‘Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman’ film to debut March 5

Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman

A Gustav Stickley oak armchair with leather upholstery. Image courtesy of First Run Features

NEW YORK – First Run Features is proud to present the Virtual Cinema premiere of Herb Stratford’s debut feature documentary, Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman, opening nationwide in Virtual Cinemas on March 5.

The film is screening via Virtual Cinema, which means it can be viewed through select local cinemas. The link to all those are here: http://firstrunfeatures.com/gustavstickley_playdates.html

The rise, fall and resurrection of the father of the American Arts and Crafts movement is chronicled in Stratford’s film, which offers an unprecedented look at the life and works of Gustav Stickley as told through interviews, archival materials and a close examination of his most iconic works.
Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman traces the development and evolution of Stickley’s unique style as well as the creation of his diverse businesses, including furniture manufacturing, a ground-breaking Manhattan store, and the Craftsman Magazine and Craftsman Farms – a progenitor of the farm-to-table movement. It also details the eventual loss of his businesses, and, after several decades, the rebirth and recognition of the movement he inspired.

The film visits several key locations in his lifetime, including his Syracuse, N.Y., home, where he lived and created his first arts and crafts interior, and the pump house at Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York, which he restored as a summer family camp; as well viewers meet some of the talented collaborators Stickley surrounded himself with, such as Harvey Ellis, Lamont Warner and Irene Sargent.

Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman

Gustav Stickley was a proponent of the Arts & Crafts movement. Image courtesy of First Run Features

About Gustav Stickley
Gustav Stickley (1858 -1942) was an American design icon, a furniture maker, architect and publisher. Through his designs, writings and teachings, he became a leading advocate of the Arts and Crafts movement, which flourished in the United States around the turn of the 20th century.

Based in a suburb of Syracuse, N.Y., Stickley’s company manufactured furniture, metalwork, and textiles from 1900 to 1916. Although Stickley called his style “Craftsman,” it’s also often referred to as “Mission” or “Mission Oak.”

Stickley believed furniture should be rational – that is, well-made, comfortable and practical. He wanted it to be attractive as well, but argued that its attractiveness should stem from a harmonious shape and quality materials, instead of superfluous, purely decorative details. The aim of good design (and, in fact, of the entire Arts and Crafts Movement) was “to substitute the luxury of taste for the luxury of costliness; to teach that beauty does not imply elaboration or ornament; to employ only those forms and materials which make for simplicity, individually and dignity of effect.”

It was through The Craftsman magazine, which ran from 1901 to 1916, that Stickley promoted his principles. Along with articles about other Arts and Crafts advocates and designers, like John Ruskin and William Morris, the magazine published plans showing readers how to construct their own furniture, handicrafts, and even houses.

In addition to his monthly publication and furniture enterprise, Stickley owned and operated retail locations across the country including a flagship store in Manhattan that featured whole-home planning and shopping options with architectural services and a top floor farm-to-table restaurant. He owned a 650-acre farm in New Jersey that was to become a Craftsman school for children that is now a national historic landmark.

About director Herb Stratford
Herb Stratford is a filmmaker, artist and writer. Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman is his first feature-length documentary, following several documentary short films. He is also a film critic and film festival programmer, and a nationally recognized leader on the restoration of historic theatres. He is currently developing additional documentary films as well as unscripted television projects. Stratford and his professional film crew are located in Tucson, Ariz.