Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fell Down on the Blog (But what a show!)

Apologies for falling down on the blog for the 47th Annual
Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show on March 12-13—but what a great show it was! More on that later.

Now I understand people who say they get too busy to blog. Our friends Judy and Jane Aldridge were intercepted by a last-minute photo shoot at their home and could not get there on set up day. Thank you to blogger Valerie Arnett who came instead and got those pre-show photos out to the world. 

 For my own absence from the blog, it wasn’t helped by the fact that I could not get internet access for days in my tiny temporary office at the back of the show at Will Rogers Memorial Center last week. Finally, my sweet husband pointed out that I had inserted a camera memory card into the computer instead of the wireless card. What would the great show promoter Buffalo Bill say to that? Get your act together, Jan!

 I didn’t worry, though. Show exhibitor Michael Breddin of Leftovers Antiques told me that, when he Googled “Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show,” he found 47 pages of on-line references. So someone out there was doing something to spread the word. Thank you.

Thank you is my mantra at the moment.

Thank you to all who came to the show, to all who helped to spread the word in the media and on the internet and to their friends. Thank you to our marvelous show staff—what a team! And thank you to those magnificent 75 dealers.

 Enjoy the photos here from Art Director Doug Stanley, to whom I also owe a great big thank you.

 More on the show coming, stay tuned. And thank you.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Celebrity Bloggers Jane and Judy Aldridge Pre-Blog the Show

Big News! Mother-daughter team Judy and Jane Aldridge will pre-blog the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show on our set up day, Thursday, March 11. Through their blogs, you will see a sneak peek of the show---- and see it through their fresh and re-freshing eyes.   

This is not just any mother-daughter team. This team appears in Vogue Magazine and travels to fashion events in Paris, Japan and New York. Vintage couture is their calling, but their roots are in all things antique. Judy Aldridge grew up in Alaska where her parents ran the only antiques store in the state.

Judy's blog is She has a following of 1400 who appreciate her eye in the world of fashion and decor and collecting. Jane's blog is and attracts a following of 14,000 readers. Their blogs and photos of the merchandise at the Dolly Johnson Show will take us global by sometime Thursday evening, Texas time.

Of course, Judy and Jane will be the only visitors allowed on the floor of the show during set up. How else can we do all that unpacking and primping for our close-up?

So take a peek through their blogs--and stay tuned here, where we will give updates on the unfolding of the 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, which will very soon be here!

Show opens Friday, March 12, 9 am - 7 pm, with a Happy Hour Party from 4-7 pm. On Saturday, March 13 the show runs 9 am - 5 pm. Find directions, discount coupon and special events at 

Friday, March 5, 2010

One Week Till the Show - Leftovers Antiques is On the Way

Leftovers Home Mercantile -- The Main Course

An early morning at Leftovers, still gray outside, but inside all lights were shining. Birds were chirping in their antique cages. And Michael Breddin and I were sitting on down-filled linen chairs, surrounded by the layered and lovely world that Breddin and business partner Ed Fulkerson have created at Leftovers Home Mercantile in Brenham, Texas.

Nearby, the store’s baby, a 140 pound St. Bernard named Gracie, claims her spot.

Breddin and Fulkerson built the nearly 10,000 square foot antiques store on Highway 290 three years ago. But the Leftovers story goes far further back.

Originally from Kansas, Ed Fulkerson was the General Manager for the Homestead stores in Fredericksburg, TX when he met antiques dealer Michael Breddin of Brenham. Together, they started Leftovers Antiques and began exhibiting at antiques shows across the US. From the beginning, the two brought a fresh approach to living with and displaying antiques. Layering is their look. It’s not a cluttered layering. It’s putting many items together in a cohesive, calm and beautiful way.

What are you looking for as you shop for your store today?

“When we go to England,” says Michael, “We don’t go with a list. You never know what you will run across. But we do look for older 17th through 19th century antiques because they create an older mix with the antiques from the US. We look for paint and we love it.”

“We like to shop in England,” says Breddin, “because we can see so much more in a small amount of time. On a short trip we will hit 10 -18 different shows. Some are huge, some are very small. One show sent us free tickets to a venue that cost 35 cents to get in.

“At the same time,” Breddin goes on, “we have storage units all over America that are being filled constantly and then the antiques are shipped to Brenham. There’s a full load today in Indiana, a half load in Iowa.”

The current Leftovers mix is about 30-40% American and rest English, with a little French and beyond. The palette is light, but the heft can be substantial. A huge Art Deco sofa has just gone out the door.

