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If you’re getting out of the city and heading up to Harbor Country this Labor Day weekend, first of all (a) lucky you, I’m jealous, and second of all (b) good timing, as there is a grand opening party on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. for Brandon Nelson’s new Three Oaks venture, Trilogy Antiques and Design. Nelson, a Chicago expat and the owner of quirky antiques shop Ipso Facto, is taking over the old Springdale vintage furniture store space at 19 West Elm Street, and planning to run it as a group shop featuring a select gaggle of dealers, artists, and designers. Among them is Chicago art dealer Aron Packer of Packer Schopf Gallery, who is excited to reestablish a presence in this quaint little Mayberry R.F.D.–lightful community (he closed his satellite gallery there a few years ago).
Also in Harbor Country (Hey, how about we dub it “The H.C.”? On second thought, nah, they don’t have a reality show yet—although I’m sure there are enough eccentric and fabulous housewives up there to start one) this weekend is the 16th annual Outsiders Outside Art Fair, organized by the Judith Racht Gallery in Harbert, Michigan. This show focuses on the gutsy and often visionary self-taught folk artists known as Outsiders, and this year Judith has invited about 40 dealers to show and sell their distinctive wares. The fair begins with a preview party and benefit for the Preserve the Dunes organization on Friday night, 6–9 p.m. with a cash bar, food, and live music ($20 admission); the show also is open Saturday and Sunday from 10–5 ($10 for adults). Also on tap nearby: Buchanan Nonpareil, from noon-10 p.m. Saturday, featuring art, food, wine, music, and more in the great home décor and other shops/restaurants here.
Even though I haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for several administrations, I still think of Labor Day as the bittersweet, closing coda to summer’s lazy, sweaty sonata. There’s an Alexander Calder show at the MCA that perfectly captures this time of year, with a canopy of Calder’s mobiles languidly rotating throughout the large room, simple yet cheerful, easily accessible with their instantly recognizable forms. I revisited it last week (you have until October 17, no worries) and was struck once again by the optimism and creativity on display. And there weren’t a lot of heady wall plaques to read. Looking up at them took me back to being a carefree baby in a crib, gazing at my Fisher-Price musical carousel, questioning my mother’s taste in wallpaper. If you want to take a mobile home, the gift shop has stocked a larger-than-usual selection of Calder-esque pieces. This poetic red spinner is $55 (or get out some coathangers and DIY—for inspiration there is a companion show flanking Calder’s of living artists who were influenced by the maestro, working with found objects).
Niedermaier’s New Digs
As of September 3, the Niedermaier corporate headquarters and custom workshops will be located at 1700 Throop Street, just west of the river. The flagship showroom will remain in the Merchandise Mart. Chicago should be extremely proud of Judy Niedermaier, who, like Holly Hunt, another grande dame of design, nurtured a small firm into an international powerhouse and helped ensconce Chicago’s reputation more soundly in the world of interior design. Niedermaier has more than 40 years of experience in residential, commercial, and hospitality design, and has partnered with hall-of-famers such as Vicente Wolf and Powell Kleinschmidt to design furniture lines. One of the latest projects has been a collaborative line of fabrics with Theo, which the firm is introducing this month in the Chicago and New York showrooms. Here’s one of Niedermaier’s Otis sectional sofas sheathed in Theo striped linen. How’s that for cheeky chic?
Just barely a year ago, Divine Consign was an Oak Park cheechako, tentatively developing its identity and building a customer base in an unsteady economy. Today, I’m happy to say, owner Kellie Scott’s upscale resale furniture shop is thriving, with a dizzyingly diverse (new pieces come in pretty much every day), rotating inventory of brands such as Henredon, Baker, Room & Board, and Ethan Allen, and a 3,500-square-foot adjunct showroom, The Annex. The goods are quality and well-displayed and the prices are very fair, often surprisingly low—sounds like a savvy business platform to me. Kellie’s over-the-top proud of her yearling, and is planning all kinds of promotions and giveaways to celebrate this Friday thru Sunday (gift certificates, discounts on delivery and merchandise, etc.), and even staying open on Labor Day from 11–4.