By: John Dorfman
Rounding out New York’s Americana week, the American Antiques Show will take place Jan. 21–24, overlapping with the Americana sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s and with the first few days of the much larger Winter Antiques Show. Held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th Street in Chelsea, TAAS (as it is called) will benefit the cash-strapped American Folk Art Museum in New York.
Forty-five dealers will participate in this ninth edition of the fair, bringing a variety of pieces ranging from 17th-century furniture to 20th-century Outsider art. H.L. (Skip) Chalfant of West Chester, Pa., is excited about a painted dower chest from Berks County, made in 1769. “What’s really rare about it is that it’s one of the earliest known Pennsylvania decorated dower chests,” says Chalfant. “It also has the original paint on the lid, and few of those survived because people put stuff on them and sat on them.” On the lid are the date and a name, Katharina Renninger. The chest, which is decorated with two unusual red birds, will have an asking price of around $115,000.
Allan Katz of Woodbridge, Conn., is bringing a carved, painted and gilt wooden plaque from Salem, Mass., circa 1880, depicting two sisters with arms intertwined under a wreath, for which he is asking around $45,000. According to Katz, the 24-inch-high piece was intended to hang on a wall, possibly in a ship captain’s stateroom. “It clearly has a nautical presence; they’re both basically looking out to sea,” he explains. “It has a completely original surface and was found by Adele Earnest, one of the pioneer collectors of American folk art, probably in the ’50s. It’s so pure and untouched and has an amazing idea of soul.” Among the items at the booth of Newbury, Mass., dealer Joan Brownstein will be a theorem-on-velvet fruit still life from New England, circa 1830, done in watercolor with the use of stencils known as theorems. Brownstein will be asking about $28,000 for the piece, which she describes as “graphically very dramatic.”
Ned Jalbert, a dealer of American Indian art from Westborough, Mass., will have artifacts from the Northwest Coast and Eskimo cultures, as well as crooked knives from the Northeastern tribes. A Bella Bella mask from around 1840, collected in British Columbia by the Rev. Edward White, represents the sun with an eagle emerging, and a Yupik transformation mask combines a beaver and an owl in one composition. The former is priced around $250,000, the latter around $125,000.
Jalbert also runs an interior design business, and says that in the past he complained so much about the fair’s floor plan that this year TAAS’ promoters asked him to redesign it, which he did. The new look will feature color-coordinated booths, an improved entranceway and an innovative use of space that shuns the traditional aisle format.