The look that Leftovers achieves, says Breddin, “is not all American or all European. We try to keep an artistic and creative mix so that one makes the other better. “

“I’m hoping to get it all here for the show,” he says. “The largest portion of our business is logistics: we wait for things to arrive.”

What’s arriving?

The Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show in Fort Worth will be the first show where Leftovers will exhibit following the winter buying trip. Ed Fulkerson reports that “We bought good early 18th and 19th century English country antiques, many pieces in old paint, which we love. We looked for and found medium-size furniture, such as Welsh dressers, breakfronts and cupboards in a smaller scale, good for urban settings, as well as country homes.”

“The exchange rate was decent,” he goes on, “not the highest we’ve seen, nor the lowest. The weather conditions were tough. They were socked in, one of the worst winters for England. We put 2000 miles on a Sprinter van, all at 20 mph, through snow, on lanes ten feet wide with sheep in the middle.”

“With the weather closing some shows, we really had to search. We have enough of a network there that we had people holding wonderful merchandise for us, so we came home with an excellent container.”

How is a Leftovers container different from a typical container of imported antiques?

“We focus,” answers Fulkerson, “on period pieces, the early pieces. We don’t buy the 20th century massed-produced pieces such as barley twist. We look for original, early surfaces and the very clean-lined bench-made furniture of the 1820s era. We’ll see heavy-paneled sides, hand-cut nails and boards on the back that are 12 inches wide and 2 inches thick—and nearly 200 years old. We buy pine from the 1840s-1860s, some early oak and early mahogany. And, of course, the early English country paint.”

What do customers want today?

“What we are trying to do,” says Michael Breddin “is to re-purpose antiques to be functional for clients for today. People want things that will function. A cupboard holds a TV. A dowry chest becomes a coffee table. We sell antiques ready to go into homes, with a function for today’s living.”

But there isn’t just one look now. Among customers today, everyone is different. They each want different things. Things are more relaxed and casual, not so formal. People are not trying to copy a magazine. People want to live with what they love.”

So what is the future of formal?

“Even fabulous glass and silver in our collection is presented in a casual way. It’s not about having six sizes of the same plate pattern. It’s about what you need and love and can mix together.”

“In a place as formal as North Texas, we find that the houses that we are doing in Dallas lately are more about comfort than formality. Entertainment is without pretense, more casual. It’s less about keeping up with the Joneses and more about eating with the Joneses’”

And, most likely, the Joneses love leftovers.

See Leftovers Antiques at the 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, March 12-13, which will soon be here! Show Special Events Schedule and Discount Coupon at 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

King George Comes to Cowtown!

“Our container shipped from England today. It will be here just in time for the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show.

Tammy Strop of The Cheeky Mare Antiques in Hutto, TX will arrive at the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show by way of England and France, a detour that defines the antiques she will unpack in Fort Worth. “I went over there looking for Georgian furniture and smalls and I found them,” says Tammy.

New to antiques? Well, Georgian antiques relate to the reign of George III in England, but cover more than his life-span, say from about 1714 to even as late as 1837. He may have lost the American colonies, but his furniture won the respect of his former subjects. The lines are straight, the woods are dark and the feel is formal. In Tammy’s booth, however, formal feels pretty darn friendly.

What did she find? “A wonderful Georgian drop-leaf oak table, about 1720 or 30, also cabinets, good Georgian chests.” She also bagged smalls such as inkwells and Black Forest (dark carved wood) pieces, including a watch holder, and 18th c. carved and signed large Black Forest tray, carved bear items, always, always, always looking for the most unusual pieces.

The trip involves discoveries of antiques at the huge Newark Antique Fair in eastern England, but many items are offered to Tammy by phone or internet even before she leaves Texas. A notebook bears the list of color coded antiques that she plans to buy, well in advance (see photo below). Already in the notebook? Two Chesterfield wingback leather chairs, ironstone, a train station bench, Wedgwood, Imari, art and furniture ranging from a 1710 Georgian chest of drawers to a green beaded-board barn box and pine harvest tables. “I also take a list of things that customers want me to find,” says Tammy. This is dealer who plans ahead.

In fact Tammy puts her planning skills to use by organizing groups to travel and shop for antiques in England and France. “We had eight people on this tour,” she reports. “We keep our groups small and personalized. We try to make sure that they are looking for different things. And we were lucky to stay about a day ahead of each winter storm.”

One member of the group was Casey Lyford, who was shopping for industrial and painted antiques to open a new shop in McKinney, TX, to be called Patina Green. Suffice it to say that a fair amount of France is coming to McKinney.

