Closing Bell: Pier Antiques Show

Pier Antiques Show
Pier Antiques Show

The aisles were full at the Pier Antique Show in Manhattan this weekend. The crowd seemed generally in a good (and buying mood) after a week of gains on Wall Street. We saw one significant painting sell before we could get a good look at it. Dave Smernoff, From Here to Antiquity in Guilford, Connecticut brought items of interest including a pair of mahogany carved dolphins made into lamps. Spending some time in the booth of Pottery Dealer Barbara Gerr and Arnie Small, we learned a bit more about Rookwood and its artisans and were directed to the American Pottery Show and Auction April 24-26th outside of Philadelphia (look for information in our calendar).

It was also a nice feature that Samuel T. Freeman & Co. Auctions was on hand to provide appraisals. I’ve had good experiences with Freeman and see now that Chris Jussel was supposed to be on hand to appraise items. You may remember Jussel from the early days of the Antiques Road Show. I have always wondered why he didn’t continue with the show, I though he was perfect for the role.

The next Pier Show is November 14-15, 2009.

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.


I was at the Pier Show on Saturday afternoon. A good number of people seemed to be carrying small packages. Unlike in past years, I did not see a significant number of “great” or even “good” paintings. There were but a handful.

I did see lots, and in my opinion, way to many jewelery dealers. Even my wife, who stops at every one, commented on the number. A few of the jewelery dealers had truly exceptional items. Despite the competition and the economy, jewelery prices seemed high. One dealer brought old penny arcades, and store displays including a great Colonel Sanders holding a bucket of chicken. I witnessed the same dealer negotiating the sale of architectural details (monkeys) in the eighteen hundred dollar range. He should be commended – His booth stood out. Another dealer, I didn’t get his name, brought a huge quantity of West German pottery. I thought it interesting that in this economy, he was attempting to create a market for an item that is not widely collected in the U.S. The prices for the West German pottery were a fraction (a tenth) of similar U>S prices.

By and large, every time, we looked at an item (whether we asked the price or not) the dealers were quick to say that there was room or they would entertain an offer. In one instance, where a painting by Gino Hollander was priced at least 3 times what a strong retail price should have been, I declined the dealer’s request to make an offer. The dealer exclaimed that I shouldn’t be afraid to insult her with an offer as I walked away.

I thought the show lightly attended, at least when we were there. Plenty of room to walk without banging out of people. Both the Dealers and the crowd seemed subdued. It wasn’t quite like being at a funeral —more like being at a baseball game with your team down 14-0 in the eighth inning. I like the appraisal idea, but as a practical matter, people don’t want to carry things INTO a large Antique show, and then have to schlepp the items around. The parking situation at the pier makes it impossible to bring an item in for an appraisal, and then back to the car.

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