The Arts of Pacific Asia Show Finds its Niche in Asia Week
NEW YORK CITY – The Arts of Pacific Asia Show, organized by Caskey-Lees/Sha-Dor, tied in with New York City’s Asia Week. The timing of this show made it easy for those interested in fine Oriental art and antiques to attend the show as well as preview the auction sales of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Southeast Asian art organized at Doyle’s, Sotheby’s and Christie’s further uptown.
The week beginning September 18 was the opportunity to see, learn about and buy any one of a number of beautiful pieces of Oriental art at the 69th Regiment Armory (Lexington Avenue and 26th Street). Over the past six years, the Arts of Pacific Asia Show has grown in depth and size. Dealers came from England, Australia, Europe, Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Vetting is de rigeur and the quality of the show reflects it. Dealers are always a wonderful source of information and are generous in sharing it. In addition, there are a growing number of publications that are available. Numerous magazines, newspapers and books were available at this particular show of Arts Pacific Asia, including The Asian Art, Daruma and Oriental Art Magazine.
Paragon Book Gallery had a double space to exhibit books on Asian Arts and Asian Studies. Some of the titles sound esoteric enough and really bring home how very broad and well researched Oriental art is. The Chicago-based dealer does online searches, buys collections and updates his Web site, www.paragonbook.com, everyday.
Jim Mertil, co-owner of L’Asie Exotique, offered a wonderful selection of bronzes, ivories, Japanese folk art and Chinese scholar’s rdf_Descriptions from his La Jolla, Calif. shop. A number of pieces came from the assemblage of well-known collector and author George Lazarnick, which included a fabulous bronze finial in the form of a roaring dragon’s head from Southern India and a Burmese coinbox for offering Nat in the shape of a recumbent male bear with glass eyes painted red. Lazarnick’s two-volume book Netsuke & Inro Artists and How to Read their Signatures is a necessity for collectors. Incidentally, the large collection of Lazarnick’s netsuke will be sold at Sotheby’s in London in November.
Soo Tze Oriental Antiques are shipped from Down Under. The Melbourne dealer had a remarkable assortment of hard-to-find antiques. A curator from the Metropolitan Museum of Art spotted a Tibetan piece in a glass case at the opening on Wednesday night and returned to the show the next morning to purchase it. Of special interest were a rare double-sided Tang Dynasty (Seventh to Tenth Century) tomb painting and a very large Thanka (87½ by 70 inches) depicting the Sakyamuni Buddha surrounded by scenes of Tibet.
Several dealers had furniture, including a handsome Huanghuali tapered cabinet offered by Hong Kong dealers Contes D’Orient. It is very hard to find Ming furniture from the Heibei region that is so well preserved. Its rarity was revealed in a $80,000 price tag. California dealer Kathryn Milan showed furniture with rugs and screens. A perfectly sized hibachi, made of Keyaki wood with persimmon trim, was offered at $2,900 and a six-panel Japanese screen depicting imaginative birds and a tree on gold ground was priced at $16,000.
Liza Hyde believes that people are becoming more aware of fine artistic qualities in old Japanese screens and has carved a special niche in New York dealing exclusively in them. She has done the Arts of Pacific Asia show for three years and summarizes this year’s event: “I thought the show was very good. I sold a beautiful Seventeenth Century silver screen and smaller things during the show and two more screens after the show.”
Another regular exhibitor from New York City was Flying Crane Antiques that specializes in the Meiji period. As co-owner Jean Schaefer explained, “The translation of Meiji is `enlightenment.’ During the 44-year period, the Meiji rulers worked to bring Japan to the status of a world power. One of the ways to accomplish the goal was to exhibit the work of his fine craftsmen at International Exhibitions.” Japanese artists received patronage from many wealthy Americans. Silver became one of the most favored areas of collecting and ornate, heavy and often, double-walled tea services found their way into many great mansions at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. “Most people do not realize that Japanese silver has more silver than the British standard,” according to Schaefer who has been in the business for over 25 years.
In terms of quantity, the greatest majority of rdf_Descriptions on display at the Arts of Pacific Asia show were “smalls,” including inro, netsuke, porcelain, satsuma, silver and jade. You couldn’t get much smaller than the ojime beads offered at Norman Sandfield’s booth. These small slide fasteners were part of the accoutrements worn with kimonos. Other fascinating smalls were the brass tattooing instruments from Chinalai Tribal Antiques and a collection of bronze opium weights from Laos, Siam and Cambodia, dating from the Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries offered at prices between $150 and $2,500 by the Shoreham, N.Y. dealer.
Not as small but certainly a show-stopper was a collection of opium pipes displayed at the booth of Miami-based, Indochine and a beautiful collection of antique jewels and gold jewelry from India, Tibet and Nepal offered by Brussels dealer, Georgia Chrischilles.
Nicholas S. Pitcher has been dealing in Chinese ceramics and bronzes for the last 25 years in London. A Sichuan pottery standing Boar from the Han period, (206-220 AD) was priced at $4,800. Many objects in his booth as well as those of H.A. & Sons were displayed with an Oxford thermoluminescence testing certificate, including an early Tang grey pottery horse and groom with detailed carving priced at $19,000.
“This show gets better every year,” according to the owner of The Topper Gallery a regular exhibitor from Toronto. A wonderful early 27-inch Ming (1375-1475) temple bronze sculpture of Mencius – a Confusist philosopher was one of the highlights in his booth. Topper explained that Canada is a good source for Chinese art because many Canadian missionary doctors traveled to China in the end of the Nineteenth Century. When they returned home, they brought some Chinese pieces with them. Today, Toronto is a city with the largest population of Chinese outside of China – with approximately one half million people.
A sensational terra-cotta earth spirit astride a Chimera (Tang, Seventh Century) was offered by TKOriental Antiques of Williamsburg, Va. The figure with flaming hair and snakes wrapped around his legs was created to protect the tomb of a dignitary. The gallery owner indicated that it is one of the largest known in existence. The six-figure price reflected its rarity.
It was Marvin Baer’s second appearance at the show. He brought a large selection of Imari and satsuma. A knowledgeable dealer sharing his expertise, he explained that Imari blue and white is universally more acceptable than other colors. As for satsuma, crazing is inherent in the technique. These fine lines do not appear if a piece is not satsuma.
Also displayed in the booth was a collection of sumida gawa – a group of ceramics from the Meiji period. At a totally different taste level from the more formal Victorian décor of satsuma and Imari, these pieces have developed a group of collectors who respond to their folkloric appeal, especially to the pieces by the grand master, Inoue Ryosai.
Three Japanese print dealers were at the show exhibiting both the traditional woodblocks and contemporary prints. Allison Toman has watched over the years as people have become more aware of contemporary art. She believes shows such as Arts of Pacific Asia Show are responsible in part for the growth in interest. Worth mentioning are 88-year-old Shinoda, the grand dame of lithographs/watercolors, who is beginning to receive the same kind of recognition she does in Japan; Nakazawa Shinichi whose etchings with applied gold are easily recognized; and new artist Araki whose aquatints and collage on handmade paper offer the perfect starting point for beginning collectors.
Turnout for the opening night was excellent. Mingling in the crowd were well-known collectors and museum representatives. Thursday and Friday were a little slow, and even though exhibitors saw a lot of people they were hopeful that bad weather would increase attendance on the weekend. So much is available in New York, antiques shows always compete for an audience. This particular weekend, the Craft Show and the Textile Show were scheduled. Even so, Arts of Pacific Asia Show is a proven success. It has filled a niche in New York since it was launched by Caskey-Lees/Sha-Dor.