a rare armchair, c. 1903, with copper and wood inlay reflecting Stickley’s brief foray into decorated Arts and Crafts furniture influenced by the work of progressive British and Scottish designers.
In connection with the show, the Museum’s second annual Summer Salon Series continues Thursdays through Sept. 1. This year’s theme is “What a City Needs,” to reflect Stickley’s utopian vision of how to build a community.
An illustrated 272-page catalogue by Kevin W. Tucker, Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Dallas Museum of Art accompanies the exhibition.
If you go
What: “Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement”
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; Noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, June 18-Sept. 11
Where: The San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park
Contact: (619) 232-7931
Related: Thursday nights Salon Series.
About Gustav Stickley
• One of 11 children of German émigrés, born Gustavus Stoeckel on March 9, 1858 in Osceola, Wis.
• In 1876, the family moved to Brandt, Penn., where he worked in his uncle’s chair factory.
• His industrious nature led him to form Stickley Brothers & Company in 1883, the same year he married Eda Ann Simmons.
• Within five years, the company dissolved and Stickley partnered with furniture salesman Elgin Simonds to form Stickley & Simonds.
• A decade later (after travels to Europe, where he was exposed to progressive designs, including those by Liberty of London) Stickley assumed control of the firm, Gustav Stickley Company.
• In 1901, the year following his introduction of a new line of Arts and Crafts furniture, the firm was renamed the United Crafts. It was renamed again as Craftsman Workshops in 1903 and remained so until its dissolution in 1916.
• Stickley’s retail network eventually included more than 100 stores across the United States.
• In 1915, he filed for bankruptcy, stopping publication of The Craftsman in December 1916 and selling Craftsman Farms in 1917.
• He died on April 21, 1942.
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