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Talk about astonished!

Janet Brown-Lowe, director of the German American Heritage Center, was visiting Knilans' Furniture to ask for help in sponsoring an exhibit about   1900s furniture maker Gustav Stickely, the son of a German immigrant.

The Davenport store sells today's Stickley furniture as its flagship brand, and owner Tim Schlicksup was showing off some pieces. Abruptly, he pulled open a bedroom dresser drawer and stepped in it!

Brown-Lowe sucked in her breath. But the point was made: Stickley is well-made.

You can see some of this furniture — antiques from the early 1900s as well as pieces made in 2015 — at the heritage center in its exhibit "Built to Last: Gustav Stickley's Legacy of Design."

Stickley is made in what is known as the Craftsman style of furniture, with a simple, unadorned, plain-surface look with mortise and tenon joinery.

Perhaps the most famous example is the Morris chair, named after William Morris of England who was a proponent of the arts and crafts movement in the decorative and fine arts.

Although Stickley was born in Wisconsin, by the time he made his famous furniture, he was living in New York.

To produce this exhibit, Kelly Lao, assistant director of the Davenport center, cast a broad net, from Knilans' for current pieces, to Kindred Styles  Antiques in Rock Island for antiques, to the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms in New Jersey for art work and copies of The Craftsman.

The latter was a magazine Stickley published between 1901-1916 that included articles on homes, literature and music, architecture, city planning and social conditions.

The magazine also offered free house plans. By the time it ceased publication, more than 222 different plans had been published, introducing Americans to styles such as the bungalow and foursquare.

In securing speakers for the exhibit, Lao contacted Bruce Johnson, an award-winning author and television personality who has appeared on the "Today Show," "This Old House" and "The New Yankee Workshop."

He agreed to speak at the center at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16, on "1901: The Year that set the Arts and Crafts Movement in Motion."

Corporate historian Mike Danial from the Stickley Museum in Fayetteville, N.Y., will speak on the company's legacy at 6 p.m. Sept. 9.

Gustav Stickley (1858-1942) was one of five brothers, all of whom made furniture. The others were Leopold, Albert, Charles and John George. At various times, they collaborated.

Gustav's own company was in business for less than 20 years; poor business decisions and changing tastes contributed to its demise. 

The exhibit that opened today continues through Nov. 1. In addition to Knilans', the Riverboat Development Authority is a sponsor.  


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