Unfortunately, for the second week in a row, a show failed to fire for me.
Of course there are a thousand reasons one can glom on to when business is stinky and I can point to a few easy excuses.
The show might be too early in the season, it is dwarfed in the local community by the ever popular Spring show, there weren't enough exhibitors to whet the local or Los Angeles appetites, election tsuris, yadda yadda.
The more probable reason, at least in my case, is that my material is losing its traction with the new generation.
The reality is that I have always been a very reluctant modernist. When I first started doing modernism shows, at the Santa Monica Civic twenty or so years ago, all sorts of styles comfortably fell under the rubric of twentieth century design, including art nouveau, art deco, moderne, arts and crafts, WPA, psychedelia, punk and post modern.
Things have changed. They have become much more parochial. The window of acceptability has shrunk to a narrow crevice located somewhere between MadMen and Kardashian. Nouveau and even deco are dead in the market as are arts and crafts and the wonderful WPA era. Nothing pre 1950.
All of the stuff I actually liked is now as popular as a fart in church. Ethnographic is out, Historical is out. Clutter is of course out. What are we left with? Sort of a machine made space Calvinism.
With the exception of some very expensive and truly wonderful furniture by Art Carpenter, I saw nothing that resonated with my design sense at the shops. They seem to be selling a certain look by the pound. But the pieces themselves, to my admittedly prejudiced and jaundiced eye, looked quite undistinguished.
My philosophy was always that great design fit together, regardless of the era in which it was conceived or executed.
I have sold Natzler and Beato, Maloof and Nakashima, along with Sargent, Redmond and Reynolds.
While I have always kept a foot in both the classic and modern worlds, I have also skewed a little more Flintstones than Jetsons. And always favored craftsmen who knew how to use their brushes and tools over the pure conceptualists.
My day is waning. People simply don't care anymore.
They don't get taught about history, art or design in schools, they buy their mass marketed furnishings at mass marketed stores like Walmart and Ikea and as long as they have ample gruel and a permanent connection to the cyberhive and television, they are happy. Feathering the nest appears to be a relic of the past.
In addition pedigree and authorship seems to be out. The needle has swung from collectable to purely decorative. Not necessarily a bad thing but terrible for my business model. Gary Breitwieser told me twenty years ago; the era of connoisseurship is ending. He was right.
I worked in Palm Springs for two years in the early nineties, doing redevelopment work. I went to boarding school on top of the mountain, had one of my greatest personal sports victories at the Stadium soccer field. But the Palm Springs I loved, the Desert Inn, twenties era rancho-spanish Palm Springs, is now a thing of the past.
Lovely old red tile structures are now boarded up and awaiting their inevitable execution, supplanted by the crushing wave of Space Age Retro. I felt the same sick feeling in Barcelona really, liking the Gaudi but sad for the beautiful baroque buildings that met their end in its onslaught.
I had an older gentleman walk into my booth and question why I had a colored woodblock by Gustave Baumann on the wall? "That's the past," he told me. "We have to look to the future."
Postscript - My friend Gary called and told me to chillax. He reminded me that I have had a great six months (I have.) I have been on the road without stopping for a solid month and I am toast. Even if the long term fundamentals are dismal, life is good and I need to stfu.