The International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show

It’s that time again, and I am thrilled to be part of the action. The International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show will be in New York this weekend – and we’re going there to take part in the event. This is one of the most prestigious art and antiques fairs in the entire world, and it has been taking place since 1989. This is a vetted fair, meaning that every single vendor comes before a vetting committee to ensure that they sell the quality of merchandise that they say that they do, and that they are worthy of being part of such an affair.

I waited for years to be able to enjoy this show, and now I’ve been going for a few years. It’s everything you can imagine. It includes the finest art, rare books, carpets, furniture, antiques, jewelry, maps and other items that the world has ever seen – and they are all incorporated under one roof at The Park Avenue Armory in New York City.

The show this year takes place from Friday, October 19th through Thursday, October 25th. There is a Benefit Preview Evening as well on October 18th which is a fundraiser for The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. We aren’t going to that event (there is only so much money in our pocketbooks!) but we certainly wish that we could.

Some of the well-known names that will be at the International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show include: H.Blairman & Sons Limited, Il Quadrifoglio SRL, Jeffrey Beal Henkel, Keshishian, Mark Murray Fine Paintings, nexxt20, Peter Finer, Phoenix Ancient Art and Primavera Gallery.

Here is a glimpse into the atmosphere at The International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show.

Get on the Road with Market Warriors

Picture by David Aaron Troy

We haven’t traveled anywhere this month so I don’t have any great travel tips or art selections to share. What I do have, however, is quite a gem. If you haven’t tuned in to the new PBS show called “Market Warriors,” and you’re someone who loves antiques as I do, then you’re missing out!

Market Warriors” mirrors itself after “Antiques Roadshow” but it’s a bit of a hipper version. The team goes to flea markets and antique shows and are handed $1000 to spend with a time limit and a target item to get. What a dream come true!

The catch on the show is that the picker who makes the most money on a given day wins. This means that pickers have to be very careful about what they select to buy, and they have to watch out for reproductions. The group includes John Bruno, Miller Gaffney (a graduate of Sotheby’s Institute of Art), Kevin Bruneau (who runs an antique business) and Bob Richter (who likes to approach antiques with the eye of an interior decorator).

The show is on at 9 pm on Mondays and it’s really worth watching for anyone who loves antiques. Bruno, for instance, offered a great tip for weekend road show shoppers. He explained that he often goes to a seller’s booth and checks out what doesn’t belong. For instance, if they have old dolls as their specialty, but they have one tray of old watches, he’ll make a beeline for the watches.

PBS executive producer Marsha Bemko has explained that “Market Warriors” comes from the same producers as “Antiques Roadshow.” The idea behind the new show, however, is to focus on common collectibles that the average person could purchase.

As Bemko explained, “We hope ‘Market Warriors’ will be half as popular as ‘Antiques Roadshow.’ ”

Elisa Holder Captures the Imagination

Wrapping up our summer, my husband and I took a drive over to Waynesville. Located only 25 miles from Asheville, Waynesville is an absolutely adorable town with a great main street. For a relatively small location, it actually boasts quite a few galleries and specialty shops.

My favorite gallery in the area if the Earthworks Environmental Gallery. Celebrating their 20th anniversary at the moment, the gallery includes hand crafted art from both regional and international artists. There is everything here from pottery and jewelry to paintings, clothing and more.

While we were there, I explored the work of Elisa Holder, a self-taught expressionist painter who is based in the neighborhood. What a gem of a find! She uses bold, bright colors to paint the beautiful things that she sees in her surroundings in the mountains.

Elisa Holder

As the gallery website describes it,

“Beneath the surface, the focus of Elisa’s work is philosophical and spiritual and she is repeatedly drawn to paint objects that evoke a sense of solitude or isolation. She studies the subject of every new painting, whether abstract or traditional, and allows the energy from the canvas to direct her brush thus always maintaining her avid belief in the value of art as a window to the soul.”

We saw artwork by many other talented artists on our trip to Waynesville as well, but this one really captured my imagination. Just beautiful.

The Bele Chere Music and Arts Festival

Anyone who lives remotely close to the South knows that last weekend was the Bele Chere music and arts festival. This 34th edition of the largest free arts and music street festival in the South east is a site worth beholding. It includes the best of everything – music, food, beer, art, entertainment and more.

