Archive for the ‘Cool Exhibitions’ Category

Beatrice Wood & Pacific Standard Time

In antiques online, Art and the American Way, Cool Exhibitions, events on August 24, 2011 at 5:19 am

Career Women by Beatrice Wood

I just filed a cover story for Antiques and the Arts Weeklyon Beatrice Wood, the studio potter – the Mama of Dada – whose  career spanned the better part of the 20th Century.  The show, entitled “Beatrice Wood: Career Woman” opens at the Santa Monica Museum of Art on September 10 and runs through March.  It is part of a 60 museum coalition surveying the influential  post war art movements in and around Los Angeles that lasted until about 1980.

60 museums. Working together. A  Getty Research Institute initiative.  Pacific Standard Time.

PST offers a new generation an opportunity to understand how the rush of European refugees to the land of the laid back drove changes in architecture, abstraction, film, performance art and more.

It makes me remember Johnny Carson’s late night lament that there was no culture in L.A.  Clearly, there was a roiling pot of creativity that simply did not get the press that the East Coast artists got.

The Getty is to be commended, as are the participating museums.  At last, the West Coast’s contribution to art is being recognized as a whole.

Beatrice Wood in her Studio

As for Beatrice Wood– how you not be smitten by her unrelenting drive to create? She came to art through hubris – that old I can do it myself push – and soon discovered that she was not a born crafts  person. There followed more classes in ceramics, more courses in how to fix a glaze, more trial and error at the kiln. She invented…throwing moth balls and mustard into the kiln// and she was rewarded with unpredictable results.

And do you know what she said of greeting the unexpected every time she opened a kiln?

Beatrice Wood said opening the door of the kiln was the most exciting part of the process.

Copper Luster Teapot

In a way, the Getty is allowing the museums to open the door to a kiln of another sort. By surveying the post war movements in Southern California, it is encouraging unexpected results from the many visitors influenced by what they see and learn. Kudos all around.


New York’s New Auction Houses

In Art business, Auction Advertising, Auctions, business, Chinese art, Cool Exhibitions, Young Collectors on August 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

The last ten months have seen four neighborhood auctioneers spring up in Manhattan, or just across the 59th Street bridge, in Long Island City. At this rate, NYC will soon become the wholesale auction capital of the United States

Roland Auctions in Greenwich Village

Refreshingly, most are generalists. (Of the two that specialize, Hong Kong Auctions – which has been around for about 5 years – handles only Chinese, particularly paintings.  Gene Shapiro Auctions on the Upper East Side specializes in Russian art, with  successes in American and Continental art.)

Among the wholesale houses, the properties come from estates on Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue and the nearby tri-state area. They run to the types of items rich people collected in the 60s, 70s and 80s. For instance, mid-century modern designer furniture by Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl, Tomi Parzinger and others is being spit out by the truck load. Modern paintings too.

The condition is often excellent and while the provenance must often be discretely handled, almost all the auction houses state the addresses property was taken from.

Because most of these guys run monthly sales, you can’t buy glossy  image laden catalogs, so it is imperative to visit their websites often.  The sites tend towards bare bones, linking to catalogs posted on Live The best way to see what they are selling is to visit the previews.

  • Hutter Auctions is on the West Side in midtown, not far from the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. It’s in a warehouse building, so you can’t peak in the windows. You must take the elevator and poke through a warren of holding rooms. Best buys tend to be traditional furniture, much of it by big name manufacturers.
  • Capo Auctions in Long Island City bills itself as a neighborhood auction houses. It draws from Long Island estates and recently featured weird items from the old Steinway Mansion. I can’t say what their best buys are but it’s easy enough to find out by checking the website and clicking  to prices realized.

Best advice – visit these venues and bid. As of this writing, you are competing mostly with dealers and that makes good odds that you will get what you want at a decent price. Another thing, often the items that don’t sell at auction get posted to 1st Dibs, where their  price increases.

VIP and – Lessons in Luxury Marketing

In Art business, business, Cool Exhibitions, Drive Website Traffic, selliing antques, Young Collectors on January 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm

WSJ talks VIP

With all the up-front ballyhoo and then acceptance of online selling, the first big push  to sell high level art virtually opens next week. It’s the VIP Art Show, a prelude to what Google and pals will be doing with in coming months.  This is luxury marketing at its finest.

VIP and are good for business – your business. The reason, VIP and are training your consumers.

  • They’re training them to buy without physically viewing merchandise
  • They’re training them to trust online sellers more than ever before
  • They’re training in an arena that is – sadly – still underused by sellers of antiques and arts

On the other hand, these high-level efforts also mean that if your business is primarily a brick/mortar deal, you will need to protect yourself with stronger marketing campaigns.

