Published: May 24, 2011
Don’t look now, but the Wayside Inn Antiques Show is making antiquing fun again. Staged most recently at the historic Wayside Inn, May 13‱5, this 46-dealer fair mixes business and pleasure, striking a calculated balance between affordable fare and choice specimens for dedicated collectors.
Everything about this show seems designed to give pleasure. There is the verdant setting, lushly beautiful in springtime but just 30 minutes from central Boston. And the festive tent offers 20,000 square feet of heated and air-conditioned luxury. The people are a happy mix of costumed interpreters, ardent collectors, supporters of the historic Wayside Inn, and, of course, experts from Skinner, the Boston auction house that generously sponsors the show. As evidence of the show’s caliber, exhibitors include six from the Winter Antiques Show, seven from The American Antiques Show and 17 from the Philadelphia Antiques Show.
Two exhibitors, Diana H. Bittel and Ralph DiSaia, manage the two-year-old fair on behalf of Wayside Inn, a Massachusetts Historic Landmark. Bittel serves as show manager. DiSaia is the facilities manager. DiSaia’s job was made more difficult by a downpour on Sunday afternoon.
“Show logistics went amazingly well, considering,” DiSaia told Antiques and The Arts Weekly . “The tent is 120 by 180 feet. The floor is plywood over a two-layer under-structure that is about 4 inches off the ground. We had some seepage in the tent, but no leaks. Rain made the site muddy for move-out, but exhibitors were packed out by 10:30 pm on Sunday. Next year, we are totally regrading the area to address these problems.”
“I think attendance was fine, though we were hurt by the rain,” Bittel said the day after the show’s closing. “We drew supporters of the old Ellis Memorial Antiques and a number of very prominent collectors from the area. Some exhibitors sold well. A few did not do much business at all. Overall, people love the show and want to come back next year. I can’t say enough about Skinner. They were fabulous.”
This year’s Wayside Inn Antiques Show was especially rich in regional American painting. On Newbury Street in Boston, Childs Gallery brought a selection of paintings from its current gallery exhibition, “A Shore Thing: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Marine Paintings.” The tour de force was “Maine Rock,” by William P. Burpee, who worked in Maine and Massachusetts.
“This is my Modernist corner,” said Sarah Cunningham of Walker-Cunningham Fine Art, pointing to a nook ornamented with Albert Wein’s 1946 bronze “Man with Plow,” his Prix de Rome entry. She paired the bronze with Virginia True’s “Nude,” an oil on canvas mediation of the human form as structure. A pen and ink study accompanied the painting.
“Henry Ward Ranger really founded the Old Lyme colony in 1899 before moving to Mystic, Conn.,” said Old Lyme, Conn., dealer Jeffrey Cooley. Ranger’s “Evening Sky” was a highlight of Cooley’s display of mostly Tonalist paintings.
James Puzinas and Shelley Brown of Blue Heron Fine Art in Cohasset, Mass., built their display around “Winter Brook,” an assertive oil on canvas by Carl William Peters (1897‱980). Peters spent time in Woodstock, N.Y., and Rockport and Cape Ann, Mass., where he was particularly influenced by Aldro Hibbard.
Campbell Cooper’s “Upper Main Street, Nantucket,” a gouache on paper, was a highlight at Sylvia Antiques of Nantucket. James M. Kilvington displayed Walter Emerson Baum’s “Bucks County Bridge” alongside Harold Harrington Betts’ arresting view of Cochiti Pueblo, N.M.
An Alexander Pope Jr oil on canvas of a pointer and pheasant was at Kelly Kinzle.
“We sold early New England material, including a very good banister back armchair, a butterfly table, an Eighteenth Century Boston needlework, a Seventeenth Century nutcracker, some delft and hearth equipment,” said Massachusetts dealer Grace Snyder, who had an outstanding show. “There is an extremely strong collecting base in this area for early material, particularly on the coast. Both years we have really focused our display and have been successful.”
“The coolest thing I brought is a chest-on-frame that descended in a Haddam, Conn., family. It was made on the farm by someone who was the local cabinetmaker,” said Newbury, Mass., dealer Peter Eaton, pointing out the mix of woods and varied construction techniques that made his quirky case piece a work of art.
“This blue is rare in English furniture because the pigment was so expensive,” said Pennsylvania dealer Michael Newsom, showing off a recently acquired English seed cupboard with a shaped skirt. The cupboard illustrates the cover of Folk Art by Robert Young, a London dealer specializing in European folk art.
Several dealers found creative ways to mingle East and West. Samuel Herrup’s pitch-perfect presentation combined a set of 11 Nineteenth Century Chinese watercolors on paper of opera masks, with Italian and Dutch apothecary jars and two delightfully carved and turned English candlestands.
“We took time off to tour Cambodia, South China and Vietnam,” said New York dealer Judy Milne, who displayed Chinese pottery with garden and rustic décor that included a well-articulated Adirondack hall table.
Folk art was another strong suit. Maine dealers James and Nancy Glazer brought a superbly decorated Massachusetts militia drum; four fire engine models; and a one-of-a-kind desk that J.M. Shaw, a Seattle member of the Order of the Eastern Star, decorated with postage stamps in the mid-1930s.
In their original frames, two primitive oil on paper portraits of Captain and Mrs Phineas Stone of Framingham, Mass., circa 1795, were show-stoppers at Stephen-Douglas Antiques. “Nina Fletcher Little owned three portraits by the same hand,” confirmed Doug Jackman.
Maine dealers Jewett Berdan Antiques built their dynamic display around a large, circular yarn on linen rug ornamented with red rosettes and trailing vines. “It was found in a house on Squirrel Island, Maine, and dates to around 1845,” said Butch Berdan.
Gallery talks, new this year, were well attended, Bittel said. She hopes to increase attendance next year by bringing in more buyers already in the area for the concurrent Brimfield shows.
For information, 978-443-1776 or www.thewaysideinnantiquesshow.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm