Published: August 3, 2016
By Laura Beach
TIVERTON, R.I. — Brian Ferguson and Tom D’Arruda could be called the antiques world’s “boys of summer,” major league players in a stretch of shows in some of the Northeast’s most inviting estival playgrounds.
The managers, who are also longtime dealers, got their season started this year with the July 4th fair on the grounds of the Meeting House, an arts center in Tiverton Four Corners. As its name suggests, the village is a cluster of shops and galleries at the intersection of Main, East and Neck Roads. Tiverton, like nearby Little Compton and Sakonnet, are as understated as Newport, just across the bay, is flamboyant, but each town harbors communities of affluent seasonal visitors mad about art and antiques.
Sublime weather greeted this year’s Tiverton Four Corners show exhibitors, most of whom arranged their inventory on tables or spread it on the lawn. Perhaps leery of a downpour, some dealers claimed spots inside the Meeting House or on its covered porch. Altogether, about 40 exhibitors, most of them from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut, were buzzing about the field by 8 am, an hour before the general public streamed in.
The show’s emphasis is on fun, affordable fare, much of it with a summer vibe and suitable for a vacation house. Affordable, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Notwithstanding the show’s relaxed setting, some offerings were of high quality.
Paintings specialists David and Donna Kmetz, for instance, maintain a deep inventory of American Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century paintings. Beneath the expressive “Cape Ann House” by James P. Kerr the Kmetzes showed “Harlem River” by Gustave Wolfe, a European-trained American artist, and Nancy Dyer, a well-known Providence, R.I., painter. Resting on a nearby chair was Robert Nisbet’s “Beach Day,” a winning evocation of a summertime frolic in a place not unlike Tiverton.
Steve and Doris McKell of Tradewinds Fine Art likewise offered New England landscapes and seascapes, among them a Block Island view by Ernie Havell and the aptly named “Fourth of July” by the North Shore, Mass., painter Marjorie E.G. Swinson.
Providence, R.I., dealer Richard Green’s best piece may have been the hand colored Eighteenth Century engraving “Olivia Returns to Her Family,” illustrating an episode in Oliver Goldsmith’s 1766 novel The Vicar of Wakefield.
Jon and Jan Maggs specialize in early American and English furniture, accessories, jewelry and small, atmospheric landscape paintings. A circa 1950 harbor view by the Danish painter Jens Sindling Christensen joined new work by the New Englander Dennis Sheehan.
The irrepressible New Hampshire dealer Tommy Thompson offered his signature mix of country Americana and whimsical novelties. Country Americana also starred at Denise and Sam Scott Antiques of Newport, R.I., and at When Pigs Fly Antiques of Rehoboth, Mass.
Edythe Davinis of Osterville, Mass., picked up the coastal theme with a nautical chart, fish platter and a large shell filled with green glass balls suggesting bubbles.
Outdoor furniture was an attraction at Steele & Steele of Middletown, R.I., and Chester Cwilichoski of Ansonia, Conn.
“This is my red, white and blue section,” said Kathy Tarr of the Victorian Rose, pointing to a selection of transfer-printed Staffordshire in a holiday-themed palette. Souvenir linens were a draw at Penny B. Ross’s A Classic Touch. Colorful summer dishes and seating furniture drew buyers to Stone Bridge Antiques and Camille Buda.
You could buy the Tiverton lifestyle, or you could simply enjoy looking at it in local author P. Abby Dennis’s new book Along The Roadside: Barns, Farms, Fields and Hay-Bales, illustrated with Dennis’s photographs of this especially lovely part of Rhode Island.
After packing it in at the Tiverton Four Corners Meeting House, Brian Ferguson and Tom D’Arruda were headed south to Long Island for the July 22–24 East Hampton Antiques Show; to Little Compton, R.I., for the August 5–6 Little Compton Antiques Festival, benefiting Preserve Rhode Island and staged on the grounds of the local historical society; and to Weston, Mass., on September 24 for the 48th annual Golden Ball Tavern Museum outdoor antiques show and sale.
To contact Brian Ferguson and Tom D’Arruda, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.ferguson-darruda.com.
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