Park Avenue Armory: 2011 Winter Antiques Show {also, Inspired: Liz O’Brien}

26/01/2011 § Leave a comment

Park Avenue Armory

I am hunting for interior decor inspiration!  I have pledged to entirely redo my apartment and last weekend, my inspiration quest took me to the 2011 Winter Antiques Show at the Park Avenue Armory on the Upper East Side.  This year, the show is in its 57th year and has 75 exhibitors offering items that hail from antiquity through the 1960s.  Not a flea market with picked-over bins of well-loved bric-a-brac (my, that was quite a few hyphens), the show is a treasure trove of museum quality pieces for only the deepest of pockets.

Aside from the antiques, I was interested in seeing the stately Armory itself.  Not very far from where I used to live on the Upper East Side, I have always wondered what the building might look like on the inside.  Completed in 1881, the Armory is notable for both the construction and size of its soaring hall and its collection of 19th century interiors — but unfortunately the show took up the majority of the hall and the interiors were not on display.  Also unfortunate (but understandable) was the “no photography” policy, but luckily most of the exhibitors can be found online.

I had an excellent time viewing the antique arms and armor exhibited by UK dealer Peter Finer — question: does anyone know why most daggers are left handed? — and the New England and marine antiques of Hyannis Port dealer Hyland Granby Antiques.  There were oil paintings and ornate silver tea sets and eyes from an ancient Egyptian relief and a petrified walrus skull, complete with huge ivory tusks.  I watched darling older ladies try on magnificent jewels as they murmured all of the fabulous places they could wear them.  All interesting and wonderful to look at, but I was not finding the inspiration to feather my own nest.

Until I spied a perfect pair of table lamps…

Image via Liz O’Brien

Gleaming silver in a happy, modern-looking boutique, I knew I had finally found something to love.  These silver palm trees were created in the 1930s – art deco? perhaps Hollywood regency? – and they are fabulous!  I had Liz O’Brien to thank for my decor epiphany.  Her gallery, on the Upper East Side, focuses on design from the 1940s through the 1970s, as evidenced by all of the beautiful pieces she had available – but the lamps stole my heart!  Don’t they look like something Greta Garbo would have?  Can’t you just see her disappearing into the darkness as she turns them off in the dusky evening light?  I’m not confident I will be able to exactly replicate them, but I am definitely feeling more inspired!  If you are able to stop by Liz O’Brien’s exhibit at the Winter Antiques Show, or her gallery on the Upper East Side, you definitely must!  Especially if you are as in love with these darling lamps as I!

Liz O’Brien
306 East 61st Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues
New York, NY 10065

If you are too far away from New York, she also has a virtual shop on 1stdibs.  Find it here.

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