Friday, October 28, 2011

a society of craftsmen part two...

So, what would a society of craftsmen look like? That might be impossible for some to imagine. But in my own case, I've already had the privilege of living in one. When I moved to Eureka Springs in 1975, we were already a community known for the arts. Our beautiful small town had become listed on the National Register of Historic Places (1970), largely as a result of the unflagging efforts of Louis Freund, a local artist who for years had keep telling the businessmen of the community that we were a very special place that deserved recognition. It was a rather tough battle because it required the establishment of a governing body (The Historic District Commission) to make sure the values of historic preservation were enforced. Louis suggested that the city should care for what it has, protect it, and promote it. And so we became a place that remains beautiful, where craftsmen can find work restoring and maintaining old Victorian homes and that is visited by millions of tourists each year.

By the time I arrived here there were already a number of potters, painters, writers, musicians who had come first to make new lives for themselves within a strong, growing community. We gave encouragement to each other, and I found work making display cabinets for downtown galleries and shops, and furniture for a small number of local clients.

Art and crafts do not happen merely in a vacuum, but require the sustenance of patrons, and the encouragement of of a creative environment. In 1976 I had called a meeting of artists to explore the notion of creating a guild for arts and crafts. Amazingly, about 30 showed up to a meeting on the shore of Lake Leatherwood, in a city owned park. Since I was the only one present with a clip board, paper and pen, I was proclaimed the first president of the Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople, a position I held for the first 6 months of the organization and then then much later for a time after the organization had matured. Of course the story goes on and on over the next 35+ years, with each artist adding significantly to what it means to live within a society of craftsmen.

Today I leave for Syracuse to teach at Sawdust and Woodchips. Yesterday I received my first copy of my new book Building Small Cabinets. It will be available through, from and your local bookstore.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:04 AM

    Eureka Springs is a beautiful place, and it has stayed that way partly because of the efforts of people like you who saw the value in preservation. It's not a museum, it's a place that honors the past as it moves on.