Nothing But Hits: Hot Finds at the LA Antiques Art + Design Show

Last Thursday I took a closer look at the LA Antique and Art + Design Show through eyes that weren’t clouded by the St. Germain-spiked champagne cocktail vision of opening night. Check out our picks of the hottest product finds and standout designs from the exhibitors at LA A+D.

By Melissa Goldstein
Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Majestic Beast of Burden

This copper, pyrite and rock crystal “camel” is a majestically craggy, nose-ringed beast that looked plucked from Guillermo del Toro’s imagination, however, each piece in Downtown’s gallery was noteworthy: from the pair of ‘60s-era Pedro Friedeberg silver leaf and walnut Hand Foot Chairs, which beckoned like misfit toys at the forefront of the gallery’s tableaux, to the Mazzega Murano glass and brass chandeliers, which hung like frozen fireworks, to the smattering of so-very-ugly-they-are-cool hand wrought boxes by local artist Onik Agaronyan; nothing was less than mind-blowing. 

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Holy Rollers

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase “it is all about mixing the old with the new” at this fair, I could afford to amass my own private army staffed by Paul Bauer’s robots [see the next slide]. But I must admit, the prospect of planting ornate icons from the Treasures of Imperial Russia booth in a contemporary roomscape gives me a serious thrill: Just imagine this “St. Nicholas” icon, with his face containing all the gravitas of Father Time and his head encircled by a halo of glittering gold, sitting atop your DWR credenza. I defy you to pronounce that it would be anything less than awesome.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Robots From the Playa

The Ames Gallery booth highlighted a collection of robot-like sculptures by self-taught Nor-Cal-based artist Jim “the aluminum enthusiast” Bauer, which, in my humble opinion, are whimsical in a “did you make that at Burning Man?” kind of way, rather than an “I will pay you upwards of a grand for R2D2’s best pal” kind of way. But, full disclosure: I do not consider myself to be an aluminum enthusiast, so to each her own.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Off The Wall Hard Hats

Hardhats and fine art aren’t necessarily synonymous. At the Off the Wall gallery booth, however, the connection came through loud and clear via an astounding collection of engraved aluminum oil rigger worker hard hats made by artisans from Indonesia to India in the ’70s and ’80s. Gallery co-owner Dennis Boses was kind enough to take each work down for me to inspect at close range, so that I might select a favorite: that distinction went to a hat belonging to an artist named Stewart, for his unbelievably intricate rendering of an industrial vista. Editor's note: Someone is suddenly an aluminum enthusiast.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Raven Repository

Downtown gallery co-owner Robert Wilson confided to me that the best compliment he received at the opening night party came from a friend who gushed that his booth was “the center of gravity” at the show. Now, irrespective of the fact that said booth happened to be located in the show’s absolute center (serendipitously opposite the bar), it did have a tangible pull, in a through-the-looking-glass-if-Alice-was-from-Mexico-and-the-Mad-Hatter-was-Salvador-Dalí kind of way.

My favorite creature was a raven with a pearl in its mouth, whose wings and torso could be removed for the purpose of storing keepsakes, like that centuries-old treasure map, or you know, your keys.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
From the Garage to the Beach

Everyone knows that F. Scott Fitzgerald is the new Don Draper, and that fashion-as-art is the new black. So, American Garage’s two-wall showcase of ‘30s-era bathing suits drew its fair share of attention, and rightfully so.  From a Gatsby-ready navy and red striped number, to a Betty Boop–feeling romper with a cherry red halter tie to the lemon yellow suit with a fairytale-menacing swirl motif, the display felt simultaneously vintage and fresh. It also made me feel empowered to splurge on that metal effect satin two-piece by Eres, which I now see could come full circle as an art investment in, say 80 years, at which time I’ll likely have retired it in favor of something more modest. Probably. 

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Fair and Square

It was a custom-made dining table base by Paul Evans for Directional that lured me into the Christopher Anthony Ltd. booth. Created for Evans’ Cityscape line, the piece’s brass and walnut patchwork design read, to me, like some sort of impossibly luxe rendering of Jenga gone horizontal. Truly, there was nothing else like it.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Go With the Glow

Midcentury lamps stole the show at San Francisco’s Epoca booth; ivory ceramic spheroid lamps with gilt circles (dot lamps), a Murano triple-gourd glass lamp with aqua metallic sparkles, a teal Italian double-handled urn number with clear aventurine glass handles. They all looked like something Ann Margaret might have owned in her heyday, and they were all immaculate. In fact, so smitten with the light fixtures was I, that the life-size carved Elmwood seal balancing a brass orb on its nose atop a table in the booth’s center did little to sway my attention.

Photo credit: Melissa Goldstein
Mirror Mirror

You could accuse me of having a weakness toward the metallic leaf, and you’d be right. The 18th century gilded mirror on view at West Hollywood’s Vandeuren Gallery booth took my breath away. From afar, the sunburst effect was very Baz Luhrmann—the sort of thing that might shoot out sparklers from its corners and double as a backdrop for a Nicole Kidman–led dance number. Up close, what appear to be a cluster of rosettes reveal themselves to be tiny cherubic faces—and not in a creepy way. Just imagine checking your lipstick or straightening your knit tie in this beauty on your way out the door.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Michael H. Lord Gallery
Modern Love

We were promised contemporary photography in the press release, so from the word go, I was craving said photography the way you crave a margarita when you are informed that your friend’s birthday dinner will be held at a Mexican restaurant. Palm Springs’ Michael H. Lord Gallery did not disappoint, thanks to works by architectural shooter Leland Y. Lee, whose angular images of John Lautner’s modernist marvel the Elrod House were a standout alongside Michael Childers’ portrait of a bowtied and bespectacled late ’70s-era David Hockney—who appears to barely fit inside the inflatable raft he is photographed on—ostensibly because all of that coolness is hard to contain.

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