Summer Magic is the fitting name for the July 28 edition of the popular Rhinebeck Antiques Fair. Falling midway between the established spring and fall shows organized by Bruce Garrett and staff, Summer Magic is their casual, abbreviated offspring. Its eclectic content, spanning the gamut from French enamelware to Mexican silver to natural specimens mounted as sculpture, is one of its most distinctive virtues.
Summer Magic got underway for its ninth season at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds at 10 am on the kind of languorous, sultry day that begs to be accompanied by corn dogs and ice cream.
“We’ve got some really good new dealers,” said presenter Bruce Garrett, taking a final spin around the show before it opened. Of 173 exhibitors, more than 40 were trying out Rhinebeck for the first time.
“We had several retirements and some last-minute cancellations,” explained show manager Brett Brandes. “Our new exhibitors were well received by the public and by our veteran exhibitors.” The gate was up about 30 percent, said Brandes.
One newcomer was Doodletown Farm Antiques. It was the first show for dealers Bob Murphy and former Philadelphia Museum of Art curator Jack Lindsey. The partners would like to do a few more shows.
“We’re trying to keep it simple,” explained Lindsey. With family business to attend to after he left the museum, Lindsey also took on the restoration of a 40-acre farm with stone walls and five ponds in Columbia County, N.Y. The house he and Murphy live in is an old Livingston family property, scarcely touched since it was built in 1701.
“We deal in the funny, quirky, unusual and affordable,” said Lindsey. Part of Doodletown’s stand was an improvised peep show, complete with salacious French photographs from the 1890s to the 1930s. On another wall were playful remnants of a bean-bag toss game, their faces hand painted on old bed springs. More inventory is on the dealers’ website (www.doodletownfarm.com) and in the Millerton Antiques Center, 12 miles from their home.
“We love a one-day show. A majority of our business was done before noon,” said another first-time exhibitor, Jill Malley of East End Galleries, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Michael and Lucinda Seward find fine art sells well at Rhinebeck. The Vermont dealers’ many transactions included a large Nineteenth Century oil on canvas of a Madonna and Child by G.J. Roth, after Van Dyke.
To attract younger buyers, Karen Wendhiser adds Midcentury Modern design to her inventory of folk art and painted furniture. The Connecticut dealer sold garden furniture and accessories, Roseville pottery, a Navajo rug and an Iroquois beaded bag.
Sharing a booth with Colchester, Conn., dealer Phil Liverant, Native American art specialist Ann Jones featured a black-on-black carved pottery tray, $4,500, decorated with a classic avanyu design by Teresita Naranjo of Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico.
“This show is a little more funky than May and October. People bring what they know will sell in the summer,” said Brandes. With their whirring overhead fans, the airy, sunlit Buildings A through D provide a laid back feeling just right for rustic and garden furniture and accessories.
Filled with dozens of tiny terra cotta pots for starting seedlings, a large, two-part set of shelves with cubbyholes from a Vermont nursery traveled from Michael and Lucinda Seward to Susan Parrish.
Hallam Antiques of Hudson, N.Y., brought a gem of a glass-topped dining table. Its fountainlike base was made of multiple strands of wire arranged like jets of water. Hallam set the table with an elegant Art Nouveau style pewter tea service.
Dave and Bonnie Ferriss’s Nineteenth Century French pergola was a charmer at $985.
A four-piece suite of one-off Adirondack furniture, including two settees upholstered with antique carpet, headlined at Judith & James Milne, New York City.
Architectural fragments were also best sellers. Some resourceful designer must have snapped up an elegant pair of French doors, $850, at Rose Garden Antiques, whose best of Baroque touch was a large Continental carved wood shell in red and gilt paint.
“It came out of a Bolton, Mass., estate,” Bruce Emond of Village Braider in Plymouth, Mass., said of his dazzling 8-foot-tall gilt overmantel mirror, $3,900. Two outsized painted iron butterflies, $350 and $500, perched on metal supports nearby.
Large architectural pieces were the leitmotif at Mathewmark, an Ohio dealer whose centerpiece was a multisided bolt cabinet in red paint that the dealer acquired at the recent Bakofen sale at William Smith’s.
