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!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Center for Transforming Lives
2018 Benefit Booth
Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art March 2, 3, 4, 2018

The 2018 Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art welcomes the Center for Transforming Lives as a Benefit Booth at the March 2, 3, 4 Show at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The Center for Transforming Lives has itself been transformed from the oldest YWCA in Texas to a newly named, much more ambitious program to help women and children leave the cycle of poverty and homelessness for a future with stability, independence and hope.

It’s working! Their butterfly logos is the symbol of their goal for the over 2500 women that the Center has worked with in the last few years. Their plan is to help 10,000 women and children each year by 2023. Often, these women have survived settings of domestic abuse and find themselves homeless with children. In our beautiful Tarrant County, there are over 7,000 children under the age of six who are homeless---who sleep in homeless shelters or in vehicles or on the streets. The Center for Transforming Lives seeks to intervene with mothers and these children by providing housing stability, high-quality child-care and financial empowerment and training for employment, money management and other steps for helping a family overcome the trauma of homelessness.
        Original YWCA Elevator
                                                            The CTL Today

Over 100 years ago, the YWCA provided a safe, clean boarding house for young women trying to find their footing in early Fort Worth. Today the historic building provides an always-full emergency shelter for women and a booming child care facility for children aged six weeks to five years, available while their mothers work or seek work and training. The Center offers additional early childhood care and development programs with larger sites in the UTA Arlington area, in the Poly neighborhood, with more on the drawing boards. 

“We know that the stress of homelessness significantly impacts children, including child brain development,” says CTL Donor Relations Manager Ana Van de Venter, above
 “Providing early childhood education for homeless and low-income children is a crucial component of ending poverty’s vicious cycle.” Ana explains that sometimes education alone is not sufficient. The CTL answer: a two-generation approach. “Two-generation family services break the poverty cycle by helping the whole family achieve immediate stability, which leads to long-term independence,” says Ana. Critical to this strategy are financial coaches, social workers and Early Head Start family advocates who address each family’s most immediate needs.

How does the CTL do all of this? They do it by involving the Fort Worth community in creating businesses for CTL clients to receive training and to build support for CTL programs. These businesses range from a Salsa production company to the ReSale Shop on Camp Bowie Blvd. to the Triumph Catering & Events Company to the Historic 512 Venue Company that offers private, corporate and wedding space at the lovely 512 West 4th Street headquarters. All of these creative endeavors roll up their sleeves and work together to provide opportunity, employment and training.

The Center for Transforming Lives offers a holistic approach to recovery from poverty, homelessness or domestic abuse. It is not enough to provide just emergency shelter or just a job or just child care. As any parent knows, all of these things must work together for long-term success. In addition, the support and training that a family receives from the CTL will give them the tools and confidence that they need to cope with future challenges and stay independent. As Ana puts it, “We offer the whole picture.”

Plan to shop in the Center for Transforming Lives Benefit Booth at the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art March 2,3,4, 2018. From salsa to vintage décor, with all proceeds benefitting the CTL. To donate items for the Benefit Booth, contact the Fort Worth Show of Antiques & Art at 817-291-3952.

And today?
How can you help these families thrive now?

Donate a tax-deductible gift of any size at

Help the Center identify local jobs that TCL clients might apply for and receive training. This is a key to the whole process. Call Kim Clarke, Director of Family Strengthening Services at (817) 546-5542

The ReSale Shop!
Donate (and shop) all kinds of gently used items, jewelry and clothing for the ReSale Shop at 6500 Camp Bowie Blvd. in Fort Worth. Open Mon. 10-5, Tues.-Sat. 10-6. To volunteer, donate or for furniture pick-up, call 817-377-0664. The CTL sponsors “Clean Out-Help Out!” in Spring 2018 as a community-wide effort to donate housewares, furniture and clothing.  See more info on items accepted at

Client Assistance and Encouragement!
Donate new or gently used items for clients such as pots and pans, furniture and cleaning supplies for apartments, as well as gifts, educational books and school supplies for kids. You can even “adopt” an emergency shelter room, providing paint, décor, full size or long-size twin sheets and bedding. Call Ana Van de Venter at (817) 484-1537 or Email:
(Due to safety recall issues, the CTL cannot accept donations of cribs, stuffed animals or toys.)

March 28 Annual Luncheon!
Sponsor the March 28, 2018 Transforming Lives Annual Luncheon (sponsorship are $2500-$25,000) Call Ana Van de Venter at (817) 484-1537 or Email:

Historic 512 Venue!
Host your next event at the 512 West 4th Street building –weddings, parties, meetings in a convenient downtown and beautiful setting. Contact 817-484-1544. See

Triumph Catering & Events!
Enjoy catering services provided by the CTL for private and corporate events of all sizes. Contact 817-484-1544  or 817-546-5546

Contact Ana Van de Venter at 817-484-1537 to join in a monthly tour of the CTL or for other information.

Learn More!