Mixing it UpThree days after the 44th presidential election, change was still the major topic of discussion during the 45th annual Delaware Antiques Show preview party presented by Winterthur and Wilmington Trust at the Chase Center on the Riverfront. Are people comfortable with change or not? Should you mix 20th-century pieces with those of older periods? Believe me, collectors have very clear opinions.
While browsing the 62 exquisitely tasteful displays of antique furniture, paintings, needlework, porcelain and more, we chatted with event co-chairs Kris Walker and Brett Jones. Kris wore a silver metallic blouse, Brett a silver bow tie, both a wink to the display of 16th- and 17th-century sterling pieces at the show’s entrance (on loan from the Biggs Museum.) How much change—and how quickly—could the show’s “family” of dealers and collectors tolerate or drive to attract new collectors? It is the eternal question.
Honorary co-chairs Elissa Cullman and Tracey Pruzan, colleagues at the New York interior design firm Cullman and Kravis, offered a favorite sentiment: “A room without something old has no soul,” Elissa said, “and a room with only old things has no contemporary life.” (Elissa also recounted how, as a young bride in 1969, she enjoyed a thrilling flashlight tour of Henry Francis du Pont’s vast collections at Winterthur. That was before the public was permitted. Lucky girl.)
Winterthur deputy director Tom Savage’s phrase “chic it up” seems to approve of bending of the unspoken rules some antiques purists cite to prevent mixing of styles and periods. After all, in all things decorative, personal tastes and interests rule. In his primer “Tips for New Collectors” written for show attendees by committee member Forbes Maynard, the first thing to keep in mind is to “collect what you enjoy.”
Skip Chalfant of HL Chalfant Antiques of West Chester created an especially attractive display, where a monitor screened images of such collectibles as a bentwood Charles Eames chair from the mid-20th century in bright orange. We agreed the chair would look fabulous in his exhibit space. Why just a picture instead of the chair itself? “Small steps,” Skip said. “It takes an eye to mix styles successfully.”
A collector with a fine eye for art and design, Frolic Weymouth seemed OK with mixing up the show a bit, as long as, he warned, “it doesn’t become a decorator show—nothing against them. Some of my best friends are decorators.”
One authority who favored limiting the show to mostly American antiques was James Klivington of Dover. Though he acknowledged that mixing modern pieces with old would help a new collector avoid creating a museum room when “done with the right eye,” not everyone was comfortable with change. All guests were, however, comfortable while enjoying the sounds of the University of Delaware Faculty Jazz Ensemble and sampling the macaroni and cheese, braised short ribs and string bean casserole from a food station of comfort favorites. Maybe next year we’ll see if Skip will be comfortable enough to bring that Eames chair. At the Delaware Antiques Show, the change you can believe in is also the change you could be living in.
Page 2: You Go, Girl
You Go, Girl
On November 2, the Fresh Start Scholarship Fund, established by Wilmington Women in Business, boxed up an eclectic and quick-witted group for Celebrity Squares or, in this case, where all questions referred to our home state, Delebrity Squares. Master-mistress of ceremonies, the her-and-his-sterical Scott F. Mason as Dame Edna, had the full house at DuPont Country Club’s Crystal Ballroom roaring.
Fresh Start board member Rita Turner opened the night by introducing raven-haired Mary Maloney, who created and organized the scholarship fund in 1996 to provide financial support and mentoring to women who are trying to improve their lives through education. Most scholarship recipients are working mothers who manage to attend night classes. Wow.
On arrival we met two very stylish scholars, Lenka Wright and Dana Lewis. “Squares” included hip Judge Jane Brady, Sister Jeanne Cashman of Sojourner’s Place, singer Todd Chappelle of “I’m From Delaware” fame, DCCA director Maxine Gaiber, Miss Delaware Galen Giaccone, Olympian Vicki Huber Rudawsky, Domaine Hudson’s Meg Hudson, Wesley College prez William N. Johnston and WJBR’s Michael Waite.
We also met FSSF success story Kynetta Lee and her mentor, Dee Richardson. Kynetta told us how her FSSF scholarship helped her earn the degree in graphic design and photography that helped her to start her creative business (artful-innovations.com). She was sure to add that it all started with her mother sending her the FSSF link. Thanks, Mom—and thanks Wilmington Women in Business.
Note: WWB and FSSF is all about women helping women, but men pitch in too, including advisory board members Gregory F. Lavell and Wilmington University’s Jack Varsalona. Ciao for now.
Page 3: First State Fashion Plate