Published: October 29, 2002
Good Looks, Good Times, Good Sales:
By David. S. Smith
NEW YORK CITY – Dark clouds hung low over the 69th Regiment Armory as , a Stella event, began it’s three day run over the weekend of October 11. One could barely help but wonder as they made their way to the cavernous armory if the gloom and doom of the outside world, both weather-wise and financially, would reflect back at them from the depths of armory show floor.
However, much akin to the emergence of a yellow brick road, the ominous black and white imagery cast over the city by the storm was all left behind at the doors. And reminiscent of a scene from Oz, patrons skipped into a bright, colorful and cheery world of , a place where the air was full of hope and happiness and wishes really did come true.
This was fourth year for for Stella Show management, according to Leanne Stella, who commented after the show that ” did fantastic. Modern merchandise is just so hot these days,” she said, “and even at this level there are still reasonable things to buy. This market really appeals to the young new collector, as opposed to a mature collector that already has major pieces in place in their home. The young people are still furnishing their homes and they get so excited about their finds.”
“Last year we had to move to Madison Square Garden due to the armory being closed in the aftermath of September 11,” said LeAnn Stella, “and it hurt us a little bit attendance wise.” With the show back in the armory, a larger gate than normal was experienced for this most recent outing. More than 300 people were on hand at the opening and all seemed to be serious buyers.
The show was upbeat and fun and management cast many of the preconceived notions regarding the makeup and seriousness of a modern show aside. It was OK to display kitsch, as long as it was fun kitsch. Pieces didn’t necessarily have to be by major designers to get onto the floor. While there was certainly a large percentage of mainstream big-name furnishings and accessories on display, there was also a great deal of no-name stuff that had great visual appeal.
As the large crowd made their way into the armory at opening, sold tags began to pop up everywhere. David Smirnoff of From Here To Antiquity, Cheshire, Conn., opened the show with a bang selling numerous paintings right off the bat including a John Carlton Atherton work that went to a Manhattan gallery. Atherton, according to Smirnoff, was an early Connecticut abstract artist who died young and his paintings are starting to become quite popular. The dealer commented that the sales were steady throughout the three day run of the show with half of his sales recorded on opening day and an even split for the following two days. “I was very pleased,” said Smirnoff, “it was quite refreshing after a stale summer.”
Also sporting a sold tag within the opening moments of the show in Smirnoff’s booth was a Power Friedaberg wall sculpture with outsider flair. The piece was in a typical Friedaberg style yet was unusual in form consisting of numerous hand sculptures and paintings. Sculpture was also a good seller for Smirnoff with two Ahnes Yarnell bronzes selling along with a modernist piece by William Kent, who the dealer stated is “pretty much under-rated right now.”
One of the most impressive booths stylistically in the show was that of Ken Dukoff and Mark Kielbabsa, Niagara Falls, N.Y., with a substantial offering of Hunt Dietrich pieces. Highlighting the booth was a massive fire screen emblazoned with dashing greyhounds across the front and rabbits around the base. Other rdf_Descriptions by Dietrich included a weathervane with stylized running gazelles on an arrow and a rare horse and jockey sculpture. A Dard Hunter prairie school hanging lighting fixture suspended amidst the striking display nicely accented the booth. The New York dealers also offered an notable selection of Italian and Swedish glass including an abstract pitcher by Dino Martens, a nice brightly colored plaid patterned decanter by Barovier and a Carlos Scarpa vase in the tesutto pattern.
Rosebud Gallery, Berkeley, Cal. had an interesting display with a nice mix of jewelry, silver, and sculptural rdf_Descriptions including a rare Macchiarini terra cotta head with strong modernistic lines. The piece was said to have represented his daughter Nella, and dated to the 19060’s. Macchiarini, from the North Beach of San Francisco was better known for his jewelry, which was also offered in the booth with a brass and iconel brooch in the form of an African mask highlighting the selection. Among the other jewelry offered was a necklace and bracelet set by Antonio in 970 silver and set with gem quality amethyst, along with numerous pieces by Jensen and Spratling.