  • Stronger marketing campaigns mean solidifying your brand
  • Making your place of business a destination
  • Providing a good reason for shoppers to come in
  • Joining in co-op marketing programs

If you haven’t already optimized the out-reach for new audiences, this is the time to do it.

Ironically, a hefty slice of your marketing pie should go to the Internet and  contextually relevant sites. A hefty slice of time  should be spent on Facebook, Twitter, the social media. Other efforts need to focus on smart traditional media buys.

As VIP and break through the four walls with the biggest push we’ve seen so far, you will fill the repercussions in both bad and good ways.

Informed risk takers, the people who don’t hide behind old ways of doing business, who are willing to reach out to new audiences, will benefit from the efforts of VIP and

Be sure to follow both closely. These are textbook lessons in the making. You will learn from them. BTY, VIP opens next week and runs for a limited. launches in the Spring.

The New Collectors are Alive & Well in Miami

In Art and the American Way, Art business, business, Cool Exhibitions, events, Young Collectors on December 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Found: The Young Collectors

SOUTH BEACH, FL.  I’m feeling a bit like Archimedes this morning, having made a discovery that answers the question antiques and decorative arts dealers have been asking, mantra-like: “Where are all the young collectors?”

The only reason I’m not shouting “Eureka” is because the news is not particularly good. The young collectors have been leeched away from the decorative arts and antiques market by something more meaningful to them.  That something is contemporary art and artists.

Everything you have ever read or heard about the art market and the commercial fairs in Miami is true. There are thousands of young shoppers here and they are doing what antique collectors used to do. They are buying.

Yesterday, I spent about 11 hours at Red Dot, Art Asia and Scope, three big shows of contemporary art that complement Art Basel Miami.

I have interviewed dealers and artists. I have heard collectors make strategic decisions about how they will cover the shows and make their purchasing decisions.

I have been given the same “take-home” material the buyers get – everything from traditional catalogs to flash drives. I have been greeted and sold by entrepreneurs in their 30s, who reel off auction records and big name collectors as proof of the investment value of the art they selling.

And I have been jostled by dozens of tee shirt / cargo short clad buyers who look like they can’t afford bus fare.  I’ve met couples that work the shows in teams, splitting up to cover the vast number of offerings at the fairs.

By the time they arrive, they already know what sort of things they’re looking for. If they are budget conscious, they’re looking for buys under $10,000. (Cheapest pieces I’ve seen run around $8,500 for a work of art by a mid-career artist.)

Parisian Dealer with International Artist Roster

It's All About Investments

As one young and highly successful dealer told me, “It’s all about investments.”

When decorative arts and antiques dealers can figure out a way to compete with the energy level that the contemporary art market generates, the market may begin to look up for them as well. Until then, you’ll find your audience in Miami, in Switzerland, in Singapore, in Mexico City – following the contemporary art circuit.

America: Here and Now. Using Art 2 Connect

In Art and the American Way, Cool Exhibitions on October 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Americans for the Arts just sent me the most exciting news. Must share it with you. This couldd be America’s next important moment.

It’s an art based idea to get people connected by using art as the catalyst.  It began with Eric Fischl, includes creators, educators and people who support the arts.

The movement is called


The project includes 150 known American creators have created works of art for the long running event  and they’re taking it on the road. Using art as the catalyst to help people renew their sense of where they are and how they look at where they are.

Sure beats Tea Party politics.

The Look of America: Here and Now

America: Now and Here Poster

AMERICA: Now and Here is  definitely worth checking out. You can participate and support it. You don’t have pay, don’t even have to vote. All you need is an opinion – and who among us doesn’t have at least one one both America and art.

Could AMERICA: Now and Here give new meaning to the phrase “the politics of art?” I hope so. Really hope so.

Heros, Magic Monsters & Beautiful Women as Seen by Kuniyoshi. AKA: The Prequel to Anime.

In Cool Exhibitions on April 28, 2010 at 2:51 pm

One of the most fun stories I’ve ever been asked to write is on the web now. It’s called “Kuniyoshi: Graphic Heros and Magic Monsters.”  Check it out. I think you will like this.

Strong boy Kado-maru wrestles a giant carp under waterfall.

This is a 1837 woodblock of a young strong boy wrestling a giant carp under a waterfall.

If you think that is tame, check out this picture.

Defying the Skeleton Spectre Conjured by a Princess

Defying the Skeleton Spectre

The Kuniyoshi show is running now at the Japan Society, New York City. You’re gonna love this one!

Here’s one more, and then I’ve got to run.  Interview with Nicole Sassarman waiting. (What? You never heard of multi-tasking the centuries?) I bet she would pair prints like this with contemporary decor, like Frank Lloyd Wright did.

The beautiful wife of a warrior spends 100 days praying for his cure, under a waterfall.

The beautiful wife of a warrior spends 100 days praying for his cure, under a waterfall.