Finding it at The Flea

Sally Schwartz, Creative Director, Randolph Street Markets in Chicago told me about her view that younger people don’t understand the word “antique.” The buzzwords that do get their attention are “vintage” and “retro.” And so a new breed of “flea market” is rising to cater to these young buyers.

I had to correctively substitute the word buyers for “collectors.” Schwartz also explained that young people don’t tend to collect. That often starts at a point in life when they inherit something.

Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene
Chairs from the Divine Chair Company

I haven’t been to the Randolph Street Market, but I imagine it has a lot in common with the Brooklyn Flea. The word “flea” may conjure up image of junk piles, tractor parts and people selling everything from dollar store shampoo to coke cans, but these modern urban markets have even less in common with a typical flea market than antique shows.

Vintage frames painted in bright colors, retro furniture, French-style chairs painted white, vinyl records, photographs, postcards, unique t-shirts and work by local artists are some of what you’ll find at the Brooklyn Flea. One of the primary differences between these markets and traditional flea markets are the dealers tend to specialize in a certain type of merchandise. They’re differentiated from antique shows in that there’s no pretense about what qualifies as an art or antique, and no limitations on dealers adding their own creative touch to the merchandise.

grabonelargePersonally I am drawn more to the antique shows, or the antiques offered at places like the Brooklyn Flea. Lately I’ve been captivated by photography from the 19th Century through the 1950s. I’ve also noticed an uptick in the popularity of old family snapshots. Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Heather Coleman, a photographic dealer from Williamsburg (in Brooklyn) and secured a photograph of a fellow strumming a guitar in a Victorian parlor.

by John Murphy
by John Murphy

Also of note was a dealer named John Murphy whose colorful photographs fit perfectly into the intensely colored frames that look like they used to be gold. I found Murphy’s offerings to be quite original and groundbreaking in terms of their ability to set the tone for decoration of a room, apartment or home.

Schwartz explained that the Randolph Street Market combines retro and vintage with the Chicago Antique Market, a formula that in my opinion needs to be adopted by longer-established shows in order to bring younger collectors to eventually have an affinity for antiques. If you have the opportunity, visit the Brooklyn Flea or the Randoph Street Market and see what I mean.

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage.

When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city.

With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s.

The result will be a book with a video component.

We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url will point to the latest updates on this weblog.


Many, if not most, people in the antiques trade would agree that younger folks aren’t attuned to “antiques” or “collecting antiques.” I believe they can become attuned, however, with proper education. The education will come through social media (like your blog), the word of mouth, and events (like antiques shows). The change won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. In the meantime, everyone with a stake in the buying, selling and preservation of antiques can advance the cause by helping to “spread the word” through the Web. Dealers, auctioneers, show promoters and collectors can all help.

Kitty, your chairs are awesome!! We would LOVE to have you come to the Randolph Street Market, anytime!! Next show is 8/29 and 8/30. If you are interested, let me know we’ll work with you 😉

Melissa, I would LOVE to come to your flea, but at the moment as we are a small company in New York it would be too long a journey to schlepp my chairs to you!! Wish we could though and thank you for your super lovely comments!!


Kitty- I love these chairs! I’m heading to the Brooklyn flea on Saturday so hopefully I’ll be able to meet you and see these beautiful chairs in person. Do you have a price list that you could email to me? Thank you for making a great product!

Hi Danielle,
I’m really sorry, but I’m not at the Flea this weekend. If you like you can email me at and then I can send you some information!

Thank you for the great comments though! I really appreciate it and hope to hear from you soon!!!!

Kind regards,

The Divine Chair Company

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