The show in Harwinton this weekend was perhaps both the most difficult and rewarding show we have produced in 30 years of show management. I will write the details in the blog in the next few days, but suffice it to say that challenges were immense. The show would not have happened without extraordinary efforts of a lot of people-
1. A great staff that went without sleep and dry clothes for far longer than they should have.
2. Stacy Expo- who stepped in and conducted themselves far above the call of duty.
3. Sturdy Tents- if you need tents installed in the middle of the night with a few hours notice, call them.
4. Patient Dealers- a determined group who were not afraid to stick out their necks on a new venture in perhaps the most challenging circumstances many have dealt with.
Below are the very kind words of dealer Victor Weinblatt who penned them after the show and shared them with me today. Perhaps the nicest comments I've ever read after a show:
"I am happy to report some GOOD news, particularly in a moment when we all could use more of it: the birth of a very promising new show. Childbirth is not without risk & peril, and this one was complete with tents blown down and swept up into tree tops (fortunately on the evening before dealer arrival & set up), flooding rains and bone chilling cold. Antiques show managers, whose lives would be relatively blissful if they could control the fickle New England weather, are but one of the heroes of this narrative. Jon Jenkins, energetic, upbeat, dauntless and imaginative was our fearless young hero, and with grace & inextinguishable humor kept things, quite literally, from flying apart. He found new tent vendors to appear miraculously in the middle of the night. He had the vision to conceive of a new show in the best-suited-for-a-show fairgrounds I have seen in my thirty-two year career as a show dealer. A half dozen dealer-friendly skylit buildings of manageable, human scaled proportion with high ceilings and cross ventilation (more on this later) from large sliding doors made for an ideal summer venue for those of us who want or need to be indoors. Scenic fields afforded flexibility for those dealers wishing to be in larger management provided tents or smaller individual tents. In short, the perfect venue. The somewhat biblical, old Testament-like avenging God of weather had a slightly different agenda.
After the pre-set up phenomenon of airborne tents propelled into tree tops, the dealers lucky enough to be in those handsome fairgrounds structure were subject to their own purgatory. At 5 a.m. Saturday morning, those of us silly enough to check the weather forecast donned shorts & lightweight shirts appropriate to temperatures predicted to be in the 70s. What we got were a bit less balmy damp & windy 50s. As an alternative to hypothermia & frostbite, our ever resourceful & eminently fashionable band of brothers & sisters donned packing blankets (at least those of us who had not driven our trucks home the night before). The hands-down couture winner was Steve Smoot who looked quite fetching in a donegal-like woolen blanket skirt, which he should feature in his fall collection. Despite our suggestions to add a slit to the skirt to improve mobility, he steadfastly held to the purity of line & form, sacrificing comfort to aesthetics. To heighten show drama, and forestall the brain freeze of falling temperatures, the ever zealous fire marshalls decided just a few minutes before opening that all the dealers in the large tents had to re-orient their booths outwards. Which brings us to our second hero of the day, Sandy Klempner. With a beautifully designed (walled) booth (for which she is known in the industry) facing toward an inner aisle, the firemen ordered that her walls be taken down & reversed. All the tent flaps were ordered removed (despite the rain & wind) and with the show opening delayed and cars lining up all the way to Route 4, a doorway was cut in her back wall and her booth looked none the worse for it. Sandy was just one of the many dealer heroes of that morning in the tents, who despite ungodly pressure and the somewhat arbitrary demands of the officials, managed to subscribe to the 'show must go on' antique dealer motto, and carried the day with humor, grace and just a few real (fairly well-concealed) tears. Which brings to mind yet another dealer hero team, Lynn & Mike Worden. Late on Thursday night before dealer set-up, Lynn on the fly & on the road sent out an emergency e-mail with adjusted storm related information to all the travelling dealers. Lynn & Mike are dealer's dealers: their folk art is extraordinarily graphic, with brilliant form, exquisite surface, superb color and the freshest merchandise in the trade. Their booth designs are the best, bar none, with presentation that is jaw-dropping in its artistic impact & visceral stimuli. It is far more than 'eye-candy', it is an 'eye-feast', show after show. And if that is not enough to keep them busy, they are the unsung & anonymous authors of the most extraordinary show blog in the industry, The Antique Wanderer. In their travels they photograph hundreds of booths at the shows they exhibit at and shop, and then post them to the blog with the most profoundly witty & deeply moving captions. With a mid-western modesty, humility and selflessness they are my personal and artistic heroes. Now that I have set the stage, you might ask, with all the drama and heroics, was the childbirth worth the pain? The medical evaluation & prognosis is very positive. I was fortunate enough to have an encouragingly good week-end, with sales of three sets of polychrome architectural
shutters, a nineteenth century dough box in robin's egg blue, a square nailed diminutive bucket bench in dark green, a double schoolroom desk, a large double sided elaborately tavern-styled trade sign for WEST FARM HATCHING EGGS, a circus wagon polychrome panel touting GOOD SPORT & PLENTY OF IT, a polychrome gargantuan gear form mirror, a mid-19thc weavers skarn, a polychrome parchesi, a set of tops, and a healthy selection of smalls.
Hilary is right (as always), it does take a village, and this child named Harwinton clearly has a very bright future as it took its first baby steps this June. It will make its second public appearence on Labor Day week-end, and prospects for its healthy growth & development are excellent."