Published: March 20, 2007
In the historic First Congregational Church of Darien, a group of more than 30 volunteers worked for almost a year to put together a classic antiques show for the benefit of organizations supported by the church. In its 40th year, the Darien Antiques Show, March 2‴, is like its venue †charming, welcoming and grand.
In various rooms throughout the church’s interconnected buildings, viewers could see a variety of American and English furnishings, fine art, books, prints, silver, jewelry, porcelain and textiles in the roomlike displays by more than 30 selected dealers. The settings were lovely, and, like a carnival funhouse, unexpected room displays overflowed into hallways leading visitors through a mazelike adventure in fine antiques.
Janet Soskin, one of the managers of this year’s show, said, “We feel that each year the show gets better and this year was no exception. The attendance was steady and there was a great deal of buying.” There is a high return rate of exhibitors each year †”we lose only about ten percent through conflicts or moves. Our show provides a friendly and efficient environment that they all welcome.”
Patricia Hedlund, a show volunteer, commented, “I think that this year, particularly, you could change the name of this show to the Darien ‘Fine Art’ and Antiques show, due to the prominence of the art work in the dealers’ booths.”
Patricia Barger, who for 30 years has specialized in tall case clocks and fine art, was a good example, with several paintings in her booth that she, “would like to have as my own.” She comes from Fairfield, Conn., with her clocks †this year she had six on display †and her fine art. “I missed a few years due to conflicts with other events, but I am happy to be back. I had two wonderful sales of paintings this year,” she said.
A family from Greenwich, Conn., bought a large, museum-quality oil on canvas of a young ballerina. Signed by the artist Edzard Dietz (German, 1893‱963), it was attracting crowds during the Friday night preview party. The second painting was a smaller interior scene of a fireplace with delftware on the mantel piece; it also went to a local collector.
Glenbrook Antiques was set up on the stage in the Parish Hall with fine art and furniture. The Hudson, N.Y., dealer had a George P. Ennis (1881‱936) painting of a group of gaff-rigged fishing boats sailing by cliffs in Maine that was in a gilt frame. A large oil on canvas by the American Impressionist Robert Emmett Owen (1878‱957) was of a New England farm scene †”probably Connecticut” †Jason James Komyathy, owner, said. “My best sale, however, was a circa 1800 bow front Hepplewhite dresser, New England, Federal period. I could have sold that dresser four times during the show.”
Komyathy has been exhibiting in Darien since 1995 and, while he found Sunday a bit slower than years past, he confirmed that it is “a good show; the people who run it are wonderful †conscientious and very enthusiastic.”
Other oil and watercolor pieces were at Nicoll Fine Art from Newcastle, Maine, where the dealer had a selection of American artists, notably several women artists, including Olivia Parker Black. Also on display was an American mahogany server from around 1810, with satin wood inlay; its smaller size made it unusual and appealing.
Donna Kmetz was set up in the library with mainly American Impressionists. Particularly attracting attention was “The Blueberry Pickers” by a mid-Nineteenth Century artist from the local Silvermine, Conn., school. It was in its original frame with incised roses and was “taken out on approval,” the Douglas, Mass., dealer mentioned.
More art, mostly of the Rockport School, was on display at Blue Heron Fine Art, which was set up on another stage, this one in the chapel. Shelley Brown and James Puzinas found the Darien show to be particularly good this year, selling five paintings they brought with them from Cohasset, Mass., and one they had just purchased from a private client earlier in the day †they sold it within an hour of its purchase.
But it was not just fine art that was being shown; furniture was also garnering quite a bit of attention. Henry and Nancy Fender came from Glen Cove, N.Y., with a partners’ desk, writing table, convex carved mirrors and an English “tub” chair in butter-tufted leather and wonderful mahogany paw feet $4,250. The Fenders were also offering a pair of classic form Chinese side tables with paneled tops for $2,250.
Partners in Time, also from Glen Cove, N.Y., had set up a modern room with furniture, white, with white tulips, painted pieces and glass that proved to be very popular. “We came last year for the first time,” said Tim Bergeron, one of the partners, “and they let us come back!”
“We sold our English mahogany dining room table and eight chairs very early in the show. All our painted pieces sold over the two days, mostly to decorators and some pieces were shipped as far as Jamaica. We always look forward to doing The Congregational Church Show,” partner Robert Coates confirmed.
Walter Kelly displayed a variety of leather trunks, stirrup cups in silver and bronze, old high top riding boots, horse and dog art and a pair of hunt paintings by the English artist Michael Lyne. Sporting Antiques from Woodbury, Conn., with all things sporting, is a longtime exhibitor at the Darien benefit show.
Derek Johnson did the majority of his sales on Saturday, including a Chippendale chest of drawers, a Hepplewhite bow front chest and a Chippendale- style lolling chair upholstered in red and white stripes. “I’ve been at this show since 1994 or ’95,” said the dealer from Stanfordville, N.Y. “The people are great, it draws local clients who are interested in traditional, formal antiques.”
For Essex Antiquarians, Essex, Mass., it was the very end of the day on Sunday that its biggest sale took place. At 5:05 pm, a Nineteenth Century writing desk with a leather top sold to local buyers who had looked at it earlier in the day. “Tony Scorpio [who shared the booth], who is a dealer in our shop, sold mostly smalls throughout the two days,” Rick Bevilacque said.
Brad Reh is one of the dealers who had to miss a few years due to scheduling conflicts. “This year everything worked out and I was very happy to be back,” he said. “. The people who run the show are delightful; unlike many other shows, Darien still has the preview party, which for me, was great. They bring in a large crowd of serious buyers.”
Brad and Vandy Reh came across Long Island Sound from Southampton, N.Y., with a glittering display of antique and estate jewelry. Two special sales they reported were a pair of diamond earrings and a “nice” bracelet. “I had many people come back after seeing me during the opening, and purchase items. I will definitely be back next year,” Brad confirmed.
The general consensus received after the show was “it was a great, classic show.” Soskin put to rest any ideas of expanding the show. “Our exhibitors have asked us to do another show during the year, but we are busy enough as volunteers to present this one.” Once a year is perfect for this small and traditional show.
For information, www.darienantiqueshow.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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