Published: January 31, 2012
The American Antiques Show, the January resident of the Metropolitan Pavilion for many years, bowed out last year with the closing of the American Folk Art Museum on 53rd Street, and shortly thereafter, The Art Fair Company of Chicago bowed in, and with a blaze of glory. The NYC Metro Show previewed Wednesday evening, January 19, followed by glowing reviews from collectors, dealers and a general audience, all finding the layout of the show exciting and the mix of exhibitors equally as exciting. It was truly a huge success.
The Art Fair Company was founded by Michael Franks, the former chief operating officer of dmg world media, and Mark Lyman, founding director of the Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fairs (SOFA). Fairs are produced in Chicago, New York and Santa Fe, as well as The Intuit Outsider and Folk Art Fair in Chicago and Santa Fe.
The floor plan was designed by an in-house team, and virtually nothing was overlooked. The booths seemed to just flow together, lighting came from all directions, and partitions did not hamper an uninterrupted view down the aisles. It all made for a very comfortable stroll about the show with almost all of the objects in full view from the aisles.
Caroline Kerrigan Lerch, who worked with TAAS for seven years, came back as director of The Metro Show and said she was “very pleased that we have been able to establish a vibrant new fair in this tight economy.” She spoke of the show as “an innovative cocktail of cultures and time.”
Thirty exhibitors welcomed 1,400 people to the preview party, and strong gates were recorded for the following four days of the show. In total, 6,000 people visited the show. Among those attending the opening were collector Jerry Lauren, Mario Buatta, Jamie Drake, Bunny Williams, Jamie Drake, Ellie Cullman, Audrey Gruss, Geoffrey Bradfield, Jack Lenor Larsen, Leigh Keno, Phillip Zea of Historic Deerfield, Dean Lahikainen of the Peabody Essex Museum and Patricia Kane of Yale University.
Buatta said, “The opening had great energy. I haven’t seen crowds like this in years,” and folk art collector Lauren noted, “This show has taken on a new vibrancy.”
Among the exhibitors, Aarne Anton of American Primitive said, “The best energy at a show in a very long time,” and Gary Sullivan noted, “We were very pleased to see many new faces.” Arlie Sulka of Lillian Nassau had the most people she has ever had in her booth at one time, remarking, “It was amazing.” Native American specialist John Molloy thought the show had “fantastic vitality and a diverse mix of specialties that make it one of the most exciting shows in New York.”
Queen Isabella of Aragon, an Eighteenth Century doll figure from Spain measuring 36 inches tall, stood at the front of the booth of Joel Cooner Gallery, Dallas. The figure had a polychrome wood head and hands, and mercury glass eyes. A classic child’s horse push toy, carved and painted with horsehair tail, dated from the Nineteenth Century and was mounted on the original platform, missing the wheels.
A cigar store Indian stood in the booth of American Primitive Gallery, New York City, a figure measuring 3½ feet tall and dating circa 1880. A folk art peacock, hollow carved, circa 1900, maker unknown, was on the floor near a full rack of knock-down shooting gallery targets, seven rows of birds, made by W.F. Mangeis for Coney Island. Other arcade targets included a cast iron moon of star, mid-Twentieth Century. Aarne Anton noted that among his sales were a Nineteenth Century cowboy shop sign from a haberdashery in Wichita, Kan., a lady and cat sculpture, circa 1920, and the peacock.
“These are the best,” Steven S. Powers of Brooklyn, N.Y., said of his nest of woodlands ash burl bowls, circa 1820, that ranged from 11 to 24¼ inches wide. They were likely Potawatomi or Ojibwa, and descended in a family from south Michigan with Potawatomi heritage. A cast iron figure of George Washington, a bust, was a fragment from a stove, circa 1843, by Alonzo Blanchard, Albany, N.Y., measuring 10 inches tall. “The piece broke, leaving you just what was needed to see, almost perfectly as if it was meant to be,” Steven said.
For the collectors of architect’s models, Ricco/Maresca of New York City offered a model of the Rhode Island Hospital by A.C. Morse, 1863. It was of polychromed wood and measured 18 by 51 by 13½ inches. And attracting much attention was a collection of 26 industrial aluminum hard hats from Indonesia, repousse aluminum, dating 1960‱970, that sold quickly. The group was skillfully mounted on one wall, a very eye-catching display.
Clifford A. Wallach, Tramp Art, Folk Art & Americana, Manalapan, N.J., offered two desks, one a tramp art slant front secretary, scratch-built with hearts and scalloped framed glass doors, a tour de force, and an American marquetry rolltop desk dating circa 1920‱930. The interior was loaded with compartments, cubbyholes and drawers, and the exterior was embellished with hundreds of elements in a style resembling Cubism. “I had a client fly in from Los Angeles by private plane to pick up a few pieces of tramp art,” Clifford said, adding, “I sold 15 pieces on opening night, one of which was the most expensive pieces in the booth.”
