Published: June 8, 2021
Review and Photos by W.A. Demers
RHINEBECK, N.Y. – Spring Antiques at Rhinebeck returned on May 29-30 as Barn Star Productions and Frank Gaglio opened the live show to the public on their traditional Memorial Day weekend. The Dutchess County Fairgrounds was once again the site for the iconic event, filling three, spacious and well-ventilated buildings while at the same time conforming to CDC guidelines and New York state regulations for everyone’s safety. Masks were required, sanitizer was provided and pets were banned. Other than that, and the dismal, chilly, rain-soaked weather outside Buildings A, B & C, it could have been mistaken for the “old Rhinebeck,” a show that traditionally combines a strong roster of well-known dealers, quality merchandise artfully displayed and enthusiastic, serious buyers.
“No spin required for this show,” said a pleased Bruce Emond of The Village Braider, Plymouth, Mass. Known as an eclectic dealer with a broad range of merchandise covering multiple price points, the dealer stocked his booth chockfull on Friday before the show opened and depleted it over the weekend. “I would honestly say I haven’t seen a gate that big since Bill Walter [original show founder] was alive,” said Emond. “I sold about three-quarters of what I brought – and I brought a lot of material to that show. By the end of Sunday, a lot of the big stuff – like the Chinese tubs, big chair, big workbench, the Arts and Crafts chaise lounge were gone. The whole weekend was great.”
Emond added that he believes there were three factors at play contributing to the event’s success. “It was the first really major show in 14 months with good material, quality antiques. The second factor is that there are a lot of millennials that have moved there from Brooklyn and Manhattan who used to live in apartments in the city and now they’ve bought houses and need to furnish and decorate them. My business was to all young customers under 40. The third big factor was that it was raining all weekend and cold, so it meant people couldn’t go out mountain climbing, biking and gardening.”
What shoppers found at the show spanned centuries and collecting categories, everything from Oriental rugs to antique, designer and costume jewelry, American and Continental furniture, porcelain and ceramics, fine and decorative prints, midcentury and modern design, books and ephemera, Asian arts, military and nautical antiques, fine art and folk art, textiles, samplers and quilts, stoneware and redware pottery, Native American jewelry and artifacts, Shaker, art pottery, silver, graphic posters, art glass, advertising and folk signs, early toys, watches, vintage décor and more.
Promoter Frank Gaglio, who days after the show closed was still making deliveries around the tri-state area for dealers due to the fact that he had no shipper, said the show was even better than the old days. “There was tremendous energy. The harder it rained, the more people came.” He added that the line of people at the ticket booth extended past the Mulberry Street entrance. “I could not see the end of the line. The parking assistants we had from the fairgrounds filled one parking lot and then they filled the ball field. I think it was the biggest gate I’ve ever had since the early days of Mid-Week in New Hampshire. It was a stupendous opening and it continued through the show.”
“We were so busy setting up on Friday and so busy selling all day on Saturday that I never had a chance to take a quick walk around and see the show myself,” said fine art dealer Bob Smith of Montrose, Penn. “Sunday was also busy from noon right up until the end, but I did get a chance to walk around that morning. What a show! All the dealers I talked to were having very good shows. Some of the comments I had from dealers were ‘Will you have anything left to take back? …Yes, it was our best Rhinebeck Show ever!'”
For Naples, Fla., exhibitors – Holden Antiques, that is Ed and Anita Holden, the show “was exceptional in all ways” and they said that from a sales view, “We were much more than happy with our results. We sold more than 47 individual items from just about every category we presented, which was a pretty broad range – everything from furniture to ice fishing decoys, Delft to early bottles, folk art to quilts, redware to rugs, plus interesting smalls,” said Ed Holden. He added that they were particularly pleased with the large attendance and the buyer quality represented in the attendees. “Many came from distances, and we had the normal Rhinebeck cadre from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.”
Like Emond, the Holdens attributed much of the show’s success to there not having been a live show for more than a year. “Live shows offer so much more than the online alternative – hands-on experience, which creates knowledge and collecting interest, the opportunity to discuss and learn new areas of collecting, the ability to meet and talk to new folks and old customers, as well as the ability to physically offer more material live than the item count that is constrained in online shows.”
For Richard LaVigne, owner of Knollwood Antiques, Village of Thorndike, Mass., the clients he engaged with were startled by the upscale appearance of the overall show and expressed the sentiment that it was the best show they had seen in Rhinebeck. “Seen were many young couples furnishing – now permanent – country houses and the numbers of under-40 people was truly encouraging,” he said. “Frank Gaglio and his newly formed team that included Amanda and Joe Reyes kept the setups, pickups and deliveries as well as moveouts as trouble free as possible despite the stormy weather. The Reyes couple provided professional porter services, and we were thrilled to have Amanda at the helm in Frank’s office and Joe in the buildings and on the field. They even delivered a large marble obelisk yesterday morning by putting it in their car trunk!”
Folk art specialist Susan Wechsler, South Road Antiques, Stanfordville, N.Y., sold some of her favorite pieces – a graphic painted folding table, a unique folded paper box, a strange rubber figure, an early rolling toy, a memory jug with political buttons and early marbles, carnival head, small folk art village and other smalls. “It was so great to do the show and connect with all the dealers and clients in person again. In spite of the horrible weather, the show was mobbed; I think people were so excited to get out and actually touch and see objects! There were many quality dealers there, which was exciting, but certainly made the show more competitive. Always nice to have a higher bar. Overall, I think the range of objects was fantastic.”
Wechsler said she had a lot of interest in an abstract embroidered quilt of cotton and silk, possibly Amish, 80 by 70 inches. “The quilt, of course, was the big conversation piece. It sold to one of my clients, but so many people were interested to know more about it. I wish I did too.
Because I’m close to the fairgrounds, many local people took cards and expressed interest in coming to shop in my barn. For me, this is one of the benefits of doing a live show: talking to people, hearing what kinds of items they like or are looking for, and having the opportunity to continue the relationship in person.”
No sooner did he finish with Rhinebeck, Steve Powers, owner of Steven S. Powers Works of Art & Americana, New York City, was off to Ohio, traveling to another show, “where it’s cold and rainy again!” he said. “Despite the cold and rain, I think the enthusiasm and size of the crowd at Rhinebeck was quite impressive and beyond what I was expecting. It was refreshing to see live, active interest versus an email and messaging through Instagram. I had a decent show and others had terrific shows. Happy to see the enthusiasm!”
Jane Langol is from Ohio. Medina, specifically, and she reported that her experience was “outstanding! There were solid, wall-to-wall customers both Saturday and Sunday resulting in a busy booth of activity. I was happy to sell eight paintings, five textiles and seven pieces of art pottery!”
With customers eager to buy, Langol said that she had fortunately brought extra paintings and was able to restock the walls as the painting flew out the door. “My pottery shelves were scoured and empty by late Sunday.”
This was Aarne Anton’s first show under his new name, Nexus Singularity, “and the response was inscrutable with a grin,” reported the Pomona, N.Y., dealer. “It was so sweet getting back to Rhinebeck, seeing dealer friends and visitors. With a masked public, it was tricky sometimes recognizing friends from just the eyes seen, so I had to rely on voice recognition. A visitor with dollar bills printed on his facemask turned out to be Harvey Fierstein once he said a few words. The show had a certain energy from being missed for a year and I saw more things being carried out than usual. I was pleased with my sales as well my buying.”
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