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Metro Show


by Brook S. Mason
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In the turbulent traditional fair world, the inaugural Metro Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion, Jan. 17-22, 2012, has pulled off a coup of sorts. It morphed from a folk art fair known as the American Antiques Show, or TAAS, which was organized by the American Folk Art Museum, into a new creation that blends folk art, design, tribal art and fine art, too, all wrapped up in a single event during Americana Week.

So, joining the dealer list now is the Chelsea gallery Barry Friedman, who prior was a stalwart of the Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory (also opening this week). Other New York dealers signing on include Cavin-Morris, Galerie St. Etienne, Schillay Fine Art and tribal specialist Jacaranda Tribal. New recruits from the southwest are William Siegal Gallery of Santa Fe and Joel Cooner Gallery of Dallas.

Still other new exhibitors are the Syracuse-based Dalton’s American Decorative Arts, which offers American Arts and Crafts; the Chicago-based Worthington Gallery, which features European naïves, Der Blaue Reiter and Bauhaus paintings, drawings and sculpture; the San Francisco-based tribal specialist B.C. Dentan; and from Japan, Yukiko Koide Presents, with turn-of-the-century Japanese woodblock prints.

“There are no more boundaries,” said show director Caroline Kerrigan Lerch. “Fair-goers can see the connections between design and historic material as well as contemporary art in one spot." The vernissage drew top-flight interior designers like Mario Buatta, Thomas Jayne and Bunny Williams, along with artist Wendell Castle.

Still, the emphasis is decidedly Americana when it comes to design. So expect American Craftsman-style by Gustav Stickley, like the 1902 cabinet in oak with copper strap hardware at Dalton’s American Decorative Arts, and a Wharton Esherick 1951 applewood table with an organic design at HL Chalfant American Fine Art and Antiques.

Barry Friedman is touting Wendell Castle furniture completed only last year. On his stand is Castle’s sculptural More is More in stained Peruvian wood, along with furniture by Ingrid Donat and Michael Eastman photographs of Havana.

In ethnography, William Siegal boasted a number of early Peruvian textiles. “This is my first fair in New York in five years,” said Siegal. “So far, it’s promising.”

But traditional Americana can be found at the stand of Jeff R. Bridgman American Antiques. Center stage there is a Lincoln & Johnson Presidential campaign parade flag. Nearby Allan Katz Americana sports an 1875 cutlery shop trade sign in the shape of pair of scissors in gilded wood.

Does such a mélange work? Well, opening night was packed and sales were rung up. “Americana doesn’t stand alone anymore and that’s a good thing,” said Jerry Lauren, brother of fashion designer Ralph Lauren. He scooped up Bill Traylor's Man in a Blue Suit (1940) for $140,000 from Hill Gallery from Birmingham, Mich.

“This fair is like night and day compared to last year,” said Lauren.

The NYC Metro Show, Jan. 19-22, 2012, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011.

BROOK S. MASON is U.S. correspondent for the Art Newspaper, and also writes for the Financial Times and other publications.