Published: June 13, 2006
“There’s cake and punch out by the porters’ station,” blared the loudspeakers.
Setting up in four buildings for their May 27-28 megashow at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, 200 exhibitors briefly stopped what they were doing on Friday afternoon to join the show’s promoters in an impromptu celebration of Rhinebeck Antiques Fair’s 30th birthday.
Founded by the late Bill Walter and subsequently managed by Jimi Barton, Rhinebeck is today under the firm command of Barton’s childhood friend and protégé Bruce Garrett and his wife, Debi. Their sons Justin and Keith, and Debi’s sister Joanne Dakin, are also on staff, along with show manager Brett Brandes.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Garretts hosted a lunch for Rhinebeck’s dealers, acknowledging five original exhibitors: Corinne Burke, Timeworn Treasures, Dordick & Husted, Balcony Antiques and Van Deusen House. Illness prevented the sixth original exhibitor, Joe and Nellie Ptaszek of Dutch House Antiques, from attending.
“Without the dealers, I’d be standing in empty buildings.We’re happy to be a great family,” said Bruce Garrett.
Dispelling rumors, he added, “You’re hearing it from the horse’s mouth: the Rhinebeck shows are not for sale and never will be. I have every intention of continuing the legacy as long as I possibly can.”
Sales and attendance were upbeat on the holiday weekend.
“It was like the old days. Sales of items carried out by our porters were up 30 percent,” said Garrett, who describes his audience as diverse, ranging from young couples living in the Hudson Valley region to Manhattanites with second homes in the area, decorators and the occasional celebrity.
“Like they say – location, location, location,” said Garrett, referring to the fair’s central location, midway between New York and Albany. True to its country origins, the Rhinebeck is casual and eclectic. Said the promoter, “The times dictate what sells. Dealers and show promoters have to take that into account. We’ve become more diversified over the years.”
It was one of the best Rhinebecks ever for New Hampshiredealers Cheryl and Paul Scott. “We sold two tiger maple stands, oneout of our ad; a really nice harvest table; two horse weathervanes;paintings; a pair of shelves and 50 gouache painted ties,” CherylScott said.
She added, “The middle market is rebounding. Traditional antiques are selling. Rhinebeck succeeds because it is relaxed and pleasant. People want to shop and have a good time. Management understands that.”
“We sold continuously until the lights went out on Sunday,” said Sanford Levy of Jenkinstown Antiques. The New Paltz, N.Y., dealer wrote up Hudson River paintings, views by Julia Dillon and Dubois Hasbrouck, furniture and all his stoneware.
“Exhibitors here don’t necessarily do a lot of other shows, so the merchandise is fresh,” said Levy.
“Rhinebeck’s not as formal as it used to be,” said founding exhibitor Steve Gero, formerly of Balcony Antiques in Canton, Conn. Gero and business partner Dan Hackbarth are opening a new store in Avon, Conn., hopefully by July 1. “One of my customers calls our look ‘upcountry’ antiques. We like to mix formal furniture with informal touches.”
“This show is like my annuity – it’s always very good,” saidanother founder, Kitty Dordick. The Woodstock, N.Y., dealer soldacross the board, from accessories to furniture and paintings, $30to $1,500. “Rhinebeck has loosened up over the years, which isgood. It sounds trite, but there really is something for everyonehere.”
“I sold good quality things, mostly paintings. Some serious people came through,” said Dave Mason of Mason Antiques, West Cornwall, Conn.
Many exhibitors created garden-related displays for summer living.
“We’ve had back to back garden shows. Sales have been great,” said Bruce Emond of Village Braider, off to a good start with sales of a Canadian sideboard, a German sheet iron sign and a brass bed.
The most talked about item on the floor was Jill and Web Wilson’s Art Nouveau-style greenhouse, built by New York set designer Peter Larkin for his Hamptons country house in the 1960s.
A signed Fiske fountain, $5,800 and 5 feet in diameter, burbled away at Jef and Terri Steingrebe, New London, N.H.
On their home turf, Rhinebeck dealers Dennis and Valerie Bakoledis heavied up with a monumental French carved marble urn, $16,000, on a cast stone base. A pair of cast-iron fern benches were $3,900.
“I’m happy to be here with my stock,” said Warner, N.H.,garden antiques dealer Kate Alex, who was recently stranded duringNew England’s torrential downpours.
Rockville Centre, N.Y., dealer Joan Bogart created a Victorian conservatory, complete with bell jars and a brass hall stand in the Aesthetic taste.
At Gardenalia of Falls Village, Conn., a purple-martin house with a copper roof was $1,900.
South Hadley, Mass., dealer Victor Weinblatt struck a country note with a folding rack containing seed packets, $895. York, Maine, dealer Bob Withington spoke fluent French flair with an Art Moderne plaster sculpture, “The Annunciation,” by Eysineo Gireude, $4,800.
Honors for display went to Seaver & McLellan. The Jaffrey, N.H., dealers created a Nineteenth Century collector’s cabinet, complete with plaster casts of academic sculpture and wooden cases of specimens, such as butterflies and eggs.
Across the aisle, Conway, Mass., dealers Jon and Jan Maggs, whose early antiques seem just right for the Dutch and English settled Hudson Valley, used leaded glass windows to create partitions in their room-setting booth.
An Eighteenth Century watercolor and ink on paper coat-of-arms, $12,600, for the Forsey Family of Philadelphia and Schoharie stood out at John W. Robinson of Williamstown, Mass., where a diminutive blue corner cupboard was $5,900.
