Published: May 7, 2002
Chicago Botanic Garden Antiques and Garden Fair:
By Susan and Al Bagdade
GLENCOE, ILL. – After four days of record-breaking heat, the third annual Chicago Botanic Garden Antiques and Garden Fair opened with a gala preview evening featuring early buying privileges and stupendous food and drink. Despite the extreme heat within the tented garden pavilions, “sold” tags turned up immediately in many of the more than 100 exhibitor booths.
Huge lines snaked around the grounds on Friday morning for entrance to the fair. By midday, Mother Nature had her way, and the temperature began its descent. Before the conclusion of the show on Sunday, the temperature had dropped more than 40 degrees. The hastily added air conditioning installed on Thursday evening was exchanged in favor of heaters that were essential to take the winter chill out of the tents. Additional tenting was also added to enclose the open passageways to make things more comfortable for dealers and show attendees.
The Chicago Botanic Garden and Stella Show Mgmt. Co. from New York City joined creative forces to produce the Midwest’s largest antique and garden fair, held April 19-21. Highly respected garden antiques and specialty new product exhibitors from the United States and Europe entertained more than 12,000 garden antiques lovers. There was definitely something for everyone in a wide variety of prices.
Fair highlights included designer and author Bunny Williams’ lecture “On Garden Style,” art historian and author Tom Armstrong on “A Garden and Art,” author and landscape designer Martha Baker on “The Outdoor Living Room” and garden designer Rebecca Cole on “Gardening in Unlikely Places.” Several horticulturists gave demonstrations on “Tiered Herb Gardens,” “Spring Containers” and “Creating Topiaries,” and exhibitor Judy Milne gave a booth talk on “Creating a Friendly Garden.”
Noted designer Bill Heffernan created the show’s environment, designing its whimsical indoor gardens including an aquatic garden, rivers of purple and blue violets and celestial spheres.
This year’s special exhibit featured the exquisite photographs of Amy Lamb. According to Heffernan, “Artist/scientist Amy Lamb’s photographs reveal the stunning beauty of form and color in nature. Each of Lamb’s images is a precise, artistic study of the interplay of light, color and form.” Lamb was on hand during the entire fair to explain her work in photographing flowers. By the conclusion of the fair, many of these images were sold.
Parrett/Lich, Inc from Georgetown, Ind., had a wonderfully located split booth on either side of the entrance to the show. Susan Parrett said, “We are selling up a storm. There are scads of people here.” Sales included a hickory sofa, a set of six chairs, wicker chairs, a limestone table, a concrete bird bath, iron gates, a floor lamp, trade signs, a piece Susan described as a “Fred Flintstone buffet” and “lots of things people could carry to their cars.” Rod Lich said, “Fortunately we came with lots of backup merchandise.”
Patrick Ottesen of Chicago’s Architectural Artifacts, Inc sold a fine stone bench and a huge carved gothic shelf; both pieces were headed for Washington, D.C. Their porcelain doll heads were “going like crazy.” As Patrick said, “There is definitely something for everyone.”
New exhibitor Danielle Ann Millican from Florham Park, N.J., was making her first appearance in the Midwest with woodcuts, engravings and lithographs. Danielle said, “The show was spectacular; it’s one of the best attended shows, and I am happy to be a part of it. It is a sophisticated market here, and I would love to do more shows in the Midwest.”
Denise Odell of Chicago’s Bleeker Street said, “It’s like a feeding frenzy. It’s totally infectious and snowballing. The venue could not be finer. Every year they manage to do something different to improve the fair. I stockpile merchandise for the whole year since I never bring the same thing twice.” Since Denise is a Chicago exhibitor, she was able to restock her exhibit each morning, especially with furniture.
From Dayton, Ohio, Mark Morris Home and Garden Collection sold a ton of garden pieces. Going to new homes were a set of 25 1927 botanicals, circa 1930 copper lanterns, a 1940s American quarter circle Regency-style bench, a large pair of decorator mirrors, a terra-cotta surround, a pair of Kramer Brothers grand urns, a large pair of lion urns, a pair of upswept arms Philadelphia-style urns, cast limestone figures, a cast-iron and limestone top console, and numerous people were interested in the J.W. Fiske 1890-1900 aquarium fountain with triple crane base and bouquet and vase holders. This beauty was restored to operating status. Mark said, “It was the best Friday crowd ever.”
Janet and Tobin Townsend from Callicoon Center, N.Y., described the crowds as “madness.” They were “amazed” at the number of people coming through the fair. Early sales included a pair of upholstered wicker chairs, two iron garden benches, a chandelier, a French meat rack, a pair of majolica candelabras and a rampant lion.
First-timer Jeff R. Bridgman from Dillsburg, Penn., sold a folk art sculpture of a goose, a dry sink in green paint and three flags. Jeff felt that “Stella and the Botanic Gardens did a fantastic job. It is one of the best previews I have ever been to. The crowds were immense, and I bought some great things.” Jeff continued, “The crowd seems to lack exposure to early Americana, unlike what we typically see in the Northeast, but there are sure a lot of them.”
Kevin Scanlon of Scanlon and Tuthill, Ltd from LaGrange Park, Ill., always had a huge crowd in his exhibit. He restocked his booth every day. Sales included a lot of cast-iron pieces and majolica, Chinese blue and white double happiness vases, wicker and a ton of other smalls.
Newcomer Kimball and Bean from Woodstock, Ill., was delighted with its reception at the gardens. German cast-iron castle gates, a console, a bunch of planters, two important stone seats and a chandelier were sold. Nancy told us, “We went home twice for more stuff.”
