Published: December 23, 2019
OLD GREENWICH, CONN. – It wasn’t your grandfather’s Bambi, posed incongruously amid a spiky blanket of culled deer antlers on the stage of the main gallery of the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center. Nor were the plaid-clad taxidermies stationed at the center’s entrance. Instead, they were part of the transformation of the generally boxy, beige venue by the Greenwich Winter Antiques Show’s honorary design chair Bronson Van Wyck into a themed environment titled “Animal Instinct.” The show, opening with a gala on December 6 and continuing through the weekend, hewed to its traditional role of ushering in five days’ worth of events – holiday boutiques, house tours, luncheons and lectures, all designed to celebrate the holidays in “high style.”
And, as in past years the glittering opening night gala with hundreds of festively attired guests streaming in to preview the merchandise of approximately 40 top dealers assembled by Frank Gaglio of Barn Star Productions was designed to showcase the antiques, fine art, jewelry and luxury goods available for purchase over the weekend.
Although no attendance figures for the opening gala or weekend days were provided by Greenwich Historical Society, it seemed, according to Gaglio, that there were more people – both young and old – crowding the show’s entrance and show aisles on opening night.
From there, though, with many other holiday traditions – strolls, private parties, art openings (even the balmy pull of the Basel Art Fair way south) traffic through the displays over the following two days was light. “It’s a tough show,” said Gaglio when asked why many – though not all – dealers experienced a quiet weekend. “What happens? Maybe it’s the date, too close to Christmas? We certainly spent money on advertising, Google ads, more signage, etc,” said the promoter. The show was open to the public from 10 am to 6 pm on December 7 and 11 am to 5 pm on December 8. “I got comments that it was the best-looking show ever,” adding that some dealers made some sales, with the gate lighter on Saturday and definitely down on Sunday.
Old Lyme, Conn., fine art dealer Jeff Cooley reported that despite some interest on Saturday,” the show ended up pretty much a bust for us. I did sell two J. Alden Weir etchings that the buyer intends to offer as a gift to the historical society, so I gave him an attractive price and feel some goodwill. There is still part of me that believes the show has such potential, but it has been a struggle getting people in the door. I think everyone was in Miami!”
English, American and Continental furniture specialist Gary Sergeant concurred, “We sold enough to cover expenses. I think that the show could have used a few more ‘antiques’ dealers and fewer jewelers and style dealers. Greenwich has lost its ‘glow,’ as many established antiques shows have. Antiques shows need to show more glamour and energy. The public is getting bored with the current dealers’ efforts.” Sergeant quipped that he was “just speaking from 48 years of experience.”
“The show has become more and more challenging,” said midcentury maven and jewelry dealer Glen Leroux of Westport, Conn. “The foot traffic was very slow. I managed to sell a lucite swag chandelier, some fine art, a Jeffrey Bigelow pedestal, a Gucci bracelet and Tiffany pearl earrings. All in all, I did very well considering the foot traffic.”
Fresh from a phone-based shopping spree where he dropped nearly a quarter of million dollars on historic American flags at Freeman’s sale of the Peter J. Keim collection [See Antiques and The Arts Weekly, December 20, 2019], a more sanguine Jeff Bridgman said, “I am happy to say that I sold a number of things, made money as of a nice call-back and have a fair number of people that I am working with from the show that should result in major purchases.
“Greenwich is one of those shows where real things can still happen in the ever-more-difficult world of exhibiting at antiques shows. For the cost, it is a show that no high-end dealer should ignore. It has a long history and gets an excellent caliber audience who loves history and has the wherewithal to buy and collect it.”
That point was echoed by Dana Kraus, DKF Estate Jewelry, who pointed out that she is fortunate to have a loyal following in Greenwich, built over many years doing the show and working with a discerning clientele there. “This year we sold some important pieces by Cartier, Cummings, Verdura, Schlumberger. And we now offer decorative objects, from modern Elsa Peretti candlesticks to Edwardian boxes, and these got lots of attention. Kudos to Frank and his team for keeping this show chugging.”
For information, 845-876-0616 or www.barnstar.com.
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