Published: May 3, 2011
Now in its fourth year, AD 20/21 only gets better. Design of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries combine with the 12th annual Boston Print Fair for a show that attracts more and more serious buyers each year †with gratifying results. Dealers in art and design were ebullient as sold stickers sprouted even during the preview for the show that ran April 7‱0 at the Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts.
A large Harry Bertoia “Sonambient” copper sound sculpture that the owner’s mother bought from the artist was plucked right out of the Martha Richardson Fine Art booth and shipped directly to the Washington home of the new owner. A smaller example attracted significant interest but was still available at the end of the show. The Boston dealer also sold Max Weber’s “The Rowboat.”
The preview party was exceptionally well attended; some 600 souls mingled amid the glitter and color. It seemed a crowd was actually interested in the art. The party raked in $100,000 for the Boston Architectural College (BAS), which has been the beneficiary for the past two years. Museum curators were thick on the ground, as were serious collectors who were observed inspecting the goods and making purchases. BAS staff and benefactors were out in force in support of AD 20/21.
Portland, Maine, dealer Tom Veilleux said he was thrilled with the show. He brought along four Elie Nadelman pieces: three compelling bronzes and a painted papier mache seated figure on their maiden voyage into the marketplace where they met with wide interest. Veilleux also showed a John Singer Sargent charcoal sketch of a reclining figure, Andrew Wyeth’s 1937 “Rockweed on Monhegan” and “West Greenland Landscape” by Rockwell Kent.
A few days after the show, Veilleux reported interest on the part of two major institutions, one of which had a piece out on approval and the other of which had another piece under serious consideration. He said the end of the show is never the end of the story for him, noting that in the first year of AD 20/21 he sold half a million dollars to buyers who had visited his booth at the show.
Susanna Fichera carved out a miniature gallery barely big enough for one person from a bump in the back of her booth where she installed additional pictures. After the preview party, the Bowdoinham, Maine, and Arlington, Mass., dealer borrowed a miniature Dragonfly chair from Sebastian Carpenter, creating an office vignette where visitors bought in comfort. The effort was successful †she sold, among others, a 1956 landscape by March Avery, a large Gene Davis stripes screenprint, an etching by Robert Motherwell, a George Hawley Hallowell landscape and a Joseph DeMartini oil painting. In an email after the show, Fichera wrote, “I was thrilled! As always, Tony and Bob [Fusco and Four] run a really good show. We’re looking forward to BIFAS in November.”
Boston’s venerable Haley and Steele, which collapsed several years ago when the former owner decamped to England, having piled up debts and ran the gallery into the ground, has been reborn and was alive and well at AD 20/21. Show visitors were pleased to welcome the return of the gallery, which was founded in 1899. Former Haley and Steele client William T. Craig of Boston has resurrected the firm, long a mainstay in the Boston arts picture. Craig says he intends to, “polish the silver and remove the tarnish.” He has also acquired Guido Frames and Barbara Fine Art and will retain the best of all three. Haley and Steele will open in June on Boston’s Newbury Street.
Wenham, Mass., designer Sebastian Carpenter’s furniture and lighting are crisp and distinctive. Carpenter uses materials reflective of his environmental sensibility: ash from East Coast trees with hand rubbed finishes and aluminum that is 50 percent recycled. A screen on view was made of charred ash with panels of cow skin; several ottomans were upholstered in cow skin. A cantilevered service trolley was made in ash; it is also available in torched ash. Carpenter’s Dragonfly sofa is named for his studio and for his residence.
Clark Gallery, Lincoln, Mass., showed the 2009 Boston view “Lot to Lot” by Andrew Haines; a portrait of a woman from Richelieu; three still lifes by James Aponovich and “After the Storm,” an intriguing beach view from beneath a lifeguard’s chair by Warner Friedman.
Artist Robert Slutsky thought a lot about geometry and made it a subject of his work. His bright red circa 1969 “Tipped Painting” in the booth of Francis W. Frost of Newport, R.I., confounded some viewers as it hung at about a 25-degree angle. It was counterbalanced by two works by Edward Movitz, the 1966 “Black and White Column” to the right and “Divided Cube” in the left foreground. George Ortman’s geometric construction “Pyramid II” dominated another wall.
New this year at the show is Orley & Shabahang, whose principals Geoffrey Orley and Bahram Shabahang have galleries in New York; Palm Beach; Whitefish Bay, Wisc.; and Bloomfield Hills, Mich. They deal in antique rugs and carpets as well as modern examples. For AD 20/21, they brought along a dazzling selection of contemporary rugs.
Blue Heron Fine Art represents the estate of artists Edith Branson and Ben Wilson. The Cohasset, Mass., dealer has all the known works by the Modernist Branson, except for ten or so.
GF Contemporary came from Santa Fe with some traffic stoppers by Martin Spei, including the bronze and gold leaf “More”; “Dean/Train,” a bronze leather figure of a man whose leather arms drag behind him; “Miles,” a bronze of a man atop a globe, again, toting a briefcase; and “Internal Grounding,” a small figure of the same man flat on the floor. Paintings by Eric Reinemann and Nigel Conway were also on offer.
Sculpture and sculptural furniture from Kulin Modern of South Boston made for an elegant display. Artist Jacob Kulin brings nature indoors with his use of spare tree branches and reclaimed woods with steel and glass. His work is clean and full of interest: a bench of reclaimed chestnut with black oxide over steel is a functional work of art. Two large cocktail tables of reclaimed hemlock, steel and glass play on geometry and hearken back to the artist’s Danish antecedents.
McClees Gallery, Haverford, Penn., was established in 1845 and has specialized in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century American and European paintings and prints but has expanded its reach. The gallery brought along vibrant work by artists such as Thomas Brownell Eldred, Dorcas Doolittle and Arthur Beecher Carles.
Boston’s own Childs Gallery showed the work of artist Anthony Moore, who was on hand to discuss his pavises. Childs also offered work by Donald deLue, Hannah Barrett and Anne Lyman Powers.
Robert James Walsh and Company of Quechee, Vt., brought an eclectic selection spanning the Twentieth Century. The bronze figural group, “Diana the Huntress” by Andre Lavaysse had been purchased in Paris in 1960 and had been part of a collection. It was juxtaposed with “Bear and Seal,” an Inuit carving in green noble serpentinite by Mikkigak Kingwatsiak of Cape Dorset, Baffin Island, and was signed and dated December 1986.
Also in Walsh’s booth, “Resting Model,” a 1983 oil on canvas by Florida artist Oreta Williams, attracted some interest, hung as it was above a pair of early Twentieth Century Italian tall garden chairs of wrought iron and tin painted with flowers and vines. “Life Boats,” a large photograph of railroad beds on canvas, by Panama-born artist Javier Gomez was particularly compelling.
Bridges over Time, Newburgh, N.Y., showed a fine Midcentury pair of mahogany T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings stands on brass legs, four works by Ivan Palmer and the 1959 ‘The Man with the Cat” by Michelle Michaux.
Show events included the presentation of this year’s AD 20/21 Lifetime Achievement Award to Massimo and Leila Vignelli and a discussion of Design Research, the store founded in Cambridge by Ben Thompson in 1953, by Jane Thompson, collaborator with her late husband on the store, and Alexandra Lange, authors of “Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes.”
For more information, www.ad2021.com or 617-363-0405.
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