Won’t You Try Saturday?

Inside Uncommon Market

Saturday isn’t the easiest day to go antiquing in Dallas.   Since moving here we’ve learned that not only do the local auction houses not have weekend previews (to my knowledge), but many of the shops cater to the design trade and thus are not open on weekends.

This is particularly frustrating with the auction houses. I wanted to see the preview of the Signature Art of the American West & Texas Auction at Heritage, but the preview dates listed on the website are May 14 and Saturday 15th. The 15th is a Saturday, but also the auction date–I guess in Texas quick decisions are required! A call to the auction house confirmed there were no weekend viewing dates.

Much industry talk among dealers the past few years has been how the auction houses have gone retail, competing with shops. This doesn’t jive with the Heritage preview schedule, surely only decorators and dealers would be available to bid in person on weekdays. A retail customer would be limited to electronic viewing and online and phone bidding.

The design district isn’t any more open on weekends. Legacy Antiques is one of the few exceptions, and it’s well-worth the visit. We also found someone home at Gary Elam’s shop, and he gladly turned the lights on for us. It was just by chance, however and normally there just isn’t time to be open on weekends. Plus, its a waste to stay open if only a stray customer or two come in all day. If everyone made the decision to open on Saturdays, it may make all the difference in the world. Can dealers make such a decision in unison?

The day did get better when we arrived at Fairmont Street where most of the shops were open and the interiors rewarding. Of particular delight was Uncommon Market, a shop filled with odds and ends such as carved panels, wrought iron items, garden urns, late 19th and early 20th Century Americana and more. The place is expansive–two full Victorian-era houses, a garden and outbuilding filled to the brim. Its a wonder the homes still exist as antique stores–I would have thought they would have been reconverted into homes by now. The interior architecture is also eye candy.

The favorite stop was to the Gallerie Korńye, which is filled with representational paintings both old and new, plus some reproduction French-style furniture. Mary Ann, the gallery owner gave us a tour and engaged us in conversation for about a half hour.  Most notably my inclination that Dallas prefers things French, or at least European to American may not be all-together true.  She felt younger collectors at least were turning away from French, or at least the guilded look, towards brown furniture. In Dallas, however the taste of decorators may matter more than that of collectors. Here it seems the new owners of a painting may never see it until its hanging on the wall.

It’s all a bit depressing. There was a time, Mary Ann recalled, when Dallas homes were redecorated every three or four years. Everything was taken out and replaced. That’s good for the art and designer trade, but I have to wonder what it says about a true love of art and antiques in Dallas.

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 artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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