Published: December 4, 2012
It’s a Storm. It’s a Hurricane. Naw , its just a Superstorm. Regardless of what the Weather Channel or the media termed Superstorm Sandy, it was a devastating event for those in the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut region †including Manhattan, where previously unrecorded water levels and unprecedented levels of damage were recorded.
There was more than 4 feet of water inside the entrance to the Passenger Ship Terminals (the Pier), and watermarks at the river end of the structure revealed that at least 6 feet of stormwater had flooded the facility. Power had yet to be restored to the Piers by the first week of November and all seemed lost in regard to the Pier Antiques Show. Yet, as if they leaped into a phone booth and emerged with their super-hero suits, the Stellas pulled off nearly a superhuman task of overseeing the restoration of power and cleanup on Pier 94 so that their show could proceed uninterrupted over the weekend of November 17‱8.
With their “Super-Stella suits” in place, Stella management made sure the restoration efforts shifted into overdrive, overseeing the removal and replacement of hundreds of yards of damaged wallboard that ran the length of the Pier, removing the sandbars and relentless piles of silt that had washed into the facility, getting the recently submerged toilets to flush once again, and most important, to make sure power was restored to the facility.
“You just can’t believe what we had to go through to make this happen,” commented Irene Stella. Daughters Michelle and Jeanne spent the last two weeks on the telephone reassuring dealers that the show would go on as usual and that people would come.
Despite the fact that the Stellas were able to overcome enough obstacles to make sure that the show came off without a hitch, there was a hitch: no power had been restored to the roof-top parking facility and it could not be opened to the public. Parking is always a huge problem in Manhattan and often times hugely expensive †yet the Stellas stepped up to the plate and arranged for discounted parking at several garages, one just across the street on 12th Avenue. And, they hired a bus so that shuttles could run to-and-fro from the parking facilities to the show.
True to their word, the Pier Show opened on schedule. The line awaiting the Saturday morning opening was huge and there was an electricity in the air. The line filled the lobby of Pier 94, extending out of the building, through the parking lot and out toward the street. Buyers rushed onto the floor precisely at 10 am, and they were definitely in a mood to shop.
Although some dealers decided not to make the trip to the Pier fearing the worst, the crowd was at times surprised by the quality level of the replacements. Several dealers returned to the Pier Show to exhibit for the first time in years, some more than a decade. Some were new to the show. All were popular with the crowd.
Manhattan fashionista Katy Kane was on hand with a grand assortment of vintage clothing, including a show-stopping brightly colored dress from the 1960s bearing an abstract facial image by Picasso. The racks of Kane’s stands were filled with classic couture and business appeared to be brisk for the dealer.
Swissvale, Penn., dealer Zane Vaughn, doing business as Father and Son Antiques, was on hand at the show and the dealer commented that this was his “first attempt exhibiting at a real show,” previously dealing out of the back of his van. A second-generation dealer/auctioneer/enthusiast/picker, Zane was born into the business, the son of Neil Vaughn of Hudson Valley Auctioneers. The younger Vaughn was excited about his first major-league showing, and rightly so as he displayed a stellar assortment of carved stone sculpture by Mark Morrison. The artist had studied at the Art Students League in the 1930s with the likes of William Zorach. Also displayed was “Homage to Moses Soyer” by Soyer student Susan Kahn and a selection of bronzes by Chaim Gross’s accomplished student June Roth.
Back at the show after a “15-year hiatus,” Chicago’s Mr Modern set up an attractive display. Highlighting the offering was a classic 1959 Silvertone guitar and a National amp, both surely the source of some raspy blues during their day. The rig was discovered in a Chicago home, according to the dealer.
Ed and Betty Koren, Bridges Over Time, Newburgh, N.Y., were busy in their stand selling a wide variety of items. The smart-looking display included midcentury furnishings ranging from sideboards to seating and with a host of corresponding accessories. A large slate-top circular dining table with eight reeded leg French Provincial-style chairs was an early seller from the booth, as was a shelving unit in the style of Gio Ponti. Colorful paintings ranged from abstract images to a humorous work titled “Lennon- Marx” that depicted John Lennon and Groucho Marx.
