Published: November 16, 2021
WILMINGTON, DEL.- The Antiques Dealers’ Association of America (ADA) presented its annual ADA Award of Merit to show managers and dealers Karen DiSaia and her late husband, Ralph, at a banquet dinner November 5 in the Chase Center on the Riverfront following the first day of the Delaware Antiques Show.
The award ceremony was postponed from 2020 on account of the pandemic. Remarks were moderated by Judy S. Loto.
Introductions were given by ADA president Steven S. Powers, who called the show managers “masters of telegraphing ‘no worries.'” He recalled first meeting them at the ADA/Deerfield Antiques Show, which he said the DiSaias turned into the best-looking show in New England.
ADA vice president Arthur Liverant said Karen and Ralph were like parental figures, “Karen with the wisdom of Job and Ralph because he stood a foot and a half taller.”
Rachel and Adam, two of the couple’s three children, ribbed on a childhood growing up in the household of the Oriental carpet dealers. “While some kids went fishing with their fathers,” Adam said, “we washed rugs.” Rachel touched on the intersection of childhood and event production: “There were always schedules to follow, just like the dealer move-out, but we were the porters.”
When Karen accepted the award in front of an audience of more than 100, she looked back on a career with her late husband, who learned of the award prior to his passing in November 2019. She called him the most conscientious and enthusiastic show manager she had ever known in the business. “He was always ready to help,” she said.
Karen then spoke to the intangible magnetism that objects have to collectors and the pride she has felt in her role as a steward for these special things. “Speaking to the stories behind objects, the generational history, the intangible… to communicate it and be an advocate for these messengers from our past is our life’s work,” she said.
She then concluded with the phrase, delivered in a New York accent, that Ralph told every dealer at the end of any show the couple managed: “Get outta here.”
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