Sotheby's Americana Week Auctions New York
Jan 14-24, 2022
Published: January 29, 2019
NEW YORK CITY – “Last year, a designer visited our booth and bought some things for her client. This year, the designer came back to the show and brought her client with her – and they purchased four items, including our horse weathervane,” said Ron Bassin of A Bird in Hand Antiques, speaking on his cellphone while driving to his next show. The observation by the Florham Park, N.J., dealer is emblematic of the growing stature of the Art, Design & Antiques Show at Wallace Hall on the Upper East Side. Conducted in the lower level of the Church of St Ignatius Loyola and managed by jewelry dealers Brad and Vandy Reh, the show, this year January 18-20, was in its fifth year and feeling its oats in terms of attracting both high-quality exhibitors and patrons.
Not only does the show span the spectrum of collecting categories – 33 dealers offered jewelry, Americana and folk art, fine art, American and continental furniture, books and more – it deftly balances the mix to pay attention not only to traditional Americana but also areas like American Indian ceramics and textiles, Midcentury Modern, Art Deco collectibles, silver and even clocks.
“We feel good – if not better – about the show than when we started,” said Brad Reh, who manages the three-day event with his wife, Vandy. “With a stronger gate than we had in the past, the response from the public has been great. Since there is really less happening during the [Americana] week than when we began, we’re pleased to see that our show is a growing destination for people.”
In addition to the exceptional A.J. Harris Patchen horse weathervane sold by A Bird in Hand Antiques, owners Ron and Joyce Bassin wrote up a great copper cod fish sculpture from the mid-Twentieth Century that had been found in Massachusetts. “It was a very good-looking show,” said Ron Bassin, “with a lot of quality exhibitors and buyers.”
Woodbury, Conn., dealer Gary Sergeant was participating for the second time this year, bringing with him an exceptional collection of English furniture. A notable piece was a faded walnut English highboy, circa 1730 or earlier. It featured an upper case with split drawers over graduated longer drawers set on a cabriole leg base with drawers and scalloped apron. With stylized trifid feet, the highboy was original throughout except for later brass hardware.
The dealer also featured a wonderfully naturalistic Japanese Edo period (1603-1868) root sculpture of a wading bird and displayed it on a 54½-inch-high rare carved mahogany pedestal from the Adam period and attributed to Thomas Chippendale.
Essex, Mass., dealer Andrew Spindler filled a corner niche of his booth with a Nineteenth Century George Washington cast iron stove figure, circa 1843, presiding over other items like a Nineteenth Century American book-form storage box and a pair of folk art hand crotcheted American flags from the 1940s. One of the most striking Nineteenth Century “dumb stoves,” Washington did not really have a fire in his belly. Instead, he would be connected by a stovepipe to a functioning stove on a floor below so that two rooms could be heated at once. Patented August 26, 1840, the design by Alonzo Blanchard (1799-1864) featured Washington because he was seen as a symbol of national unity. He is depicted wearing a Roman toga over Eighteenth Century clothing. A similar example sold at Skinner for nearly $10,000 in November 2018.
Bruce Emond of Village Braider Antiques, Plymouth, Mass., did not disappoint his fans, who keenly anticipate his always eclectic offerings. And there was plenty of fine art supplied by boothmate Kevin Rita of Garvey Rita Art & Antiques, Orleans, Mass. Emond reprised a monumental bas-relief sculpture of two mythical figures crafted from a single panel of wood by goldsmith, jeweler and sculptor Louis Féron (1901-1998). Next to it was another Féron sculpture, smaller but no less compelling and finely carved, depicting Adam and Eve flanking an angel. There was a small Crucifixion sculpture by the artist on another wall. Féron immigrated to Costa Rica during the Great Depression, living and working there from 1934-1945, where he ran his own workshop. He left Costa Rica for New York City in 1945, and he became an American citizen in 1951. He married the dancer Leslie Snow in 1962 and established a workshop in the Snowville, N.H. Their 36 years of marriage are chronicled in Snow’s A Voyage Remembered (2014).
There’s a lot to absorb at Village Braider. Emond had traditional flat art, such as a 1940s-50s watercolor by Provincetown artist John Whorf (1903-1959) of a blizzard in Times Square, but also on offer was a quirky stoneware piece by Chuck Chamberlain, who witnessed a lot of the social upheaval in the 1960s and incorporated it into his sculpture covered with zany graphics and texts. “I had a very good show at Wallace Hall,” said Emond afterwards. “Brad is one of the nicest promoters out there, and with all of the advertising he did in the New York Times, it was probably the best gate ever. It’s a very competitive market, not as deep as it once was, and shoppers are savvy. Shows today have to be both diverse and approachable, and this one was.”
Emond was able to sell both of the Féron sculptures to a Charleston collector, along with a Nineteenth Century artist’s articulated figure, two zany metal head sculptures and an early blue and white piece of Mexican potter.
Rita was exhibiting a collection of 11 early paintings by Robert Kulicke, which came from the estate of the artist; a self-portrait sketch by Katherine Hepburne; and an American Twentieth Century store paint sample display case, among other items. “The show was well-attended and went pretty well,” said Rita afterwards. “I sold some paintings, including a 1962 Robert Kulicke still life and a 1960 Joseph Gualtieri abstract cityscape.”
Getting a lot of attention from show patrons was Steve Thompson, representing his family’s business, Sundial Farm, dealing in unusual timepieces since 1971. “We had a pretty good show,” said the Greenlawn, N.Y., dealer. “Brad is very accommodating, and he genuinely wants everyone to do well. I was surprised to hear from people I knew and some new faces that they thought the quality and diversity of the merchandise on display here was more interesting than what was going on at the armory. The gate was good, and we managed to get away a few things, including a rare, six-sided porcelain paneled carriage clock; an early weight-driven keyhole skeleton clock; and an enamel desk piece.”
Thompson took some time to explain how a gravity or inclined plane clock that he had works. The clock drum traverses an inclined plane over the course of the week, beginning with Sunday. At the end of the week, the clock has to be lifted and replaced at the top of the plane, but at least you do not have to wind it. By Swiss maker Gubelin, the clock incorporated midcentury design with an unusually complicated movement showing hours, minutes, the day of week and the date.
From Austin, Texas, Lotus Asian Art & Antiques Gallery offered Asian artistry ranging from the Han dynasty to contemporary art. Owner Jonathan Tung reported that “Overall, we were very happy with the show. Brad did an excellent job in choosing the dealers and making sure word got out about the show. The crowd was a good mix of people from the neighborhood, collectors, designers and the general public – all of whom seemed to really come out to support the show. We heard from many people who stopped through that they were impressed with the quality of the merchandise on display, and I would agree with their assessment.
“We saw a good number of our old clients, many of whom bought from us again. We also made some fantastic new contacts and were able to sell to them as well.
“We sold a good mix of items, including jewelry, Chinese furniture and works of art and antiquities.” Three Tang dynasty court ladies received quite a bit of attention during the course of the show, and the dealer ended up selling one of them.
The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Doug and Beverly Norwood, Timonium, Md., were nearly too busy as the show opened to speak to what they had brought among their quality Americana. Michigan collectors Sharon and Jeffrey Lipton quickly snapped up an almost psychedelic pastel and chalk still life highlighted by vibrant grapes, peaches and leaves. Then it was Sarah and Allen Burke’s turn. The West Chester, Penn., couple fell in love with and purchased a striking portrait of Dorothy Smith Blackie (b 1801) to add to their collection of more than 50 folk art portraits back home. “I sometimes find myself talking to them,” admitted Sarah.
For additional information, www.rehshows.com or 516-971-7710.
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