Published: April 2, 2019
Review and Photos by Madelia Hickman Ring
HARTFORD, CONN. – A very unspring-like cold front moved through Connecticut on Friday, March 22, and in Hartford, conditions were clear but cold for what has become a much-anticipated annual spring event for collectors for 46 years. A smaller roster of dealers – 43 now down from 56 who participated at the same event last year – lent the floor a sparse but nonetheless tasteful appearance.
Those who have been regular attendees for many years may have noticed some other changes. The word “Antique” has been dropped from the official name of the show, and the show was branded as “Arts and Objects through the Ages,” with modern and contemporary works and objects among the offerings on the floor. Some of these changes were spearheaded by the Haddam Historical Society, which benefits from the show and uses the proceeds to help fund their educational programming and exhibitions, the care and maintenance of the Thankful Arnold House and its collection and its historic garden. Speaking after the show, society director, Elizabeth Malloy, said that attendance was comparable with that of the previous year.
The society has gone to great lengths to educate and draw in a younger demographic and as an incentive, offered free admission to the show on Sunday for anyone age 35 or younger. The ploy worked and Malloy said this was the best year they had had for that demographic. Part of the initiatives to draw in a younger demographic included involving furniture designer, blogger and influencer Kate Avery and Emily Brandenburg, web-designer and collector, to speak at the show. Avery, whose booth “Living With Antiques” was aimed to show how antiques can coexist with modern or contemporary works, gave a talk Saturday titled, “Fresh Design with Antiques,” and she and Brandenburg were available on Saturday afternoon to talk about how to combine antiques and more contemporary pieces suitable for millennial lifestyles.
Avery has created a business restoring reproduction furniture that boasts a large following on social media. Antiques and The Arts Weekly reached out for her thoughts on the show, the reception she received and what she feels to be the reasons why millennials and other young generations do not collect antiques. Avery said they had a good turnout with “some awesome” dialogue. There were more millennials at the show than she had seen at previous shows and attributed some of that to several of her social media followers who came to the show. She said the biggest reason is money, that younger generations and millennials simply do not have the funds to spend on antiques. When asked what dealers could do to make sales to younger generations, Avery said dealers could bring inexpensive quality items that were affordable to people of more limited means; she also suggested that the show court young dealers who utilize social media and who could bring some of their followers to the show.
Just inside the entrance, Mark Allen’s booth was busy from the moment the show opened. Among several recent acquisitions that his associate, Bill Wibel, pointed out were an Eighteenth Century heart-shaped blue and white glazed tulip vase with duck-form handles by Hendrik Van Horn and a mid-Eighteenth Century Dutch Delft five-piece octagonal garniture set depicting a hunter with hounds that looked wonderful placed atop a circa 1770 maple chest on frame from the Bartlett school of New Hampshire.
Did you know that David Good, Camden, Ohio, can boast four generations of New Jersey-based cabinetmakers among his ancestors? One of the pieces Good had prominently displayed was a circa 1765 Queen Anne maple highboy that Good said had been made by one of them. It had its original brasses and surface and had come from a New Jersey collection. Other not-to-miss works were a painting of a horse by N.E. Pratt and a portrait of a lady by Micah Williams. During the show, Good sold among other things, a folk portrait of a child.
Being near the door can have advantages, and Daniel and Karen Olson’s booth saw brisk traffic because of it. While Dan was busy talking up the merits of a New England highboy with fan-carved drawer, Karen showed off a showstopping large portrait of four children that dominated their booth. The painting had provenance to the American Folk Art Gallery of New York City, Kenneth and Stephen Snow and the Donna Fields Small collection. Also of note was a Connecticut cherrywood chest on frame, a painted four-drawer chest and a set of four yellow-painted fancy chairs.
Also enjoying a prominent spot on the floor was Stephen Score, a last-minute addition who had not done the show since the 1980s, when Fran Phipps was running it. Score said he had a very good show and was particularly pleased to meet and sell to new clients. He noted sales of paintings, folk art, textiles and decorative accessories, during both the show and set-up.
