lessandra Branca and Suzette Bross Bulley are a dynamic duo. They are good friends, longtime next-door neighbors, and occasional collaborators—interiors for Branca, and photography for Bulley. It seemed a natural fit then for the pair to once again join forces, this time for fundraising surrounding The Chicago Show—Antiques & Art & Modern. There will be more than 60 premier dealers offering fine and decorative arts, including paintings, furniture, jewelry, and silver, from ancient to 20th century, at the Merchandise Mart on October 6 through 9. Proceeds from the not-to-be-missed Opening Night Party and Young Collectors’ Afterparty on October 6, as well as the keynote luncheon on October 7, with renowned event planner Bronson van Wyck as ‘Master of Celebrations,’ all benefit programs supported by The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Branca will serve as Honorary Chair and Bulley as Chair. Their shared experiences and talents are equally matched by their impresses you … then walk back and engage with the dealers and pieces that caught your eye. Another approach is to head directly to your favorite dealers first thinking that, otherwise, you might miss out on a piece, yet I think even if you are set on what you like you should wander and gain the spirit of the show initially before any purchase.
SB: I like to go several times. If possible, I try to get a ticket to go before the show officially opens because you get first dibs on fabulous items. Opening night is fun because you see friends and everyone in the art and design community and then, if you can, go at the end of the show because you might be able to make a deal. We are a center for innovative auction houses—Leslie Hindman started her own business in the 1980s and was really one of the first to take fashion sales seriously, while Richard Wright opened his auction house and began the mid-century modern craze locally. There are a lot of people and places to learn from here; by attending The Chicago Show, whether it’s to browse or buy, see or be seen, it gets you energized about our community.
SR: In terms of design, with paintings, photography, furniture, and objects, if you have a more traditional home how can you incorporate modern or vice versa?
SB: Alessandra is brilliant at that! She has a great eye for mixing furniture, arts, fabric, and color in such a chic and relaxed way. We love being invited over to her house because it is sophisticated but understated, no one ever wants to leave. My husband and I are lucky to have Alessandra decorating our home in Florida, and we know it is going to be an elegant and fun spot for friends and family even with our kids breezing through in bathing suits. I love hanging out at the Branca Atelier and seeing the latest art pieces she has acquired.
AB: I believe that modern and contemporary art can instantly update a space. And, conversely, I find a very modern interior needs a touch of antique to create visual tension.
SR: Any particular pieces that you are hoping to discover?
AB: Ha! I have a four-page, single-spaced list at all times. I’m always hoping to find that perfect piece for a client, but it often happens that I have one thing in mind and then I see a piece that is completely the opposite but exactly right for a room. You have to be open and though almost everything is online these days, the art of conversation and dialogue with a dealer is absolutely not the same virtually as it is in-person.
SB: Shows are so fun because dealers bring amazing, one-of-a-kind items. I am not looking for anything specific at the moment, but if a piece captures my eye I will be sure to have Alessandra help me find a place for it.
SR: The Chicago Show benefits The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. How did you get involved, and what makes art such a powerful bridge to raising support for the institution?
SB: For more than 120 years, The Woman’s Board has been dedicated to supporting the programs and services provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It’s a historic group of women advocates and leaders. I am honored to be a part of the group. This year I am proud to say we are raising money for women’s health and mental health initiatives. Art is one of the best ways to communicate emotion and ideas. From the chair you sit on, to the jewelry you wear, to the art on your walls, it all can bring small joys and change lives. Come to the show and see.
AB: I believe in anything that can help good and important causes while engaging people to learn more about the arts. My first meeting with clients is to get a sense of how they live and what they like. Everyone has their own rhythm and your home should reflect that personalization. This show brings in dealers who celebrate the diversity that is critical to our community and to the longevity of landmarks like Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which are dedicated to the growth and prosperity of our city.
The Chicago Show—Antiques & Art & Modern returns to the Merchandise Mart’s 7th-floor exhibition space from October 6 to 9, presenting fine antique furniture, jewelry, silver, and decorative and fine arts from ancient to 20th century. Benefiting The Woman’s Board of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, tickets for opening night and more information is available at wbnorthwestern.org and thechicagoshow.net.