The Best of Buckhead: The Signature Shop
Located in the very heart of Buckhead, at 3267 Roswell Road, on the right going north just after Roswell branches off of Peachtree Road, this unique gallery/crafts haven is the oldest continuously-operated shop of its type in the nation. Founded in the 1960s by the legendary Blanche Reeves, it has been nationally recognized for the quality of handmade art it offers.
Don't expect to find macrame and funky collages.
His magnificent bowls are now in museums, galleries and collections around the world. At the time of her death, she also was showing and selling the work of his son, Philip Moulthrop, one of the second generation of artists she introduced to fame and fortune.
The shop is now owned and operated by Carr McCuiston, another example of Reeves' insight and vision. McCuiston started part-time employment at The Signature Shop when she was a young student interested in unusual handcrafted art. She is assisted by Annie Drexler and Leslie Carney.
Reeves was notorious for not suffering fools. If she felt you didn't fully appreciate her wares, you would be encouraged to leave the shop. Today's staff is more customer friendly, but the tradition of finding and representing outstanding artisans remains.
Among the roster represented are weavers Janet Bealer and Lyn Perry; Polly Harrison, who converts "found" items into recycled perfection; jewelry makers Gabrielle Gould and Amy Faust; and Peggy Eng, who works in carved aluminum and Chinese pearls. Alongside works in wood by the Moulthrops are creations by Galen Carpenter and George Peterson and clay works by Ron Myers and Michael Simon.
Many of today's customers don't know that Reeves was one Atlanta's first and most successful contemporary interior designers. In a city well endowed with designers and architects dedicated to traditional design, she pioneered modern furnishings, accessories and artwork. Atlantans Hugh Latta and Charles Gandy -- both fellows of the American Society of Interior Designers -- acknowledge Reeves as an early mentor. The Jerry Pair & Associates showroom at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center was one of her favorite sources. She liked Pair for his dedication to good contemporary design; he, in turn, favored her shop for his personal pursuit of well-crafted accessories. These three will join hundreds of admires at the American Craft Council tribute at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta.
Ed Moulthrop, whose spectacular woodturnings are still available at The Signature Shop, attracted so many collectors to Atlanta that he added an impressive "gallery" to the home he shares with his wife, Mae, a distinguished weaver. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Moulthrop moved to Atlanta to teach at Georgia Tech. As an architect with Robert & Company, he designed a number of Atlanta landmarks. Then, after a 45-year career, he retired to devote full time to woodturning.
After seeing a Moulthrop bowl (subsequently purchased by architect John C. Portman Jr.) displayed at ADAC, couture designer Bill Blass commissioned one for his personal collection. The White House displays one in its crafts collection, and President Clinton presented a Moulthrop bowl to South African President Nelson Mandela as a gift from America. Moulthrop bowls also are in the permanent collect of Atlanta's High Museum.
Previously honored by the American Craft Council, Moulthrop will be on hand in March to pay tribute to Reeves at the 2001 show. A self-effacing man, he will nevertheless be easy to recognize: His wife presented him with a wooden bow tie several years ago -- a work of art he didn't create, but wears with distinction.
ArtWalk at Lenox Square is presenting "A Salute to Georgia Craft," an exhibition paying tribute to the Signature Shop and founder Blanche Reeves through March 25. The exhibition will feature seven artists who began their careers at the shop.