The Art and Antiques Design blog emanating out of London is straining to become an industry voice and I applaud the effort being taken by Elliot Lee and  Francesca Fiumano on the industry’s behalf. In point of fact, there is not much of an industry voice no matter how many organizations exist claiming to represent their group of dealers. We are a splintered industry for a variety of reasons, most notably because we are much less businessmen and more experts in a wide variety of fields that have little interplay and virtually no reason for cohesion.

The aphorism, “those that can’t teach, do”, is an analysis that is cute but not really that accurate. In a similar vein, you could say that antique dealers who blog aren’t doing what they should be doing. That isn’t true either, but there is a grain of truth in there. I started my blog five or so years ago to increase content on my website since the goal was to be found by people seeking English antique furniture. I also find writing enjoyable so, I thought, why not increase my ranking and have some fun? Such duplicity on my part (some might call it depth) but then no point on being on the web if you aren’t being found.

Now that I have allowed the AAD to publish my thoughts, I find that I am under distinct pressure. Should I get serious and write about the market, or about antiques, or about dealers, or about auction houses, or….? The list is almost endless. It is almost another career, yet another that I don’t get paid for. But deal with the pressure I must as I see my google ranking slip and upstart dealers such as Kentshire or Mallett or that relentless Patrick Sandberg surpass me (Google English antique furniture and see what I mean). It means that I have to write more for an audience I never asked for and, heaven forfend, suffer the slings and arrows of criticism.

I wonder how you spell Xanax?

I am going to the Affordable Art Fair tonight and then tomorrow to the Sculptural Object, Functional Art Fair (SOFA)  The SOFA fair is fun. I love looking at new things and trying to determine whether or not they will, in the long run, be considered art. To that end, two of the exhibitors that I have a lot of time for are Adrian Sassoon fron London and Joan Mirviss from New York. Adrian has dropped the fair this year and I know Joan was on the fence about doing it.

The Affordable Art Fair will be a new experience for me. I love the title for the fair, but it does imply that most art is not affordable. In my view, art does not really have to be purchased, but that if you do buy it, it is affordable. This solipsism is not me trying to be tricky, just that if a work of art moves you enough that you want to buy it, you will, the price notwithstanding. Indeed, if the byword for art lovers is passion, then money is a secondary consideration.

That is the only good thing about museums from my point of view. I can see things that I will revisit again and again, rather like a touchstone, a rock of constancy. Otherwise, museums are in the business of rivaling shops, albeit, not by choice. People like me who can see something in a museum that they like and don’t have to buy, are well serviced by museums. People like me who are dealers, are not.

This bi-polar stance is the reason that shows and fairs have interest to the general public. Where else will you find such a panoply of goods that are beautifully displayed and that you can touch and ask questions about and possibly even purchase? Museums are quiet and not meant for demonstration, shows are the opposite. This is a completely biased and self serving point of view, but I am talking about great opportunity here. It is better than death by bicycle.

I flew out to San Francisco last week to spend some time with my children, Henry and Alice. Alice lives there and Henry was visiting from London. Alice works for Geographic Expeditions, a high end travel company, and made in depth itineraries for both of us, Henry’s covering one extra day as he arrived earlier than me. On Wednesday morning, I was kitted out with a bicycle, my son already had his, and we biked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Death by bicycle can occur in several ways. One is by falling in front of or being hit by a motorized vehicle. The other is through sheer exhaustion. I bicycle in New York City, but this is a flat city, more or less, and hills can be avoided. So when you aren’t used to using your quadriceps, you have to draw on something else, usually your essential life force. That being said, when you use essential life force for something as trivial as one or two steep hills on a bicycle, you are opening the door to malady. In my case, I got sinusitis.

The lack of essence had me in bed Friday morning, foregoing a day on the slopes skiing with my children. By Saturday, however, drugged up with decongestants, etc., I was out there, knowing that more essential life force was being squandered. I just had to watch them ski, both of them are justifiably good skiers these days which is saying something given the paucity of instruction in their youths. In any case, I am now getting over bronchitis because of those nasty California hills navigated on a bicycle. I only have one question. Did those children of mine do it on purpose?

My father’s mother had a terrific attic. It was accessed by stairs that pulled down from the ceiling in a long hallway. My grandfather must have built them as they are far sturdier than the modern pull down steps. In any case, my grandmother traveled with an uncle who was an admiral in the British navy the year she turned 21 which was in 1900. They visited, among other places, Japan and China where she must have purchased the photos of both Tokyo and Shanghai that I once saw in her attic. I see similar photos for sale in antiques shows selling for thousands of dollars.

The desire to save things is usually weighted by the ability to store them. Why things are placed in storage is another subject for another day as it is the riddance urge that interests me. Why the term “junk” is indiscriminately applied to things that have been stored is beyond me and it is this clarion call that has second hand dealers on the qui vive. The stories are legend about what attics have held, including that Chinese pot that sold for sixty-five million pounds several years ago (was it ever paid for) not to mention countless other valuables that have emerged from relative obscurity. But what about the junk? Is it junk or is everything that has been saved valuable in some form or another? That is a tough question.

I have pulled furniture out of attics, barns and basements that were quite wonderful. Whenever I see a perfectly good piece of furniture on the streets of New York, my instinct is to salvage. But I have no storage so I resist the urge. In regards to my grandmother’s attic, the photos of Japan and China disappeared. I lament this from the point of view that those photographs, even though she was not in them, represent a time of her life, one that happens to have been over a hundred years ago. This is what attics are really good for, retaining a sliver of someone’s experience that has gone before. They are a window on the past. It could be that even today’s newspaper has that kind of memory when looked at 100 years from now. So what is junk after all?