In France the group was surprised by good prices. “Prices in England are generally good,” says Tammy, “but prices in Paris were much better than in the past and dealers were really willing to negotiate. I was encouraged.” Tammy was so encouraged that she bought more broadly in France. The extra tall 45 foot container holds early garden antiques and French industrial antiques, both tending to be on the heavy side, so they must be pretty terrific to ship back home.

The shipping is also well-planned. “We have such a good relationship with our shippers and packers,” reflects Tammy. “As we shop, we are armed with walkie-talkies. When we buy something, we tag it and call the packers to come right then. Our items are tagged, wrapped and in the container by that night. Our container shipped from England today. It will be here just in time for the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show.”

This will be Tammy’s first time to exhibit at the Dolly Johnson Show, part of the premiere effort to broaden the show with antiques and art from many eras and styles. You can see and read the whole story of her winter 2010 buying tour at

And talk to Tammy if you want more information about the buying trips this spring and fall, which will include the south of France. Future tours will visit Belgium and Germany. Contact Tammy Strop at 512-426-5764 or see her March 12-13 in Fort Worth at the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, which will soon be here! Show info and discount coupon at

Happy New Year!

Reposted from the 2010 Show, but still a good read if you love antiques. 2011 Show dates are March 11-12, 2011.

Blog 1.01.10
Happy New Year - In with the Old!
 “He uses his old inkpot and his old brush, but he paints new things.” 
translated from a Japanese scroll hanging in my laundry room

 It’s a lot easier to start something new than to re-make something old. That’s why there are so many churches…so many new houses…new gizmos…new nations…new beginnings. This blog will tell the story of taking a well-loved 47 year old antique show in Fort Worth, Texas and re-making it into a shining star for the future.

You have to be a pretty good antique show to throw open your doors for 47 years. Dolly Johnson and then her daughter, “JJ” Frambes, nurtured this show as a small, prestigious, high-quality Americana antique show at Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, where Dolly’s husband, Rip Johnson, was the General Manager for many years.

From what I know of her feisty spirit, I think that Dolly Johnson would cheer on the changes that I hope to make to her show. On March 12-13, 2010 the show will move to a larger exhibit hall at Will Rogers so that we can welcome antiques of all eras and styles, from Pilgrim Century to Mid-Century Modern. There will be art and antiques from France, England and Italy. There will be American Colonial and Spanish Colonial. Look for Garden, Industrial, Retro, Textiles and Jewelry, as well the top-quality American primitives and western antiques for which the show has been loved all these years by a strong regional audience.

Why Me?
I first exhibited in the Dolly Johnson Show in 1998 as Hot Tamale Antiques. It was difficult to get into. JJ was tough. She vetted every dealer for authenticity and quality. I just barely made the cut. Six years ago, I started writing press releases for JJ and, simply because JJ Frambes was so much fun to work with, I gradually became more and more involved with promoting the show.

Since 1998 I have also served as the staff writer for the magnificent Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, Texas. This month I will write what is probably my 50th Marburger Farm press release, chronicling the cow pasture that became a blockbuster international antique show.

Before 1998 I was a Presbyterian pastor in New York City. While some ministers yearned to start shiny new churches, my passion was to re-develop old churches and to bring them into a new sense of mission and purpose, building on the best of their history and traditions and memories. I was lucky enough to serve two such churches over 19 years, the West-Park Presbyterian Church on the Upper West Side and the Jan Hus Presbyterian Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I can tell you a thing or two about antique plumbing, ancient boilers and how to help an old community find new life and end up dancing in the aisles on Easter Sunday.

I first learned about antique show promotion by organizing benefit shows for the church in New York City, with the help of the Stella Show Management Company. The Stella team is, in my view, the best antique show promotion company in the world. Once again, I got lucky.

And now I find myself in the position of owning a 47 year old antique show in the town where I grew up. Or perhaps it owns me.

Why Antiques?
On this New Year’s Day 2010, there are two wars going on and a recession. There are the threats of terror, swine flu and the soon-looming $5 parking fee at Will Rogers Memorial Center. On top of all that, there are ads in every direction that scream “out with the old and buy something new, new, new.” Yet still, I got lucky.

Why? Because I get to spend my energies in the community of those who buy, sell, live with and love antiques and all things vintage. We are those who would rather re-imagine and re-make the old than lust after the new. We are the lovers and re-purposers of the material culture of the past.

