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The Old and the Beautiful

It’s absolutely true that Gabby is a creature of the night, but on occasion, she will slip into something daytime appropriate and mingle with the masses on a Sunday afternoon. She did just that in early November at the 47th annual Delaware Antiques Show at Winterthur. While weaving among the treasures—oil canvases from the late 1800s, glimmering gold candlesticks from the 1690s, gemstone-and-pearl-encrusted brooches from the 1900s—it became quite clear to Gabby that somewhere, there exists a Male Antiques Proprietor Handbook that politely insists that all of its followers wear natty bow ties.

Gabby especially liked the one worn by Wilmington’s John R. Schoonover, president of Schoonover Studios. John, grandson of famed American illustrator Frank E. Schoonover, showed Gabby his favorite piece by his grandfather, the “Fairy Book” cover he created for the classic Harper’s series. “It’s an exquisite example of American illustration and what it’s all about,” he said. “There’s also a dust jacket for the book. I’m always looking for that.”

Speaking of exquisite examples, John was quick to praise her royal majesty, Martha Stewart, who was on hand to kick off opening night. “I thought she looked very good,” he said, not even a little shy about his admiration. “She came by my booth and almost turned left. Almost. But her entourage took her away. She was wearing a very nice brown dress.”

One of Gabby’s favorite stops was the Arthur Guy Kaplan booth. The Baltimore-based outfit was chockablock with gems, finely crafted brooches and earrings, and—Gabby’s weakness—row upon row of cameos. Lean in close enough and one could see fantastic little words like “Chanel” and “Tiffany & Co.” etched into these decadent, antique collectors’ pieces, crafted way before that little blue box even existed.

When it came to pieces, however, no one came bigger than Janice Paull. The international specialist in English Staffordshire Ironstone China (1790-1890) hauled more than 400 pieces of the stuff all the way from Portugal, where she has her studio. “What can I say?” she said. “I’m really an excellent packer.” Paull does only six shows a year. Why was Delaware on her radar? “This is just a beautiful-looking show,” she said. “The thing I’ve noticed, which is so wonderful here, is the fact that [the show] works so well with the museum. That’s very encouraging for people like myself.”

Page 2: Pretty Ribbons of Blue

 

Pretty Ribbons of Blue

Dover Downs Hotel & Casino was beautifully outfitted in holiday sparkle, thanks to the Delaware Hospice’s annual Festival of Trees, which kicked off with a gala auction and reception on November 27. Christmas trees glowed in every nook and cranny of the generous space Dover Downs allotted. Organizations such as the Delaware Ballet Company, Bayhealth Medical Center, Delaware State University and the senior centers of Kent County decorated trees, which were available for purchase.

Sam Hummel, a Festival of Trees volunteer since 1980-something (Gabby protects the innocent), was the go-to gal for all things decorating. The method to her staging madness? “It’s very simple,” Hummel said. “The secret is electricity. Where there is electricity, there is a tree.” Well done, Sam. The long hallway to the gala room was alive with blinking lights, warm color, interesting Christmas tree decor (margarita glasses and cowboy hats, anyone?) and glittery Christmas cheer. Sam is one of more than 130 volunteers who prepare the Festival of Trees event.

Susan Lloyd, president and CEO of Delaware Hospice, said the festival is a friendraiser more so than a fundraiser. “This is just such a wonderful event,” she said. “It’s nice to start putting people in the holiday spirit. For myself, seeing friends and families of people Delaware Hospice has helped is very special.” Gabby would be remiss to not give kudos to the divine black, skinny dress pants Susan wore, with a gorgeous, twinkling sequined shell top and the most chic of sleek blonde bobs. “All from Lady’s Image,” she said (except the hair). Susan, you looked so radiant Gabby thought about popping you on top of her own Christmas tree.

The Honeycombs took the stage to put their own spin on holiday standards (For the record, those were poinsettias on their shirts; not Hawaiian flowers. Gabby had to ask.) while guests milled around bidding on things like a lap around the Monster Mile.

