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Arts & Crafts Movement: The Heart of Arroyo Culture

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In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, a desire for the handmade craftsmanship of wares and decorative items began to influence design philosophies in Great Britain. This movement spread throughout Europe and then to North America, and became what we now known as the Arts and Crafts movement.

Southern Californian artists and architects involved in this movement found special forms of inspiration and opportunity along the Arroyo Seco. An outgrowth of desire for a connection between nature and the creative process was The Arroyo Guild of Fellow Craftsman, headed by William Lees Judson and George Wharton James. The Arroyo Guild published a pamphlet entitled "The Arroyo Craftsman" in 1909 that captured the community's collective imagination by arguing for man's innate need to create beautiful things with his own hands. Craftsman homes sprung up throughout Highland Park and Garvanza; while they were inspired by a movement born in the United Kingdom, their look and feel reflected a radically different physical landscape that was lush with native flora and light.

While work created in the Arts and Crafts style is beautiful and rich in design, it is also incredibly time consuming to produce. The movement's momentum seized-up as the century progressed and Los Angeles emerged as a center of industrial design and modernism. But history is now repeating itself as more and more artists re-explore the production of handmade crafts and art inspired by nature—or for it, as many an artist finds a tree in need of a knit cozy or scarf from time to time. Once neglected craftsman homes are being restored as a wave of new Highland Park homeowners take on the challenge of maintaining and celebrating historic structures linked to the environment and history of the Arroyo Seco.


Arroyo Arts and Crafts Defined
Robert Winter explores the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement and its connection to nature.


Drawn to Highland Park
Robert Winter describes how artists around the Arroyo Seco created a distinct culture that separates them from the wealthy Pasadena residents up the hill.


Ironies of the Arts and Crafts
Robert Winter discusses the contrast between the visual simplicity of the Arts & Crafts style and the amount of work that went into creating a piece.


Cradle of the Modern Movement
Robert Winter and his personal discovery of Southern California as the cradle of the modern art movement in the United States.


The Impact of War
The Arts & Crafts movement loses its artistic foothold after WWI with the rapid economic, political and environmental changes occurring throughout the country.


Bourgeoise Artist Fetishes
William Deverell discusses Highland Park's geography and environment, specifically how it attracts the wealthy as well as artists, with diverging views on values of the past versus the future.


The Heart of Arroyo Culture
Nicole Possert describes how Arroyo artists put a twist on the Arts and Crafts Movement giving it a unique and signature regional style.

 

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