Kevin Rita and Bruce Emond, Village Braider, paired up to share a booth in the corner of the floor and had filled it with modern art, antiques and garden statuary. Kevin Rita, Garvey Rita Art & Antiques, particularly wanted to point out some modernist works by Morris Shulman and Howard Rackliffe, both artists from Hartford who painted in Maine. During the show, two of the Rackliffe’s sold with interest in the other, and a museum was interested in the Shulman. An imposing Nineteenth Century carved granite figure of a woman carrying a pitcher from Albany, N.Y., was reminiscent of the stylized figures by Outsider artist, William Edmundson…at a fraction of the price.
John Rogers filled a two-piece Pennsylvania corner cupboard with rainbow-hued spatterware pottery, while molds, redware, painted smalls and framed works of art dominated the rest of his booth. For furniture, the New London, N.H., dealer had a slant-lid desk that had been with the Kembles, as well as a hutch table that fronted his booth.
The show fields just a few exhibitors who deal almost exclusively in fine art, and one of them is the Cooley Gallery. Jeff Cooley had brought an entire wall of small works by Zbigniew Grzyb (b 1943), an abstract contemporary Connecticut artist who worked as a security guard for the New Britain Museum of American Art and whose works are in several corporate collections in Connecticut as well as that of the New Britain Museum of American Art. At the show, he sold a work by Connecticut artist Nelson A. Moore and two watercolors. While Cooley had interest in the Grzybs, it did not translate into sales at the show, though he was hopeful a post-show sale might go through.
Mo Wajselfish of Leatherwood Antiques had the wonderfully eclectic mix of things that has become his hallmark. The Sandwich, Mass., dealer sold a variety of things, including ceramics, Vienna bronzes, wooden articles and things off his wall.
Roberto Freitas had just returned to Connecticut from doing several shows out of state, including Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. One of the pieces Freitas was delighted to have was a Queen Anne mahogany highboy from Rhode Island or coastal Connecticut that had an unusual boot-form leg, similar to another example in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery. He was happy to report that during the show, a client took a painting on approval and later bought it.
Joan Brownstein, Wiscasset, Maine, is an artist in addition to being a dealer and she had brought several of her own works to the show, including paintings and jewelry, in addition to a mid-Nineteenth Century painting of a Pennsylvania farmhouse and a group of three miniature paintings by Arnon Dalee.
Also from Wiscasset, Maine, was Peter H. Eaton, whose booth prominently featured the Platt family Queen Anne dropleaf table with Israel Sack provenance, a Chippendale serpentine front chest of drawers from Connecticut, a crewel embroidered pocket found in Enfield, Conn., a near pair of Queen Anne side chairs with Spanish feet probably from Connecticut, a third-quarter Eighteenth Century six-board chest from northern New England and a late Twentieth Century carved swan decoy by James P. Hand of New Jersey. Eaton ended up selling a Queen Anne highboy, a Connecticut Queen Anne server, an inlaid Portsmouth candlestand, a terrific pair of Sheraton ‘fancy’ chairs, miniatures, small pictures, and a good Shaker box.
Litchfield, Conn., dealer, Jeffrey Tillou brought to the show a leaping stag weathervane that appeared to retain much of its original gilt surface, a diminutive early Nineteenth Century paint-decorated blanket chest from York, Penn., a Connecticut Chippendale secretary, a pair of portraits by William Bonnell, an Index horse weathervane by Howard and a pair of fancy painted side chairs with wonderful pineapple decoration.
Old Saybrook, Conn., needlework dealers Stephen and Carol Huber find the audience at the Hartford show want Connecticut-made samplers and pictorial needlework, so they bring it! They sold a work by Ann Huntington of Norwich, Conn., as well as several other samplers and silk embroideries, with two sales to new customers.
Just across the aisle from Eaton were Grace and Elliott Snyder, whose booth was usually busy enough for each of them to be speaking to different clients at the same time, with sold tags visible early on. One of the things Grace was particularly pleased to have was a Seventeenth Century English needlework mirror that had been in the collection of Irvin Untermyer, illustrated in a book on tapestries and textile in the Untermyer collection and included in a 1945 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum titled “English Domestic Needlework.” The Snyders sold a bannister back side chair with fully developed crest, an early leatherback Boston chair, two pieces of needlework, three early candlesticks, a small collection of early painted woodenware, as well as an assortment of early accessories.
