By Alicia Dziak
About an hour’s drive from Ellicottville lies the town of East Aurora, famous for its picturesque, small-town setting and unique Roycroft style. The Roycroft style was founded by Elbert Hubbard in 1895 during the Arts and Crafts movement of that era. It features traditional craftsmanship using simple forms with romantic, folk or medieval styles of decoration. Today, artisans carry on the Roycroft tradition in the decorative and fine arts.
For an insider look at the artisans who make up the Roycroft community, West Seneca native Joe Kirchmyer has recently written Head, Heart & Hands: Continuing the Handcrafted Tradition of the Original Roycroft Artisans, officially released during the Roycroft Summer Festival in June.
According to Kirchmyer, the 136-page book “profiles nearly 50 current Roycroft Master Artisans who carry on the now famous Roycroft tradition … The profiles examine the lives of these talented artists who open up about their training, inspirations, travel, goals, proudest moments, relationship to the Roycroft community and much more.”
“I’ve been writing artist profiles for the Roycrofters-At-Large Association’s newsletter for the past three years or so, and they have been very well received,” Kirchmyer explained. “The Association approached me with the idea about the book, and I jumped at the opportunity. These artists have very inspiring stories to tell, and I am humbled to be the middleman between artist and reader.”
Kirchmyer noted that this current book is the third he’s written in the past six years, following a 20-year career in the creative services department of a major newspaper. “My first book was Diamonds in the Rough, a compilation of short sports and inspirational stories,” he said. “My second was Most Likely to Survive, which detailed the remarkable recovery of West Seneca native Matthew Faulkner from a life-threatening traumatic brain injury. Matt was involved in a near fatal car accident just weeks before his high school graduation and spent several weeks in a coma at ECMC. His recovery has been nothing short of a miracle.”
Kirchmyer is enthusiastic about the newest addition to his credits. “Each profile is very different and tells an incredible story. The passion of these artists is truly second to none. The book is inspiring, historic and fun … well, at least in my humble opinion!”
The title, published by No Frills Buffalo, retails for $17.95 and is currently available at The Bookworm and Vidler’s 5 & 10 in East Aurora, at the East Aurora Chamber of Commerce, and at Enjoy the Journey Art Gallery in West Seneca, as well as online sites such as Amazon.com, and through the No Frills Buffalo website.
Better yet, you can meet Joe in person as he signs copies of the books at The Bookworm on Saturday, Sept. 19, from 1 to 3 p.m.