I was thrilled to get an invitation this year to the opening party of the annual Washington Winter Show, which kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday. What I really loved about this antique show, without even looking at all my photos, is that is wasn’t a mass of BROWN STUFF. You know, the 200-year-old brown mahogany pieces that seem to typify the concept of an antiques show. (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, BUT…)
We like some variety, too.
Like these incredible French bistro chairs — original paint and frames, with only the seats re-upholstered, fittingly with a fleur-de-lys pattern:
“We’re almost pathologically eclectic,” said Tim Brennan, who with Dave Mouilleseaux run Brennan & Mouilleseaux from Northfield, CT. Note the website address: antiqueseclectic.com.
Here’s what greets visitors to their booth:
And of course, I swooned over these Italian Mid-Century dining chairs, which Tim and I both agreed were quietly elegant and not the screaming, iconic, “look at me I’m Mid-Century!” kind of pieces.
I also fell in love with Antique American Wicker, whose booth takes you back in time so you think you’ve been invited to tea in the garden room at the Vanderbilt cottage in Newport:
I couldn’t adequately photograph the entire space, so I just shot the vignette above, but it’s worth a visit, for sure. On the far wall of this same booth is a collection of framed vintage catalogue pictures of men’s fashion that I COULD NOT GET OVER. (yes, I had to use capital letters for that — because I was screaming it in my head!)
Antique American Wicker sells period pieces from between 1850 and 1930, and it somehow makes sense that it is based in Nashua, NH…
There are plenty of art/print booths in the show this year, but this one on the main floor (darned if I didn’t forget to write down the name!), really stopped me in my tracks:
Again, the painting really illustrates how this show has some incredible objects that are fun, whimsical, and NOT fusty.
And speaking of whimsical, these antique toys from Gemini Antiques of Oldwick, NJ are close to my heart, as we have some similar pieces in our own home:
While we’re on the children’s theme, I was also drawn to this “shape book” at Wm. Hutchison Books of Mendenhall, PA:
And I think the dealer thought I was being sacrilege when I noted that the pages of this book could be extracted and framed for a child’s bedroom, but…
Wouldn’t these pages just look SO FABULOUS in a frame??
Indeed, there is an entire book section at the show containing tomes on everything antique. Me? I just loved the signage:
Getting back to the brown stuff, I need to emphasize here that there are several stunning examples of it, like these pieces from Alfred Bullard Inc. from Philadelphia:
I ADORE the fabric treatment in the windows of this chest.
I was also impressed by the amount of Americana to be found throughout the show — my favorite has got to be this parade shield from Cunha – St. John Antiques of Charlestown, MA.
There’s a leather strap in the back of the shield that holds up to 7 flags, and it was meant to hang outside buildings during a parade. How cool is that??
More cool stuff: collections. Any good decorating expert will tell you to group and display your collections all together, so they have more visual impact. And there are plenty of examples at this show; I was most taken by these boxes at Rick Scott of San Francisco:
Of course, much of the fun in going to a preview party like this is seeing your friends. I was so excited to see that Bill Adair of Gold Leaf Studios has a booth here for the first time (I blogged about his enchanting Dupont Circle studio in 2010), with some of his greatest hits of historic frames on display.
Bill always says that the frame is almost more important than the art, the way he sees it. And the way he displays his frames leads me to agree.
Society photographer Kyle Samperton, who himself was named to the society list in the December issue of Washington Life Magazine, was (of course) working the party tonight. He shoots many of our events at the Washington Design Center too, so it was fun to put HIM in front of the camera for a change, along with two of my favorite designers, Kelley Proxmire and Frank Babb Randolph.
The organizers of this year’s show designated “Celebrating the White House” as its theme, so as you enter the show, there is an incredible exhibit of White House artifacts that reach all the way back to George Washington. Here are two of my favorites:
Just like the show itself, which has all sorts of unusual, quirky, and colorful items on display, the White House exhibit features offbeat pieces such as a hand-written dinner invitation by Thomas Jefferson to a guest; the only china plate ever made for the Kennedys (the prototype was never produced into a full service due to his assassination); a White House fence finial; and President Ulysses Grant’s boot spur.
The show goes through Sunday, and there are some great talks during the run. The former White House florist is speaking Friday morning about three decades of flowers in the White House; designers Frank Randolph, John Irelan and Andrew Law are giving a guided walks of their favorite items in the show; and the former White House pastry chef is speaking on Saturday about “All the Presidents’ Pastries.”
The BEST feature might be an opportunity for you to bring in your own antiques for appraisal on Saturday; nine dealers will be giving verbal appraisals from 9 to 11 a.m.
The show is at the Katzen Arts Center at American University — check the Web site for details.
Have a great weekend!