On this Christmas Eve, we had a rare snowstorm in North Texas. In our old farmhouse on the prairie, the Orr-Harters were snowed-in. We could not get to the mall, even if we wanted to. We could not even go to my sister’s party where there was shrimp and tenderloin, which we definitely wanted to.

Still, we were lucky. Our home was warm and the snowy landscape cast a light into the house that helped me to see our old things in a new way. Except for our computers, the Orr-Harter family lives only with antiques. Even the TV is more or less an antique. From any spot in the house, I can see our history in the stories of each chair. At last count, we have 53 chairs, indoors and out, and I can remember where each one came from. We use them all, except for the 2 Danish Modern ones in the store-room that came from Tom’s mother. We have saved those for our young architect son.

On Christmas Eve, I sat by the fireplace in the rocker that we bought at a roadside flea market in Maine and carried home in a Honda Civic. I saw the mission settee that the future architect son bought so proudly at an upstate New York auction for $25, theoretically for his tree house. Our 10 year old daughter sat in one of the old chairs around the kitchen table. Tom and I were sitting in those kitchen chairs when we decided to try to conceive this very child.

In case you think we have only ample seating, on Christmas Eve I also studied each piece of vintage art on the walls--- the scene of trees and cows that hung over the sofa in my grandparents’ home, the metal Wonder Bread sign that I gave to mother and that she re-gifted to me, the big primitive painting of a cowboy playing a harmonica on his horse in starlight. I lugged it all over America before accepting that no one would buy it. So there it is in our kitchen; it reminds me of my still-harmonica-playing father. There is a hooked rug of a butterfly hanging on the living room wall and a seven foot tall bottle tree in the bedroom. With a collection of old cobalt blue Pepto-Bismol bottles, it is a memorial to a friend. When I wake up each morning, I see a 1950s poster of a cowboy on a bronc and a painting of trees that once read faintly on the back, “painted in exchange for lunch and overalls.” These things inspire me to seize the day.

I got lucky. I have the love of a sweet and healthy family and of friends and dogs who put up with me. And it all happens in a home where antiques are used every day, for both utility and for memory, for practicality and for comfort and joy. What I realized about antiques that Christmas Eve is that the comfort and joy that they bring us are in fact very practical and necessary. We have created a new nest out of old things. This comforts us. Bring on the snow.

That’s more than enough about me. Each week watch this blog for the inside story on the dealers and customers who will bring the Dolly Johnson Antique & Art Show to life for the 47th time, in a new way. You'll hear about experienced dealers re-thinking their buying for younger shoppers. You'll discover some new and upcoming dealers and see how they approach a 47 year old show with a new eye. You'll meet Cissy Thompson, the show's Associate Director, who knows the who's-who of Dallas-Fort Worth antiques lovers. And more. Much more.

Let us hear back from you. How do you love and live with antiques and why?
See you at the show March 12-13

Hello, Dolly! Who the heck was Dolly Johnson?

First there was Dolly Madison, then Dolly Parton, then Dolly Johnson. Or was it the other way around? And now, in Dallas, there’s even a shop called Dolly Python! What is it with all the these Dollys?

The late Dolly Johnson, the founder of our show, was a mid-twentieth century character in Fort Worth, Texas. Though tiny, she had big Texas hair and a bigger Texas heart. Together with her husband Rip Johnson, Dolly and Rip brought energy, excitement and passion to everything they touched. They loved Fort Worth and Fort Worth loved them.

Rip was the General Manager of Will Rogers Memorial Center for many years. He brought fresh new entertainment to Fort Worth—the Harlem Globetrotters, the Ice Capades, major musical acts and more. Perhaps you have driven on Rip Johnson Way, the road named for him at Will Rogers Memorial Center today.

I call Dolly “a character” because people of all ages, from many places have told me that they knew Dolly Johnson and that they have never known anyone else like her. Their very first words about her tend to recount a late night event or phone call. Apparently Dolly had a light-hearted view of time. The middle of the night was fair game for friendship, visits and phone calls. She was a character and she had character. I wish that I had known her.

In the show archives I found a yellowed newspaper, the very first volume of Antique News & Views. It had eight pages and two of them told the story of Dolly Johnson taking a group of Texas friends to the very first Heart of Country Antiques Show in Nashville in 1982. The article begins: “Dolly Johnson is a petite, fun-loving 19 year veteran Antique Show manager from Ft. Worth, Texas.”

