Sunday, December 31, 2017

Iced In- Happy New Year!

Updated from a prior winter storm blog, but still a good read if you love antiques and art. 

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. Re-vamping the old is much harder. But to me, it's better. This blog will tell the story of taking a well-loved 55 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 55 years. Once a small, prestigious, high-quality Americana antique show at Will Rogers Memorial Center, the  Fort Worth Show is now a mega-event with antiques and art of all eras and styles.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday March 2,3,4, 2018, look for Pre-Columbian 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, Vintage, Industrial, Retro, Textiles and Jewelry, as well the top-quality American primitives for which the show has been loved all these years by a strong regional audience. There will even be a diverse selection of contemporary art. We mix it up!

Why Me?
I first exhibited in the show in 1998 as Hot Tamale Antiques. It was difficult to get into. The owner JJ Frambes was tough. She vetted every dealer for authenticity and quality. I just barely made the cut. I started writing press releases for JJ and, simply because JJ  was so much fun to work with, I gradually became more and more involved with promoting the show. In 2009, our family purchased 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 90th 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 Irene Stella and 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 55 year old antique show in the town where I grew up. Or perhaps it owns me.

Why Antiques?
Over the last decade, there have wars and a recession. There are the threats of terror, wildfire and the darn $10 parking fee at Will Rogers Memorial Center. On top of all that, there are ads in every direction that scream “Out with the old! 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 Christmas Eve a few years ago, 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 and art 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, artists and customers who will bring the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art to life for the 55th time, in a new way on March 2,3,4, 2018. 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 55 year old show with a new eye. You'll hear about our theme: Revive! Revamp! Renew!  You'll meet Sue Whitney, our special guest, queen bee of re-purposing and of something called "She Sheds." And much more.

Let us hear back from you. How do you love and live with antiques and art ---and why?
See you at the show March 2,3,4, 2018!


  1. Happy New Year, Jan. I think your blog is great. It was fun to see pictures of your home and many special aniques that live with you. I've lived with one or two of them, too.

    Congratulations on your blog and new endeavor. Much love, Judy

  2. Jan, while we haven't met, it is wonderful to see your blog and your website for the upcoming 47th Annual Dolly Johnson Antique and Art Show. I have only become familiar with the show in the past several years through a friendship with the Frambes family. I can't tell you what a blessing it is for this wonderful antique show to be passed along to such loving and capable hands as yours. As you noted, for 46 years it was carefully nurtured by four generations of the Johnson/Frambes/Luter family. From your words alone, I can tell I have found a kindred spirit in our mutual love and affection for things old, tried, and trusted. I have never read such a fitting description of the importance of antiques and the comfort and joy which they bring into our lives. "Creating a new nest out of old things," as you wrote, is so fitting for what attracts me to antiques as well. Again, congratulations on the upcoming show. Here's wishing you many years of health, happiness, and success.

    God Bless,
    Bryan Davis

  3. Yea! A great new blog to captivate us. When you are in love with Antiques you can never see and hear enough about collecting. Jan, you have the passion to keep us thralled. I'm looking forward to the next entry.

    You go girl!

  4. Hi Jan, congrads on the new show! I used to do marburger show with you, and my daughter megan used to help baby sit your daughter! I can't believe shes already ten! Megan is now 19 and was engaged this past year. Things didn't turn out as planned, so now shes off with college plans and still dancing :)

  5. This was such a lovely read, thank you so much for sending it to me and for sharing your passion and gratitude so eloquently. I look forward to keeping up with you, and of course seeing you at Marburger in just a couple of months... blessings to you always, xo, fancy

  6. Nice blog, not like some boring ones. I had a good read, Thnx! Will keep an eye out for more of your blogs.
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  7. Interesting read. I will have to bookmark it for later.


It's east to leave a comment. What do you love about antiques? Hope to see you at the show!