Review and Photos by Z.G. Burnett
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. – The day was ending, but the preview party was just beginning at the East Hampton Historical Society (EHHS) on July 15 as guests filed in through the garden gates for the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show (EHADS). The show itself took place on Saturday and Sunday, welcoming more than 1,500 visitors over the weekend. The EHADS has been conducted for the past 15 years, including one virtual sale for 2020, with its proceeds to benefit the EHHS, including maintenance of six properties and funding for educational programs and tours. The EHHS serves the residents and visitors of East Hampton by collecting, preserving and interpreting the material culture and economic heritage of the town and its surroundings. The show was managed by Brian Ferguson Antiques of Swansea, Mass.
The EHADS was hosted on the grounds of Mulford Farm, a contributing property of the East Hampton Historical District. Considered one of America’s most significant and intact English colonial farmsteads, the farmhouse was built in 1680 by High Sheriff Josiah Hobart and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Following Hobart’s death in 1712, ownership passed to Samuel “Fish Hook” Mulford (1644-1725). Mulford received this nickname when he went to London in 1704 to protest the tax on whale oil, lining his pockets with fishhooks to prevent petty thievery. The house remained in the Mulford family for generations, remaining largely unchanged since 1750. Mulford built the farmstead’s barn in 1721, and it is considered one of the most intact early Eighteenth Century barns in New York. Still functional, the barn housed many booths during the show. From 2008 to 2011, the farmstead underwent a massive restoration led by the Ralph Lauren Corporation, and characteristically the event could have easily passed for one of its advertisements.
Upon passing the gates on James Lane, guests and customers arrived and found themselves among friends and new faces, all enthusiastic about the wealth of art and design offered that evening at the sold-out event. VIPs were photographed alongside Rachel’s Garden, designed and maintained by the East Hampton Garden Club with plants grown in the Eighteenth Century for food and household tasks. Special attendees were American potter and interior designer Jonathan Adler, creative ambassador-at-large of Barneys and husband to Adler, Simon Doonan, editor-in-chief of Veranda magazine, Steele Marcoux and chief executive officer of Doyle Auctions, Laura Doyle. Adler and Doonan were received as honorary chairs of EHHS, and both Veranda and Doyle were corporate sponsors of the event, among others.
More than 50 dealers were set up across the farmstead’s two acres, each creating individual salons and showrooms with their spaces. Local dealers had booths alongside sellers from as far and wide as Laos, South Africa and Ohio, with as much diversity in their wares as in their origins. One thing was for sure, each of these vendors brought their very best, which is why the show is considered the premiere antiques and design event on eastern Long Island. Visitors were greeted with two pavilions of tents overflowing with antique and stylish goods, with another large event space in the rear field offering refreshments, live music and, of course, more booths. The objects for sale were selected with interior design as well as fine and decorative arts collection in mind, many advertising both the aesthetic and historical value of each piece.
Prominent in one’s sightline was the booth of Greenwald Antiques of Woodmere Village, Ohio, which was bordered with two monumental urns and a larger than life-sized bronze sculpture. It was the vendor’s first time showing at EHADS, under the direction of Ron Greenwald, whose parents June and Ronald began the business 60 years ago. “We’re a dying breed,” Greenwald smiled ruefully. The urns were so large that it was difficult to catch them on camera, especially with the crowd of guests that surrounded the Greenwald booth throughout the preview. From Roundwood Manor in Hunting Valley, Ohio, the urns were cast and signed by J.W. Fiske & Company, adding to their already tremendous value. Even more compelling was the enormous bronze of “Humanity Against Evil” by Gaetano Cellini (Ravenna, Italy, 1873-1937), depicting a nude man kneeling forward with his arms outstretched in anguish, exhibiting his interior pain through the musculature and suspended movement that becomes animate as the viewer circles the sculpture. Cellini’s plaster cast was presented at the 1906 National Exhibition of Milan, where it won the coveted Premio Fumagalli dell’Accademia di Brera. The 1908 marble sculpture is now at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Still more treasures were to be found beyond these sentinels served as a testament to Greenwald’s 60 years in business, including an excellent collection of majolica, Louis Vuitton luggage and the ever-popular leather animals from Abercrombie & Fitch.
Speaking of animals, more than a few canine friends were also enjoying the preview’s festivities. A high-profile pooch of note was Charlie, a Standard Poodle who is part of the team at JED Design. Owned by Jack Deamer, JED’s booth was set against a pink and black backdrop with mounted pink figural shell plates, black-collared porcelain whippets and rattan furnishings that stood out against the color palette. These elements combined with vintage chrome barware and gilt accent pieces created a fun, fresh tableau of Hamptons living.