Nineteen years? A photo with the article shows Dolly with antiques author Mary Emmerling who is described by the reporter as “shockingly youthful.” When Mary Emmerling was just starting out and when Heart of Country was born, Dolly Johnson had already been producing her show in Fort Worth for 19 years. Emma Lee Turney came to do one of Dolly’s shows in order to learn how to start her own show in Round Top, Texas in 1968.

Dolly Johnson never met a yard sale where she couldn’t find some treasure. The collections mounted and filled her new Tanglewood home in Fort Worth. There were quilts and coverlets, found locally and on trips back east. There was plain, primitive, bench-made furniture, very unlike the furniture that most people wanted in post-war America. There was a collection of tiny graniteware child and doll pots and pans and dishes. On and on, the list of well-loved antiques grew each year of Dolly’s life.

In the early 60s, Rip, ever the promoter, dared Dolly to start an antique show. She took him up on it and produced her first show in the spring of 1963. Her focus was American antiques. This was before women’s lib and years before the 1976 Bi-Centennial would light the Americana market aflame.

Influenced by the Dolly Johnson Antique Show, an active group of collectors began to emerge in Fort Worth and to spread across Texas. It was a time when people named shows after themselves, so naturally Dolly named the new show after herself. It was actually known as “Dolly Johnson’s Antique Show.” Today we don’t name shows after an individual’s full name---it’s just that Dolly’s show is one that has survived and evolved and is still going strong. For many, it is simply called “The Dolly Show.”

You can imagine the excitement that must have surrounded Dolly Johnson’s Antique Show when the American Bi-Centennial finally arrived.

I digress here…Does anyone out there remember the celebration of the Bi-Centennial in Fort Worth? Many events were planned, including a huge gathering to hear the symphony at the old Leonard’s M & O Subway parking lot. Well, on the 4th of July, 1976 it poured rain in Fort Worth. Not sprinkles, it rained and rained and rained. And we all went downtown anyway. In the pouring rain, the citizens sat on soaked bales of hay that had been set up like mountains to get us out of the water. I remember eating thoroughly drowned fried chicken.

But at sunset, amid all the soaking flags and banners, the rains parted and the most beautiful light flooded the city with a long summer sundown. Everything reflected a pinkish golden glow and the world seemed clean and new. In our wet clothes, the citizens of Fort Worth finally heard the music and saw the fireworks that had been planned all along. When Fort Worth gets its Trinity River Vision in place with a new town lake, many people will remember that at the bottom of that lake is the place where we sat on wet bales of hay and celebrated our country, rain or shine.  

And with that Bi-Centennial came the new-found craze for antiques. Dolly Johnson had helped to usher it in. Suddenly, abandoned small towns sprouted antique shops and collectors clubs began to form and flourish. Helen Pringle, one of the group that went with Dolly to that first Nashville antique show, writes on our show website about “the long line of shoppers” who began to eagerly await the opening of the Dolly Johnson Show each year. See under “Show History.”

At the fall 2009 Marburger Farm Antique Show in Round Top, I sold an enourmous Minnesota stepback cupboard to a woman about my age from Houston. I told her about the March 12-13 show in Fort Worth. She looked at me and said, “I knew Dolly Johnson.” Well, it turned out that they were in fact old family friends.

The next day, when Dolly’s friend came back with a truck big enough to carry her cupboard, she handed me a bag. It was a gift. Inside was a marvelous geometric American hooked rug, with all the signs of being well-used. “When I was a young girl, Dolly and I went to an antique show together,” she said. “Dolly picked this rug out for me to have in my future home. I want you to have it now.” The spirit of Dolly lives on.

Dolly’s daughter, JJ Frambes, who is a whole story of her own, took over running the show for the last 20 years or so. Her daughter, Krista Luter, and JJ’s grandchildren, Haley and Josh Luter, helped from an early age. In fact, you can probably find Dolly and Rip Johnson’s great-grandchildren at this year’s show, helping still.

So move over, Dolly Madison, Dolly Parton and Dolly Python. The Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show will soon be here!  Show Special Events and Discount Coupon at

Monday, March 1, 2010

Free Parking at the Show March 12-13!!

Good News! The City of Fort Worth has announced that parking will still be free on March 12-13 for the 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show at Will Rogers Memorial Center. Paid parking will not start at city facilities until May, 2010.

That's good, because otherwise my mother would definitely want a parking fee rebate.

So plan to come early and often. If the parking at Will Rogers is full, just use the free trailer parking lot south of the Cowgirl Museum or the free underground garage directly under the show building with an elevator to  the show lobby.

Since that's all we have to say about parking, enjoy these photos of the Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show, which will soon be here! Discount Coupon and Full Show Schedule at