Good Work

Masters of The Building Arts

Good Work Masters of the Building Arts

Are you looking for something to watch?  You might want to check out PBS’s Good Work Masters of the Building Arts which celebrates American craftsmanship and the unsung artisans who create and preserve America's iconic buildings.

The film is a project of the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and American Focus, a non-profit organization creating documentary films about American life.

This 65-minute documentary directed by Academy Award winning filmmakers,  Marjorie Hunt, PhD. and Paul Wagner, features ten artisans, all masters of their crafts that were documented in action. The artisans include: Joe Alonso, master mason; Earl Barthé, plasterer; Nick Benson, stone carver and letterer; John Canning and Jacqueline Canning-Riccio, master decorative painters; Jesus Cardenas and Humberto Miranda, terra cotta artisans; Patrick Cardine, blacksmith; Dieter Goldkuhle, stained glass artisan, and Albert Parra, adobe builder.

Of course, we are extremely proud the Masters of The Building Arts features one of the principals and namesake of our company John Canning along with his daughter Jacqueline.

Trinity Church Boston John & Jackie
John Canning and his daughter Jacqueline Canning-Riccio working at Trinity Church in Boston

John Canning is one of the great masters of the decorative painting tradition and leading authority of the decorative arts in the United States. John learned his trade in Glasgow, Scotland, where he served a five-year apprenticeship as a decorative painter and church decorator, earning the prestigious London City & Guilds certificate. Educated in old-world decorative techniques from the Stow College of Building Trades and Glasgow School of Art, John brought his knowledge and skills to the United States in the early 1970s–just as our nation’s historic preservation movement was taking off. A pivotal force in saving America’s past, John Canning and his talented team of decorative painters at John Canning & Co., have restored many of our country’s important historic buildings, including Trinity Church Boston, Grand Central Terminal, the U.S. Treasury Building, the National Building Museum, and the State Capitols of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. John is an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects, the only decorative painter in North America to be so honored.

John has taught his trade to many talented young craftspeople, including his daughter Jacqueline Canning-Riccio. With the combination of genes and apprenticeship training, Jacqueline has become a master of the decorative arts.  Now with over 32 years' experience in the field of historic paint decoration, Jacqueline uses her expertise to manage all the studio decorative art and design work. She has worked with John on such landmarks as the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco and Radio City Music Hall in New York and Trinity Church in Boston.  She has been a vital team member for the many restoration projects across the country.

Trinity Church Boston
Trinity Church in Boston

Good Work captures John Canning and his daughter Jacqueline Canning-Riccio preserving the famous John La Farge murals on the ceiling of historic Massachusetts Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square. John Canning & Co. received the prestigious National Preservation Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation for their outstanding restoration work on Trinity Church.

PBS Distribution, a separate entity from PBS Broadcast, selected Good Work for distribution to educational and home video markets via streaming/downloads on Amazon and Apple TV to give more people a chance to check out these master artisans.

Good Work has been the subject of several excellent articles and reviews, including outstanding stories for Smithsonian Magazine.com, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Traditional Building, among others.

Good Work is not just for artisans, architects, builders, city planners, and preservationists, to enjoy and benefit from watching.  Good Work allows members of the general public to take a look at the master artisans and how they have impacted the world around them.  It will leave many saying they will “never look at a building the same way again”. Hopefully this will also inspire some viewers to think about a career in craftsmanship and may be featured as a master artisan in future films.