Published: March 27, 2007
Promising reports from the frontlines of the four-year-old Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show lured us to the capital of luxe over Presidents’ Day weekend. We’re glad we went.
Visitors who were not stranded by the ice storms that earlier in the week brought much of the country to a halt arrived in time for a glamorous opening night party benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County on Friday, February 16. In all, the clubs raised close to $100,000, organizers said.
We can confirm that the gate †officially put at 50,000 †was extremely good through the run of the five-day show. The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show intermittently gets so busy that valets stand in the street turning people away. In Florida these days, parking one’s own car is generally not done. For the fleet of foot, however, there was more parking across the street at the Kravis Center and a block away at City Place, a complex of upscale shops and restaurants.
The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show was open to the general public from Saturday, February 17, through Tuesday, February, 20. Organizers Kris Charamonde, Scott Diament and Robert Samuels, three certified gemologists with a background in the jewelry business, picked Presidents’ Day weekend because Monday is a national holiday and many students have the week off, so families travel.
The Palm Beach Show Group, as the organizers call themselves, are devoted marketers who set aside about $1 million to promote their fair.
“We call it integrated marketing,” Charamonde explains. “You get up in the morning and read the paper, which has something in it about our show. You get in your car and onto I-95, where you see us on a billboard. At the dentist or hairdresser, you pick up a magazine and read about us again. On your way home, you turn on National Public Radio and you hear about us. We have hundreds of banners around the city. You can’t not know about the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show.”
The fair sets up in the Palm Beach County Convention Center, a new, state-of-the-art facility with all the latest amenities. With 100,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 200 exhibitors, this is a very big show. The quality of exhibitors is generally quite high and, remarkably, there is little overlap in merchandise. Allow plenty of time to see the show and make sure that you have a map. It is easy to miss booths or even entire aisles.
Charamonde likes to compare the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show to Maastricht and Art Basel Miami, two high-quality megafairs. Some visitors say the Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show resembles June Olympia in London in its elegant installation, size, diversity and the quality of its contents.
The promoters spend much of the year visiting other fairs in search of exhibitors they believe will make their show interesting. One of our particular favorites was Notus Gallery of New York. The husband and wife dealers Stephen Hurrell and Julie Sherlock specialize in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century art and antiques from Portugal and its former colonies, especially Brazil. It is an area that very few other American dealers have tackled and one where some outstanding bargains still exist.
The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show was lucky this year to have leading Tiffany specialists Lillian Nassau LLC from New York. Owner and expert Arlie Sulka has been integral to the big Tiffany exhibitions in New York this spring and is helping to present “Designing Women: American Women in the Decorative Arts, 1875‱915” on Saturday, March, 25, at the New-York Historical Society. Lillian Nassau LLC joined Macklowe Gallery of New York, ensuring that this year’s Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show was a serious venue for American Art Nouveau design.
Many leading dealers from the well-established trading grounds of the Northeast exhibit here. They say they are always surprised at how many of their customers from Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington either have homes in Palm Beach or are simply vacationing in the area. Even Winter Antiques Show chairman Arie Kopelman was spotted on the floor this year.
“There are lots of nice people here, old-time Palm Beach people who are very knowledgeable and love beautiful things,” said Boston dealer Stephen Score, who sees in Boston and Palm Beach a common love of traditional design.
Florida’s persistent warmth, light and abundant flora does influence the way people collect and decorate. Many exhibitors, including Score, chose lighter, brighter palettes than they would for their booths at home. A highlight of Score’s stand was “Sunset Sail,” a delicate pastel on paper by Theodore Wendel, who studied with Monet in Giverny.
The Palm Beach audience appreciates paintings. With that in mind, the organizers have worked assiduously to build the fine art of the component of the fair, which boasts a worthy contingent of American fine art specialists. There is no precise agreement on which paintings sell the best here, though light, loose palettes and marine themes are safe bets.
“Half of my sales have been to existing clients, half to new customers,” said Connecticut dealer Thomas Colville. “People like American Impressionist and Modern paintings here. They aren’t so keen on European and Hudson River School canvases.”
“I’ve sold a ton of paintings here over the past three years,” said New York dealer Alex Acevedo, in the midst of negotiations with a French client on a seven-figure equestrian canvas by Rosa Bonheur.
“I love this show. I’ve already signed next year’s contract,” said Maine dealer Tom Veillieux, who arrayed works by William Zorach, Rockwell Kent and Jamie Wyeth.
“It’s been a very good show for us,” said Roger Howlett of Childs Gallery. The Boston dealer sold colorful paintings by Sally Michael (1902′003), wife of painter Milton Avery, and works by Henry Botkin, a Boston artist who was the cousin of George Gershwin. Childs Gallery’s centerpiece was a student work by Frank Stella from his Princeton days.
“We brought more traditional paintings than modern ones. We’ve sold a few things,” said New York dealer Vincent Vallarino, fresh from an excellent showing in Los Angeles.
The usual bell curve applied to sales, which seemed to be across the full range of specialties.
Hyland Granby Antiques of Hyannisport, Mass., sold a large, rare campaign sideboard early in the show, and silver dealers Spencer Gordon and Mark McHugh said that they had done very well, selling pieces in the $1,000 to $25,000 range and shipping to five states.
“This is our first time here,” said Leon Weiss of Gemini Antiques, who joined Americana specialists such as Diana Bittel, Jeff Bridgman and Roberto Freitas. “We’ve sold a painting, three sculptures, a weathervane and three mechanical banks.”
The Palm Beach Show Group, which acquired ShaDor Management a year and a half ago, is returning for a second time to the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, set for Labor Day weekend, August 30⁓eptember 2.
“We’ve expanded the Baltimore show. We have 250,000 square feet. Our goal is to get 600 dealers. Attendance was 30,000 last year. We hope it will be 50,000 this year,” said Charamonde, urging all Antiques and The Arts Weekly readers to visit.
Palm Beach Show Group is also contemplating a major show at Navy Pier in Chicago for 2008.
The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art & Antiques Show will return to the Palm Beach County Convention Center February 15‱9, 2008.
For information, 561-822-5440 or www.palmbeachshow.com .
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