Fourteen years and growing, the Boston International Fine Arts Show (BIFAS) brought 40 dealers to Boston’s Cyclorama building for the November 18′1 event. The strength of the show increases each year, reflected in a higher gate and robust sales. Museum curators, dealers and collectors are always among the attendees viewing and purchasing works delivered by galleries across the United States and from Europe. This year was no exception.
This year’s preview party benefited the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which is the largest musical organization in the world, comprising the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops and Tanglewood. Members of the orchestra provided music for the preview party. While the party crowd was perceived as slightly smaller than in previous years, sold stickers proliferated throughout the party and over the course of the four-day event, and residual sales continue.
Arader Galleries came from New York City and filled the central wall of a booth with the compelling Audubon ornithological prints for which the gallery is noted. Other walls were hung with historic prints and maps that attracted interest and sold stickers.
Susanna J Fichera Fine Art, Arlington, Mass., and Bowdoinham, Maine, sold four paintings early on, and had strong interest in others. Fichera showed the 1907 Italian scene “Processional, Chioggia” by American artist Augustus B. Koopman, Carle J. Blenner’s “Poinsettias” and two abstract works by Agnes Weinrich.
“Noble Zapallo” by photorealist artist Sidney Bella Sparrow was selected as the cover image for the program book. It was offered by Bowersock Gallery of Provincetown and sold during the preview party. Bowersock also showed pieces by William Thomson, several of which sold over the course of the show, as well as by Michael Palmer and Dennis Perrin.
Eckert Fine Art of Kent, Conn., showed work by Eric Forstmann, who studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Art, Boston. A trustee of the museum bought a Forstmann painting, which will be donated to the institution.
Show managers Tony Fusco and Bob Four wear many hats, including those of art dealers. Their Boston gallery Fusco & Four Modern was among the exhibitors and had sales during the show and postshow sales as well. They offered work by Sam Stetson, Karl Hagedorn and Maxim M. Elias.
“Winter Night,” the circa 1917 oil on canvas by William Louis Carrigan, stood out on an outer wall in the Koman Fine Art booth. The next day, the Vero Beach, Fla., dealer was forced to relocate it to another wall to fill the spaces left by four sales early in the show.
Marine Arts Gallery of Salem, Mass., filled its deep blue walls with marine art and ship’s paintings. The offerings included a painting by Frank Vining Smith that attracted serious attention from a couple who live in his former home on the South Shore and is considering adding to the house.
Introspective cityscapes, many with precipitation, attracted attention on the walls of Alexandria, Va., dealer Principle Gallery. Reflective works by Geoffrey Johnson, Douglas Fryer and Larry Preston elicited strong interest and resulted in sales of four Johnson works, three for Fryer and two for Preston. In a postshow email, Principle director Ali Ringenburg wrote, “We had a fantastic time at BIFAS!”
Boston’s Martha Richardson Fine Art experienced good sales, particularly of Modernist pieces by William Zorach, Ben Zion and Agnes Weinrich. Richardson reported strong interest in several other works from her Newbury Street gallery.
William Vareika Fine Arts came from Newport, R.I., with some fine paintings, including “Coast of Newport,” the 1874 oil on canvas by Martin Johnson Heade. While the Heade remained unsold, Bill Vareika was confident of sales. His faith paid off: two other paintings sold before the week was out to a buyer from the show. A Gilbert Stuart circa 1815 portrait of Allen Crocker was on view, foretelling the upcoming exhibit at Vareika, “Gilbert Stuart and His Times,” a benefit for the Gilbert Stuart Museum in Saunderstown, R.I.
Most venerable gallery was Gladwell and Company, founded in London in 1752. A regular at BIFAS, Gladwell showed a Seventeenth Century Dutch still life with lobster and fruit by Laurens Craen, “The Fisherman’s Proposal” by Belgian artist Edward Porteilje, a view of San Giorgio by Antoine Bouvard, Sr and the memorable “Grand Central Station” by Scottish artist Clive McCartney.
Donna Heinley, whose Heinley Fine Arts Ltd was an exhibitor, offered a wide selection of the French Barbizon works for which she is known. Early in the preview, works were already on hold. “We always do well here,” said Heinley.
Questroyal showed Niles Spencer’s “Providence, R.I.,” a view of ships tied up along a wharf; “Northern Lights” by Sidney Laurence; “Rockport Harbor, Maine,” a 1919 view by Max Kuehne; and a Paris street scene by Everett Shinn. Sold stickers appeared during the preview in the New York City gallery’s booth, including one on a Charles E. Burchfield painting.
Also from New York City, Debra Force showed William Trost Richard’s “Conanicut near Gray Cliff” a scene of the Narragansett Bay island where the artist had a home, a Frederick Childe Hassam watercolor, Jane Peterson’s “Venice, Late Afternoon,” “American Flag” by Julian Alden Weir, Norman Rockwell’s 1934 “Fishes Like Neckties” and Marsden Hartley’s 1919 “Fruit (Pears, New Mexico).”
Clarke Gallery of Newburyport, Mass., showed work by Wilson Henry Irvine, “Charleston Doorway” by Anthony Thieme and “Old Town, Augusta, Georgia,” by Horace Talmage Day, who was the first director of the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta. Karen Clarke, who is a highly respected artist, showed her found paper and gouache collages, which attracted interest.
Explosive color and vibrant form signaled the work of Dale Chihuly on view in the Schantz Galleries booth. The Stockbridge, Mass., gallery offered prints and glass constructions such as the 2006 “Lobster and Cuttlefish atop a Speckled Carmine Vessel,” several seaform sets, including a Zinnia yellow example with tangerine lip wraps and a bottle green example with Rubiat lip wraps, both from 2001.
Bethesda, Md., dealer Fraser Gallery showed a selection of work by Maryland artist John Aquilino. The gallery also had a portrait of Seiji Ozawa, former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which sold during the preview.
“Noon at the Fair,” an evocative 1940 image by Paul Starrett Sample, was for sale from the Caldwell Gallery of Manlius, N.Y. Caldwell also displayed “At the Dry Dock, Gloucester, Massachusetts,” a circa 1924 gouache by Eleanor Parke Custis, and Ernest Fiene’s 1943 “January,” a wooded wintry landscape with deer. The gallery had several sales during the show.
BIFAS offered several extras for visitors: the panel discussion of “Art in Your Home” with three interior design professionals, and a “New Collectors Series” that included a discussion of Realism and a walking explication of the art on view by Tony Fusco.
For additional information, www.fineartboston.com or 617-363-0405.