Published: December 11, 2012
Sixteen years and growing, the Boston International Fine Arts Show (BIFAS) has established itself in the Boston firmament as the place to view and buy fine art of all kinds. This year’s event, November 15‱8, at the Boston Center for the Arts drew an inspired crowd that came to buy, and buy they did. This year’s beneficiary was Friends of the Children-Boston, and it was well supported by the community.
Curators and other museum officials were much in evidence, exploring and purchasing. Show manager Tony Fusco noted an interesting quirk. Although BIFAS focuses on Modern and contemporary art, interest in and sales of traditional pieces were much stronger than usual.
Fichera Fine Art’s Susanna J. Fichera and Michael W. Mahan mounted a display of Italian American art of the Twentieth Century. They included Rodolfo Marma’s 1965 “Angolo di Giardino” that was set in his native Florence, the oil on canvas “Song” by Ugo Omleto Giannini and the Gino Emilio Conti wood carving “The Virgin, Child and St John.” Aden Lasell Ripley’s “Grouse in the Birches” anchored an entire wall of the booth.
Kendall Fine Art from Atlanta showed the John Singer Sargent watercolor “Study of a Salmon.”
Quidley & Company of Boston and Nantucket hung an arresting piece by Steve Smulka, “Harborside,” a complex play of light and reflection on water and decanters. The gallery also had Tracey Harris’s “Everlast” and “Into the Woods” by Shaun Downey.
Show producers Bob Four and Tony Fusco put together a well-curated show, with bounce and sizzle, where lots of art changed hands. In addition to their roles as show producers, they run the gallery Fusco Four Modern. Showcased were such artists as Frederic James, whose 1948 watercolor “Missouri Landscape” was on view with works like the 1949 “Tessie, A Guitar Playing Girl from Texas” by Edward or Edwin S. Evans, a 1941 color silkscreen “Ferry to Welfare Island, NYC” by Hulda D. Robbins and the 1978 lithograph “The Secret” by Roger Medearis. Interest in their artists was high and sales were made.
Pierce Galleries of Nantucket and Hingham, Mass., showed Hermann Dudley Murphy’s “Portrait of a Boston Lady” in a hand carved gold leaf frame, Harry Roseland’s oil on canvas “Harvesters at Rest” and the 1957 Orville Bulman oil on canvas “Waiting for Ben West.”
William Vareika filled a booth with marine paintings, including William Trost Richards’ “Coastal View,” Charles Burchfield’s beautiful watercolor “Summer Haze” and “New England Coastal Scene with Sailboats” by Alfred T. Bricher. There was a dandy John LaFarge watercolor and gouache from about 1883, “Snow Study (Old House in Snow Storm, Newport.)” Bill and Alison Vareika have done the Boston shows for a number of years without a single sale. They love coming to Boston and meeting new and old clients. This year’s event was exceptional for them. Red sold stickers popped up all over the booth and Bill Vareika himself was observed wrapping up an important painting at the end of the preview party.
Martha Richardson Fine Art of Boston exhibited floral still lifes on an exterior wall, including Benjamin Champney’s 1880 “Still Life with Apple Blossoms” and Jonas Joseph LaValley’s “Still Life with Potted Plant and Book.” Richardson also showed Hilda Belcher’s “The Letter S” and a selection of works by Boston artist John Leslie Breck, including a Venetian view of the Giudecca Canal and an evening view of Giverny.
Avery Galleries of Bryn Mawr, Penn., is another exhibitor of long standing at Fusco & Four shows. Richard Rossello said the firm had a good show, capped by the sale of an important work by Nineteenth Century artist William Lamb Picknell. Avery showed Harry Aiken Vincent’s “Tuna Fishermen,” Nancy Maynard Ferguson’s “Provincetown,” the circa 1889 “Children in the Park” by Frederick Childe Hassam and two by John LaFarge, the watercolor “Winter Evening Sky” and “On the Beach, Satapuala.”
Les Enfants du Paradis came from Parma, Italy, with American and European works that elicited good sales. A Francesco Paolo Michetti pastel nude from 1885 was of interest, as was the selection of fine pictures that found homes in the Boston area.
Contemporary art with a Pop Art influence was offered by Kobalt Gallery of Provincetown, and sales were forthcoming. English artist Jo Hay’s “United States” filled an entire wall †comprising 50 red, green and blue 10-by-10-inch oil on canvas self-portraits inspired by Francis Bacon. The gallery also showed “Baptist Bus” and “Aces and Spades” by Deborah Martin and work by Dave Laro.
Boston’s Vose Galleries, approaching its 172nd year, brought examples of the traditional and contemporary works of art it represents. A mellow 1874 view of Greenwood Lake in New Jersey by Jasper Francis Cropsey grabbed lots of eyes, as did a Boston scene by William Churchill, a member of the first class at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Vose’s contemporary works offered included “On the Wings of Morning,” a marine painting by Jonas Lie, the work of Maine artist Donald Demers, a pastel by Janet Monafo and sculpture by Elliot Offner, whose work is the subject of an exhibit at the Newbury Street gallery.
Joel Babb’s 2012 oil on linen “Painting by the Brook †Breughel Watching, Nezinscot Rover, Turner, Maine” featured his dog, Breughel, and an unattended easel.
Gerold Wunderlich & Co, came from New York with a fine Lockwood de Forest from between 1879 and 1886, “Bank of the Nile Opposite Cairo, Egypt,” in a beautifully carved frame. There was also the circa 1890 “Spring Morning in Venice” by Henry Pember Smith.
Debra Force of New York showed Robert Vonnoh’s “Girl from the North,” a John Singer Sargent watercolor, “Head of a Young Girl,” “Venetian Courtyard” by Maurice Brazil Prendergast and the 1889 “Newsboy” by John George Brown. Her sales were highly gratifying.
Portland, Maine, dealer Tom Veilleux was busy all over the show. His sales were impressive. He showed sculpture such as Elie Nadelman’s “Bust of a Woman” alongside Lithuania-born Boris Lovet-Lorski’s bronze “Horse.” Charles Burchfield’s “Patriot’s House” hung with Marsden Hartley’s “Two Gulls.”
From Cambridge, Mass., the From Russia With Love Gallery brought a group of Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Impressionist works by the Russian American artists Anatoly Dverin and Alexander Korman. Both artists painted internationally, with scenes of St Petersburg, Venice, Norway, Boston and Maine all part of the mix.
Principle Gallery of Alexandria, Va., showed work by Geoffrey Johnson, including his 2012 oil on panel “All Horses.” Still lifes by Massachusetts artist Larry Preston included “Egg and Shells No. 6” with broken eggs and shells, and “Fruit Bowl No. 2” with several pieces of peeled fruit.
Washington, D.C., dealer Stephen M. Foster gave over an entire wall to accommodate the full-length French school portrait “A Woman of Character.” Foster also brought along several marine paintings that were highly desirable to buyers.
Bowersock Gallery of Provincetown and Mount Dora, Fla., showed three oil on canvas on panel works by Christopher W.A. Pothier depicting the angst of the modern businessman, “Open Air” by Cindy Rizza, the bronze “Emergence” by Christopher Gowell and two architectural acrylic on canvas paintings by Michael Palmer.
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