Allan Katz Americana Stands Out at Winter Antiques Show

 Allan Katz Americana booth at 59th Annual Winter Antiques Show (Linda Rosier/New York Times)

Allan Katz Americana booth at 59th Annual Winter Antiques Show (Linda Rosier/New York Times)

Irwin Weiner ASID - It was a happy coincidence that a week ago Jay and I met my cousin and her husband, visiting from Boston, for drinks after work and found ourselves invited to dinner with them and two other couples. One of the other couples turned out to be Allan (Al) and Penny Katz. You'd recognize Al in an instant if you're a regular viewer of Antiques Roadshow on PBS (he's the folk art expert). They kindly gave us tickets to see the latest installment of the Winter Antiques show at the Park Avenue Armory (continuing until February 3).

 Stunning is the word for Al's oversized shoe sculpture from the streets of Albany (it sold to a western client and will be displayed in their contemporary house, mounted on a white pedestal).

Stunning is the word for Al's oversized shoe sculpture from the streets of Albany (it sold to a western client and will be displayed in their contemporary house, mounted on a white pedestal).

Al gave us a tour of his booth, which included trade signs, weathervanes, tobacco trade figures, painted furniture, carvings, early advertising, paintings, and whirligigs (he featured a wind-up creation that showed performing trapeze artists, a folk art masterpiece created around the same time as Calder's circus sculptures). We were immediately drawn to the huge scale of the shoe in the photo above. It was used as the base for a footwear display. A pole slotted into the hole at the top and a wire rack to hold shoes once graced the streets of Albany, NY.

We asked Al about the difference between folk art and Americana and insider art, and here's what he told us.

There’s a big difference. Insider art is traditionally done by individuals, sometimes quite troubled, who created art that wasn’t really intended for commercial sale. They made art because it was inside them, and they had to express themselves in that private manner. Folk art was crafted by skilled hobbyists and tradespeople who were generally happier and more stable individuals, and their pieces had a commercial or trade use, such as early advertising displays, that reflected everyday life and culture.
— Allan Katz

Penny Katz, unfortunately, wasn't at the show; she was taken ill with pneumonia a few days ago and was sidelined in the hospital, resting comfortably and receiving good care. (Feel better, Penny!) To explore owning a piece of important folk art for your home, visit the Allan Katz Americana website and click here to view Al and Penny's current catalog.