Monday, January 11, 2016

Washington Social Diary: The Washington Winter Show

Gunston Hall board of regents at the opening of the 2016 Washington Winter Show.
by Carol Joynt

It’s all about the red dot. That’s what antiques dealers can’t wait to put on the wares they display at the annual winter antiques shows, such as the Washington Winter Show, which happened this weekend. That happy dot signifies a sale, and a sale brings comfort, especially in a week when the global markets prompted checkbook anxiety. At the opening party at the Katzen Arts Center, I’m happy to report, red dots began to appear here and there, and show organizers say sales were brisk all weekend.

The opening party was a welcoming and glamorous soiree with a patronage of 625 that essentially is the roster of the social Green Book, but come to life in living, breathing, well-mannered and best-dressed Technicolor.
The grand entrance at the Katzen Arts Center.
The antiques show celebrates old wood and spring flowers.
It would be so easy to see this event from the other side of the window, to perhaps mock it as a gathering of the one percenters, which it is, or a hub of white people complaints, lines right off a William Hamilton cartoon – “What do we do if oil doesn’t rebound?” “Palm Beach was almost too warm at Christmas,” “Will brown wood ever come back,” “Is the Yellowstone just another Aspen?” Argh, don’t let it get under your skin, because even in that cacophony of well-to-do, it’s entertaining, and because it’s Washington, there really is a social conscience at the core (why else live in the capital?).

Politics thread through the rooms, expressed most often in an obsession with the 2016 campaign and, depending on the chosen party, jitters over Donald Trump, jitters over Hillary Clinton, or general jitters that the whole thing will run off the rails. It was interesting, however, to hear laments about Vice President Joe Biden choosing to not run. Apparently, he shares some of the same regret. There are whispers he could still jump in – if needed – but he makes every effort to tamp down that thought.
St. John's Community Service Board Member Courtney Burnham Preview Night Co-Chair's Lesley Lee, Susan Fant with Show Co-Chairs Patricia Montague, and Frances Talley.
Preview Night Co-Chairs Anne Colclough, Lesley Lee, and Susan Fant.
Co-Chair Patricia Montague, Executive Director Jonathan Willen, and Board Member Amy Zantzinger.
Show Co-Chair Patricia Montague, WWS Board President Sara Davis, and friend.
James Farmer with Betsy Jaeger, Elizabeth McIllhenny Rodriquez, and Marilouise Avery.
Steve Thormahlen of PNC bank, Helen Curtin, WWS Board Member, and Michael Lonergan, Deputy Chief Mission, Embassy of Ireland.
Sara Davis and Jim Lemon.
Luncheon Speaker, James Farmer, Luncheon co-chairs Betsy Jaeger and Marilouise Avery, and WWS Executive Director Jonathan Willen.
Page Evans, on the right, with a group of friends.
What was interesting was the mood of the party and the Show. It felt happier and brighter than recent years, and that was unexpected, given the stress of the holidays, the unrelenting terror threat, and the aforementioned complicated political campaign and wobbly markets. Maybe it’s being in the company of objects that have endured longer than any of us, for a century or more, proving that if these fragile items of fine wood, porcelain, crystal, oil paint, and paper can make it through the years, we can, too. The company of old wood is a comfort.

