We’ve called this the Food Issue as a form of shorthand—the stories aren’t about actual food, of course, but about art and design related to dining and the table. (For cautionary lessons on why real food does not belong in The Magazine ANTIQUES, you’ll see a few of our covers from the 1970s and ‘80s on this page. Note in particular the insane kebab pineapple on the December 1979 cover.)
The idea of a Food Issue first occurred to me in 2016, after I read about an exhibition at the Prado of the work of the seventeenth-century Dutch artist Clara Peeters. Barred, like all women at the time, from life drawing classes, she devoted herself almost entirely to painting still lifes of food. (James Gardner’s article on Peeters begins on page 110.) Her work prompted me to consider the vast amount of work in design and the decorative arts that had been focused on the table, and the environments in which food is prepared and eaten. A Food Issue seemed like a natural.
A thematic issue is a challenge, especially for a small independent magazine on a budget. Three distinct fortuitous moments made this one possible. The first came four or five years ago. I was riding in a taxi with interior decorator Thomas Jayne, and we were on our way to the Philadelphia Antiques Show, when it was still called that and held at the Navy Yard. When I mentioned my pie-in-the-sky notion of a Food Issue, among his suggestions was an article about American cookbooks, which his husband, Richmond Ellis (Rick to friends), collects. It’s an idea that I never would have thought of, and you’ll find Rick’s delightful piece beginning on page 94.
The second lucky moment came last fall at the Delaware Antiques Show, on the evening that ANTIQUES received the Award of Merit from the Antiques Dealers Association of America. A Philadelphia-area collector named Robert Taylor got to chatting with our publisher, Don Sparacin, and later wrote to us suggesting an article about the Kalo Shop, a prolific and successful silver-making firm in Chicago that had been founded at the turn of the twentieth century by women. The Kalo Shop, surprisingly, had never been the subject of an article in ANTIQUES. Bob Taylor subsequently introduced me to another, deeply informed collector of Kalo Shop silver named Steven Pakiz, who generously offered to have tableware from his collection photographed, and to write the feature that you’ll find starting on page 128.
Finally, last Christmas interior designer Bruce Shostak and his husband, Craig Fitt, who works on Wall Street, happened also to be guests at a dinner party hosted by two ridiculously hospitable friends of my family, Christine Jones and Bert Goldfinger. Bruce and Craig, I learned, live in an 1822 house in the Hudson River valley that they’ve decorated with period furnishings. When Bruce uttered the line “I never set the table the same way twice,” the lightbulb snapped on. Thanks to their enthusiasm—and the work of the estimable photographer Pieter Estersohn—you’ll find the article “Dining with Antiques” beginning on page 74.
A good issue of a magazine is like a well-prepared dish, and I am very grateful to all those mentioned above for supplying key ingredients. We hope you like what we’ve served.