Published: October 23, 2018
Review and Photos by W.A. Demers
RHINEBECK, N.Y. – Three buildings at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds were packed to the gills with antiques, fine art and collectibles for visitors over Columbus Day weekend as Barn Star Productions and the show’s promoter Frank Gaglio closed out the 2018 season with an impressive roster of well-regarded dealers and lively material in nearly every booth. Gaglio continues to rebuild the Rhinebeck brand as a premier showcase with the gamut of material culture across centuries and continents.
Characterizing the weekend as “my best Rhinebeck in a decade,” folk art signage expert Victor Weinblatt, South Hadley, Mass., summed it up this way: “As corny as it may sound, Rhinebeck is more than a great show: it is a great family. Once again, Frank Gaglio hit it out of the park. Billboards, show-sections, email blasts and an amazing personal presence. As it is impossible in these times to find an onsite shipper, Frank now offers to deliver pieces himself. Who does that? Frank Gaglio does. Nine days out of heart surgery, Frank and Lynn [Webb] made sure I had everything I needed.”
Contacted afterwards, Gaglio acknowledged that he made some post-show deliveries – nine, to be exact, in New Jersey and New York – but said that he is actively looking for an onsite shipper for future shows. “I delivered a great blanket chest from Bob Perry’s booth, a very nice early workbench from the Wordens, a yellow bucket bench to New Jersey, an apothecary chest from Maggie Milgrim’s booth, a plantation desk from Mike Haskins, a painted chest of drawers from Sandy Levy’s booth – a lot of great pieces,” said Gaglio.
There was another delivery of a very special kind made during the show. The “First Rhinebeck Show Baby” was delivered at the Northern Dutchess Family Birthing Center on October 6. Weighing 6 pounds 7 ounces, Hunter Reyes is the new baby boy of Barn Star assistants Amanda and Joe Reyes. Recalls, Gaglio, “Amanda was due in three weeks. She was helping some of the dealers, like Bill Union, load in – not heavy lifting, but smaller items – and because I live in Rhinebeck, they were staying with me over the weekend. At about 1:30 in the morning, I wake up to hear conversation between her and Joe in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It turns out her water broke, so we rushed her to the hospital where they induced labor. Several dealers contributed donations to Hunter’s college fund and a card was signed – Congratulations to the new parents and appreciation to the Northern Dutchess Family Birthing Center for another job well done.”
Along with Hunter, there were plenty of gatherers over the weekend. “I was thrilled with Saturday,” said Gaglio, “which had exceptional attendance. I am, however, more impressed by what I see going out, than who I see coming in. I’d rather have 100 serious buyers than twice as many ‘tire-kickers.'”
“From the opening moment to the closing minutes, selling was very strong for me,” said Weinblatt. “We immediately sold our favorite piece, a lodge sign from East Alton, N.H., accompanied by a documenting photograph: “Kareless Klub Camp. Who Enters Here, Leaves Care Elsewhere.” Other sales included “Fried Clams” in the best Prussian blue with an ivory white script; “Hollywood Lodge,” ironically a rustic upstate New York sign with a glamorous place name; “Then & Now,” a graphic shop sign, a shield-shaped bakery sign; a double-sided “Strawberry Patch” sign with ripe fruit imagery; a bath-house sign reading “Showers…Lockers”; the Boothbay Harbor, Maine, sign for the boat that ran to Southport Island, “Island Ferry”; a Connecticut sign in graphic and naive font proclaiming “Beer and Wine”; a “Pirate” sled in spectacular color, surface and ironwork; a pair of andirons of Ducks among the Cat-tails; a New Hampshire sign, “Bates Motel: Vacancies” from a dealer’s private collection and more.
Longtime show regular Sanford Levy, Jenkinstown Antiques, remarked that the large crowd on Saturday was followed by a smaller one on Sunday. The New Paltz, N.Y., dealer sold a painted chest of drawers, a Queen Anne armchair and some smalls. The Queen Anne armchair, a side chair and a tavern table came out of the collection of Fred J. Johnston, a Kingston, N.Y., antiques dealer who attained national stature by assembling an outstanding collection of Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Century furnishings and decorative arts, which he displayed in the eight rooms of a historic house he rescued in 1937. He used the house as both his home and showroom. “I was surprised that I did not sell some of the stoneware from that recently purchased collection,” said Levy. “Lots of interest in some local paintings…some are being considered.”
Folk art was again well represented in the booth of Susan Wechsler, South Road Antiques, Hudson, N.Y. “I had very good preshow sales based on ads and notes to clients inviting them to visit,” said Wechsler. “Sold stuff both out of my barn space and to other dealers. It was also very nice that my clients returned to the show and purchased things. Although I did sell to a designer and a set decorator, I think the big design show in Kingston might have pulled away some potential buyers from our show. A large majority of the people who came into my booth were show regulars, and mostly local or second home locals.”
