NEW YORK, N.Y.-
The inaugural Metro Show
reveals its brand new face when it opens to the public on January 19 through 22, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street in New York. Joining the brigade of the Americana dealers who signed on from the previous American Antiques Show is a new group of specialists who have expanded the vernacular of historical design, adding an exciting vitality and diversity to the fairs new incarnation.
Recently, The Art Fair Company asked the Metro dealers: If you had to select just one object to submit to a Top Ten list, what would it be? and here are their responses:
HISTORIC FURNITURE AND DECORATIVE ARTS
History certainly does not repeat itself with the Metro dealers who offer one-of-a-kind pieces that played a role in the forming of our country. Take, for example, the Washington Lafayette Presentation Gold Button featured by Steven S. Powers in its first display in the United States in 187 years. The button bears the image of George Washington and was created by Leavenworth, Haydon & Scovill of Waterbury, Conn. from a nugget of North Carolina gold. The button commemorates the return in 1824-25 to the United States of General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution and old friend of Washington. The set was presented to Lafayette in 1825, and was assumed to have been lost to history after his death. In the late 1880s, 11 were discovered among the generals effects in the familys manor by English maid Margaret Thornton, who received one of the buttons for her service. The remaining 10 returned to public view in the 1950s when they were put on display in the Lafayette Museum. Thorntons gift the button exhibited by Powers remains the only one known in private hands. Equally unique is the Lincoln & Johnson Presidential campaign parade flag on center stage at Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques. Recycled from an 1860 John Bell Constitutional Union Party flag, with 35 stars arranged in a variant of a pentagon or heart medallion, this flag is an exquisite example of Lincoln-related parade flags in its own right, and holds special cachet for being from Lincoln & Johnsons 1864 campaign. At Gary Sullivan Antiques, stands a rich mahogany tall case clock with a rocking ship animated dial by John Bailey Jr. III from Hanover, Massachusetts, dated 1819, while a redware jar from New England (likely Maine), c. 1830, notable for its outstanding glaze with superb form in an unusually large 12-inch size, can be found at Sam Herrup Antiques.
AMERICANA AND FOLK ART
Nothing says Americana more than the singular style of objects crafted by a loving hand. Such is the case with an exceptionally appealing 1802 Pennsylvania sampler by Mary Roberts, a 17-year-old Quaker of known lineage, at M. Finkel & Daughter. The regional characteristics include the central flower in an urn atop the undulating lawn with animals, and the organic, vining plants filling the surround. Distinct to this sampler, Mary stitched a bear an image not present on others she created. The Hartford County, Connecticut, blown-glass pitcher (180020), offered by Jeff and Holly Noordsy, is similar to the deep olive-green example found in the Toledo Museum of Art and others of its type in private collections, with one exception: The Noordsy example boasts a unique shade of beautiful medium emerald green. In perfect condition, the pitcher stands at 7 inches in height. At Garthoeffner Gallery, simpler times are celebrated with a polychrome painted wooden doll (184050), expertly carved in one piece with fully articulated arms. Meanwhile, a fanciful tramp art wall plaque by noted folk artist John Martin Zubersky, made in a sampler style and embellished with numerous carvings of birds, an eagle, sunflowers in pots, a star, hearts, and other symbols holds pride of place at Clifford A. Wallach. Created in a flat mosaic style by using strips of chip carving to ensemble a unique and inspiring statement, the plaque has the feel of fabric samplers crafted in the 1800s. Utilitarian and all-American, the Cutlery Shop Trade Sign from Woodbridge, Connecticut, (circa 1875) available at Allan Katz Americana boasts a pure authenticity with its original weathered surface. The sign, fashioned from carved wood with copper jacket is a treasure with its mellow, untouched gilded surface and for its unique form.