Gabby dished with woman of the hour Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development on Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione’s Discovery Channel show, “Brew Masters,” about the five very hungry college football players she played host to over Thanksgiving, thanks to her son (“They won’t stop eating!”).

Most evident was Peggy’s love for and dedication to the event. “I’ve already started planning for next year,” she said. “This is a 13-month process. It’s a lot of work. But I absolutely love this event. It’s so heartwarming when people buy a tree, and donate it right back to us. Some of these trees sell three times over because people are so giving.”

Her favorite was the Potpourri Garden Club of Dover’s tree, decorated with maracas and margarita glasses. “The Red Hat ladies are very serious about this,” she said. “They start collecting things for their tree a year in advance.”

Gabby would like to praise her favorite tree, that of the Dover Sprig and Twig Garden Club. A vision in blue and gold ribbons, flowers and delicate bird ornaments, the tree set Gabby’s heart a flutter.

Page 3: Beauty and the Beach

 

Beauty and the Beach

As if Gabby wasn’t already swooning from holiday cheer after the Festival of Trees, she headed to the Children’s Beach House Holiday Art Show Opening Gala on the first Saturday in December in Lewes.

Walking into the Children’s Beach House was like being invited into a delicious, glowing gingerbread house filled with the merriest of people and decor. On the bottom floor, the Keynotes, a chorus of young women, sang beautiful holiday songs with piano accompaniment. Upstairs, Karen Murdoch jazzified the classics with her sultry voice.

Nage restaurant was tapped to cater the event, and if, dear reader, you take only one piece of advice that Gabby ever gives, let it be this: Get thyself to Nage and partake in the wasabi mashed potatoes. They are an absolute delight to the palate.

Rehoboth photographer Cindy Johnston sure was a fan. Standing in front of her display of photographs—as she describes them, “antiquey-looking…I tend toward older subject matter”—she praised the food. “It’s just so good, isn’t it? I love coming to this event. It’s such a good thing to do. The art is just fabulous this year.”

And so were the artists. Gabby fell head over heels for the hilarious and sweet Diane Bennett, a Millville-area photographer. Sporting much bling—on her neck, on her shirt and on her loosely knotted black scarf—Gabby caught her squinting at fellow photographer Steven Billups’ photo of two naked figures doing, well, Gabby still isn’t sure what, exactly. “It’s interesting, isn’t it?” Diane said. “I really love it. But I have no idea what it is. You either? Good.” Diane suggested Gabby check out her art, but not before a warning: “I have no naked people. Sorry.”

Gabby trailed a feisty gaggle of artists headlined by Ruth Valva, who was looking vintage-chic in a high-waisted, long striped skirt and elegant black blouse, as they gave painter Arthur Brosius a hard time about his primo exhibit spot. “We can’t all get special treatment, I suppose,” Ruth teased as they gazed at his “Dolles and the Boardwalk” painting.

While giving in to a second (perhaps it was the third, Gabby stopped counting) helping of wasabi mashed potatoes, a beautiful flurry of white passed by. It turned out to be Kathleen Schell, the event chairwoman, simply glowing in a white brocade cocktail dress with row upon row of rhinestones around the collar, diamond bracelets stacked on her wrists and sparkling gems on her fingers. She stopped for a photo op with featured artist Richard Clifton and chatted about his so-detailed-they-look-like-still-photos wildlife paintings.

Before Gabby could leave she was lured by Philip Livingston, equal parts by his fabulous fitted purple shirt and Elvis Costello-like glasses and his Elegant Slumming cache of jewels for sale. “Everyone cleaned up nice tonight, don’t you think?” he said.

Although the delicious fare from Nage did everyone good, one simply cannot be in Lewes and not pop into Agave on Second Street for a pom margarita and fish tacos. So Gabby and guest did, and were pleased to see that quite a few guests from the party were there, toasting with a bottle of white to a beautiful evening.

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