The festival first began in 1979 as a collaboration among Asheville’s downtown merchants. They wanted to revitalize the downtown district that was hurting at the time. Little did they know! They chose the name Bele Chere, which means Beautiful Living in an ancient Scottish dialect – go figure. Now, people come from absolutely all over to enjoy this phenomenal artistic experience.

Starting from perhaps the least artistic to most, my favorite event at the Bele Chere is the Purina Ultimate Air Dogs. This competition features dogs that fly through the air and a pool. The goal is for them to jump the farthest. It’s certainly an unusual feast for the eyes to watch this!

Then, of course, I love the crafts vendors who descend on Asheville. Only sixty artists are given the honor each year of being part of the festival and they display everything from jewelry and photography to word-working, painting, metalwork and more.

One of the most interesting artists at the festival was Collene Karcher who was chosen as the Bele Chere image artist this year. She lives in Bakersville, North Carolina and has been carving stone for over twenty years. She’s one of only a handful of stone carvers in the US and she uses her skill to create beautiful works of art.

Of course, the food stalls were scrumptious and now it’s time to decompress from all of the activity and to go back on that diet…again!

Mingling Art with History in Charleston

Now this was truly an experience to behold. While we were still in Charleston, we had the chance to enjoy a lot of museums, antiques and other art. We spent one day at the Gibbes Museum of Art which is located in Charleston’s Historic District at 135 Meeting Street. We got a tip from a friend who used to live in Charleston that we should go to this museum and then enjoy a walking tour of Charleston that would tie in with the museum.


We started off at the Gibbes Museum of Art where we saw the museum’s collection of American art with an emphasis on the significant people and places around Charleston. The art took the viewer from the beginnings of Charleston as a British colony, through the American Revolution and the Civil War and straight to modern day.

Then, we went on a two hour walking tour of Charleston that was intended to overlap with the art at the museum. It explored the city and its historic sites in the most fascinating way and showed us some of the homes of the famous artists from the museum’s collection.
It was a truly fascinating way to see art in a living, breathing form and to experience the history of the city.

Charleston Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair

Deborah Armstrong Jewerly

Deborah Armstrong Jewerly

To enjoy the start of summer, we decided to take a quick trip to one of my favorite places – Charleston, South Carolina. There are few places as rich in history or as adorably quaint as the city of Charleston. And, while we are there, we always get away for a bit of time at the beach, some window shopping and a carriage ride, of course.

The Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Fair for 2012, which is produced by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs and the College of Charleston School of the Arts, was a feast for the eyes. The Piccolo Spoleto is an all-encompassing series of events that took place between May 25th and June 10th.

One part of the festival is the Crafts Fair that had its 33rd year. It is a juried fine crafts show that includes the works of over 90 artists each weekend and takes place over two weekends.

The show took place at Wragg Square Park in downtown Charleston and there were 95 spaces available each week for those who wanted to display their wares. The items on display included everything from modern art and home-made rugs to pottery, antiques and beyond. Here is a peek at some of the amazing artists that were included in the show.

Enjoying the Brandywine River Museum Antiques Show

For Memorial Day Weekend, we had the pleasure of taking a trip north to Pennsylvania. For a number of years now, I’ve wanted to get to the Brandywine River Museum for the Antiques Show, but it hasn’t worked out for one reason or another. Now, however, I finally had my opportunity.

The Brandywine River Museum is, in itself, a site to behold. It’s located on the banks of the Brandywine River and is just amazingly beautiful. It is housed in a converted nineteenth century gristmill and was founded by Andrew Wyeth and his family. It showcases Andrew Wyeth’s artwork as a realist painter, and that of his father, N.C. Wyeth, and his son, Jamie Wyeth.

During Memorial Day Weekend, the show, now in its 41st year, ran from May 26-28 and featured 32 antique dealers from around America. It was a feast for the eyes of those who love antiques, and included everything from American furniture and ceramics to European porcelain and metalware. There was folk art, there were quilts and there were some antique statues.

When we went, on Sunday, they even had garden talks which were delightful. These included 30 minute talks about garden furniture, folk art, ship portraits and a few others. They were very interesting and definitely expanded my knowledge of the art and antique world.

We also enjoyed a live performance by Rick Copes and were able to catch some of the latest special exhibition that was done in conjunction with the Winterthur Museum called “Pierced, Punched, Painted: Decorated Tinware from Winterthur.”

A Trip to the Seattle Art Museum & The Olympic Sculpture Park

We were so excited recently to take a quick trip out to Seattle simply to soak in the scene and to enjoy the good life. Retirement may be the best thing ever. While we were there, we spent an entire day at the Seattle Art Museum. While the museum was an incredible treat for the eyes (more on that later), something else called to us even more.

If you haven’t ever been to the Olympic Sculpture Park, it is a must-see in Seattle. This nine-acre industrial site right at the Seattle Art Museum has been transformed into an amazing green space reserved just for art. It’s set on the waterfront with views of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound and it couldn’t be more peaceful or beautiful if it tried.

Olympic Sculpture Garden

Olympic Sculpture Garden

And the design of the park is as intriguing as the sculptures in it. In 2001, SAM picked the New York-based Weiss/Manfredi Architecture company to design the space. They created a Z-shaped design that connects three areas into four distinct landscapes. They’ve done an amazing job with their environmental restoration projects which have included salmon habitat restoration, native plantings, sustainable design strategies and more. The works of art scattered throughout the space are quite modern, and hard on the eyes at times. However, they do serve as an interesting juxtaposition to the soft scenery around them!

And then, of course, there is the SAM itself. They have everything from a listening room where you can enjoy music pleasures from times gone by to ceramic installations to modern art and more. The space is scrumptious and there is so much to see that one day didn’t even do it justice.

Enjoying the Art Walks 2012

Paintings from the Aesthetic Gallery

I wait all year for the Art Walks sponsored by the Asheville Downtown Gallery Association, and the day finally arrived. On March 6th, the 23 downtown galleries in Asheville opened their doors from 5-8 pm for an evening of food, fun, festivities and creativity. This yearly event truly exemplifies the best that is Asheville, and it’s sheer pleasure to be part of it. Don’t worry, however, if you missed the first of the 2012 Art Walks. There are more coming on June 1, August 3rd, October 5th and December 7th.

So the idea behind the Arts Walk each year is to open the city up to the incredible art opportunities we have and to enjoy an evening together. Each time there are hundreds of people enjoying downtown Asheville with street musicians playing, food vendors selling their products, and the galleries abuzz with the arts.

It was such a fun evening. I particularly enjoyed browsing through the textiles at the Aesthetic Gallery, the contraption paintings by Kathryn Phillips at the Asheville Gallery of Art, the amazing photography at the Castell Photography Gallery and so much more.

A Trip Down Memory Lane at Woolworth Walk

If you’ve never been to the F.W. Woolworth building at 25 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC, you simply must come at some point. This historic landmark was first established in 1938 and was revived and restored to its original state in 2001. It not only operates a throwback, traditional soda fountain, but it now features local artists.

On March 2, I enjoyed an open reception for the work of Barbara Sokolowski and Terry Friday. Barbara is a fabric designer who features beautifully designed fabric art. Terry is a potter who uses a procedure called graffito, where she creates carvings on the surface of her pots.

Her pots are all functional, but they also include vivid and stunning floral and geometric patterns and designs. As Terry explained,

“Some of the most intimate moments we spend with each other are done while sharing food and drink. I strive to make beautiful functional pieces that I hope enrich the lives of the user and bring a bit of celebration to each occasion of their use.”

While visiting this exhibit, that will be featured for the whole month of March, I couldn’t resist enjoying the Soda Foundation. It is actually open daily and serves all sorts of items from my childhood. They have egg creams, club sandwiches, coffee, old fashioned ice cream sodas and more. Sitting at the soda counter brought me back to the 1950s and offered me such a fun experience!

Woolworth Walk Soda Fountain

Woolworth Walk Soda Fountain

There are few places where you can enjoy the work of 160 local artists while sipping your 1950s ice cream soda. Woolworth Walk is definitely worth the visit – even for those who live far away. And what a fun experience for one Asheville resident on a Friday afternoon in March.