However, the largest décor kennel belonged to The Ann Parke Collection of Darien, Conn., owned and operated by Sheryl Dunleavy who was also showing at EHHS for the first time. The Ann Parke booth was populated with dog décor of every kind, from Staffordshire spaniels to needlepoint pugs, some of which came from the collection of the late Brigid Berlin (1939-2020). The majority of objects from Berlin’s estate that Dunleavy offered were made by the artist herself. “[A friend] of mine told me that I should stock more than just dogs,” she mentioned with a slight smile, “So I did, but not many other animals.” Indeed, there were a few cats, monkeys and birds scattered around the booth, but it was mostly a dog’s life and we both agreed it was best that way.
Across the way was a fantastic rope bed frame offered by R. Wells Gallery, Wells and Company of Hudson, N.Y., the details of which made it a veritable piece of folk art as well as a household object. With turned legs joined to the side rails by block joints, the upper posters were turned into urn shapes with double knob finials. The headboard slat was double-joined to the posters to create a demilune cutouts on either side, and the top edge was cut into asymmetrical cornices terminating in plain knob “ears.” The footboard slat was also unusual, with the same construction as the headboard, except that the cornices terminated in animal-like heads, possibly serpents or maybe even a duck. Ronald Wells, who had been showing with EHADS for all 15 years of the show’s duration, shared that the bed was in original paint and untouched condition, circa 1810, and from Maine. This was one of the earliest pieces displayed, watched over by a beautifully weathered carved seagull from the 1940s as well as midcentury furniture and art.
Andrew Spindler Antiques & Design of Essex, Mass., also had a rich mélange of old and new that attracted much attention. One of the dealers who was posted inside the barn; furniture of all eras on the outside grass provided extra seating for preview guests. One Windsor-style bench with what appeared to be old or original teal and salmon paint was never unoccupied, which was an advertisement in itself. True to form, those who sat upon the bench knew better than to set their drinks down on the surface. Inside Spindler’s booth, guests were greeted by a large tapestry woven with colorful fish in purple hues, offset by early parquetry candle stands and a modern set of drawers with a similar surface design.
One booth over, Polaris Gallery of East Hampton, N.Y., was making a similarly bold statement with its collection of vintage posters and art. A large travel poster designed by Pierre Fix-Masseau (1905-1994) joined original illustrations of Kay Thompson’s book series Eloise by Hilary Knight (b 1926). These were accompanied by other vintage travel posters and art, including an original one-sheet poster of Funny Face (1956) and 1970s advertisements for the Hampton Classic Horseshow that takes place annually in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Again, there was a unified color scheme in the Polaris’ gallery layout, attracting admirers with pastel lilac walls and pink accents in many of the assembled works.
For those who fret about modern design being a desert of tonal textures, the EHADS flouted that stereotype with the colors of summer at every turn. The textiles dealers of the show were grand contributors to this cause, such as First Rugs of Acton, Mass., and Susan Simon of New York City. There were also makers of wearable art. Chinalai Tribal Antiques had a large booth of Asian antiques, traditional textiles and clothing made for their business in Thailand. Bounkhong Signavong of Lao Design, Ltd. (Secaucus, N.J.) has been in business since 1990 and has shown at EHHS for the past 12 years. His designs are “influenced by the spiritual power of Buddhism,” and Signavong hand dyes all the fabrics, manufacturing each unique garment in his studio. Karien Belle, a newcomer to the show from Cape Town, South Africa, also offered one-of-a-kind shawls and robes with brightly-colored sayings stitched onto the fabric. Each of these striking garments was handcrafted and ethically made by widows in South Africa and were priced from $450 to $650.
The preview continued on into the evening, long past the golden hour when fireflies began to dot the cooling night air. Many dealers had already done well in the preview; there were so many customers with their hands full, which is always a good sign. Buyers and porters carried their finds out as the party closed down and dealers put their stock into temporary storage until morning. For the next two days, customers would line up and down the narrow sidewalk to buy tickets for the East Hampton Antiques & Design Show, supporting the area’s historic heritage as well as finding artifacts of their own.
The East Hampton Historical Society is at 121 Main Street, and its Summer Lecture Luncheon will take place on August 11. For information, 631-324-6850 or www.easthamptonhistory.org.