A Chicago Fair's Fall Return: A New Generation Appreciates Antiques + Modern Design
By GINNY VAN ALYEA
I am a person who prefers objects with a past. I always have. So I have watched with delight, and a little panic, as droves have started to snap up furniture and things that were once deemed unstylish or witheringly described only as “brown.” Supply chain issues and staffing shortages have led to all sorts of maddening limits on sourcing furniture, but the renewed attraction of older furniture and objects is more than just what you can find right now: beneath their surface the appeal of antiques–as well as the best vintage furniture–is in the design and workmanship, borne from utility, resourcefulness, or simply pride of skill. Inherent character, combined with a story, can truly make a particular piece–whether table, chair, cabinet or light fixture– special, and therefore worthy of admiration and ultimately collecting.
This October, The Chicago Show: Antiques & Art & Modern, renamed and reimagined and produced by Dolphin Promotions, is returning to a fall timeslot at theMart, just in time to meet the moment and making a splash in the process.
At a time when prices for nearly everything second-hand (and instantly available) are soaring, The Chicago Show presents an opportunity for design fans old and new to participate in a gathering that is part trade show but also part treasure hunt. The show brings together over 60 premier national and international dealers of fine antique furniture, jewelry, silver and decorative and fine arts, from ancient to 20th century. Spread throughout theMart’s 7th floor, the event is the largest antiques and modernism fair in the Chicago area. This year there will be a concentration on 20th century design, focused on mid-century modern, with the return of Studio Sonja Milan (Chicago) and Glen Leroux Antiques (Connecticut), along with the addition of Modern State Atelier (Chicago) and The Art of Time (Versailles, France and Pembroke Pines, FL). There will also be pieces that are new. Debuting at the show is the Arica Hilton Collection® called FLOW, a line of limited edition bespoke furniture by Arica Hilton of Hilton-Asmus Contemporary (Chicago), which pays homage to the mid-century Modernist movement and was sparked by a painting series of Hilton’s.
Event Chairs Suzette Bulley, Beth Hughes, Keevie Silvay and Heather Webster are planning a not-to-be-missed benefit preview party with honorary chair and internationally recognized interior designer Alessandra Branca on the evening of October 6, 2022. Attendees will enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and an exclusive opportunity to be among the first to see and shop the world-class collections before the show opens to the general public. Branca is sure to make her mark on the fair, partnering on SHOP THE SHOW, where those who purchase a higher-level ticket can shop early with Branca herself, as well as splashy event planner Bronson van Wyck, Master of Celebrations and also a featured guest for Thursday evening’s opening night gala. Vogue called van Wyck “The Wizard of Oz of party planning.” His 2019 book is titled Born to Party, Forced to Work: 21st Century Hospitality. Proceeds from gala tickets benefit the programs and patient care initiatives supported by The Woman’s Board, such as the COVID-19 Relief Fund and the study of collaborative mental health care in Northwestern Medicine’s primary care clinics in Chicago.
On Friday, the public opening day of the fair will feature a keynote luncheon and lecture with both Branca and van Wyck. Guests of the show will be able to learn about antiques and design in multiple ways, through expert-centered programming as well as in-person access–the first opportunity in quite some time–to many of the finest examples of period furniture, jewelry and objects available in the market today.
Art fair exhibitors, and the pieces they bring, must be vetted, with prices set and usually only the very best examples making the trip from a dealer’s home base. An antiques fair like this one is a showcase compressed into little square footage over the course of a weekend. First impressions are critical, you never know what you will find, and a lot of it isn’t as Instragram-worthy when compared to more contemporary cousins, but it’s important to take your time and look closely at what each booth offers, particularly those that have small items on display. Don’t forget to try on the jewelry!
Though they may be old in years, antiques don’t stay the same. Pieces and periods that are considered popular are a moving target. Quality is always sought-after, but buyers now are open to mixing styles, textures and scale, while solid pieces meant for every day use can be updated with contemporary fabrics and finishes. From the ‘80s into the early 2000s you bought a ticket to an antiques fair to see the best of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. After the turn of the millennium more pieces from the middle of the 20th century, still classified as vintage and not actually antique, captured the tastes of a younger audience of buyers. In fact the popularity of vintage and modernism almost ran antiques out of mind for awhile. Ultimately while fair organizers and dealers continue to chase younger disposable income, there is thankfully still a balance of both antiques and modern as a new collecting base grows up and becomes educated about older furniture, art and design. It doesn’t hurt that antiques are also very sustainable, something scores of dealers have long known, but their message has only recently begun to sink in. Antiques are downright on-trend now in ‘grandmillennial’ circles.
It can take awhile for people to get the message some times. Generations, in fact.
The Chicago Show: Antiques & Art & Modern runs October 6–9, 2022 at theMart.
• Opening Night Party – Thursday, October 6
– VIP Shop the Show with Alessandra Branca: 4:30–6pm
– Opening Night Party, Presented by HINDMAN: 6–9pm
– Young Collectors After Party: 8:30–10pm
• Keynote Design Lecture and Luncheon – Friday, October 7
– With Alessandra Branch and Bronson van Wyck: 11am–1:30pm
• Additional Design Events
– Designer and Trade Breakfast: Friday, October 7, 8–10am
– Lecture and Tea: Saturday, October 8, 2–3pm. CHRISTIE'S CONVERSATIONS: Celebrating the Legendary Ann and Gordon Getty Collection to be sold at CHRISTIE'S October 20–23
Information and tickets at chicagoantiquesartdesign.com
A Closer Look
Of the 60 participating dealers in The Chicago Show: Antiques & Art & Modern, many are traveling to Chicago from around the world–from Florida and California to London. Below are a couple notable ones to watch.
Guarisco Gallery – Washington, DC
Guarisco Gallery’s collection includes Impressionist, Academic, Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures, with works by artists such as Renoir and Cassatt.
Nally Jewels – New York City
Nally Jewels is a 4th generation jeweler located in New York City, catering to a wide clientele with a focus on “one of a kind” estate and signed jewelry pieces.
TK Asian Antiquities – Virginia
This Williamsburg, Virginia–based gallery specializes in ceramics, jewelry, furniture, textiles, metal and more.
Imperial Fine Books and Imperial Oriental Art – New York City
Woman-owned and operated, Imperial is an established leader in the fields of collectable, rare and fine books as well as fine quality Chinese ceramics and works of art. Leather-bound sets and fine bindings span all fields. A vast selection of fine Chinese art covers a range of various dynasties, in particular Ming and Qing.