Indianapolis dealer/auctioneer Dan Ripley was at the show again this year with a good selection of materials that also included midcentury items. A colorful selection of glass from the American Studio Movement was a highlight of the stand, with monumental works by Dante Marioni offered, as well as a selection of coral-colored glass vessels by Ben Johnson. Ripley Auctions, Indianapolis, Ind., is the dealer’s home base.
Industrial design tools took on a futuristic look at Inddesign, Upper Black Eddy, Penn., where a row of large ray-gun-looking devices were displayed. Actually pneumatic riveting guns and specialized drills from the late 1950s and 1960s, the assortment was attracting a great deal of attention.
A unique collection of folk art cars and trucks made by Alton C. Heath (1900‱996), The Monterey Toy Maker, sold quickly at South Road Antiques, New York City. Attractive in their basic cubist designs and bearing commercial labels of beer and clothing manufacturers, the brightly painted trucks included a big-rig towing a trailer loaded with a bulldozer, a beer truck and a utility stake body truck. Dealer Susan Wechsler displayed the vehicles across the back of her booth, as if they were traveling down a crowded highway.
A selection of Frank Finney carvings took center stage at Dan Morphy, Denver, Penn., with a superbly carved and painted life-size woodcock heading up the group. In the style of Elmer Crowell, a pheasant and grouse were also offered.
Silver was plentiful at Titus Omega, London, with a grand assortment of pitchers, trays, bowls and a variety of serving pieces. Standouts included a monumental freeform sterling footed bowl by Georg Jenson, along with a “pregnant duck” pitcher.
American art pottery was featured at Barbara Gerr Antiques, Galloway, N.J., with a stunning selection of Newcomb College lining the shelves. Other Arts and Crafts makers on display included Grueby, Rookwood, Teco and Marblehead.
Brooklyn, N.Y., dealer Ralph Diamond was forced to listen to intended puns throughout the weekend as he presented the next frontier in art with a selection of paintings by 1960s Pop artist Pat Jensen †all NASA-oriented themes that included Neil Armstrong walking on the moon and a host of other astronaut-themed works. The dealer barely had space to exhibit them all. Interest in the paintings, according to one source, was out of this world.
A collection of folk art animals and figures occupied an entire corner of the booth of Judith and James Milne, New York City. Dogs, roosters, goats, banjo-playing men and cop whirligigs were among the assortment.
Scott Smith, York, Maine, used early letters from a trade sign to form the words “da Pier” across the back of his stand. A diver’s helmet was atop a large milliner’s display table, along with a collection of neatly displayed tuning forks.
Larchmont, N.Y., dealer David Bahssin, Post Road Gallery, was looking jovial as he emulated the festive atmosphere in his large English tavern scene painting that depicted four men partaking in the pleasures of grape and grog. The dealer displayed a good selection of art, including a wide variety of oil on canvas works, as well as a selection of bronzes.
A selection of colorful abstract paintings by Ruth Fortel was displayed at Bob Smith Antiques, Montrose, Penn. The dealer described the artist as one of the founding members of Area Gallery, one of a number of groups of artists that formed Co-Ops on Tenth Street in Manhattan in the 1950s. A cast plaster standing figure of a man was at the forefront of the booth and although unsigned and by an unknown artist, the piece displayed “a very sensitive observation of the human form by a trained sculptor.”
Los Angeles dealers Jeff Myers and David Huffman were back at the Pier displaying an amazing selection of glass by numerous Italian makers, as well as a super selection of Daum and Lalique.
Fashion Alley proved once again to be a hot spot with throngs of trend-setting Manhattan shoppers. Everything from ladies’ designer coats to men’s red and black plaid hunting jackets were moving from the racks at a quick pace. The one item we wanted to bring home †sadly didn’t fit †a pair of red coveralls with a racecar embroidered on the back and emblazoned with “Freemont Speedway, 1965 Season Champions.”
Stella Show Mgmt Co. announced that more than $4,000 was raised for the American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief fund by dealers at the show.
Stella Shows will return to the Pier on March 16‱7. For further information, 973-808-5015 or www.stellashows.com .
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