While the patrons come out to be with each other, and to help raise money for good causes, to their credit many take time to also ogle the goods. Some buy, some return the next day, Friday, to do their shopping and haggling. Or just to take a deeper dive into the splendor of so many beautiful things.  
Joe Carpenter and Ed McAllister on opening night.
Opening night conversations covered everything from life to politics and then some. Mr. and Mrs. George Mason, on hand to guide guests through the special exhibition from Gunston Hall.
Chip King and Ellen Charles share a moment, and a laugh.
At one of the dealer exhibitions.
The theme of this year’s Show was “Through the Eyes of a Child,” and the proceeds from the opening night and other ticket sales went to support the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, THEARC, and The Founders Board of St. John’s Community Services. The Katzen was celebrating its 10th anniversary, and its 8th year of hosting the antiques show. The honorary diplomatic chair was Ambassador Anne Anderson of Ireland, the 2016 committee co-chairs were Patricia Montague and Frances Talley, the principal sponsors included PNC bank, The Lemon Foundation, Ellen MacNeille Charles, Mars, Inc., Marcia V. Mayo, and the Mayo Charitable Foundation. The conscience of the show remains, as year after year, Show director Hannah Cox, who looked out for every thing and every one.
For a child's room, perhaps? Not Baby Beluga,
but a John Gilroy Guinness illustration, in oil, for $16,500 at Robert Lloyd.
Portraiture of children was popular. This is by Mabel Woodward, possibly late 19th or early 20th century, $2500 at The Hanebergs.
Oil on wood pub sign, circa 1850, $9500 at Robert Lloyd. WM Hutchison offered collectible children's books.
Windsor children's chairs, $4200 the pair at David White of North Yarmouth. A child's high chair, from Christopher H. Jones of Alexandria, VA.
These two are sisters, painting by Samuel Swan Walker, from The Norwoods Spirit of America, $5800 for the pair.
Something to set the table with for Downton Abbey's finale in March: Tiffany & Co. silver flatware service, c. 1915. Price: $46,000 from Spencer Marks.
Back to back bookcases ... George III, in the manner of Robert Adam, c. 1775. $45,000.
Swan Tavern Antiques of Ordinary, VA.
A view of the Chesapeake Bay with Baltimore in the Background, 1859. $7900 at Christopher H. Jones of Alexandria.
Old Lyme's Oriental Rugs, Ltd., always colorfully lock down the entrance to the Washington Winter Show.
Close inspection at The Philadelphia Print Shop.
The opening party was only the first of a weekend of events, which included a Friday luncheon with a talk by James Farmer, author of “A Time To Plant: Southern-Style Garden Living,” followed by a “Dealer Talk,” and a “Guided Walk,” which was led by interior designer Jean Perin, who took a group of 20 or more through the Show, pointing out items that she viewed with special interest; Saturday there were open appraisals, more lectures and talks, Jazz Night with the Levine School of Music jazz band; and Sunday – with a tip to the theme of “Children,” was “Sundaes on Sunday,” where children could make their own ice cream creations, and also get a few starter points on collecting, which I hope included the relative value of vintage Star Wars toys, Lego, Pokémon, and Beanie Babies.
Jazz on hand for opening night
Perin was impressed with this year’s offerings. “I especially liked a moonstone ring with a carved man in the moon face,” she said. “Plus a crystal pin with a moose head. Unique. And a silver dealer on the first floor had a stirrup cup in the form of a hippo head, a one of a kind. Very handsome.” Last but not least, “I stopped by the Philadelphia Print Shop, explained I had been to Papua New Guinea, and especially enjoyed seeing what Birds of Paradise he had.”
Interior Designer Jean Perin, at the 2011 Washington Winter Show, with Elizabeth Powell.
Myra Moffett and Ellen Charles visit with Philip Suval.
Adorable, from Philip Suval, Inc.
I walked through the show with my usual antiques show posse — Myra Moffett and Christopher de Paola — each of us guests of Ellen Charles. We stuck together, split apart, came back together, split apart again, tried to find each other in the crush, met up at the bars or buffets, grabbed each other to point out something, and by the end of the evening gathered at a downstairs table to review it all and be spoiled by the comforting food from caterer Susan Gage. The dinner menu included Blackened Flank Steak, Corn & Sausage Pudding, Pommes Savoyardes with leeks, Gruyere cheese and garlic butter, Wild Rice and Orzo Pilaf, Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts; there were two stations to feast on fresh-shucked oysters, and a dessert buffet of chocolates, sugar cookies, mini cheese cakes, butterscotch Pots de Créme, and mint chocolate chip baked Alaskas. 
On opening night, PNC Bank hosted a dinner for friends on the stage of the Katzen's recital hall.
Fresh shucked oysters set up by Susan Gage Caterers.
There were buffets on all three floors of the antiques show.
As we toured the show we looked in particular for items that related to the theme of children. We found paintings of children, furniture for children, objects that might enchant a child, such as what might have been Playmobil of the 19th century:  a carved and painted Noah’s Ark with more than 200 miniature figures of animals. It was made in Germany, circa 1870. Price: $21,000. It was the booth of Diana H. Bittel of Bryn Mawr, PA. There was an adorable metal painted dog with a bouncing head at the booth of The Norwoods Spirit of America of Timonium, MD. No price on him, though. WM Hutchison, the rare book dealer from Mendenhall, PA., offered “Mother Goose Complete,” “Peter and Wendy” by J.M. Barrie, and Saint-Exupery’s “Le Petit Prince,” which was voted the “best book” of the 20th century in France.
The Noah's Ark at Diana H. Bittel of Bryn Mawr.
The Norwoods Spirit of America, of Timonium, MD.
Lovable little guy from The Norwoods Spirit of America, but he had no price.
Because dogs are children, too.
Late 19th Century finely carved chest, from Leatherwood Antiques, $2800.
Antlers were trending ...
This Swiss carving of a stag head, dated 1915, was offered by Leatherwood Antiques for $18,500.
Patchen with Sulky Weathervane, 19th century. $34,000 at A Bird in Hand Antiques of Florham Park.
Myra was in search of antique dog collars, but didn’t find any.  She’s currently working on a related project for the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg (and if you’re there, say hello). We did find dog paintings, though, and dog carvings and, well, heck, to many of us dogs are children, too. Antlers were big. Hooked rugs were big. Folk Art seemed to be more present than in recent years.

As much as some of the art was keyed to the theme of “Through the Eyes of A Child,” and some of the events were geared to children, my guess is that what most got their attention was the pop-up candy shop that opened on Friday morning. When I stopped by, boys in their blazers sitting nearby, members of the Bishop John T. Walker School choir, couldn’t take their eyes off the “Kid in the Candy Shop” display — lollipops, jelly beans, licorice, gummy candy and chocolate bars — a fully edible exhibition.
"Through the Eyes of a Child," indeed — the edible exhibition.
Children from the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys, in nice proximity to the candy.
For the adults: Butterscotch Pot de Creme from Susan Gage Caterers.

Coming up on the social calendar: stay home tomorrow night to watch President Obama’s last State of the Union address; a party for actor, and author, David McCallum; cocktails at Dior; dinner at the home of the Italian Ambassador; and the Majestic Krewe of Louisiana annual Mardi Gras party.
Photographs by Carol Joynt and Michael Kress.

Follow Carol on twitter @caroljoynt