Captain Jinks, an American tobacconist trade figure, carved and polychromed pine with a painted surface, stood in the spotlight in the booth of Allan Katz, Woodbridge, Conn. This outstanding figure was attributed to Thomas J. White (1825‱905), a master carver in the shop of Samuel Robb, New York City. The figure, circa 1880, measures 73 inches high and stands on a base measuring 15¼ inches wide and 18 inches deep. Captain Jinks did not sell preview night, but was sold on opening day. Another fine piece of sculpture was the Jim Crow trade figure, American, carved and polychrome painted wood, possibly from the shop of Charles J. Dodge, New York City. It dates circa 1835 and measures 36 inches high, 11 inches wide and 16 inches deep.
A grouping of ten Southern face jugs and banks filled a portion of the Katz booth, with examples from Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina, and an oil on canvas of the paddle-wheeler The Daniel Drew by James Bard dated 1874 and measured 34 by 48 inches in frame. In addition to Captain Jinks, some of the pottery, a Civil War reunion cane/patriotic cane, horse weathervane, a rare Julius Melchers tobacco store trade figure, circa 1875, and a pair of cast iron snake andirons were among other sales.
A large horse and sulky, with great surface, was among the first things sold from the booth of Stephen Score of Boston, who put together a collection of things well distanced from his usual show of American folk art and furniture. A large red painted tin umbrella, 107 inches high, probably used as a store prop, was on a black iron stand at the front of the booth (sold), and standing behind was a painted figure of a carved Uncle Sam. Against the back wall stood an Art Moderne skyscraper model, American, maker unknown, 93 inches high and painted white with green awnings over two of the windows. It was of pine and Strathmore-like board. Stephen did come through with a few pieces of Americana, including an acrobat whirligig, small size, pine, and dating 1880.
The back wall of the booth of Samuel Herrup, Sheffield, Mass., was alive with color from a collection of 12 Nineteenth Century watercolors on paper of masks from China’s Peking Opera. The rare set identified the opera on one side and the character portrayed on the other. Each watercolor measured 18 by 18 inches. A large Pennsylvania redware loaf dish, circa 1840‱860, measured 15 by 23 inches, and a wall-mounted fish weathervane was attributed to J.W. Fiske, New York City. The vane, 30 inches long, circa 1891, gold wash over copper, came from a Long Island estate. At the front of the booth stood a two-door painted corner cupboard, Hudson River Valley, dating from the Eighteenth Century and measuring 51½ inches high. It retained an old blue/gray over black surface, with a red painted interior.
A Millerite teaching banner, dated 1854, New England, measuring 9 by 9 feet, was among the pieces sold from the booth of Hill Gallery, Birmingham, Mich. This oil paint on canvas on stretcher was very graphic and predicted the end of the world. Also sold were “Man in Blue Suit” and “Red Dog,” each by outsider artist Bill Traylor, circa 1940; a carved and painted “Standing Nude with Dove”, circa 1930, from Duluth, Minn.; and a Nineteenth Century Navaho sampler. Standing at the front of the booth was a conductor trade figure, circa 1900, Midwest origin, carved and painted wood with a coin slot. It measured 40 inches high, 15 inches wide and 18 inches deep.
Samplers covered the walls in the booth of M. Frankel & Daughter, Philadelphia, but “my three best ones are right at the front of the booth,” Amy Finkel said. She pointed out a Bucks County, Penn., example dated 1802 by Mary Roberts, with a bear, deer and birds in a design surrounded by a blue/gray ribbon; a Columbia County, Penn., one by Marie Eby, dated 1821, with a swan, chicken, bird and dog in the picture; and an 1825 Middletown, Conn., sampler by Mary Ann Cooley, instructed by N.A. Ladd, with a large house in an oval pattern. The Roberts sampler sold, as did a pair of Massachusetts samplers by Sally Wilder and Nancy Wilder, a Massachusetts sampler by Sally Paine Hemenway, and a West Virginia or Ohio sampler by Margaret A. Duff. A walnut, three-drawer stand, Glasgow, Ky., circa 1835, was also sold.
H.L. Chalfant, American Fine Art & Antiques, West Chester, Penn., brought to the show a Chippendale circular tavern table in walnut, scalloped apron and splayed cabriole legs ending in ball and claw feet, Virginia or Pennsylvania, circa 1775, measuring 28 inches high and 32 inches deep. He also offered a Queen Anne side chair in maple attributed to William Savery, in old finish with cupid’s bow crest, original skirt and rush seat. It is of Philadelphia origin and dates circa 1750‱770.
