Americana and Its New York Home

Folk Art Room American Galleries MetThe primitive roots of much of what we think of as Americana makes New York City seem an odd place for it. Yet each January thousands of visitors descend on the city to take in the best in the category. Things have changed somewhat this year, gone is The American Antiques Show (TAAS), the once benefit for the American Folk Art Museum. Re-opened are the American Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a room devoted to American Folk. New this year is the Metro Show, a welcome addition. It’s also the first year the events have been chronicled in one site,

Booth of HL Chalfant at the Metro ShowThe Metro Show was our first stop. It’s in the Metropolitan Pavilion, the same location as the TAAS show. Some of the dealers returned, including Allan Katz Americana. Mixed in, however were some dealers specializing in international art and contemporary art. From what I read prior to the event I had the notion that the show would be focused on design, which in my mind tends to minimize the importance of what something is. What I found was a show focused on good stuff- all having inherent qualities that go beyond what an object looks like or how you can use it. In other words, art.

The Metro Show was a beautiful show with a great mix of things and dealers. It’s also a show that provides the public a chance to reach out, experience and learn more about things they may not have been familiar with.

The next stop was Americana and Antiques at the Pier. This show contains around 200 dealers and there’s a lot to look at. It’s also home to the only book show I know of during Americana Week. As much as the show has to offer, books can take even longer to look at than general merchandise. In a follow-up post we’ll talk about some of the things we found at the Pier including some paintings by Ammi Phillips, marble dust art, early 20th Century tumblers and more.

Duncan Phyfe Chairs at Armory Show Joan Bogart AntiquesThe final destination on this trip was Antiques at the Armory. I don’t know if it was purposeful, but the show seems to have made the Americana portion more apparent. Some of the dealers I spoke to thought this would evolve into the main destination for Americana during the week with the demise of TAAS. And the Americana offered here was superb. One other thing I noticed is more furniture of the American Empire or late Federal period than I have in a long time. There were a set of Empire-looking Duncan Phyfe chairs, a stencil lyre table, a scroll Empire recamier and a box sofa with a significant price tag. This is very good news for people like me who are fans of the heavy mahogany look. It also may have much to do with the exhibit on at the Met about the cabinetmaker, which we will also follow-up on in a later post.

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