Returning from Roxbury, Conn., Male Antique Décor sold a fine wire trellis, a wrought iron bench, lots of garden smalls, wrought iron turtles, marble frogs and possibly the large screen.
Chicago’s Salvage One had “sold” tags on practically everything in its exhibit by the preview evening. After restocking, they sold out again. Louver doors, industrial cleaning trays filled with plants, ceramic urns, all sorts of planters and three pairs of enormous chocolate pots from a local chocolate maker all went out the door. Mark Steinke could just shake his head in amazement.
Portland Antiques from Portland, Maine, sold a huge copper lantern from a Hudson River paddle steamer, a pair of dog andirons, a rare form Ninth Century wrought iron twig bench and other cast-iron garden furniture.
Another newcomer was Carlson and Stevenson from Dorset, Vt., which sold many Nineteenth Century watercolors. Phyllis Carlson was “very pleased with the show and liked the mix of watercolors with a flower show.”
Chicago’s Vintage Pine sold two sets of six French garden chairs, three Louis Philippe mirrors, one pine mirror, a metal balcony, French wall lights and a French garden urn.
East Meets West Antiques from Woodbury, Conn., was in the Chicago area for the first time. Lewis Keister reported, “This is one of the best previews I ever had. The Botanic Garden and Stella are a phenomenal combination. They are so together on organization. I sold six pieces of furniture to one person during the preview. I had good steady sales and a good flow of people.”
Sharing an exhibit space was Village Braider from Plymouth, Mass., and Lance Hoyt from Brewerton, N.Y. Dealer Bruce Emond said the best thing they sold was a pair of lily of the valley cast-iron chairs. The dealers also sold a wonderful iron roof surround from a Victorian mansion, an iron screen, Nineteenth Century zinc and iron boundary markers, a Nineteenth Century window from a school, and lots of other garden merchandise.
Scott Filar of Mad Parade from Chicago also had an opportunity to keep bringing in more stuff and was constantly rearranging his exhibit. Scott said, “Each show is better than the one before. I sold a ton of cool stuff. It went so fast and furious.” Going to new homes or gardens were four cement folk art urns, two cement yard dogs, a metal bullfrog, Mardi Gras parade wands from the 1920s, a pair of folk art metal light fixtures in the shape of tulips painted red, and many smaller rdf_Descriptions.
When we saw David Drummond from Lititz, Penn., he had about three things left to sell in his booth. Needless to say, he was “very happy. I had to reset the booth three times.” Sales included a lot of large furniture, good garden stuff and American country decorative examples.
Chicago’s Alan Robandt reaction to the show was, “We love it! The sales are making us very happy.” Sales included a chandelier, a pair of Charles X wallpaper panels, a pair of Italian Neo-classical stools, a pair of modern iron urns, a pair of steel and glass pagoda-form hall lanterns, a set of four painted Mexican large open armchairs, a pair of carriage lanterns, a Galloway from Philadelphia, terra-cotta jardiniere and a George II japanned five-drawer chest.
New York’s The Garden Antiquary sold a few antique watering devices, a lot of small things, and a signed Mott Iron Works zinc mastiff dog. Moshe Bronstein was one of the very few who said, “The show was not as good as last year for me.”
Arthur Awe Ltd from White Plains, N.Y., reported that most sales were in the $500 to $3,000 range. Scott Halpern reported that he “could have sold my enormous iron mushroom cleaner 20 times.” He sold wicker seating, lamps, stone mushrooms, all of his Swiss Army shovels in leather cases to a buyer for Ralph Lauren, and a bamboo chaise lounge that is going to Aspen. His best piece that sold on opening night was a rope and wicker settee. Scott felt that “furniture had to be different to sell.”
From neighboring Winnetka, Maureen Byron of Trellis and Trugs sold Nineteenth Century French limestone urns in the Medici style, a lot of English saddle stones, early French Art Deco wrought iron gates, French pinecone limestone finials and additional French wrought iron gates.
M.J. Spear from nearby Wilmette sold out the first night. Bunny Williams bought an English harvest table from Julia Edelman and Michael Sherman. Everyone wanted their 1920s mint condition split reed set consisting of a sofa, magazine chair and armchair as well as their Grecian/Turkish urns. Their wonderful vintage fish, especially the tunas, were a hit of the show, and they sold two of them.
Additionally, they sold French 1940s beechwood upholstered chairs, and Nineteenth Century papier mache hand painted oil trays.
Winnetka’s Donald Stuart Antiques had excellent sales including chairs, benches, statuary, several pairs of urns, a table, a lot of botanical porcelains, several iron trellises, a mirror with console table, and Chinese wallpaper fragments. As William Stuart said, “People came to buy.”
Betsy Nathan of Chicago’s Pagoda Red related, “Stella really knows how to run a show.” The newest hot rdf_Descriptions are Nineteenth Century Chinese ancestral portraits that were selling well, along with one provincial Chinese daybed, a provincial Chinese table, inspiration stones and garden elephant ornaments from the Yunnan province.
Finnegan Gallery from Chicago sold three pairs of huge garden urns, a marble top table, a five-piece French bamboo set, a table and a French iron piece. Marty Shapiro said “It was like cream rising.”
Chicago’s Richard Reed Armstrong sold four large watercolors. Richard said, “We had a very good weekend. We are so happy to be part of this show. It has so much energy.”
Judith and James Milne, Inc from New York City sold a ton. Judith said, “The Midwestern crowd was very enthusiastic and appreciative.” People actually thanked her for coming from New York.
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