In addition to two trade signs for edge tools made by Collins Company of Canton, Conn., Arthur Liverant shows off a portrait of Caroline Pease from Enfield, Conn., a pictorial needlework from Miss Patten’s School in Hartford and an impressive tavern sign dated 1831 for Robertson’s Tavern and Village Hotel of Windsorville, Conn. The sign had been included in Connecticut Historical Society’s 2000-01 exhibition and catalog, “Lions & Eagles & Bulls: Early American Tavern & Inn Signs.” Liverant was happy to say that among the sales they had was a tall clock to clients they had never sold to before.
One of the most interesting things in the booth of Sam Herrup was a small painted four-wheel chariot that would have been pushed by a monkey in a circus, late Nineteenth Century. Among many newly acquired items he brought to the show, the Sheffield, Mass., dealer had a mid-Nineteenth Century hutch table with three-board top and a pair of rush-seat Queen Anne side chairs with Spanish front feet, a set of six watercolors depicting Chinese occupations and a pair of Chinese spindle-back armchairs. He ended up selling a couple pieces of furniture, a good piece of redware, some stoneware and some other smalls.
Axtell Antiques’ proprietor, Richard “Smitty” Axtell had clients in his booth throughout Saturday morning. Among his favorite pieces were a landscape that depicted a Greek Revival house in New York State. He had acquired it from a home near Cooperstown, N.Y., and thought it was originally from the Rochester, N.Y., area. Axtell is busy doing shows, having shown in Rochester the weekend before the Hartford show but has a bit of a break before he does the Penn Dry Goods Market in Pennsburg, Penn., in mid-May. He said he had some nice sewing implements to take if he did not sell them beforehand.
The Connecticut show is a good show for Newcastle, Maine, folk art dealers Jewett-Berdan Antiques, who had a wonderful carved and painted eagle from a Hudson River paddle wheeler, circa 1880. Thomas Jewett also pointed out a vibrantly painted blanket chest and a small dome-top box, both of which had been in the collection of Burton and Helaine Fendelman that Sotheby’s sold in 1993. After the sale, Jewett said that they had sold an important Joseph H. Davis folk watercolor, a couple of good decorated boxes, a Rufus Porter miniature and a pair of carousel horses.
Stephen-Douglas Antiques of Rockingham, Vt., brought its usual good variety of paintings, furniture and other decorative objects. When asked what a piece worthy of comment was, they pointed out an Eighteenth Century English slipware charger that had been in the collection of Roger Bacon and the cover of the catalog from when Skinner sold it in the fall of 1982.
Steve and Lorraine German, Mad River Antiques, North Granby, Conn., specialize in stoneware, baskets and textiles and had wonderful examples in all of those collecting categories. However, Lorraine directed this reporter’s eye to an 1875 Colorado landscape that included an Indian encampment by Joshua H. Wyckoff that occupied a prime location in the center of the back wall of the booth. Steve later said that in addition to a wallpaper box, some stoneware and a few other smalls, they sold out of the Easter things Lorraine had brought.
A good mix of furniture and decorative smalls filled the booth of Kensington, Conn., dealer Derik Pulito, but it was his paintings he most wanted to talk about. Occupying pride of place was a landscape with cows by James MacDougal Hart (1828-1901), who he said is considered among the elites of the second generation of Hudson River artists. Also, of note were a landscape of Lake George by Custer Ingham and a painting of chickens by Wesley Webber (1841-1914). He said he had a very good crowd on Saturday with several quick sales of Eighteenth Century smalls and paintings.
According to Karen and Paul Wendhiser, people were looking for spring things, specifically vintage Easter candy containers. Among other sales the Ellington, Conn., dealers made were lots of country smalls, including a wall box, military frame, redware, Mexican silver jewelry, hearth iron and a six-board blanket chest.
The show boasted five new exhibitors to the show and Gleason Fine Art was one of them. The Boothbay Harbor, Maine, dealers specialize in primarily Maine artwork dating from the early Twentieth Century to those by contemporary artists. Another vendor new to the show was Country Cupboard Antiques, Princeton, Wis., A stunningly vibrant red circa 1800 linsey-woolsey bed cover dominated one wall while the rest of the booth featured predominantly painted game boards, firkins and buckets, boxes and figures, as well as some small pieces of furniture. Other dealers who were making their Connecticut show debut were Brittania House, Riegelsville, Penn.; Jane Langol, Medina, Ohio; and Willow Springs Perennial, Rexford, N.Y.
The Hartford Armory is at 360 Broad Street. For information, www.ctspringshow.com.
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