Diverse Americana — Early American regional range at 60th Colonial Williamsburg forum

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Curators, collectors and historians share their latest discoveries with participants, Feb. 3 – 7, at the 60th annual Colonial Williamsburg Antiques Forum, “From North to South: Regional Diversity in American Decorative Arts.”

More than 20 experts will present illustrated lectures and video-assisted workshops as they survey the rich and varied heritage that early American artisans produced in distinct regional styles before 1830. Just as chairs made in 18th-century Leaf AT 1-30.jpgBoston were surprisingly different from their counterparts in New York, Philadelphia and Charleston, regional variety also prevailed as craftsmen and artisans created ceramics, silver, textiles, paintings and buildings.

Leaf Dish, lead-glazed redware, Probably Rudolf Christ. Salem, NC, c. 1807. Friends of the Collections purchase.

The keynote speaker, cultural historian and educator Barbara Carson, presents The Chipstone Lecture, “Cultural Diversity in Early America.” Other visiting presenters include Carrie Rebora Barrett, Metropolitan Museum of Art curator of American paintings and sculpture, who presents “Regional Rules and Provincial Politics: How American Painters Dodged the System.” Dean Failey of Christie’s New York discusses Regionalism in American Decorative Arts.

Regional preferences in silver are evident in “American Silver: The North,” presented by Ann K. Wagner, associate curator of decorative arts at Winterthur Museum & Country Estate, and “American Silver: The South,” presented by author and scholar Catherine Hollan.

The program includes several presentations by Colonial Williamsburg professionals, including Ronald Hurst, Carlisle H. Humelsine Chief Curator and vice president of collections and museums, who will profile “Regional Traits of Urban American Furniture, 1750-1800” and detail “What’s New in the Colonial Williamsburg Collection.”

It will not be just antiques on display and up for discussion at the forum, as “Sounds From the 17th Century: Music Heard, Sung and Played in Virginia’s First Hundred Years” will provide diversion from the decorative arts with Colonial Williamsburg musicians John Turner, Cliff Williams and David Gardner.

The Antiques Forum program also offers several optional programs Feb. 2-3:

A two-day tour of Middleburg in the heart of Virginia horse country, which will include; a tour of two decorative arts collections – Paul Mellon’s collection of Alfred Mannings paintings and the sporting art collection of the National Sporting Library; a visit to a restoration in progress at the 1805 farmhouse Vine Hill; a tour of Oatlands Plantation; and dinner and lodging at the Goodstone Inn.

A one-day tour of 18th-century plantations in Hanover County, a 1737 church and iconic Hanover Court Square, and lunch in a historic log tavern.

An in-depth one-day tour of the restoration of James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange County and Chief Justice John Marshall’s Richmond home.

Optional workshops are offered Friday, Feb. 8, including a hands-on introduction to 17th and 18th century graphics; Caring for Your Ceramic and Glass: Protecting the Artfully Restored Collection; Ceramics and the Dining Room; Casting Your Own Pewter Spoon; 18th-century rare books and manuscripts; and How to Examine Old Houses.

Advance registration and payment in full for the 2008 Antiques Forum is required. Registration is $550. Optional programs incur additional fees.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum.

For more information, call 800-603-0948, or visit www.ColonialWilliamsburg.org.