By Myles Ludwig
The Palm Beach Jewelry Art and Antique show now at the Palm Beach County Convention Center is a gem in an elegant setting. It is chock-full of goodies, so many I spent more than two hours just walking, looking and chatting and found myself so bedazzled I didn’t have the stamina for the connected fine crafts exhibits that I usually enjoy.
Foreign languages and accents of various kinds from attractive attendees provided musical accompaniment to my tour, but it was quiet enough to see many wonderful objets d’art I had missed in previous years, most notable of which were the imperial Russian antiques and art objects displayed by John Atzbach.
There were a startlingly beautiful pair of Fabergé crafted lamps commissioned by Alfred Nobel that would enhance any bedside reading. These are large, lovingly painted ostrich eggs in the Japonesque style mounted between coiled Japanese dragons of silver – each slightly different and, therefore, quite unique – that were the “finest pair known today,” according to Atzbach whose eyes twinkled when he quoted their price at $1.5 million for the pair, probably less than the cost of meddling in our elections by recent estimations, or only slightly less than the price of lunch at Mar-a-Lago.
I was very impressed with the handcrafted adornments of Turkish master jeweler Sevan Bicakci, who learned his artistry as an apprentice at age 12 in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. His Byzantine works of carved, painted gems, his mastery of reverse intaglio and micro mosaics were mysterious and had the makings of instant heirlooms. It was his first show in the Palm Beaches and I urge you to look into his work. Behold.
Michael Verne’s collection of contemporary and antique Japanese art, by both Japanese masters and Americans living in Japan, are simply gorgeous. So subtle and refreshing and his curatorial stories of each piece are charming. The collection is housed in the unlikely (to me) spot of Cleveland, Ohio, but a visit to his website is worth it just to see his bedtime stories videos.
Cliff Lee’s porcelain vessels are said to be “among the finest examples of American artists working in porcelain today,” according to Michael Monroe, of the Smithsonian American Museum’s Renwick Gallery. Inspired by nature, they combine the historic tradition of Chinese ceramics with a contemporary aesthetic that merges simplicity and fantasy in magical subtlety. His glazes are legendary, and his work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The quiet artist says he wants his work “to express a sensitive and honest use of the material and technique, in the hope it will embody the eternal quality of aesthetic joy.” It does.
Holden Luntz showed the fine photographs for which his eponymous gallery on Palm Beach has long been a hallmark of taste, and I enjoyed chatting with Dennis David of Battledore Ltd. who was showing superior examples of book arts and illustrations. Chris Beetles showed the fine line work of David Levine and the splashy celebrity caricatures of Al Hirschfeld as well as lovely work by Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham and Beatrix Potter.
I enjoyed perusing the historic collection of autographs and memorabilia of David Lowenherz’s Lion Heart Autographs; the work at the fine art and design of Dinan & Chighine of Kew Surry; the elegant and unusual paintings and sculpture represented by Boccara Art of New York and Monaco; the remarkable portraits of Tibetan life by Han Yuhchen shown by Patrick and Viviane Berko of Belgium; the distinguished contemporary and always surprising work represented by the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery; and the dramatic ethnic carpets of Diamond Antique Oriental Rugs of West Palm Beach.
Also noted were Shulki Freiman of Jerusalem’s spectacular handmade pieces of precious metals fusing the purity of design and exquisite detail; the graceful furniture, sculpture and glass of Valerio Art Deco and finally, the graphic design of nature by Christopher Marley, which combines elements of the natural world including reptiles, feathers, vertebrates and insects which he calls “the embodiment of modernist design.”
The luxe life is back.
The Palm Beach Jewelry, Art and Antique show runs through Tuesday, Feb. 2o, at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. General admission is $20. Visit www.palmbeachshow.com or click here for ticket purchasing.