Published: April 29, 2003
By W.A. Demers
BEDFORD, N.Y. – “As goes Wall Street, so goes Bedford,” is a phrase one dealer overheard several times at the 18th annual Bedford Spring Antiques Show, conducted April 5-6 at the Rippowam-Cisqua School. The shared pulse at the nexus of this leafy Westchester County enclave and the nation’s financial heartbeat is not hard to discern, because the business of “getting” is the main occupation of a lot of people in town.
Still, while the show’s gate may have mimicked the now all-too-familiar financial report histograms, the same dealer added that “it reflects the economy and not the show, which was well-managed and a delight to do – as always.”
Sponsored by St Matthew’s Church, located just across the street from the school, the show typically has had a theme more aligned with antiquities, according Phoebe Perry, co-chair. “Every year, it’s been Seventeenth, Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century,” she said. This year, however, she and co-chair Siobhan Sack decided on the theme “Now & Then.”
The show’s “Now” element comprised a unique exhibit of modern and contemporary art loaned for the occasion by Bedford area residents and titled “Bedford Collects.” On view at the entrance and along the corridor leading into the show was a seemingly ad hoc gallery of works by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Elsworth Kelly, David Hockney, Claes Oldenburg and Sol Lewitt.
At the show’s traditional preview party, which took place on Friday, April 4, Perry and Sack explained that the special exhibit grew “word of mouth” by parishioners and Bedford residents. And while a few private collectors may have been understandably hesitant about loaning art to the show, Perry said that extra security measures were in play at the event. Moreover, while the pieces on view may not have been seminal works, their presence underlined a compelling fact: “You will never see these in museums,” said Perry. “You won’t see them unless you’re here.”
The show had an additional feature that was new this year. A private tour on Saturday morning, led by Tracey Winn Pruzan, a Bedford resident and a senior project manager at Cullman & Kravis decorators, incorporated the show’s “Now and Then” theme to educate participants about the ins and outs of combining modern art and antiques.
At Rinehart Antiques, Katonah, N.Y., for example, a self-portrait of Andy Warhol and his dog Archy was displayed along with Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century fine art, Staffordshire, pottery, pearlware and a unique circa 1840 nursery light.
The “Then” portion of the show included 38 other antiques dealers, including seven new participants in this year’s show.
East Dennis Antiques of East Dennis, Mass., exhibited at the Bedford Spring Antiques Show for the first time this year. Specializing in formal and country American furniture and botanical, natural history and historical prints, dating to the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, East Dennis Antiques displayed a George III mahogany chest-on-chest, circa 1780, with nicely figured drawer fronts, dentil molding and fluted canted corners; an assembled set of shaped tablet top Windsor side chairs, probably from New England, circa 1810-1830, English campaign furniture and six hand-colored English botanical engravings of “Robert Sweet,” circa 1830.
Also exhibiting for the first time was G. Sargeant Antiques of Woodbury, Conn., with American, English and Continental furniture of the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries. Owner Gary Sergeant brought English Sheraton or Regency nested quartetto tables in mahogany, circa 1800-10, with delicately turned legs on trestle feet. Another interesting rdf_Description in his booth was an English Chippendale period pole screen, circa 1755, with an original tapestry scene of a fox and a rooster in a mythical setting.
Godel & Co., Inc, of Manhattan showed American art, dating from 1790 to 1940, as well as antique frames and mirrors.
Joining the ranks of this year’s new participants were Joseph M. Hayes of Bexley, Ohio, with formal furniture of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries; Robertsons of New Hope, Penn., with a boothful of unusual Viennese and Black Forest art, canes and bronzes of the Nineteenth Century; The Country Squire of Milton, Mass., with English library furniture and campaign tents, papier mache, tole trays and tea canisters, and animal-related accessories; and Yew Tree House Antiques, New York City, who decorated its booth in “country house” antiques, paintings and accessories – “everything Nineteenth Century.”
Show regulars and fine arts dealers Joel Fletcher and John Copenhaver of Fredericksburg, Va., brought not only their staple artists such as Augustin Hanicotte and Moses Soyer but several other gems, including Lucien Bertaux’s (born 1905) “Josephine Baker,” a stunning profile of the legendary singer and dancer by her costume designer, and a soulful oil on canvas titled “The Italian Girl,” by Richard Barabandy (1849-after 1902), who was born in Milan but captured Paris’ street life after settling there early in the 1890s.
“We had a very good show,” said Fletcher. “One of our customers bought four pieces on Saturday, then returned on Sunday to buy a fifth. We sold works by Hermann Paul, Alfred Latour, Cordray Simmons and others. We have been doing the show for 17 years and have many customers and friends at the show. Bedford always makes us feel very much at home and we consistently do well there.”
Bonsal-Douglas Antiques, Essex, Conn., another show regular, sold six paintings to one client. Among the mixture of fine art, furniture and decorative accessories, owners Isabelle and Frederick Seggerman brought “Still Life With Pears” by John Heliker (American, mid-Twentieth Century), an English mahogany bow front sideboard, circa 1790, with reeded molding around the top and upper legs, and a selection of delft ware and tole pieces. “Our customers continue to buy fine art and antiques,” said Isabelle Seggerman. “The Bedford Spring Show has always been a stylish and lovely one. This year’s was no exception.”
Nor was there an exception to the ever unique and unusual character of Marion Harris’s booth. Harris, of Simsbury, Conn., brought to the show several artists’ models – from six inches to nearly life size – that featured articulated joints and finely rendered feet. Harris related that her most interesting sale was to a couple that bought her entire collection of Hermes, Paris, display window mushrooms for their conservatory. “A particularly interesting object that sold was an rdf_Description I’d bought some time ago from Lou Marotta – a bronze elephant riding a bicycle which could also be used as a table lighter when the wick inside his cigar was lit,” said Harris.
Jill and Charles Probst of Charles Edwin, Ltd, Louisa, Va., lined their booth with antique long-case clocks and barometers. A George II period japanned clock, circa 1740-1745, depicted four sailing vessels and European and Oriental village scenes on its 8-foot 5-inch high case. Also on view were a Georgian period Welsh clock, circa 1785, by John Renhill of Wrexham, and a mahogany Norfolk wall clock, circa 1791-1800, by Henry Young, Swaffham.
“The rainy weekend helped keep people out of their gardens, but we suspect a goodly number of potential visitors were embedded with the troops,” said the Probsts. The Probsts sold a particularly good Georgian stick barometer, which went to the collection of a local historic house. The couple noted that whereas the past couple of years have been hard on retail sales, “at Bedford and several other shows we have done, many museums and charitable organizations have been making substantial purchases.”
The Probsts singled out for praise a particular characteristic of the Bedford show – the tradition of inviting dealers to stay in private homes over the weekend. “The committee was kind enough to open their homes to the exhibitors this year, and we are all very grateful.”
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