ATG: What is so special about the event?
BM: For me the most important thing about the WAS is its relationship with East Side House. It’s a professionally run show but it’s entirely for the benefit of an incredibly underserved population in New York’s South Bronx area, helped by this community-based organisation.
For those of us who exhibit, the show is certainly about commerce but it’s also about a mission and the goal is to contribute millions of dollars to the charity each year. It gives the event a glow that’s completely different to other shows. I think what really marks it out as different is that, as much as you ever can be in New York, it’s really a community affair.
ATG: Why do you keep returning?
BM: Macklowe Gallery was one of the first dealers of 20th century material to join the show, at a time when it was expanding from its original Americana core. In theory, we should have been very out of place, but the WAS has consistently delivered a sophisticated antiques-loving clientele.
We’ve found that over the years not only have our previous clients liked to visit us there, but more importantly lots of people who are aesthetically curious have become customers of ours, even though before they saw our Art Nouveau and our Tiffany they had zero interest in that material.
Every year we meet new collectors and we help create new collectors, which is the name of the game for growing this business.
More than at other shows, we see people at the WAS who love to learn, who want to touch the pieces, to see if and how restoration has been done and who want to understand where the pieces fit into historical perspective of the antiques world.
ATG: How has it changed over the years?
BM: The WAS has evolved very positively from an Americana-focused fair in a fallow moment in the world of art and antiques to a broader and very successful show incorporating many other disciplines.
The organisers were pioneering in understanding that you have to appeal to people outside the area that you’re known for. Ex-chairman Arie Kopelman was also extraordinarily good at bringing in people from corporate New York, and it’s important to note the number of fantastic partnerships the show has forged over the years.