In contrast, across the way, Dalton’s American Decorative Arts, Syracuse, N.Y., showed a director’s table, circa 1907, Gustav Stickley, Syracuse, N.Y., of American white oak and measuring 30 inches high, 72 inches wide and 36 inches deep. A Dirk Van Erp jardinière of hammered copper measured 12¾ inches high, 17½ inches deep, and dated circa 1910.
A Broderie Perse quilt, mid-Atlantic, circa 1820, hung against the back wall in the booth of Stella Rubin, Darnestown, Md., and was just one of many quilts stacked about the booth. Hanging on an outside wall was a rare figural album crib quilt, circa 1830, likely from the family of Mrs Jay Lee Smith, Orange County, N.Y.
Gary R. Sullivan Antiques, Inc, Sharon, Mass., offered 12 tall case clocks, including a rare Queen Anne mahogany example with pagoda top by Thomas Clark, Boston, circa 1765. It had a brass dial movement and measured 100 inches from base to the top of the finial. A rare Federal inlaid mahogany sofa, New York City, circa 1800‱810, measured 74½ inches wide and had serpentine arms and square tapered legs. Among the pieces sold were a Goddard-Townsend Newport chest on chest, circa 1770s, in figured mahogany; a chest of drawers by Joseph Rawson, similar to an example that is in the White House; and a candlestand attributed to Duncan Phyfe.
Jeff and Holly Noordsy, Cornwall, Vt., showed an assembled set of five New England globular bottles, 1790‱820; a graduated set of 18 New England chestnut bottles, 1790‱820, and a collection of five American whale oil lamps, circa 1820‱840. Jeff said, “We loved the crowded opening; it was comparable to the opening day crowd at the New Hampshire Antiques Show.” He added that “we had good sales,” listing a cedar slide-top box, circa 1800; a hanging set of drawers from the Midwest, circa 1830; an early birth record and a miniature portrait on ivory.
Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques, York County, Penn., had his booth draped with flags, all sizes, conditions and ages. Of note was a hand sewn Confederate 1st National pattern flag with 12 stars to reflect the secession of Missouri in 1861, of large size and framed. A hand painted stars and stripes banner with the seal of New York City was probably made for the Brooklyn/Long Island Sanitary Fair in 1864. A chrome yellow country table from Maine, circa 1880, with six sides, drop leaf, held an 1827 New Hampshire band box, red, white and blue wallpaper, probably by Hannah Davis. Among his sales were several flags and a star spangled pattern patriotic quilt, 1876.
Exhibiting at the front of the show was the William Siegal Gallery, Santa Fe, N.M., with a rare incised mask, Calima culture, Colombia, among a collection of pre-Columbian textiles and objects. This piece dated 200 BC‶00 AD, was of terracotta and measured 19 by 10 by 5 inches.
“This was the best opening I’ve had since the Nashville Show 30 years ago,” said Garthoeffner Gallery Antiques’ Pat Garthoeffner, who returned early the next morning to restock her booth. Among the offerings were a salesman’s sample of an Old Town canoe that was purchased from a sporting goods store in Pennsylvania, circa 1915; a New York State paint decorated, dome top box, circa 1825, and an Indian princess by Thomas V. Brooks, New York City, circa 1875, measuring 72 inches high.
“The show is great, a bright new mix that freshens up the market,” Rich Garthoeffner said, adding a list of sold items that included a 32-piece collection of velvet fruit, several quilts, two hooked rugs, an Eighteenth Century American inn trade sign, samplers, mocha ware, some redware and a number of splint baskets.
Gemini Antiques, Oldwick, N.J., had a nice, new look to its booth this time out †a couple of cases and just a simple row of white-painted shelves that ran the length of the booth. And those shelves were filled to overflowing with toys, mechanical and still banks and a few small folk art objects. General Grant smoking, in full uniform, seated in a cast iron chair, was a toy manufactured by the Ives Blakesler Co., Bridgeport, Conn., circa 1875. One shelf carried a model of the New York battleship by Gebruder Marklin, Germany, circa 1900, 20 inches long and in working condition, with a painting of a three-masted schooner, oil on canvas, possibly a development study by James Bard, in the background. A lighthouse bank added to the nautical theme.
Twelve Art Talks with the exhibiting dealers were scheduled throughout the run of the show, each lasting about 15 minutes and conducted in the booths. All were included in the price of admission †$15 per person or $30 for a multiday pass per person. The preview, from 6 to 7 pm, was by invitation only, and after that, until 9 pm, admission was $75. Each dealer was given 25 passes, each good for two people, to send out to clients for free admission to the early preview. “That really worked,” one dealer commented, adding, “There were many young people among those attending.” Private receptions for members of the Whitney, the Cooper-Hewitt and the American Folk Art Museums took place.
There is no question that The Metro Show got its foot firmly in the door to Antiques Week in New York. And, boy, did they deserve it. Next year’s Metro Show will preview on Wednesday, January 23, and run through Sunday, January 27.
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