Now a mature 21, the Boston International Fine Art Show (BIFAS) had a decidedly upbeat feel for the October 19-22, 2017, event at the Boston Center for the Arts. The 2016 event fell just before the election, and certain pre-election jitters hung over the Cyclorama. This time was an entirely different story. The show, produced by Tony Fusco and Bob Four, exceeded expectations of dealers and patrons alike. Across the board, contemporary and traditional art sold equally well.
Special programs included a talk by Curt DiCamillo, architectural historian and curator of special collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, who led visitors on an illustrated tour of the 21st-century restoration of Villa Astor, the 1905 home built in Sorrento, Italy, on the Bay of Naples, by William Waldorf Astor. The talk was sponsored by The Magazine Antiques.
Découvert Fine Art, Rockport, Massachusetts, specializes in European drawings and paintings of the 16th to the 20th centuries. Donald Stroud is shown chatting with shoppers during the preview party. A drawing attributed to Eugène Delacroix (1789-1863) was among several sales early in the show; other work was under consideration.
Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, showed Yellow Jacket, a 1939 oil on canvas, 36" x 24", by Milton Avery (1855-1965), which was tagged $450,000. Not shown, a still life by Grace Gemberling Keast (1903-1997) sold early, but The Veil by Gertrude Fiske (1878/9-1961), a 30" x 24" oil on canvas, was still available. Avery Galleries sold a floral still life by Pennsylvania artist Arthur Beecher Carles (1882-1952,) a shoaly seascape by Warren Sheppard (1858-1937), and a canvas by Theresa Bernstein (1890-2002).
The multitalented artist and dealer Joan Brownstein of Newbury, Massachusetts, is a long-term, highly respected dealer in American folk art. Over the years she has also painted. Her acrylic poured on canvas, 55" x 55", January 1984, was, like many of her acrylic works, highly textural. It was tagged $12,500.
Marcia Vose of Vose Galleries, Boston; Harry Clark; and Erica Hirshler, who is Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, looked over the show.
A thoroughly unscientific poll revealed that in addition to robust sales, dealers experienced plenty of residual interest. First-time exhibitor Susan Danton of Miller White Fine Arts, South Dennis, Massachusetts, had a fine show, selling three contemporary abstract paintings at the show and a fourth on her way home. Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina, brought along a group of paintings by Andrew Wyeth, prices on request, that attracted some interest.
For more information, check the website (www.fineartboston.com) or call (617) 363-0405.
Tony Fusco, left, and Bob Four are pictured with appraiser Susan “Suzy” Forster. Photo by Tara Carvalho.
Michael W. Mahan and Susanna J. Fichera of Fichera Fine Art are shown with appraiser and dealer Kenneth W. Van Blarcom of Natick, Massachusetts, and Boston appraiser Brian Tierney.
Marine Arts Gallery, Marblehead, Massachusetts, showed “Shamrock” vs. “Velsheda” Off Antigua,2012, a 30" x 50" oil on canvas by Terry Bailey, R.S.M.A. (British, b. 1941), that was tagged $55,500. The two J-Class yachts were built in the early 1930s, Shamrock V in 1930 and the Velsheda in 1933, by Camper & Nicholson at Gosport in South Hampshire, England. Over the years both boats fell into disrepair, but each has been splendidly restored, and their home port is now Newport, Rhode Island.
Nil Gallery, New York City and Paris, showed work by Zhuang Hong Yi (b. 1962), who was born and trained in Sichuan and now lives and works in the Netherlands. Flowerbed, made of pieces of delicately painted rice paper bent and folded into hundreds of buds, all attached to canvas, was a show-stopper. It measures 40" x 50" and was tagged $21,000.
Simie Maryles Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts, featured cityscapes by New York City artist Roxie Munro. Park Avenue Sun, a 36" x 24" oil on canvas, was tagged $12,000, as was its mate, Park Avenue Rain. Gallerist Simie Maryles is herself an artist and sold two of her own oil on linen panel works, not shown, Fog and Evening Snow. She also sold work by Kathryn Engberg and Jane Rosenberg. In a post-show e-mail, Maryles, who was at BIFAS for the first time, hailed the caliber of other dealers and their camaraderie and cooperation.
Questroyal Fine Art, New York City, showed this 1917 untitled watercolor and pencil image by Charles Burchfield (1893-1967) of a house on a hill with stars, on paper laid down on board, 15 3/8" x 19". It was tagged $65,000. Questroyal also presented a 12" x 24½" oil on board by William Trost Richards, Rocky Coast, Springtime (not shown), a crisp clear view overlooking rocks in a serene sea.
The Younger Sister by New York City artist Liz Beard (b. 1985) depicts the parable of the Prodigal Son and substitutes a daughter. The artist commented, “She looked at the dress she had worn and was too overwhelmed to run free. She felt safe sitting still, trusting in the beauty she could not yet see.” Williams Fine Art Dealers, Wenham, Massachusetts, priced the 50" x 43" oil on canvas at $13,900.
William Vareika Fine Arts, Newport, Rhode Island, showed this 1898 oil on canvas, 40" x 40½", Children in the Woods by Frank Weston Benson (1862-1951). The painting has a long and distinguished exhibition and publication history and was tagged $1,250,000. Vareika filled an entire wall of the booth with coastal paintings by William Trost Richards (1833-1905), who settled in Newport in later life and in whose work Vareika specializes.
Originally published in the February 2018 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2018 Maine Antique Digest