Unlike other cutlery shop signs, which were simply cut from a flat board and painted, this piece was beautifully carved and shaped into an elegant object by a professional carver. Stella Rubin offers a 19th-century quilt that can stand besides any Modern painting. Made of satins, this example from the 1890s bears a remarkable resemblance to a Colorist painting but 70 years prior to the movement. A sleepy-eyed Tinman-like robot, cobbled together from the mechanical odds and ends of a Mom-and-Pop hardware shop is the hero at Steven Score Gallery. Celebrating the whimsical ingenuity of the Blue Collar class, this sculpture originates from the folk-art tradition of shop figures, like the cigar-store Indian, but in this case the work comes from a circa-1938 Massachusetts hardware store. Striking a remarkably contemporary look, this sculptural figure is comprised of materials and objects that would have been regular inventory of that store, including a stovepipe, brush bristles, a kerosene tank, and sheet metal. A Topsy-Turvy doll carved from wood and painted in polychrome with fabric, is available at Just Folk. This circa-1900 work is a signature piece from the Mendelsohn Collection, one of the most important American folk art collections in the nation.
20TH CENTURY FURNITURE AND DECORATIVE ARTS
Nothing proclaims elegance more than Tiffany Studios lily pad table lamp, circa 1906 at Lillian Nassau. Not only will it appeal to Tiffany collectors, but it is certain to attract collectors of 20th century design. The shade of overlapping "lily pads" floating in a pond in combination with its crisply articulated bronze "cattail" base is a cohesive unit that can be appreciated as a lamp, as well as a beautifully rendered sculpture. At Daltons American Decorative Arts, visitors can admire a stunning example of American Craftsman style by Gustav Stickley. The circa-1902 cabinet one of only a few known examples represents the designers ability to produce a piece of Craftsman furniture in perfect rectilinear proportion. Using quarter-sawn American White Oak coupled with the subtle detailed construction technique of mitered mullions, Stickley used copper strap hardware to craft this masterwork. HL Chalfant showcases a table by another master American Craftsman: Wharton Esherick. This gorgeous wood-grained applewood-top table (dated 1951 and monogrammed by Esherick) has an organic and elegant form similar to a surfboard, with inverted bowed and mortised legs that lightly lift the top to give it an appearance of motion. And Barry Friedman Ltd. presents the latest work of venerated American artist and designer Wendell Castle. This enigmatic sculptural piece, dated 2011 and carved from stained Peruvian wood, is evocatively titled More is More.
PAINTINGS AND PRINTS
Fine art aficionados will find themselves at home with an array of works that reveal an eclectic range of influence some which derive their inspiration from a story that is uniquely American while others demonstrate an affinity with ideas and materials from an outer realm. For example, the work of venerated folk artist Grandma Moses will be on display at Galerie St. Etienne. Stone Boat (1952), exemplifies Moses winter scenes, and this one has everything youd want in a quintessential American motif: horse-drawn sleighs, a quaint New England village, and even glitter on snow-laden trees. Equally American albeit more discordant is a watercolor by African-American artist Dox Thrash, who is known for representing life during the Great Depression. In Strike, his depiction of an oversized black man rallying his urban neighbors during a time of social and economic strife, could be taken from todays headlines. This treasure is offered by Dolan/Maxwell. Enthusiasts with a taste for Eastern-inspired aesthetics will look forward to seeing woodblock prints Japanese artist and designer Korin Furuya (18751910), offered by Yukiko Koide Presents. These prints, which are rarely exhibited, show developments of various aesthetic styles, such as Japanese Rimpa, Art Nouveau, Sezession, and the upcoming Art Deco weave natural patterns printed in traditional ink with manmade flourishes in metallic pigment.
