Published: February 5, 2008
The shining star of Americana Week may well have been the fifth and final of the shows to open to the public over the week of January 14 †Stella’s Antiques at the Armory. Putting his or her best foot forward, virtually every exhibitor presented a stunning display of fresh, fancy and fun material that was enthusiastically received by the large crowds in attendance.
As recently as four months ago there was serious question as to whether this show would even take place, as troops from the 69th Regiment, housed at the 26th Street Armory, were scheduled for active duty deployment the same weekend as the show was to take place. Compounding the confusion was the official notice that Stella’s second show, Americana @ the Piers, would be cancelled due to construction schedules that have lagged behind at the Passenger Ship Terminal.
An exasperated Irene Stella worked through the layers of frustrating red tape, doing everything in her power to make each of the shows a reality. It would not be long for the fruits of her efforts to pay off on one hand, and for reality set in on the other. Antiques at the Armory was a go, Americana @ the Piers was a no.
Despite exploring numerous other locations throughout Manhattan, Stella was unable to secure another facility, determining each candidate to be too costly for everyone involved. The forced cancellation of the largest of Americana Week’s shows, Americana @ the Piers, left 200 dealers without a venue.
Yet, making the best of a bad situation, the promoter successfully molded Antiques at the Armory into a well-received and memorable event by bringing a mixture of dealers from each of the shows together under one roof. The “Other Amory” event, as it has become known among a dedicated cadre of shoppers, ultimately came off without a hitch.
Those not privy to the chain of events that unfolded for Stella never noticed anything out of the ordinary, except possibly the mixture of smiles and tears on the uniformed troops of the 69th Regiment and their families. Soldiers alternately milled about and hustled around the facility, preparing to pack out simultaneously with the antiques dealers packing in. By the time the show was ready to open on Friday, things had pretty much returned to normal.
A receptive public was on hand right from the opening on Friday morning straight through closing on Sunday evening. Business was quick-paced as the show opened on Friday, and then remained steady throughout the rest of the weekend. “People bought all three days,” said Bruce Emond of Village Braider, who counted 67 sales among his tally. “I was surprised in regard to the large number of sales we made on Sunday. We sold every piece of furniture that we brought with us, with the exception of one table and we ended up leaving the city in the emptiest truck that I have ever driven home from a show,” stated the dealer who traditionally sells well in Manhattan.
Schorr and Dobinsky was another of the dealers to sell to the walls. Despite its usual strong sales in Manhattan, the dealer seemed to be doing business at a rate rarely seen. Several buyers rushed directly to the booth, leaving a sea of sold tags in their wake. Garden urns and a variety of statuary, a secretary desk, a set of Adam-style chairs, a taper leg table, mirrors, mannequins, lighting devices and lamps, and several ottomans and benches were claimed within five minutes of the initial rush.
Occupying the front booths at the show were Breinigsville, Penn., dealer Thurston Nichols set up on the right, and Dorset, Vt., dealer Judd Gregory set up on the left. Both of the dealers regularly display at the Americana @ the Piers show.
While both put forth stunning displays of Americana, Gregory presented a more formal looking booth, while Nichols’ display leaned toward folk art. Gregory’s items ranged from a Queen Anne highboy with pleasing color and proportions, to a Chippendale four-drawer chest, to a Pembroke table, to a hairy paw foot and ormolu mounted games table, to a Federal secretary desk, and †finally †to an oversized folk art writing arm Windsor chair profusely carved with patriotic themes and inscriptions.
Nichols was equally eclectic, yet his display was filled with smalls that ranged from vibrantly painted checkerboards to a wonderful Index horse weathervane in a splendid mustard finish, to early folk portraits, a patriotic dumb stove cast in the form of a robed George Washington, to a nice Chippendale lowboy and four-drawer chest.
Gabriel weathervanes were flying high at the show, with a large wooden archangel displayed in the booth of the Kembles, while James and Judith Milne offered a smaller sheet metal version that sold as the show opened.
The Milnes were doing double duty again this year displaying at TAAS and the “Other Armory” simultaneously. Their selection at the 26th Street Armory included a large rooster vane, a neat sheet metal vane with two cows under a tree and a bull. The dealers incorporated an industrial motif to the booth with a set of vertical metal louvers spanning the rear wall of the booth with metal work ables and chairs at the forefront.
The Kembles had a wide variety of weathervanes on display with forms including a pig, a polo player mounted on horseback, a pelican and a rooster. Furniture in the booth included a Pennsylvania dressing table, a Queen Anne highboy and a William and Mary gate leg table that had a nice green painted Windsor armchair pulled up alongside of it.
Autumn Pond was another to feature a wide variety of weathervanes, with its selection including a variety of horses †some standing, some running, a horse and rider and a horse and sulky. Other forms included a dove, a ship, a bull and a banner.
Sidney Gecker’s booth was another standout, with a wonderful selection of Americana that included numerous wonderful forms encompassing a variety of mediums. A large carved and gilded spread-winged eagle was positioned front and center at the booth, and directly behind it stood a fabulous pair of chalkware compotes in vibrant original paint that flanked the top of a Chippendale four-drawer chest. Weathervanes included a grasshopper, leaping stag, horse and sulky, bull, Rochester rooster and a large and stylish running horse. A fraktur, folk portraits, a well-executed landscape, theorems and several fanciful wrought iron hinges from Pennsylvania occupied the walls of the booth, as did a carving of a poodle by Aaron Mountz that was a quick seller.
John Sideli always presents a colorful display, and this one featured a brightly painted trade sign on one wall and a selection of stimulating mocha forms in breathtaking glazes on the other. An unusual stoneware jug with incised floral decoration on the front and an applied snake wrapped around the handle was an early seller.
Architectural ornaments in the booth of Susan and Otto Hart were visually appealing and included a pair of winged ladies. A monumental bronze fish tank with legs in the form of seahorses was attracting attention, as was a large wooden swan. Folky items included a couple of barber poles, an optician’s trade sign, a Popeye Reed carved limestone owl, a large pair of chessmen and a dandy pair of men’s red leather shoes.
Finnegan Gallery offered a variety of architectural materials, including a huge pair of building ornaments with Lady Liberty’s head surrounded by a large scalloped fan. Lamp posts, fountains and barn ornaments were also featured amid urns, fountains and some classic leather seating, including a sofa and two club chairs.
Diversity is a trump card for Stella’s Armory show, with eclectic items including Clarice Cliff pottery offered by Cara Antiques, a selection of Deco and Modern furniture and accessories offered by Bridges Over Time and a stellar selection of brass ranging from candlesticks to engraved boxes to large platters presented by Eve Stone.
The next Stella show will be the Modern Show at the 26th Street Armory over the weekend of February 29, and then the return of the Pier Antiques Show taking place March 15‱6.
For information, www.stellashows.com or 212-255-0020.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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