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The Asheville Art Museum will present an exhibition of the work of William Waldo Dodge, Jr. (1895 – 1971), preeminent Arts and Crafts silversmith through May 22. Dodge enjoyed his career as a silversmith, but he was also well regarded as an architect, inventor, painter, and woodcarver. This remarkable innovator called Asheville home, and left as his legacy many structures in North Carolina and a wealth of silver work.
Guest curator Bruce Johnson has gathered many of his works, including vintage photographs of his workshops and buildings, paintings, and, of course, his stellar work in silver, for a comprehensive exhibition.
William Waldo Dodge first came to the Asheville area in 1919 as a patient at US General Hospital No. 19 in Oteen, where he was recovering from critical injuries sustained in World War I. There, he met his wife, Margaret Wheeler Robinson, who was an occupational therapist at the hospital, and who taught Dodge the rudiments of silversmithing. Robinson and Dodge were married in early 1921, and originally settled in Connecticut, but then returned to Asheville permanently. He opened Asheville Silvercraft in 1923. The mission statement announced that it would create work “of no transient style, but based upon the fundamentals of beauty, good proportion, beauty of materials and honest craftsmanship,” and they were very successful. Within the next few years, Dodge designed silver for the Country Club of Asheville, the Biltmore Forest Country Club, the New York Athletic Club, and many others. Always the innovator, Dodge developed a number of different styles of hammering techniques, and was granted a 1931 design patent on one unique form.
Dodge earned a masters degree in architecture at MIT, and through the 1920s, he worked as an architect as well as a silversmith. He designed the second home for his shop, in Biltmore Forest, as well as other homes in the Asheville area, notably the Hammond-Knowlton House in Asheville and the William Knight House in Biltmore Forest. These homes, in true Arts and Crafts style, included many individual touches and built-in artwork designed and created by Dodge. Unfortunately, by the early 1940s, due to the Depression and WWII, the demand for luxury silver and architect-crafted homes faded, and Dodge closed Asheville Silvercraft in 1942. At that point, he joined forces with other local architects and engineers to form Six Associates. He left the firm in 1946 for a solo practice, where he remained until his retirement in 1958.
In conjunction with this exhibition and the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference, the Museum is presenting a special reception and conversation with the artist’s son, William Waldo Dodge III, and Guest Curator and founder of the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference Bruce Johnson on Saturday, February 19, from 5 – 7 PM. Tickets are $15 for Museum members; $25 for the general public, and reservations are strongly recommended. Please call the museum at 828-253-3227 for more information or to register.
Guest Curator Bruce Johnson will also present a slide lecture on William Waldo Dodge on Tuesday, April 12 at 6:00 pm in the Diana Wortham Theatre. Tickets are $2 for Museum members; $5 for the general public and reservations are strongly recommended. Please call the Museum at 828/253-3227 for more information or to register.
In addition, a special Up for Discussion artist talk on Friday, April 29 at 6:00 pm, will focus on the work of contemporary silversmith Alex Austin and metalsmith David Huntsbarger. Free with Museum admission.
A fully illustrated catalogue of the exhibition, authored by Bruce Johnson, is available in the Museum shop.
This exhibition was organized by the Asheville Art Museum, guest curated by Bruce Johnson and sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. William W. Dodge, III, Nancy D. and Peter G. Holloway, Lynell and Robert Bell, M. David and Gay Cogburn, the Clementine W. Gregory Foundation, Ms. Ann Coxe and Eugene M. “Bob” Carr, Jr.