Published: May 2, 2017
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy of Show Exhibitors
OLD GREENWICH, CONN. – The first really nice day of 2017 dawned on April 8 to warm this suburban enclave and beckon winter-weary folks outside, although through large windows high in the ballroom, those same warming rays lit up the interior of the Eastern Civic Center as the Westchester Glass Club presented a sparkling showcase of glass and ceramics ranging from early American to Depression glass, as well as pressed, cut and blown examples ranging from Nineteenth Century to contemporary artists.
The club celebrated its 41st anniversary of its annual collectors glass and ceramic show and sale over two days, April 8-9. Every year, the show brings together knowledgeable collectors, sellers and specialists of glass and ceramics, and in addition offers an educational component with museum displays and special focus lectures. Not to mention, several dealers pointed out, the wonderful dinner arranged for them the night before the show opens, a reward for their stamina in the grueling, anxiety-producing setting up of their displays.
“I’ve been doing this show for 34 years and have always been pleased,” said Betsy Hewlett Lessig, who knows a lot about glass shows, since she and husband Jim co-manage the Cape Cod Glass Show in September, which is similar to the Westchester Glass Club event.
“A loyal customer of mine for nearly 20 years commented to me on late Sunday afternoon, as busy as this particular weekend was, that she would not miss this important glass show,” said Lessig. In her booth was an impressive display of early American pattern glass, and she pointed out a shelf containing a Cable pattern piece, circa 1860, named after the late Nineteenth Century laying of the first transatlantic cable, an 1860 bar bottle in Pineapple pattern with a pewter and marble stopper, a large Pineapple compote, 12 by 9 inches and an 1870 finger bowl with monkey and scalloped rim. She lifted one piece from the shelf and flicked it with a finger, creating a resonant ping that signals the use of flint in the glass.
“The Westchester Glass Club is truly a welcoming host to the exhibitors,” she added, enumerating those qualities – “They give the exhibitors a delicious dinner during setup, free of charge, in the dining area – and they’ve provided this since the beginning of the show; the club members and managers are present throughout the show, making sure everyone is okay; and the co-managers, Alan Adams and Jim Russell, are there to help the exhibitors during setup on Friday and porter them out after the show.”
Lessig said that there is another bonus: Co-manager Russell periodically entertains everyone with his piano playing and his delicious homemade cookies.
Russell admitted to making about ten dozen of his famous almond pecan sandies – which quickly disappeared – as well as getting up on the stage when not busy wrangling dealer needs on the show floor to play some of his musical compositions on the piano.
“The show went well,” he said. “It was slow but steady throughout the weekend, and both vendors and visitors seemed happy. I was the last to leave at 9:30 pm on Sunday.”
Russell, who nurses a glassblowing hobby, said the show’s goal is to promote to the public the history, science and beauty of glass, as well as an appreciation for its onetime ubiquity in our lives. “We live in an age of plastics, and kids today do not remember that glass has been with us through the ages. The sheer beauty, the skill and artistry are all on display in a show like this.”
The show’s educational mission was fulfilled by displays by the Museum of Connecticut Glass, Coventry, and the New Bedford (Mass.) Museum of Glass. The Connecticut Museum of Glass had diorama displays detailing early Connecticut glassmakers and the history of glassmaking in the region. And president Noel Tomas talked about the museum’s plans to rehabilitate and expand the circa 1814 two-story residence of Captain John Turner, with the adjacent barn serving as an education and activity center with glassmaking on site.
Kirk Nelson from the New Bedford Museum of Glass brought an array of eye-catching pieces, and they were not confined to the traditional Sandwich historical pieces, Victorian and elegant glass examples, but playfully included a “Gato” vase by Toronto, Canada, artist Toan Klein with an internal abstracted image of a cat peering through a fishbowl, as well as a red bowl by Toots Zynsky, an artist known for her “filet de verre” technique of fusing thousands of glass strands together over molds to create unique and highly collected forms.
In addition, a Saturday talk by Phil Culhane, author, researcher and collector, who came down from Canada to present his research into the little-known category of Persian glass, was delivered in two well-attended sessions. Attendees also had the opportunity to have their glass items repaired onsite or identified by knowledgeable club members.
Scott Roland, owner of Schenevus, N.Y.-based Glimmerglass Antiques, said, “The show went well for me. I sold mostly Victorian opalescent art glass, a couple of water pitcher sets, tumblers and rare salt shakers. The people who came did not go home empty-handed. We do need a larger customer turnout to support the high-quality dealers who come from as far as Chicago for the show. If the dealers do not show a profit, they cannot keep returning to this high-quality and long-running Greenwich show.”
William Macina, a North Haven, Conn., general line antiques dealer in paper, glass and furniture, selected some choice items for the show, including a delicate Tiffany Favrile art glass vase with fluted rim, circa 1900s, as well as a similar Quezal ribbed threaded piece and, standing amid them, a wonderful British micromosaic decorated clock.
The colorful and whimsical world of perfume bottles was on view on a shelf dedicated to the category in the booth of Jim Watson of Norfolk, Mass. Watson, who specializes in Victorian and art glass, said the array ranged from the late 1800s to the 1930s and included examples of Cape Cod, Pairpoint, Steuben, Venetian and French makers.
Among the contemporary makers at the show was Lotton Art Glass, Crete, Ill., the studio of Charles Lotton and his sons, David and Daniel. Contemporary art glass was also the province of Glass Accents Etc. From Lititz, Penn., dealer LeeAnne Kornblau filled her booth with whimsical fish designs by Michael Hudson of Louisville, Ky., including a colorful grouping of a seahorse, puffer fish and angel fish navigating through seaweed.
The show returns next April, with an exact date to be announced later, according to Russell. For more information, www.westchesterglassclub.com or 203-394-8956.
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