The prints are from the series New Ocean of Art, published in 1903. Maxwell Projects shines a spotlight on Scala Ondulata com Lampione di Notte, a 1972 gouache on paper by self-taught artist and actor Ele DArtagnan, a Venetian who lived and worked in the slipstream of Italian Surrealism. This painting on black paper is an example of DArtagnans visionary domiciles and fantastic domestic architecture, recurrent themes in the artists work that are particularly resonant in light of the artists transient lifestyle. What is history without story- telling, and what a tale the Millerite Teaching Banner has to tell! See it first-hand at the Hill Gallery, and youll understand that the reason for its greatness has to do with the dynamic graphics of the images, a stylized classic interpretation of historic forms and symbols. This extraordinary painting measuring 6 feet by 9 feet marks the apocalyptic date of October 22, 1844 the date the Rev. William Miller predicted as the Second Coming and the day the world would end. Hundreds of thousands of people gave up their possessions in advent of the Coming, and after the day passed without event, it was referred to as The Great Disappointment.
Lovers of the art of native peoples are in for a treat at the Metro Show, as dealers exhibit the most astounding examples of utilitarian and sacred tribal pieces, such as a vibrantly colored Huari Trophy Head Tunic (500800) on display at William Siegal Galley that will rival any Modern painting. This intricately woven piece remains in exquisite condition despite being over a millennium old. The African continent is well represented at Jacaranda Tribal, which features a rare trio of 19th-century greenstone pipe bowls. Masterpieces of South African carving, they evoke the essential purity of form found in this countrys sculptural tradition. Closer to our own shores, John Molloy celebrates the American Indian culture with a classic Third Phase Navajo Chiefs Blanket (circa 1865), which was woven by hand using spun wool in indigo, natural colors, and cochineal-dyed bayeta. At Joel Cooner Gallery, an eye-catching mask made of animal hide and natural green pigment used in the late 17th century to depict female gods during the Navajos Nightway Chant ceremony, is sure to stop visitors in the aisle. And Marcy Burns American Indian Arts reveals a Haida model entry post, featuring totem-stylized head carvings (188090). Chiseled from cedar and rising 40 inches, this post is an exceptionally tall example of its type.
Outsider artists often led secret lives of creativity, and Eugene Andolsek was one of the 20th centurys most enigmatic. For 50 years, he created drawings with vibrant colors and linear complexity only to stick them in a closet or trunk. Discovered later in his life by a caregiver, these works are representative of the creativity of the individual closeted by the modern rat-race life. His untitled, undated ink-on-graph-paper piece (No. 311) offered by American Primitive is a kaleidoscope of color and geometric design. The work of renowned self-taught artist Bill Traylor is just one of the illustrious offerings at Carl Hammer Gallery. An African-American born in 1854, Traylors work reflects his own experience with the ravages of slavery and physicality of sharecropper farming. His Peg-Legged Man (circa 1940) is iconic because it depicts the physical hardship experienced by an 85-year-old man and conveys a sense of strength and overcoming. This quintessential expression of Traylors genius is rendered in pencil and poster paint on found cardboard. Ida Bocks (190975) vision of an ideal world and ideal people is represented in Worthington Gallerys exhibition of Troika.
The painting, rendered in beautiful colors and populated by happy people, stands in stark contrast to the Polish charwomans real-life Russian memories and serves rather as a depiction of what she imagined her life to be. Collectors who appreciate the strong presence commanded by Outsider Artists will be astounded by the collection of 24 Custom-Made Hard Hats produced by metalworkers in Indonesia for American oil field workers from 1960 to the mid-1970s and offered here for the first time as a collection by Ricco/Maresca Gallery. Commissioned by the roughnecks who worked on the drilling rigs, these helmets were thought of in much the same way as tattoos each was customized to the worker using repoussé and chasing techniques. Finally, Cavin-Morris presents a booth combining contemporary art by self-taught and trained artists as well as the rapidly spreading field of Conceptual Craft which includes studio textiles, ceramics, wood and basketry by recognized and newly emerging artists, such as Charissa Brock, whose work transcends any kind of easy definition of art or craft as illustrated by her Cobalt, in black bamboo, glass and waxed linen thread.