Published: June 18, 2019
Review and Photos by W.A. Demers
WILTON, CONN. – Returning for its second year at the Wilton Historical Society, Objects of Desire: Style for the Garden and Home on June 1-2 brought a varied showcase of items for the garden and home in a two-day show. A preview party on May 31 went well and was well-attended. Show manager Karen DiSaia said there was a steady stream of visitors to the show on Saturday, while Sunday seemed slower, although dealers continued to sell.
For those who wanted first crack at the merchandise, there were two possibilities. A VIP reception opened at 5 pm on Friday, May 31, an exclusive event hosted by interior designer Phillip Thomas and his design committee. That allowed attendees to get a glass of bubbly and extra access to show’s 25 dealers. A preview party followed that same evening, from 6 to 8 pm, featuring hors d’oeuvres, wines and an opportunity to get an early look at the objects available from the dealers.
In some respects, the event resembled a traditional antiques and fine art show – offerings ranged from midcentury to contemporary to vintage and antique. Dealers, however, were encouraged to curate a display that incorporated one-of-a-kind garden accents, furniture, accessories, found objects and art, the idea being that whether the item is an armillary, garden urn, sconce or sculpture, it can change the conversation and ambiance of one’s indoor or outdoor space. And the dealers complied.
“We really enjoy this show for the fact that it’s a small, intimate show,” said Tom Jewett of the Newcastle, Maine, duo of Jewett [Butch] Berdan. “Karen and Ralph [DeSaia] do a fantastic job, as always, and the Wilton Historical Society treats us so well.”
Jewett said he believed the show may have been a little off due to the gorgeous weekend weather. “However,” he added, “jewelry sold really well again for us this year, which is something we aren’t really known for. My mom, Kathe Jewett, buys and sells estate jewelry, and we take it to shows for her from time to time.”
Among the dealer’s sales were two 14K gold and diamond bracelets and a platinum and diamond sapphire Deco ring, a rare wood-carved and painted eagle Victorian push toy with hand forged iron, rare African American Odd Fellows Heart and Hand, rooster weathervane, carved wood folk art Gabriel, carved bird and a large theorem on velvet. “We look forward to returning next year,” he said.
Galena, Md., dealer Marty Anderson takes the show’s sensibility to heart, bringing the quirky kind of statement pieces that make the visitor look again. She topped last year’s find – a Prohibition-era case in golden oak that concealed storage space for banned intoxicants – with a Victorian period tea room or perfume glass case featuring swing-out stool seating. Did anyone want a beer, that is, bier? Anderson had one of those on offer as well, an 1800s iron stand with a new zinc top with curtain hooks and handles on either end for transporting the dearly departed on his or her way.
“I had lots of interest, especially in my one-of-a-kind glass,” Anderson reported. “But not a lot of sales on my higher priced items. ” Visitors, she added, “seemed to be mainly interested in standard East Coast antiques and not in different takes on conventional items. I think my items for sale were out there, and that surprised me. I was hoping that interior designers would be looking for new and unusual items.”
There were 20 people listed in the show guide as being on the design committee, led again this year by Thomas, founder and principal of Phillip Thomas Inc, a New York City-based interior design firm. Chosen for the show guide’s cover was the image of a garden armillary, and, according to Tony Piehowicz, an exhibitor who traveled from Ohio for this show, his most popular item was an armillary sundial. “The show was very well-organized,” he said. “The venue was very appropriate for the cause.”
Also from Ohio, dealer Jane Langol likes to create tableaus featuring Midwest art pottery, quilts and small furniture pieces. She commented, “The show was a success for me inasmuch as I sold six pieces of Midwest art pottery – including two pieces of Red Wing pottery in the center of New England! My greatest joy was the sale of a sweet Pembroke table that I purchased at Rhinebeck the week before. It was unique. The table was found in a house in Portsmouth, N.H., and it was made of apple wood with the grain revealing the shoots from the apple tree. A super surface in good color and only 31 inches long.” Langol said that it sold quickly on Sunday despite friends seeing the table on Saturday.
Regarding attendance, Langol observed, “We all wish that the customer traffic were better, but the beautiful weekend weather made that a challenge. I sensed that MidCentury Modern was the ‘wanted item’ based on the success of dealers featuring that vintage merchandise. The abovementioned pottery sales were pieces from that era, and although I was hesitant to present later material at such a fine venue, it proved to be the customer’s wishes. One-of-a-kind items appeared to attract the customers, with other dealers in the room selling fun, spirited merchandise. Garden items sparked interest once again. Sunday traffic was slow – but that is the day I sold the table, so I am not complaining.”
Popping in the booth of first-time exhibitor Jon Cresswell of Cresswell Art Advisory, Penn Valley, Penn., was Robert Indiana’s “The Philadelphia LOVE,” number 74 of an edition of 125. One of the most desirable and iconic prints of American Pop art, this version rarely comes to market, according to the dealer, and it’s larger – 33½ by 30¼ inches – than the more common editions published in the 1990s.
Cresswell also remarked that sales were mixed. “I deal in mostly works of art on paper. I sold a few Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century maps, some Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century prints of natural history, an Edward Curtis photograph and a contemporary screen print by Peter Lister. It’s encouraging for the show that it has the support of the design committee. I would have loved to see more of them circle back throughout the weekend. If there was some programming, for example, speaker engagements, that might draw some more interest and greater attendance.”
Paul Vandekar of Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge, who recently moved from Westchester County, N.Y., to Downingtown, Penn., with his wife, Deirdre Healy, had a cozy setup in a room just to the left of the building’s main entrance, a space that he filled with his usual selection of woolies, botanical plates, Fornasetti items and more. A major sale over the weekend, he said, was a group of 12 framed prints. Also sold was his marquee item – a Wedgwood Pottery large painted plaque, “The Sailor’s Farewell,” circa 1820, which he believed was most likely painted in Liverpool, England, for the maritime trade. Though they did not sell at this show, a trio of Chinese camphor wood trunks with painted leather exteriors were getting a lot of attention. Leslie Keno was a surprise visitor to Vandekar’s booth, and the dealer posted on his Facebook page a photo of the two antiques specialists discussing a Sussex pig from the Belle-Vue Pottery.
Wilton Historical Society is at 224 Danbury Road. For information, www.wiltonhistorical.org.
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