The Dirk van Erp Workshop Museum Opens in Berkeley, CA

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The newly opened Dirk van Erp Workshop Museum in Berkeley, CA, re-creates the workshop of the revered Arts & Crafts coppersmith with his original tools. Its inaugural exhibit continues through December 13, with coppersmith Matthew Mackie — a dead-ringer for van Erp — working in the shop on November 22 and 23 as van Erp reincarnated.

The Dirk van Erp Workshop Museum - with hammer in hand.

Dirk van Erp will be portrayed by coppersmith Matthew Mackie this weekend, November 22 and 23 at the newly opened Dirk van Erp Workshop Museum, 2988 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703.

The year was 1933. Dirk van Erp, one of the most prominent coppersmiths in America during his time, passed away in San Francisco at age 71. Stricken with grief, Dirk’s widow, Mary, exclaimed, “I’m not going to live without Dirk!” Within hours she passed away as her son William sat by her bedside. William van Erp inherited his father’s business and continued work under the Dirk van Erp name, crafting a variety of handmade decorative objects in copper, silver, and brass. The business survived the Great Depression, and continued operation another 44 years, becoming one of the few craft shops in America to bridge the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 1900’s, and survive up to the modern era’s renewed interest in work of the period. Over the years, William moved the workshop from 1104 to 512 Sutter Street, and finally to 773 14th Street and remained there until his passing in 1977.

Forrest L. Merrill has been active as a collector of handmade decorative objects since the 1950s. Over the years he has enjoyed close friendships with many San Francisco Bay Area artists, and among them William van Erp. Recognizing the importance of the van Erp family’s contribution to art and craft, Forrest acquired the workshop from William’s widow, Josephine, and with the building, its contents of tools, work benches and display furniture. For the past 37 years, Forrest has stored and safeguarded the Dirk van Erp tools intact.

In January 2014, he sold them to Gus Bostrom and California Historical Design, Inc., with the understanding that a non-profit foundation would be formed to safeguard and preserve them for future generations. The Dirk van Erp Foundation is now a reality, and registered as a non-profit organization in the state of California.

Dirk van Erp's original tools are now on display at the newly opened Dirk van Erp Workshop Museum. This weekend, November 22 and 23, coppersmith Matthew Mackie will portray Dirk. In conjunction with California Historical Design, Inc. the exhibition, simply entitled Dirk van Erp, continues until December 13, 2014. The museum and exhibition are open Wednesday through Sunday 10-5pm each day at 2988 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703. Call 510-647-3621 with any questions.

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Gus Bostrom
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