by Craig Wallen
It might be more appropriate to call this year’s antique rug and textile extravaganza in San Francisco, ‘Arasta Bazaar meets the Golden Gate’, rather than ARTS 2012, because in many ways, that’s the closest analogy that comes to mind. Under a hot California sun, blue skies and warm, dry air, some of the best rug dealers in the US and Europe came together for a long weekend to offer a wide range of exceptional material to rug afficianados and to each other.
ARTS (Antique Rug & Textile Show) 2012 opened with a warm and convivial cocktail hour, spiced with an exceptionally good buffet of Middle Eastern kebabs and sweets, to be washed down with lots of California wine, as well as a bevy of ruggies anxious to find their heart’s desire. It did not take long for people to begin winding up the stairs of the decidedly unfancy Motel Capri and into dealer’s rooms, where almost anything imaginable was on offer, from early Islamic textiles to Chinese fragments to antique Kazaks in impeccably good condition.
Some of the rug world’s favorite celebrities were also on view: Seref Ozen, Sam Coad, Peter Pap, Hagop Manoyan, Dewitt Mallary, Alberto Levi and others, with stacks of tempting offerings. Some rooms were outfitted to resemble booths at high end art fairs, with select items displayed salon style, while others chose a much more casual approach. Either way, the rugs and textiles shown were overall of a very high caliber. As more than one visitor noted with some glee, ‘this year’s selections are much better than last year’s!’.
One of Seref’s most interesting pieces was a 19th C Turkoman (perhaps Tekke?) rug woven with a classic Lotto design, with beautiful colors and glossy wool. Sam Coad’s spectacular, highly graphic, early Ming fragment found a new owner very quickly, as did many other high quality pieces.
Ed Koch (Herat, Ltd.) brought along an array of Shahsavan mafrash panels with superb color and condition, as well as an unusual ivory ground Anatolian yastik. Austrian dealer Udo Langauer dazzled with Turkomans and a delicately beautiful early silk fragment (possibly Polonaise). Amin Motamedi, Germany, showed an unusually large and spectacular asmalyk, along with colorful, early Swedish weavings.
Dutch dealer Rob van Weiringen also featured good quality Turkomans of all types. Chicago dealer Mete Mutlu’s large, double, re-entry Bergama was quite memorable, as were the early kilim fragments offered by Israeli dealer, Mark Berkovich. Ali Aydin’s two rooms were filled with his best Anatolian and Caucasian pieces, including a beautiful Karachop Kazak, while Ulrike Montigel’s selection of Islamic textiles were not to be missed.
Dewitt Mallary’s Baluchis, always of consistently high quality were of interest to many, as were Wayne Barron’s eclectic tribal and village offerings and James Cohen’s amazing, large, wall-mounted, early Anatolian kilim with spectacular color.
Not to be forgotten, we have to mention the wonderful party hosted by Marin County dealer Tom Cole, with an array of excellent Baluchis on view in his home as well as the many months of planning and work invested by show organizers Ben Banayan, Nick Wright and others on the volunteer committee. Needless to say, they worked diligently to bring this show together and should be highly recognized for their efforts. Moreover, they really must be commended for orchestrating a very smooth set-up, as well as for bringing together two handsome displays of early Anatolian rugs from local collections.
One local visitor who happened to come thru observed rather astutely that her Saturday afternoon visit to the Capri was ‘so much better than going to a museum’, because ‘you can actually touch and buy anything you see’. That was indeed the case, but we sincerely hope that in the future, an even larger audience with rug and textile interests will be enticed to visit one of the rug world’s most fun, most uniquely staged and most unstuffy presentations of high quality antique goods anywhere.
Craig Wallen, Gallery 51, Philadelphia