Wechsler added that she can never predict what to bring and what will sell. “This time, in particular, I did not sell any of the furniture I brought, but did sell several signs and three paintings, a variety of objects, a rug and smalls, especially some vintage French silverware molds. In previous shows, furniture went out the door the first day.”
Among the interesting pieces Wechsler brought to the show was a pair of drawings on cardboard by early Twentieth Century Outsider artist Lewis Smith. One was titled “International” and the other “Woman on Steps,” and both measured 11Ã½ by 14 inches. “I got them at auction, along with many others and his diaries,” said Wechlser, who added, “I don’t think Rhinebeck is a place to sell Outsider art. I have quite a bunch from various artists, but don’t tend to bring it to these shows.”
From Medina, Ohio, Jane Langol set up a pleasing tableau featuring some of the Weller pottery for which she is well known. Flanking a nicely conserved Heywood Wakefield wicker chair and stand was a pair of umbrella stands by the Zanesville, Ohio, pottery; in particular, one in the “Flemish” pattern and a “sister” stand in the “Burnt Wood” negative color. They were on offer along with several American Impressionist paintings and an eider duck with great color in the beak. “I had a wonderful Rhinebeck this fall,” said Langol. “I sold a Bokhara rug for $2,400, which was a great boost to my sales. I also sold the wicker set, including the chair and the table. Pottery seemed to have interest since I sold four pieces, including a Weller jardiniere and a great piece of Redwing Pottery designed by Charles Murphy in 1942. It was very Deco with portrait of Picasso-type woman’s face in relief. A very artsy piece! Another great sale for my booth was the polychrome – red, green and mustard – zinc capital crest from a town building in Goshen, Ind. I love architectural items, and this was one of the best I had ever owned.”
Langol reported that, for her, strong attendance continued on Sunday. “I accepted checks from two parties from downtown Manhattan indicating that folks are coming out from the city to attend the show. I believe the selling floor had a great focus on two-dimensional art. Sadly, I sold only one painting, yet I bought two great pieces for the inventory. One of a Cape Cod house and the other an urban scene by Harriette Landon. I was able to purchase a pair of stencil-decorated chairs.”
“It’s funny to watch people picking out their favorite forms and color,” said dealer Ed Holden of a large basket filled with stone fruit creating a harvest-like mood in the booth he and his wife Anita had in the middle front aisle in Building C. The Sherman, Conn., dealers agreed that Saturday attendance was “quite good and we felt the buyer quality was very good. We had good customers from New York City and northern New Jersey. These are the key areas for success at Rhinebeck.
“Our sales were very nice for this new era of shows and prices,” Ed continued. “The price was important to the buyers. They were looking for value for their money. We sold more than 30 items but only a few were more than $1,000. The variety of items sold was quite broad. We had good interest in many categories from paintings to sporting decoys to folk art to unusual gadgets to even some furniture.”
Folk art dealer Ed Miller was manning the Pioneer Folk Art booth by himself this time, as his wife Lily had bruised herself with a fall at one of the Vermont Antiques Week shows the week before. He reported that despite this, the show went well, “resulting in total sales that were certainly within the desired range of our prior fall Rhinebeck shows. Included in those sales were two paintings, two decorative midcentury wall sculptures, a weathervane, an early fence post carving, a nautical item, along with several garden and architectural pieces and a tile table. We truly enjoy the Rhinebeck venue and look forward to its 2019 season,” said the Ellsworth, Maine, dealer.
As a show bonus, Barn Star presented a special exhibit featuring art photography by Ernest Shaw, sculptor, painter, photographer, visionary and observer of life, death and mortality through iconic color photographs. His exhibit titled “Marking Time” presented his most recent photographic work in a gallery setting and all works were available for purchase.
“It was a very nice opportunity for the first public exhibition of my photographs, which I’ve been working on for nearly a year,” said Shaw after the show. “I saw a very strong response to the photographs, both to their visual strength and to their narratives about mortality and our relationship to time, to change and transformation. While people were drawn differently to the three series I had shown, several found the masks and heads scintillating, others found them disturbing. So life, and art goes. But I’m always curious about how others see and interpret my work.
“There was far more interest than I’d frankly expected at a primarily antiques and folk art venue, and this was no doubt enhanced by the effort and energy of Frank Gaglio to generously print an illustrated article on the work in the show magazine as well as in the trade papers. He was very supportive of the guest artist project, and completely available to help make it happen.
“I made several sales of photographs and have other appointments of people who are planning to come by my studio to follow up, expressing interest in paintings and sculpture as well. Also, a well-known writer on the arts, strongly responsive to my photos, is planning to write an article about the photographs for my upcoming show, opening November 16 and running through December 14 at the Muroff Kotler Gallery of SUNY Ulster, in Stone Ridge. All in all, a very gratifying exhibition.”
Rhinebeck will return for its spring edition at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds on May 25-26. For information, 845-876-0616 or www.barnstar.com.
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