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Manhattan's celebrated Pier Show, is a source for the exotic beauty and fascination of Asian art and antiques
An Ethiopian medicine man's hide shirt from the mid-1900s is covered in potent amulets of animal fur, mirrored disks, cloth and cowrie shells. Photo: Chinalai Tribal Antiques, Ltd.

NEW YORK, NY.- It is in the exquisite smoothness of a white blanc de chine vase, the exceptional craftsmanship of a Ming Dynasty cast bronze, or the loveliness of a landscape in the ancient ink-wash style that we experience the beauty, spirit and cultural complexity of Asian Art and antiques. That experience is at the heart of the prestigious annual art event known as Asia Week, scheduled this year for March 15-23, involving New York City galleries, auction houses and cultural institutions.

With the closing of the Arts of Pacific Asia Show, which ran during New York Asia Week for over ten years, the upcoming Pier Antiques Show, falling within the first three days of Asia Week (March 16 & 17), provides an excellent showcase for specialists in the fine arts, textiles and objets d’ arts of Asia, Japan, the Pacific Islands as well as the Near and Far East.

“Asian antiquities have always been well represented in our show’s mix of fine art, antiques and collectibles,” notes show producer, Stella Show Management. “This season, however, we are delighted to welcome new exhibitors from Europe and other parts of the country who will be bringing in special collections in time for Asia Week New York.

New to the show is Nick Pitcher of Nicholas Pitcher Oriental Art Ltd., from London, England – a specialist in Chinese works of art and ceramics from very early Han and Tang dynasties through to the19th century. Pitcher focuses on works of art from the Ming and Qing dynasties --two of the most successful dynasties in Chinese history. Of particular interest to Pitcher are Ming and Qing bronzes, which are growing in appreciation, as well as Chinese monochrome porcelains, including the white blanc de chine wares, manufactured in the county of Dehua in the 17th and 18th centuries, which have been cherished by both Chinese and Western connoisseurs for more than three hundred years.

Also from London is Robert Brandt of Brandt Asian Art, who will be bringing a new collection of antique Chinese and Japanese works of art, furniture and textiles to the show. He searches far and wide for the exceptional and rare such as the 17th century, large, gilt-splashed, bronze Chinese censer (incense burner) on three cabriole feet, with handles formed as crouching dragons. Also in the collection is an exquisite scroll by the Japanese artist, Onda Tokuju (1884-1960), which was shown at the 1936 Bunten invitational exhibition.

With ever-increasing means of communication, change has come to the remote tribal groups of China and Southeast Asia. For over thirty years, Vichai and Lee Chinalai of Chinalai Tribal Antiques, Ltd. have specialized in ethnographic antiques. They have seen a surge of interest in ethnographic clothing -- long viewed by these tribal groups as a symbol of identity and status; and infused with powerful ceremonial significance. Many of the fascinating pieces that they will be bringing to the Pier Show are suitable for both wearing and display. (An excellent example is the early 1900s wool and cotton skirt from the Yi people of Sichuan, which could make it on today’s fashion runway). It is not unusual for a customer to receive much admiration for the embroidered robe they wore to an evening cocktail party, then return it to display on the living room wall the next morning. Demand for these items has escalated among collectors as clothing as a symbol of identity and status loses its significance to a more Westernized younger generation, and as more and more museum exhibitions feature tribal textiles.

The simple beauty of the Japanese chawan or tea bowl -- an integral part of the celebrated tea ceremony practiced since ancient times-- can be seen in the collection that TOJ Gallery, Annapolis, MD, will be featuring at the show. The collection includes both the ceremonial chawan as well as the smaller yunomi, for everyday use. Many of these bowls were made by some of Japan’s most renowned artisans –among them the late Shimaoka Tatsuzu, named a National Living Treasure and whose work can be seen at the New York Metropolitan Museum as well as London’s Victoria & Albert; and Akio Takamori, whose small yunomi, featuring a graceful nude, is a stand out in the collection. TOJ Gallery will also have available one of Japan’s best-loved pottery styles that dates back to the 16th century—Karatsu-- named for the city where it is made on the island of Kyushu in the Saga Prefecture -- as well as beautiful Oribe pottery, named after a 16th century Japanese tea master. The oldest bowl in TOJ’s collection is a stunning one-hundred-year-old black Oribe.

Other specialists exhibiting Asian art and antiques in the Spring Pier Show include Marvin Baer of the Ivory Tower, Inc., New Milford, NJ, whose collection of ceramics includes a rare Japanese Satsuma jar by award-winning artist Yabu Meizue (circa 1900-1910); T.S. Chen of Trappings of Time, Bradbury, Ca who will be bringing a selection of Asian jewelry, textiles and ivory carvings; and James Dolph of JSD Antiques, whose collection includes Japanese netsukes--the carved toggles that were traditionally used to fasten purses to kimonos. Netsukes recently received attention in Armund de Waal’s best-selling book, The Hare with Amber Eyes, in which he traced the 264-piece netsuke collection he inherited from his Uncle through five generations.

The roster of Asian art and Antique exhibitors who are on board for the Spring Pier Show also includes Charles Cohen of Elkins Park, Pa, Paul Haig of Haig’s of Rochester, NY; Martin Kay of Martin Kay/Bill Yellen LLC, Aurora CO; Oleg Konstaninov of Objets D’Art Workshop in Kensington, MD; Mason Antiques in West Cornwall, Ct.; Leo Mavrovitis of Emporium LTD, New York City; Shay Oron of Heirlooms, Scarsdale, NY; Jon Rider, Essex Ma.; Emmanuel Tiliakos of Eaton Fine Art, Winchester, MA; and Frank Zhang of D-Collection, Inc. in Syosset, NY.

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