The emphasis was sculptural at Blue Shutters Antiques, Montgomery, N.Y., where a Sixteenth Century terra cotta lion vied for attention with a putti-decorated fireboard and a large, cast iron shell from Philadelphia.
Seaver & McLellan’s signature displays often mass groups of like objects to striking effect. This time, the New Hampshire dealers featured a framed collection of watercolor and ink on paper designs from the archives of the Manhattan Costume Company. The drawings dated from the 1950s.
“We like to bring the coast to Upstate New York,” said Justin Cobb of Captain’s Quarters Nautical Art and Antiques. The Amherst, Mass., dealer promoted an underappreciated form of sailor’s art, embroidered silk pictures commemorating voyages to the Far East.
“They were done between the two World Wars in Shanghai, the Philippines and Yokohama. I spent quite a bit of time chasing them. I’ve seen them sell for as much as $3,000 to $5,000,” said Cobb, whose left wall was covered with the colorful needleworks, some of which are embellished with photo portraits.
“Other people have trouble selling beds, but I love them,” said Pierre de Ragon, an Oley, Penn., dealer who buys exuberantly turned and painted Nineteenth Century examples, then fashions colorful bedding for them. Made up with coverlets and throw pillows, a circa 1840 rope bed with a smoothing bar was $4,750.
Raccoon Creek worked with a palette of teal, russet and mustard, tying their display together with a circa 1880 Pennsylvania quilt in a geometric pattern.
A gutsy classical dressing table and mirror in bird’s-eye maple starred at Mario Pollo, Bearsville, N.Y.
“We want people to walk into a show and recognize us. We vary our merchandise but remain true to our reputation for good folk art, paint and smalls,” said Bev Norwood of The Norwoods’ Spirit of America, Timonium, Md.
Maine dealer Bob Withington switched to metal for Rhinebeck’s summer show, offering a great looking French school locker with louvered doors, delicate hardware and soft gray-blue paint, $1,400.
Janet West of White Plains, N.Y., lined one wall with 15 “stairways to the stars” hanging shelves. These novelties were made by hobbyists in the 1940s and 1950s, said West.
Towering over Mimi Gunn’s booth was a huge carved and painted bear with a “Floradora Girls” tea towel draped over its crooked arm.
Perkins/Menson of Ashby, Mass., featured a pretty bird’s-eye maple and cherry country Sheraton chest of drawers, $2,000, and a double-door, paneled hanging cupboard in old pumpkin colored paint, $795.
Shaker authority Charles Muller offered Mount Lebanon chairs †including a #7 armchair with decal, $1,475, and a rocker once owned by Sister Sadie Neale, $775 †alongside a country pine and walnut secretary, $1,950, that the Ohio dealer purchased nearly 30 years ago.
“Paine Furniture Company of Boston bought old pieces and repainted them in the first decades of the Twentieth Century,” Cheryl Scott said of the labeled sage and scarlet colored dressing table in her stand.
Acorn Hill Antiques of Southbury, Conn., marked time with an assortment of Connecticut clocks, most of them manufactured by Seth Thomas. Dan Roome, a full-time IBM employee and part-time antiques dealer, said his favorite clock was a Seth Thomas #1 Extra eight-day timepiece, 42 inches long and dating to about 1870.
American country antiques were still very much in evidence at Steve Smoot Antiques, whose crisp, colorful display emphasized cast iron banks, tole painted tin, and a Berks County jelly cupboard, $1,950, in blue paint.
Country furniture was on tap at Dennis and Valerie Bakoledis, who brought a one-drawer hutch table and a Federal mahogany and birch chest of drawers.
A touch of the exotic was supplied by David N. Salkin, a Philadelphia dealer in Chinese furniture whose well appointed stand suggested the hutongs of Shanghai and Beijing, and Zagyel Studio/Gateway to Tibet, Willow, N.Y., not to be overlooked as a source for fast-disappearing Tibetan antiques, particularly rugs.
Rhinebeck Antiques Fair next returns October 13‱4. For information, 845-876-1989 or www.rhinebeckantiquesfair.com.