I used to tell time by the passing of antique shows.
In Minnesota, spring was synonymous with the Fairgrounds show. The heat of August was measured in days until the Gold Rush. No fireworks in July had more dazzle than the Red Wing Collectors Society Convention. Over 15 years as a collector, my life's passing became marked by holiday weekend fleamarkets, annual art shows, and sunny Saturdays where a drive to Stillwater filled an empty spot in my calendar and my soul.
Two years out of Minnesota, and I have started - like the Mayans and the Egyptians before me - to mark time in new ways. The spring and fall glass show in Grapevine, and now the Houston MODern Market have become fixtures on my calendar. (I find some comfort that one dealer from many Minnesota shows appears twice a year in Grapevine, with the same reliable collection of Heisey glass, Red Wing dishes, Fiestaware, and other glass and ceramics he brought to St. Paul and Rochester.)
Paul and I just returned from our second MODern Market. This time, we arrived for the preview party on Friday night for a chance to mingle, buy early, and bid on silent auction items. We were pleased to benefit Houston Mod (a worthy nonprofit preservation group) while enjoying wine, nibbles, and a chance to reconnect with uber-collectors like Don Emmite. (His Saturday morning lecture on household appliance design from the 1930s to he 1960s was a highlight of the weekend.) I felt a little bad that Houston Mod's silent auction did not generate more bids, but not so bad that I didn't stand ferociously by a lot of excellent Marc Bellaire "Balinese" ceramics to scare off additional bidders.
Attending a show like MODern Market is a delightful way to connect with others who can throw around terms like "biomorphic" and "streamline moderne," and drop the names of designers, architects, and artists with joyful abandon. When Don Emmite talked about his built-in GE wall refrigerator in "cadet blue," everyone nodded approvingly. Not that any of us had any idea what shade cadet blue was, but the very name evoked an era when even quotidian objects deserved fabulous colors with sensational names. We all want to live in that world.
Even so, I will confess to a little melancholy. Much as I enjoy my new haunts and my Texas finds, I miss my beloved Red Wing Pottery. More precisely, I miss the abundance of Red Wing in the Upper Midwest. Go into any thrift or antique shop from the Dakotas to Wisconsin, and you can find at least one or two planters, perhaps some plates, almost certainly an assortment of Bob White. The better shops will have art pottery, figurines, and pouring pieces. Here in Texas, my heart flutters a little when I see even something so common as a Katrina cookie jar or a Capistrano platter. It's just not as common here.
As a result, I have taken a shine to a few new collectibles. (If you can't be with the one you love...) I am giving you, gentle reader, a preview of these new obsessions interests in the photos below, but in the coming weeks I will aim to write features about them. (This, by the way, is less for your suspense than for my motivation - it's been hard finding the energy to write given some changes in my work life of late.) I hope you will tune in again when I return.