From country to formal, there was plenty of furniture. Bearsville, N.Y., dealer Mario Pollo featured a large pastel still life of fruit and flowers in combination with a bow front card table and a mahogany drop leaf tea table.
East Dennis Antiques of East Dennis, Mass., and New YorkCity, went for high style. A robustly proportioned MassachusettsFederal bow front chest with column corners was $1,800, the sameprice as a set of six vase back mahogany veneered classical sidechairs.
A Massachusetts classical chest of drawers was $1,400 at Ferguson & D’Arruda, Providence. R.I. Joseph Collins of Cobalt, Conn., offered a flat-top Connecticut maple highboy for $24,000; and a set of six English provincial yew chairs were $3,500 at Ballyhack Antiques, Cornwall, Conn.
“People buy everything here,” said Massachusetts dealer Susan Stella, ready with a coastal Massachusetts candlestand with a scalloped top and an early Twentieth Century Bellamy-type eagle, each $950.
Judith & James Milne were on the cutting edge with an Art Deco industrial metal dining table, $2,450, and six matching metal chairs, $1,800. Across the aisle, Linda and Howard Stein of Bridgehampton, N.Y., unveiled six Art Deco mirrors with etched designs. Each mirror was $950.
Clock specialist Acorn Hill of Woodbury, Conn., featured three deluxe Ingraham mantel clocks in marquetry cases.
“I always have Jacobsens and other American ship portraits,” said Louis Dianni, a marine paintings specialist whose eclectic inventory this time included Henri Malfroy’s atmospheric depiction of Banyul, France, $7,500; and English artist Arthur Joseph Meadows’ view “Fishing, Palermo,” $6,500, dated 1898.
Normally a traditionalist known for redware, tole and early New England furniture, Lewis Scranton, Killingworth, Conn., went more eclectic, featuring “The Champion Pacer Johnston” a large folio Currier & Ives print of 1884, meant to appeal to Upstate New York’s horsy set.
A French rooster weathervane, dating to circa 1820 andmounted on a custom stand, was $2,500 at Sandy Klemper Antiques,East Chatham, N.Y. More weathervanes – including two banners, ahorse and a rooster – were featured by Jim Hirsheimer, Erwinna,Penn.
A primitive wooden banner weathervane, $12,000, ex-collection of Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr, starred at Aarne Anton’s American Primitive Gallery, New York City.
Dennis Raleigh of Wiscasset, Maine, featured a Nineteenth Century carved wood American bald eagle, $12,500.
There was more folk art at Michael and Lucinda Seward, where a 6-foot-tall carved and painted bird tree was $16,500.
Manhattan dealers Kelter-Malce covered their back wall with “Taylor – The Man of Mystery,” a painted canvas theatrical backdrop. New Boston, N.H., dealer Jane Workman combined a game wheel, $1,075, with a pair of 93-inch-tall fluted columns, $675. A paint decorated “Shoo Fly” rocking horse, $390, set off an elegantly sculptural cheese basket, $1,600, at Mary Carden Quinn.
There were textiles galore: a hooked runner in a trailing vine pattern, $1,875 at Jan Whitlock Antiques, Chadds Ford, Penn.; a Nineteenth Century penny rug, $1,600, with each “penny” formed as a three-dimensional rosette at Jane Wargo, Wallingford, Conn.; and a stretched and mounted geometric hooked rug in a mellow palette, dated “November 16” and initiated “R.J.W.” at Thomas Longacre, Marlborough, N.H.
Almost kinetic in its bustling freeform pattern was an African American quilt, $1,650, at Odd Fellows Antiques, Mount Vernon, Maine. An assembled group, $600, of seven Twentieth Century Amish bonnets in shades of blue was an unexpected feature at Rathbun Gallery, Wakefield, R.I.
“Rhinebeck works for us because we’re so unlike most exhibitors here,” said Ruth Zager of J. Gallagher Antiques, North Norwich, N.Y., specialists in period fireplace fixtures.
Another specialist, Ron Chambers, Higganum, Conn., brought plenty of Connecticut pewter, including a signed Danforth bread and butter plate, $495.
“We can bring things here that we can’t take to other shows,” said Charles Adams, who included an oversized oil on canvas illustration for “Buick 1932” along with Bennington pottery, the Massachusetts dealer’s strong suit.
At Sport & Spool Antiques of Goldsboro, N.C., high stools with baseball bat legs from a New Jersey sports bar were $700 a pair.
Praiseworthy Antiques’ eclectic melange included a set ofIroquois cornhusk false face figures, $3,900, while Dave and BonnieFerris, Lake Lucerne, N.Y., offered a pair of colorfully painteddoor panels from Don’s Hot Dogs and Soda truck. Bob Dylan posterslined Thomas K. Peper’s walls.
At 3 pm on Sunday, an hour before closing, Rhinebeck Antiques Fair lost all power when a transformer blew up in the village, unleashing a chain reaction along Route 9.
“The backup lights eventually came on, but it was dark for 15 minutes, especially in Building E. We opened the doors and Mario Pollo took down one of his walls to let in more light. Several dealers even reported a flurry of sales, perhaps triggered by fears that the show would close early,” said Bruce Garrett.
Next up for the Garrett team is Summer Magic, the one-day Rhinebeck show on July 22; and the Columbus Day weekend Rhinebeck Antiques Fair on October 7-8.
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