Published: April 25, 2017
Photos by Greg Smith and Laura Beach
PHILADELPHIA, PENN. – The Antiques Dealers Association of America (ADA) gathered in Philadelphia on Friday evening, April 21, to celebrate the accomplishments of Patricia E. Kane, winner of the 2017 ADA Award of Merit. Joining the Friends of American Arts Curator of American Decorative Arts at Yale University Art Gallery were dozens of Kane’s associates from the museum field and the art and antiques trade.
“Patricia E. Kane has spent decades studying American furniture and silver. Most recently, she authored Art and Industry in Early America: Rhode Island Furniture, 1650-1830,” a project that culminated in a groundbreaking exhibition at Yale. She has acquired more than 225 works for Yale’s collections, including many Twentieth Century pieces,” said ADA President Steven S. Powers, welcoming the crowd.
“I can’t begin to think of anyone I would rather be speaking in tribute of,” said David L. Barquist, who worked alongside Kane at Yale before joining the curatorial staff of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“For the first year I worked at Yale, I was also David,” joked curator John Stuart Gordon, Barquist’s successor at Yale’s museum.
Taking the stage together, Barquist and Gordon, co-keynote speakers, resorted to humor and a slideshow to offer what Kane later called “a gentle poach,” rather than roast. As a photograph of the 1978 exhibition “Rhode Island Furniture at Yale” flashed across the screen, Gordon quipped, “We are thrilled to have come so far.”
A photograph of Kane in a hazmat suit prompted Barquist to remark, “Mercifully, that project happened after I left.”
Barquist and Gordon called Kane “a diligent and serious researcher” whose many “wonderfully authoritative” publications “are for sale on Amazon.”
Annual vacations on the Caribbean island of St Barthelemy provided Kane with opportunities for informal colloquia with Joe Kindig III and other visiting scholars.
“Perhaps not everyone’s idea of a good time on St Barts,” Barquist remarked.
“Pat once reminded us that she ‘plays with a full deck.’ The ace she has up her sleeve is her husband, Scott Braznell,” Gordon said.
Taking the podium, Arthur Liverant thanked Kane for her knowledge, friendship and generosity to the field. Kane’s expertise compelled the ADA to this year commission a trophy made by the master craftsman Jeffrey Greene of Newport, R.I.
“It’s amazingly meaningful to me,” said Kane, accepting the award. Thanking Barquist and Gordon, she noted, “I had the pleasure of watching them develop, professionally and personally. In all endeavors, I was aided by them.”
Addressing the trade, Kane observed, “I had the good fortune to train under Charles F. Montgomery in the 1960s when connoisseurship was an okay word. Part of that training came from his experience as an antiques dealer. This was not book learning.”
She added, “Dealers have been among my best teachers since my early 20s. I used to walk into Israel Sack Inc and be guided by Bob or Albert Sack. Another great teacher is Joe Kindig.” Recalling the gatherings on St Barts, she observed, “There were long conversations about the configuration of the legs on Philadelphia easy chairs.”
Kane acknowledged “the role of the trade in opening up new areas of collecting,” citing in particular the contributions of Lillian Nassau, who revived interest in Tiffany in the 1950s, and Rosalie Berberian, a New Haven, Conn., collector and dealer of Arts and Crafts ceramics. Kane closed by praising dealers of art and antiques for “finding it, promoting it, bringing it to shows, organizing displays and putting out catalogs,” efforts that are the foundation of scholarship, she said.
Past recipients of the ADA Award of Merit, bestowed annually since 2002, are Albert Sack, Elinor Gordon, Wendell Garrett, Betty Ring, R. Scudder Smith, Satenig St Marie, Dean F. Failey, Joe Kindig, Philip Zea, Jane and Richard Nylander, Morrison H. Heckscher, the American Folk Art Society, Peter Tillou, Brock Jobe, David McCullough, and Victor and Joan Johnson.
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