SUFFOLK ART LEAGUE'S 37TH ANTIQUE SHOW & SALE
Treasures from the past support arts education in the future
by Allison T. Williams
Searching for an 18th-century Canterbury tavern table to fill that empty nook at home? On the hunt for an eclectic, repurposed piece of vintage furniture?
Whatever one's taste may be, the Suffolk Art League's 37th Annual Antiques Show and Sale on February 22 and 23 will have something to sate every appetite.
With 38 antiques and collectibles dealers from Virginia and North Carolina, the show will feature a variety of experts specializing in jewelry, silver, glass, furniture, and fine arts, according to Linda Bunch, the organization's executive director.
The show, which is being held at King's Fork Middle School, will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. It's expected to draw about 2,000 people from across Hampton Roads, Richmond, and northeastern North Carolina.
"We'll have something for everyone," Linda says with a smile. "It's a fun event. Even if you're not buying, it's always interesting to see things from the past and enjoy lunch with friends."
The two-day antiques show and sale is the Suffolk Art League's only fundraiser for the year, according to Linda. Proceeds help fund art classes and workshops held at the Suffolk Art Gallery, in Suffolk's public and private schools, and at other off-site locations in the city.
"We have a lot of dealers returning this year, and we have nine new dealers," Linda continues. "In addition to the wonderful antiques and collectibles, we have opened this year's show up to include some vintage items."
The art league is hoping to welcome more of the often elusive millennials into their fold of antique shoppers.
"Millennials want to invest in experiences and in things that have meaning to them," Linda says. "We want to offer younger collectors the opportunity to purchase quality items that have history and soul. Older pieces have a backstory, and buyers can find that history from the dealer.
"Things created by past generations that are still in existence
and useful today never cease to amaze me."
- Van Worrell
"Repurposing well-crafted items from the past is also "greener' than buying new," Linda continues. "Buying old furniture is good because it is not harming another tree. It leaves no new environmental footprint."
Collectors of Mr. Peanut - the late iconic legume that has represented Planters Peanuts for 104 years - are in for a special treat.
"The Peanut Pals- an organization of Planters and Mr. Peanut memorabilia collectors- will be making a fourth appearance at the antique sale," says President Scott Schmitz. The group will have one display table showcasing some rarer Mr. Peanut treasures and six tables of Planters' advertising memorabilia that will be for sale.
"We always enjoy visits to Suffolk because that is where Mr. Peanut originated," Scott says. "We have a lot of people stopping by our tables, sharing stories about how their mother used to work at Planters. Some show us photographs of Planters memorabilia that has been handed down in their families for generations."
Dealer Van Worrell, owner of Father Time Antiques in Newsoms, always looks forward to the Suffolk Art League's show.
"I always enjoy trying to get more people interested in antiques," Van says. "Things created by past generations that are still in existence and useful today never cease to amaze me."
Van's professional expertise is in mechanical-time pieces: pocket watches, grandfather clocks and the like. But he will be bringing a variety of items to the Suffolk show, including furniture, glassware, collectibles and advertising pieces.
He will also be replacing batteries in watches and wall clocks on-site and providing verbal appraisals on vintage timepieces.
Dealer Madalyn Grimes, who has been coming to the Suffolk show for 24 years, will be offering a plethora of items: vintage postcards, sheet music, pocket knives, Boy Scout memorabilia, and several small pieces of furniture.
"I enjoy the Suffolk show," she said. "This is also a social event. After all these years, you get to know many of the other dealers and your repeat customers."
Veteran dealer, Peg Lockwood of Zuni, who owns a shop in Norfolk's Ghent, is excited to return to the Suffolk.
"We always have a good crowd there," Peg says. She specializes in 18th- and 19th-century English furniture, as well as English and Asian ceramics and silver.
Peg adds that she is glad the show's proceeds support art workshops for young people. "I think art enriches all of us," she declares. "It's particularly important to foster an interest in creativity among kids."
Kim Mason, an art teacher at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, couldn't agree more.
"Not every one of my students will go on to become a professional artist," Kim says. "My goal is to have students who have experiences that make them appreciate and respect the arts when they become adults."
For years, the Suffolk Art League has brought in professional artists to conduct quarterly workshops that rotate between the city's public and private high schools. Small groups of students join one art teacher from each high school in hands-on workshops, learning new mediums and skills to take back to their respective classrooms.
"The best part is that teachers become students," Kim says, a laugh in her voice. "We get to create and learn, as well. We can bring it back to class to share with students who weren't able to participate in the workshops. As a school system, we could never afford to pay to have a professional artist come in and spend an entire day working with us."
At the middle school level, the Suffolk Art League sponsors visits by local and regional artists for half-day workshops on mediums the schools don't cover, Linda explains. Past workshops have included clay, quilting, bookmaking, and painting with pastels.
This year, for the first time, the organization has expanded its offerings to include one-hour art workshops in the city's elementary schools, according to Linda.
Kim says she is looking forward to attending the antiques show and sale.
"I'm always a big supporter of the Suffolk Art League," Kim says. "They care about the (arts) education in Suffolk's schools, and are always looking for workshops that will continue to spark students' interests in the arts."