Ringing in the Season in Fairfield

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Jewett – Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Me. Jewett – Berdan Antiques, Newcastle, Me.
NORWALK, CT. – The scene was gridlock at Beverly Weir’s display of antique Christmas ornaments in Norwalk on December 3, when holiday shoppers came out for the Fairfield County Fine Art & Antiques Show.

A new venture organized by Karen DiSaia and Diana Bittel of DiSaia & Bittel Management, the fair assembled 65 of the best known names in the antiques business, from antique jewelry expert Arthur Guy Kaplan of Baltimore to folk art authority Stephen Score of Boston to Arader Galleries, specialists in fine prints.

A sparsely attended preview party on Friday, December 2, demonstrated the perils of getting a new show off the ground in a cautious consumer climate and underscored the need for more active involvement by the show’s charity sponsor, Norwalk Hospital.

But some exhibitors who came with their holiday best were rewarded with good sales.

A line formed at the Christmas display of Weir, a Marlborough, N.H. dealer who spends twelve months a year searching for the delicate glass ornaments and feather trees of holidays past.

Her husband, Thomas Longacre, was nearly as successful with painted country furniture and folk art, much of which bore bright, red sold stickers by mid Saturday.

Just in time for St. Lucia day on December 13, New York dealer Paul Vandekar added Swedish folk art to his collection of pottery, porcelain and marine-themed art and antiques. From Skane, a colorful wool on linen weft-float embroidered cushion cover dating to the mid 19th century was $15,000.

Tom Jewett and Butch Berdan warmed hearts and hands with a collection of Maine-made mittens dating to the 19th century.  The Newcastle, Me. dealers’ sales included a painted table, a game board, a hitching post, hooked rugs, a theorem, a folk art carving and a great decorated box.

“I sold a superb Prior-Hamblen school portrait of a little boy at the Friday night preview and a grouping of other good pieces on Saturday, including paintings, painted woodenware, and burl,’ said Don Olson of Rochester, N.Y.. “Buyers were very knowledgeable collectors, all of whom I had not met previously.  At the end of the show, I still had considerable interest in several significant items, including paintings, a rooster weathervane and an extremely rare inn sign in the form of a hat.”
The indicators were positive for Vermont dealers Jeff and Holly Noordsy. “We sold items each day in a broad range of categories. Our greatest success was with early glass,” said Jeff Noordsy. “We saw lots of faces that we typically see in New York City along with some of the suburban families that we previously associated with the Wilton antiques shows.”
“People came looking to buy,” said Judy Milne, a Manhattan dealer in folk art and country furniture.
Formal furniture and accessories were also moving.  Pennsylvania dealer Kelly Kinzle and Connecticut dealer Gary Sergeant each wrote up sideboards Sergeant also sold a pair of Adam torchieres.
“Many of my best clients are in Fairfield County. I invited them to the show and brought pieces to show them,” said Sergeant, explaining his success.
Organizers made a special effort to stock fine art.  One of the most elegant stands belonged to Jeff Cooley of the Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme, Ct. Perfectly suited to the occasion was Leonard Ochtman’s autumnal scene of the Mianus River in nearby Cos Cob, Ct. The oil on canvas painting was $58,000.
Savvy veterans of the show circuit, DiSaia and Bittel are already looking at a range of options to strengthen next year’s event. One possibility may be to eliminate the preview party altogether.
“We love the venue and think that the show’s a good size. We just need to get some traction,” said DiSaia.
“With a little tweaking it will be a big hit,” agreed Tom Jewett.
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Write to Laura Beach at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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