The ideal of "the good life" manifested itself in Maybeck's resilience to fickle fashion. A self-described "long distance dreamer," Maybeck was the most spiritually challenging member of the Arts and Crafts movement. At the age of 61 he wrote: "There is something bigger and more worthwhile than the things we see about us, the things we live by and strive for. There is an undiscovered beauty, a divine excellence, just beyond us. Let us stand on tiptoe, forgetting the nearer things and grasp what we may." The dream is still there for the taking, if not for the sheer pleasure of the reading.
First in a series of eight exhibitions at the American Crafts Museum in New York City, "The Ideal Home" (on view through February 15, 1994) comes with a book that promises to be the definitive study of 20th century American crafts. The Ideal Home: The History of Twentieth-Century American Crafts 1900-1920, \o7 edited by Janet Kardon (Harry Abrams in association with the American Craft Museum: $50; 304 pp.)\f7 is everything a companion book to an exhibition can and should be; a better breed of catalog. Discerning, comprehensive, and wonderfully easy on the eyes, "The Ideal Home" rewards the reader with a virtual reality-like experience of being there--handling the objects, admiring its content and understanding its journey from conception to completion. In an environment saturated by electronic media, "there is a century-long alternative voice, a leitmotiv, a quiet but powerful counterpoint to be found in craft, the art form that pays particular homage to the hand, to material, to process."