About a year ago, Jim Cox, of his eponymous gallery in Willow — as well as this Sunday’s Collector’s Exchange Fine Art Auction at the Woodstock Community Center on Sunday, October 23 — was helping longterm weekend residents Milton and Shirley Glaser prepare some of their belongings for sale.
The noted designer and his artist wife, now in their 80s, were readying a move from their home on Lewis Hollow Road down to what had been Eva van Rijn’s “Lark’s Nest” on Glasco Turnpike near the Byrdcliffe Colony. That meant sifting through 50-plus years of accumulated art and treasures, as well as Glaser’s own designs.
“One of the times I was up there I saw this stack of dishes and asked about them,” Cox recalled of a visit back to the Lewis Hollow house this past summer, after having auctioned off 30 or 40 of the Glaser’s items in June. “Shirley told me they had been designed by Milton for the Rainbow Room, when he worked on their renovation, but added that, ‘We use them.’ Then she turned to her husband and asked, ‘Milton, don’t you have more dishes.’”
Downstairs were boxes, the gallerist and auctioneer said, filled with a full set of porcelain ware that Glaser had designed for the noted restaurant’s opening in 1976. All had the stylized sunburst and celestial pattern that those who frequented the world’s busiest restaurant for a quarter century remember well.
“Inside my brain my head is exploding,” Cox recalled on seeing those boxes. “I knew there was a set of the dishes at the 9/11 Memorial Museum at the new World Trade Center, and that Milton would want to keep a set.”
At the time of his visit, the equally fabled restaurant The Four Seasons had closed, with a major auction set for its holdings. This would be as fabled a find, if the designer had more of the now-rare items.
“Two weeks ago I got a call from Milton’s office in New York and was told they’d found it all in his building on 32nd Street,” Cox recalled. “I drove down to get it last Monday.”
Among the materials were papers setting the tableware’s provenance 40 years ago, including the fact that the originals had been in storage so long.
“I can’t think of anything so layered with emotion, with history, with ‘New Yorkiness,’” Cox added.
“The dishes at Windows on the World largely vanished with everything else,” noted Glaser in an email, when asked about the upcoming consignment auction. “The few that remain are vivid reminders of an extraordinary place.”
Of newsworthy interest in the auction, alongside the Windows on the World artifacts, is a prime item tied to the town’s Nobel Prize-winning former resident, Bob Dylan. And making it truly serendipitous, in Cox’s eyes, is the fact that the Gold Record for 500,000 unit sales of Highway 61, Revisited in album, cassette tape and CD sales had last been sold by the auctioneer at a 1994 rock memorabilia auction held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of the historic Woodstock music festival.
Altogether, the upcoming auction will be offering up 230 lots including a rare 60” x 60” 1858 map of Ulster County including the names of all land owners; a signed 1966 “Silver Andy” self portrait; a large oil painting by noted cartoonist and Grateful Dead official graphic designer Stanley Mouse; a number of abstracts and earlier Woodstock townscapes by Konrad Cramer, images by renowned American artists associated with New York City including works by Robert Henri, Adolph Treidler, and William Glackens, as well as a number of paintings and other offerings from the estate of Aileen Cramer.
Cox, who ran the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum gala auctions each Labor Day weekend for years, will be conducting his October 23 sale in the newly renovated Mescal Hornbeck Community Center at 56 Rock City Road in Woodstock. A preview of the auction is currently up at the James Cox Gallery, 4666 Route 212 in Willow through Friday, October 21, from noon to 5 p.m. daily, and a preview will be held at the Community Center, Saturday, October 22 from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday, October 23 — the day of the auction — from 10 a.m. to noon. The sale will begin promptly at 1 p.m.
Those unable to attend the auction may bid online at liveauctioneers.com, by phone or order bid. For more information or to register to bid call the gallery at 845-679-7608. To view the catalog visit liveauctioneers.com or the gallery website at www.jamescoxgallery.com.