Published: November 9, 2010
Stella Show Mgmt Co rolled out the red carpet on the 11th floor of 7 West 34th Street for its Modern Show on October 15‱7, showcasing Twentieth Century Modern art and design. In the firm’s second year at this venue, promoter Irene Stella was trying to make the show even more inviting by waiving the $15 admission fee to the trade. All designers, decorators, dealers and collectors had to do to gain entry was to present their business card as they stepped off the elevator.
“For some unknown reason, we saw fewer decorators this year and less furniture sold,” said Irene Stella, contacted after the show. “Dealers with good sales were in art, objects and jewelry. Using unlimited comps always surprises us, as 40 to 50 percent of the attendees pay. We do believe, though, that the comped attendees appreciate it and that it puts them in a good mood to buy.”
This was the second year Stella has mounted this show at the high rise known as 7 West, with its views of the Empire State Building a fitting Art Deco backdrop. “Everyone loves the venue and its good services, but the cost is high for us and the dealers,” stated Stella. There is also the issue of the load-in for dealers who do not avail themselves of union help, a difficult situation which, in the words of one dealer, “took us three hours to move in and we started at 8 am.”
Still, the bright, airy space makes for a handsome presentation, and despite the decreased attendance, the usual results ratios seemed to be in force †”Sixty percent of dealers did well, in my estimation, 20 percent did okay and 20 percent poorly,” said Stella.
On display were high-style examples of Twentieth Century art and design, ranging from couture, designer jewelry to colorful Modern paintings and sculpture, as well as a sampling of Midcentury and Art Deco furniture.
Given over to solely interesting illustration art of the era was Norman Brosterman’s booth. The East Hampton, N.Y., dealer has been in business for more than 20 years, specializing in drawings and architectural “art that was created for a function,” he said. Trained as an architect, Brosterman has sold a lot of Outsider art, historical architectural drawings and vintage science fiction art to museums and collectors. Notable in his booth was a Stewart Rouse oil on canvas depicting a futuristic mashup titled “A New Ship of the Desert,” 1931, which had served as the published cover for Modern Mechanix and Inventions magazine, October 1931. Rouse originals, which are mimicked by many modern day illustrators, such as Bruce McCall, are extremely rare.
Another rare informational graphic was a 1961 gouache and acrylic of Aspen’s Ajax Mountain by Hal Shelton (1916′004), which, according to the artist’s son, is the first artistic ski map used in America.
Modern art of a different sort was available nearby at Auerbach & Maffia, Montgomeryville, Penn. A Jim Gary (1939′006) large metal sculpture (approximately 58 by 44 inches) depicting several species of fish swimming among seaweed was on view along with a three-dimensional abstraction installation by Dorothy Gillespie (b 1920) and a work by Connecticut sculptor and educator John Risley (b 1919).
Their first time exhibiting in this show, Mark Madden and Gustavo Martinez of GM Décor brought both furniture and decorative accessories. Among the standout items in the New York City dealers’ booth was a set of eight Italian scissor back dining chairs from the 1960s, a set of six French Continental-style dining chairs from the 1950s and a sumptuous three-piece Arne Norell (1917‱971) leather armchair set. “In general, we got some of what we came for, so we weren’t displeased,” said Madden, who when contacted was awaiting a count from show management of the number of free passes that were redeemed for tickets. “For our marketing purposes, this information will be valuable because we rely heavily on our e-marketing strategy,” he said.
Madden and Martinez sold well enough, although with higher traffic they believed they would have done even better. “At the show we sold some really great pieces,” said Madden. “We had a woman stop by who was decorating her new apartment with her mother. She had her bag of swatches and magazine clippings with her. She purchased an amazing three-piece set of heart-shaped nesting tables and an Italian-style buffet. We sold three sets of enamel glassed silver dishes to one designer who was shopping with her client from Chicago. We sold several pairs of blown glass sconces and French flute sconces.”
Even newer to the show were Howard Shapiro and Karen Fine, who were sharing space under the Lawrence Fine Art aegis. Shapiro has been a dealer for all of nine months, trading in his 20-year Wall Street career for his passion in American Modern art. Fine had wonderful examples of ceramics on display, including a 9½-inch high vase by Otto Natzler from 1961, which was exceptional for its crystalline multicolor body and flowing top. Shapiro showcased Modern art gems such as an abstract still life painting by California artist Helen Shafter Feyler-Switz (1925′006), reminiscent of works by Arthur Dove, and a couple of canvases by New York artist Rolph Scarlett (1889‱984).
New York City dealers Eleanor and David Billet brought a fantastic table featuring a free-form wood top over stylized, animal-like legs and brass fruit details, among other items, a pair of French Midcentury Modern armchairs with wood runner bottoms that had been reupholstered and a pair of French small gates that had been turned into side tables.
At Tutta dal Mondo, Shelia Parish, a Penn Valley, Penn., dealer had some wonderful Art Deco jewelry, such as a necklace, circa 1900s, that dazzled with purple amethyst and emeralds set off by black and white enamel. The dealer is also known for her coffee and tea services and she had brought a couple that perfectly epitomized the 1930s †one a W.M.F. example of silver plate with Bakelite handles, the other a so-called “Cube” coffee, tea and hot water set in silver plate. Especially designed for use on board ships during the golden age of transoceanic travel, the non-tippy design can be found in three different forms, according to Parish. Sterling was used in first class, silver plate in second class and china in third class.
Stella Show Mgmt Co will offer up its largest art, antiques, style and collecting event, the Pier Antiques Shows, on November 13 and 14 at Pier 94. For information, www.stellashows.com or 973-808-5015.
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