Published: March 13, 2012
The Darien Antiques Show celebrated its 45th consecutive year with a well-attended gala preview party on March 2. The show, hosted by the First Congregational Church of Darien, continued over the weekend, with a good gate both Saturday and Sunday, and most of its 35 dealers recording good sales.
Winding their way through two levels of the church’s school facility, the diverse displays presented everything from antique prints and oil paintings to American folk art, painted and classical furniture, antique carpets, Chinese Export, sterling silver and early American glass.
Like many of these smaller shows that cater to affluent markets in suburban Connecticut, New York and New Jersey areas, the energy for the Darien event radiates from the collective might of a veritable army of volunteers, this year led and co-managed by Patricia Hedlund and Janet Soskin, while co-chair positions were held by Molly O’Brien and Judith Sinche.
“Of our 35 exhibitors at the show this year, almost all had sales; of those, the great majority reported ‘I’ll see you in 2013,’ and another good percentage said they had very good sales, better than any recent shows they have done in the last several months,” said Hedlund, contacted after the weekend’s event .
She said that the gate on Saturday and Sunday was the highest it has been since the stock market freefall of 2008. “There was a palpable energy and enthusiasm among the shoppers that has not been as evident in the last several years,” she stated.
Hedlund and her co-organizers know what it takes these days to prime the pump. They continued this year with an initiative they began in 2011 †a targeted direct mail letter sent to a list of active designers and architects with interiors commissions in Fairfield and Westchester Counties, inviting them to the show and including comp tickets. Also, a special “E-Preview” featured images of dealers’ booths before the show opened on Saturday.
Still, there is no substitute for “shopping the show,” as they say, and a walk through the assembled objects and artworks on display †and, more important, conversations with knowledgeable dealers who have the discernment to curate their booths with rare and interesting treasures †puts flesh on the tantalizing images that can be seen on the Internet.
Near the entrance, a small room on the right held treasures showcased by Niantic, Conn., dealer H.P. McLane, a 26-year show veteran, and the wonderful American and European art pottery of Paul & Marjorie Martinez Antiques of Westminster, Mass., which included several pieces created by Amphora’s Czech artist Paul Dachsel. These included a standout Amphora juniper tree vase with realistic cone decoration, 18 inches high, another vase with a lifelike design of thistle flowers, fungus growth and spider webs and a Dachsel-designed incense burner, circa 1906, reflecting this artist’s love of nature with the architectural symbolizing things growing from the earth.
Also near the entrance, another small alcove was given over to a variety of American land- and seascape paintings assembled by David and Donna Kmetz of Douglas, Mass. Among them was a poetic work by turn-of-the-century Missouri artist George Van Millett (1864-1953) titled “Woman Fishing.” Donna Kmetz, a 12-year show veteran, said that this year, while things were not flying off the walls, the couple drew well from their mailing list and found attendees quite engaged.
“I was pleased to have some sales, including my two personal favorite larger works †an outstanding Arthur Vidal Diehl painting, ‘Provincetown,’ 1922, went to a collector, and the Van Millett work of a woman in a rowboat fishing found a home in Darien,” she said. “I could have sold this painting three times during the show, as two other couples returned in search of it. Both works were totally fresh to the market.”
Kmetz noted that two Impressionistic Nantucket paintings by Philip Richardson Whitney also received plenty of attention.
A good portion of “real estate” in the main downstairs space was occupied by Tim Brennan and David Mouilleseaux, who quipped as they hauled a massive oak “wake table” into place: “It’s heavy, so it fits our collecting style.” The eclectic pair from Northfield, Conn., draw from Brennan’s expertise in Americana, painted and formal Federal furniture and folk art and Mouilleseaux’s focus on antique garden furniture and ornaments, as well as Continental antiques and vintage decorative furniture and objects. They also deal in Midcentury Modernism, as evidenced by a great pair of wrought iron lounge chairs with caned backs and brass embellishments from the 1950s.
Nearby, Tanya Yacoub Antiques, White Plains, N.Y., mixed classic furniture, such as a Dutch fruitwood three-drawer cabinet lined with silk and glazed doors on bracket feet, circa 1820, and a two-part English campaign chest, circa 1840, with a variety of stick barometers, one of them a rare ship’s barometer with brass gimbal dating from the Nineteenth Century. “I thought it was a better show than the previous year,” opined Yacaub. “People were more relaxed, interested in all kinds of offered inventory, and, from my own perspective, sales were up over last year.”
Up a slight incline there were another 25 or so dealers set up in a series of upstairs spaces. These included Joe Collins, a Glastonbury, Conn., dealer who showed a light and airy image of Spring, one of the Four Seasons by L.M. Harris, 1916. The actual work was not so light, however, he explained, because it was a painting on plaster.
A nice pair of platinum and diamond Art Deco earrings, circa 1910′0, was available at Nutmeg Treasures, Northborough, Mass. “The show went fine for us,” said co-owner Ellen O’Brien. “We sold nine pieces of jewelry, mostly Victorian, including a diamond drop necklace, sapphire and seed pearl necklace, diamond flower necklace, amethyst and seed pearl bracelet and a peridot and diamond ring.”
O’Brien further noted that there were more younger folks at the show than they have seen lately. “We saw young couples and families with children. In fact, the amethyst and seed pearl bracelet was purchased by a man and his young son as a gift for the wife/mother. All three of the necklaces were purchased †by different buyers †as gifts for young women graduating from school or as special birthday gifts. It was delightful for us to see.”
Selling on Saturday was a fun 1920s 48-star American flag-inlaid folk art table that was on display by Ann Wilbank of Find Weatherly, Stamford, Conn. “It made everyone smile who came through the booth,” she said. “I love pieces like that!” The former Manhattan attorney-turned-dealer said she also had a lot of interest in an early Pennsylvania red walnut corner cupboard and a Nineteenth Century sailmaker’s chest filled with original tools. “Several sailors spent 30‴5 minutes examining the variety of tools and other historical tidbits in the drawers,” said Wilbank.
Another corporate refugee, former investment firm executive David Perrelli of Clinton, Conn., was exhibiting as Old Beautiful. Perrelli experienced fairly brisk sales of smalls †mostly pieces of glass and porcelain ut furniture and artwork failed to move in the way he had hoped they would, with the exception of a Federal inlaid mahogany sideboard in old surface and brass, probably New York, circa 1800.
For additional information, www.darienantiqueshow.org or 203-655-0491.
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