A New Dress for the Empress by Jennifer Mujezinovic of Bloomington, Indiana, a 48" x 24" oil on canvas with collage, was offered by the artist and sold during the preview party.
This Danish peg tankard by Holm, circa 1910, late Renaissance style, .830 silver, was $2600 from Bradley M. Bloom of The Gryphon’s Nest, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Outsider artist Paul Hart of Greenfield, Indiana, is shown with three of his creations. Top to bottom: Nanny is made from a toolbox, bootjacks, and a scythe handle and was $750; Herd 10/19 was $225; and Herd 3/19, $225.
This wrought-iron gate has a design possibly representing the sun, wind, clouds, stars, and rain. The gate was $1500 from David Cotton and Heather Malott of Wabash, Indiana.
|One of two folk art chairs made with welded wrenches and tire irons, this was created in Lagrange, Texas, about 40 years ago. The pair was $3900 from Don and Marta Orwig of Corunna, Indiana.|
A Victorian standing jeweler’s regulator no. 8 by Gilbert Clock Co., walnut with burl details, was $13,950 from Robert and Michelle Beauchamp of R. Beauchamp Antiques, Westfield, Indiana.
From a wooden bench in a back corner of the Indianapolis Art & Antiques Show, promoter Rod Lich motioned to booths in front, to one side, and behind him. “They all did well,” he said of the dealers there. The topic of conversation was the opening night preview party, which kicked off the March 7-10 show. But there was more to the story than the merchants who did well from the get-go. There was also the Downton Abbey promotion, based on the PBS television series, designed to draw young people to the Thursday evening preview.
Since Lich took over the management of this annual fundraiser, which benefits Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, he has worked to transform the event. It’s still the most prestigious antiques show in Indianapolis; however, it’s less stodgy than it once was. Forget hospitals and think hospital drama on television. For anyone who has followed Grey’s Anatomy, the show has become a little less Preston Burke and a lot more Meredith Grey.
One goal of this year’s antiques show was to increase the number of young people who attended. The Downton Abbey idea was part of the plan. Anyone younger than 40 was eligible for a discount ticket to the preview. Lich also worked with local show manager Jon Jenkins to cross promote the more traditional Indianapolis Art & Antiques Show and the relatively new Indie Arts & Vintage Marketplace, held across town that weekend. Discount tickets for the two events were part of the deal.
In the end, something worked. “We did see younger people here. That was part of our goal,” Lich said. “We’re doing everything we can to appeal to younger buyers and keep older people like myself happy.” Doing both isn’t necessarily an easy task.
In its 26th year, the Indianapolis Art & Antiques Show still draws on the strength of its past, especially when it comes to traditional material. Among the Indiana art, there were more works by Theodore Clement Steele, one of the biggest names in the state’s artistic heritage, than in recent memory. Eckert & Ross Fine Art of Indianapolis offered four Steele landscapes, priced at $39,000 to $115,000.
Among the standard fare of antiques was a mix that ranged from silver to porcelain, furniture to art glass, and lighting to jewelry. The show has also continued to evolve, however, especially with contemporary art.
Among the artists setting up was Jennifer Mujezinovic of Bloomington, Indiana. In her second year at the Indianapolis event, she brought more than just contemporary portraits to the show. She also exhibited unbridled energy and infectious enthusiasm. In an industry where getting some dealers to look up from a Sudoku puzzle can be a challenge, she was a reminder of what retail sales should be all about. It wasn’t a sales pitch—none was necessary. It was her genuine love for what she was doing. After encouraging results at the 2012 show, several follow-up commissions, and sales at the preview party, it was obvious her artwork was as likeable as she was.
Mujezinovic’s clients tend to be professionals. “They’re young and usually a couple and picking it out together,” she explained. “It’s an investment for them. There’s no higher compliment.” Most of her original works sell in the $1000 to $5000 range, while some prints are also available. “This is what I love to do and maybe the only thing I can do well,” she added.
Lich admitted that Mujezinovic’s art isn’t for everyone. “There’s an appeal to people younger than I am,” he said. “People my age don’t understand it.” But that’s OK with him. Dealers such as Mujezinovic are important if the show is to appeal to a younger crowd.
Among the first-time dealers at the show was Paul Hart. A veterinarian from Greenfield, Indiana, he began experimenting with art about ten years ago, after seeing the Crossroads of American Sculpture exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The exhibition featured five internationally known artists born in Indiana. Using found objects, Hart began creating works of his own. The resulting works are often rooted in Hart’s day job—featuring the likeness of animals constructed from items that might include a plow blade and Federal-style table legs. Creating the art is only half the job. “I spend as much time beating a path finding the pieces I can use,” he said. At the show, his creations ranged from $225 to $750, although some of his works push upwards of $1000. “I don’t do this to make money,” he said plainly. “It’s strictly a hobby.”
Among the veteran dealers at the show was Don Orwig of Corunna, Indiana, who has adapted to the changing demands of the marketplace. Folk art, architectural items, and unusual antiques have been common fare in his booth for years. Now, though, Orwig has added a heavy concentration of industrial objects. In Indianapolis, he had a worktable from a Ford Motor Company factory in Detroit for $1750. And he offered two folk art chairs, the seats and backs made from dozens of welded wrenches, the legs crafted from tire irons. Created in Texas about 40 years ago, the chairs were tagged $3900 the pair.
Industrial has become a key element in Orwig’s inventory. “It’s hotter than it’s ever been,” he said. “The things I sold last night [at the preview] were all industrial.” He said he’s selling “anything metal, anything iron. Repurposed metal, that’s the hot property.”
Orwig is among a growing number of dealers who have changed their vocabulary. “Throw the word ‘antique’ away,” he said. “Call it vintage, and the young people will come. There’s a stigma with the word ‘antique.’”
Many dealers carrying traditional antiques were upbeat. Michelle Beauchamp of R. Beauchamp Antiques, Westfield, Indiana, who handles large pieces of American and Continental furniture, said young buyers at the preview were stopping to look and talk. “We did have questions from younger people yesterday, about lighting especially,” she said.
For those who think there’s nothing affordable at the show, Charles H. Alexander of Indianapolis had a display of Knights of Pythias badges priced at $4.95 each. Sales of the fraternal items were steady.
This year’s event featured 91 dealers in 95 booths, according to Lich. Of those, about ten dealers were new to the event. The 27th annual show is slated for March 6-9, 2014. For more information, visit (www.parrettlich.com) or phone (812) 951-3454.
|Femme sortant du bain is a bronze fragment by Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1912), cast 1920-21, signed and numbered 7/20. The 16.5" high sculpture was $340,000 from Dan Ripley of Ripley Auctions, Indianapolis.|
Knights of Pythias badges were $4.95 each from Charles H. Alexander of Indianapolis.
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest