Saturday, May 19, 2012

Madison Ancient and Tribal Show - May 2012 Big Success

In the three years since the Caskey Lees cancelled its annual International Tribal Show in New York City former exhibitors and local and foreign dealers have had to make do with ad hoc shows of their own. Coalitions have formed and reformed to try to capitalize on the dealers and collectors who arrive in the metropolitan area each spring to attend the tribal auctions.  The evolution of this week of tribal art events has been fascinating. Each year has witnessed better organized events showcasing bigger names, offering more important works of art and attracting bigger crowds.  Last year's inaugural AOA show at the elegant Sinclair Mansion on 5th Avenue, led by Maureen Zarember of Tambaran Gallery, received some 500 guests on opening night.  New exhibitors included Galeria Guilhelm Montagut from Spain and Californian Andrew Berz.  Around the corner the literal new kids on the block was the Madison Ancient and Tribal Show at the exquisitely appointed Arader Gallery.  This group evolved out of a small hotel showcase three years ago to go toe to toe with AOA on every level. Organized by New York dealers Amyas Naegele and James Stephenson MATA brought in renowned veteran dealers Kevin Conru, Adrian Schlag and Bruce Frank and spiced things up with up-and-comers Joe Loux (California) and Kellim Brown (Brussels). 
  Among the impressive works on display were an ancient Karawari totem with a cave patina from New Guinea (Bruce Frank), a 19th c Mende statue (Stephenson), a Fang Byeri (Adrian Schlag) and a compact, intensely expressive Mambila figure (Amyas Naegele).  "We needed to find a deluxe venue to show off the art to its best advantage, " explained James Stephenson.  "When we became aware that the Arader gallery was available we jumped.  The owner was enthusiastic. The rooms and lighting were stellar and the staff could not have been more helpful." 
  MATA's opening was brimming with art buyers from around the world. A steady stream of guest strolled the rooms and corridors throughout the week.  Among the notable visitors were singer songwriter Suzanne Vega, fashion designer Bliss Lau, playwright Edward Albee, curator Alisa Lagamma, dealers Alain Monbrison and Entwistle,  and the Antique Roadshow's own Leslie Kino.  "It was a great experience for all of us,"  said Amyas Naegele.  "Everyone had great material, sold well and are enthusiastic about coming back next year and making this an even bigger and better event.  Moving forward it's vital that we have ever greater cooperation between ourselves, the auction houses, AOA, the museums and independent dealers in promoting not only this event but tribal art in general.  If we don't shepherd our own future we leave it to the wolves."  Amyas Naegele May 2012

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