Published: December 8, 2020
MIAMI, FLA. – Just before Design Miami/ opened its doors on November 27, a jury convened to review every piece in the show and select the “Top Ten” designs in two categories, historical and contemporary. The historic items ranged from two dinosaur skeletons, each priced in excess of $1 million to works by Nakashima and other mid/late Twentieth Century designers. There was spirited deliberation by the jurors, and among the pieces that came out on top in the category of historical design was a presentation by Olde Hope Antiques, New Hope, Penn., and New York City.
In that category, Best in Show was awarded to Olde Hope Gallery’s “Power to the People,” a collection of ten antique wood walking sticks. Crafted in the United States between the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Centuries, each cane is crowned with an archetypal carved fist. This unusual collection charmed the jury with its timeless expression of freedom, diversity and panache. The gallery had the canes photographed against an American flag quilt backdrop, which perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the show this year.
“As you may know, the Design Miami/ show has for many years taken place along with Art Basel in Miami Beach – both under the same ownership,” Olde Hope’s Patrick Bell told Antiques and The Arts Weekly. “But this year, with Art Basel canceled due to the pandemic and inability of oversees dealers to travel, Design Miami/ was moved back to its original location in the Design District and was reduced in scale and format. ‘The Podium: America(s)’ exhibit was a way to show material from a number of exhibitors without those galleries exhibiting in person. There were individual galleries exhibiting as well but not in the quantity as in years past. This is our first year participating. We were invited prior to the onset of the pandemic but decided to participate in the Podium exhibit, and I actually visited the show while spending time with my family in Florida for Thanksgiving.”
Bell said that “Power of the People” arose from the aftermath of the 2016 American presidential election. “I was wrestling with the personal shock of the unexpected outcome as well as with the division and intense feelings that were forming in our country,” he recalled. “As I watched our democratic principles and our Constitution being challenged and strained, I decided to express my feelings through my love of antique folk art. We have long been fond of canes and walking sticks so I decided to start a collection of clinched fist examples with the idea of presenting them as a collection prior to the 2020 election. What I thought would be a relatively simple task turned out to be a challenge. The collection needed to include fists of all colors and sizes to represent the makeup of our diverse population. It took the full four years to put this group together, and we had it mounted in time for the November election. It represents the diversity of what truly makes America great and defines democracy.
“Of course, one of my personal favorites in the show was the stack of Shaker boxes from John Keith Russell,” Bell added.
The show’s jury included Miami design collector and connoisseur Al Eiber, Wolfsonian-FIU chief curator Silvia Barisione, Design Miami/ director of exhibitions Jillian Choi and New York architect and design expert Lee Mindel, who served as jury chair.
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