Antiques Forum offers many events

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 6, 2009

With its 32nd Antiques Forum, the Pilgrimage Garden Club is again bringing to Natchez prominent experts to share their knowledge and expertise in such varied fields as clothing and textiles, landscapes, portrait miniatures, period interiors and ceramics and glass.

Chaired by Genny Harrison and Georgeanne Brakenridge, with the help of Jeanette Feltus, the theme of this year’s forum is “Pathways to the Past: Art, Antiques & Gardens.”

The forum begins Thursday with registration at the Natchez Grand Hotel, followed by a reception at Gloucester and a buffet dinner at Longwood. Friday and Saturday are filled with scholarly lectures, meals and shopping. Local residents are fortunate to be able to attend all events, with the exception of the optional Friday night dinners, for the discounted Garden Club member price of $150.

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As in years past, Wendell Garrett, senior vice president of Americana at Sotheby’s in New York and editor-at-large at The Magazine Antiques, is the keynote speaker. His presentation, “To Die For: Patriotism in the American Arts,” will be the first of six scholarly lectures over two days.

After Garrett’s entertaining lecture, attendees will repair to the Historic Natchez Foundation for coffee, where the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, “Journey Stories,” will be on display.

Titi Halle’s lecture, “Belles & Beaus: Fashion Foibles in the Early Republic,” will likely make those of us in attendance feel better about our own fashion faux pas. Halle, owner and director of Cora Ginsburg LLC in New York City, has worked in the field of antique costumes and textiles for more than 25 years. A member of the Centre International des Études des Textiles Anciens, the Costume Society of America, and the Textile Society of America, she has appeared as a textile expert on the Antiques Road Show and has lectured at the Detroit Institute of Art, the Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum and The Textile Museum, among other institutions.

Following Halle’s lecture, lunch will be served at the Carriage House.

Our next lecturer, Elle Shushan, based in Philadelphia, Pa., is the largest resource for exceptional portrait miniatures in the country. She specializes in American, British and European miniatures on ivory, vellum and in enamel from the 16th through the 21st centuries. In her lecture, To Have and to Hold: The Tradition of Portrait Miniatures in the South,” she will include miniatures from the collections of Natchezians. Shushan is a widely sought after lecturer and is a member of the Antiques Council, Antiques Dealers’ Association of America and the Guild of Arts Scholars, Dealers and Collectors of London.

Charles H.P. Duell, president of the Middleton Place Foundation, which operates Middleton Place, an 18-century plantation outside of Charleston, S.C., will present “Middleton Place: Preservation and Interpretation of a Microcosm of American History.” He will discuss the various aspects of Middleton Place that work together to present a comprehensive picture of life at this National Historic Landmark during the 18th and 19th centuries.  He will focus on the assemblage of Middleton Family objects in the House Museum, including portraits by Benjamin West and Thomas Sully, Charleston-made furniture, fine silver and important historic documents.

Antique shops are staying open until 7 p.m. on Friday for forum attendees. Participants have the option of attending one of two dinners with speakers for an additional $60 per person.

Saturday’s program starts with Janine Skerry’s presentation, “You Are Where You Eat: The Evolution of the Dining Room.” Skerry, formerly curator of ceramics and glass for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, was recently promoted to curator of Metals. She previously worked at Historic Deerfield, the Yale University Art Gallery, the Peabody Museum of Salem, and the Essex Institute. She has lectured and written widely on silver and ceramics in England and America and is a member of the board of trustees of the American Ceramic Circle.

And last, but certainly not least, is a presentation by Natchez’s own Ron Miller, “Historic Natchez Landscapes and Gardens: Town, Suburbs and Plantation Countryside.” Miller, an architectural historian, was for many years executive director of the Historic Natchez Foundation and is now executive director of the Gulf Coast Field Office for the Mississippi Department of Archives.

The forum concludes with a progressive lunch and tours of several of Natchez’s well-known private homes: Greenlea, The Governor Holmes House, Ravennaside, 707 State St., The Barnes House and The Elms.

All lectures are in the ballroom of the Natchez Grand Hotel, with registration beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. To reserve a place, call Jan Scarborough at 601-445-7479.

Davilynn Furlow is a Natchez resident and co-chair of publicity for the 32nd Natchez Antiques Forum.