Another form of jewelry that is extremely popular with the modern set is Bakelite and a prime selection was offered by Mathew Burkholtz of Rt 66, Chatham, N.Y. Among the standout pieces offered was a rare five-color laminate hinged bracelet and a reverse carved raspberries bracelet. Also offered was a nice Stewart Warner Bakelite Fada radio in a rich butterscotch color. The New York dealer also offered a selection of Rebajos copper that attracted a great deal of attention including trays and wall ornaments.
Barnard, of New Hope, Penn., offered a wonderful selection of utilitarian aluminum pieces by unknown designers. One of the most arresting pieces was a rare and stylish 1930’s bicycle with solid disc wheels, stark aluminum seat and a futuristic belt drive. Also offered was an interesting riveted chair on an inverted cone form base that the proprietor commented was the ultimate in utilitarian industrial art as it was a cockpit seat from a B-52.
Glen Leroux, Westport, Conn., offered up a fine assortment of Knoll furniture, but also displayed a suite of furniture that fit the USonian bill. The dealer commented that the dining table, set of dining chairs, cocktail tables, sideboard, wall cabinet and cube form end tables were all designed and executed by Edgar Taffel for a commission in a Greenwich home. The pieces had a hint of Wright to them, and rightly so according to LeRoux as Taffel worked with Frank Lloyd Wright for a period of time.
Dallas Texas dealers Collage 20th Century Classics displayed some fine designer furniture by many of the top names including a wonderful Gilbert Rhode designed night stand and vanity by Herman Miller, an Eva sofa by Bruno Mathsson, and a nice Schier platter with head decoration, circa 1956.
An interesting pair of steel arched chairs by Oscar Niemeyer, designed for the Communist headquarters in Canada, were featured in the booth of Wright, Chicago, Ill. At the forefront of the booth was a period icon, an Eames ESU multi-colored cabinet, and off to the side were two Gamboni vases, one a monumental vase in orange and green on a white ground and the other a nice figural ewer.
Other piece of important Gamboni pottery were noted in the booth of Mark McDonald including an important monumental pottery horse in a wonderful green glaze. McDonald, who had been a mainstay in the modern market in Manhattan for the past 20-plus years, has recently relocated to country atmosphere of Hudson, N.Y., yet, as always, he looked quite at home in the City. The dealer also offered a nice Eames room divider and at the forefront of his booth was an Elieo Saarrinen wall cabinet from his Modern Line produced in the 1930’s.
Other Eames furniture seen around the floor included a nice classic armchair in the booth of George Gilpin, New York City. A set of Eames DCM chairs in a red finish that flanked a George Nelson swag leg table were also featured in the dealers booth, as was a Nakashima lamp and a “womb” chair by Knoll, circa 1948.
OTW, Hollywood, Cal., put on an interesting display with a large sculpture by Anita Weschler, circa 1942 of Rosie the Riveter, an American woman war worker highlighting their booth. The sculpture featured the proud woman cradling wartime symbols in her arms such as a tank and fighter plane. A high style Wurlitzer baby grand piano in Lucite and white lacquer was attracting quite a bit of interest, as was a 1933 chrome New Union Pacific streamline train by General that originally sold for $29.50, but now sported a $6,500 price tag.
Silver specialist Janet Drucker, of Mt. Kisco, N.Y., offered several iconic silver forms from the period including a Johan Rhode designed wine pitcher by Goerg Jensen with an ivory handle, a Henning Koppel designed “pregnant duck” pitcher also executed by Jensen and a stylish water pitcher by Kay Fisker. Other outstanding rdf_Descriptions seen in the booth included a selection of jewelry highlighted by a rare Sam Kramer “Cosmic Dragon” brooch in silver, copper, brass and gold with green agate and jade. Mexican silver was also prominently displayed with a pair of Los Castillo angel candlesticks capturing the attention of enthusiasts.
Mad Parade, Chicago, Ill., broke the mold and displayed a number of quirky rdf_Descriptions including an interesting display of aluminum brassiere molds that had customers doing a double take. The dealer also offered spoon molds, fork molds, hat molds, and a grouping of doll head molds. Another of the fun rdf_Descriptions displayed included a circa 1940 Hawaiian hula travel box that was filled with feather leis, woven sea grass skirts, halter-tops and a shell necklace.
The next show for Stella management will also feature a selection of modern as Triple Pier makes it’s back to back runs over the weekends of November 9 and 10 and November 16 and 17. For more information call (212) 255-0020.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm