Photography By CHICHI UBIÑA
The Collective and Fairfield County LOOK present the curators at The Collective. The Collective is a group of exceptional dealers of both vintage and antique finds. Visit their 13,000 sq.ft space located at 50 John Street in the antiques district of Stamford, CT. Just south of I-95.
Name: Ann Wilbanks
Company Name: Find Weatherly, LLC
Where are you from? Where did you grow up? I have lived in Westport, CT for 33 years.
Describe your personal style: My style is informal, with a love of marine antiques, 18th – early 19th c. American furniture, wood furniture with beautiful grains such as tiger maple and cherry, hand-made fabrics from India, 19th c. Caucasian rugs, and animal art of all sorts, with a special emphasis on horses and dogs.
What might we find at your booth in The Collective? Right now in my Collective booth, among other things, you can find a rare c.1760 transitional American William & Mary to Queen Anne walnut diminutive high boy, several outstanding ship paintings, a couple of good half hull models, a bronze whippet, two 19th c. painted dog plaques, and a mid-19th c. American large folk art dapple grey, smiling horse with original glass eyes and horse hair tail, who was likely a trade display.
Have your life experiences affected how and what you collect? I have been a competitive rider and sailboat racer my entire life. My husband and I race the J105, “Revelation” around LI Sound. My love of marine art directly relates to our love of sail boats, yacht racing, and American maritime heritage. The name of my business derives from the 1962 America’s Cup defender, “Weatherly,” and a special horse we had (named in honor of the 12-meter) who was Grand Hunter Champion at the National Horse Show in 1992. We always have a pack of dogs in our family, so you will find lots of dog art in Find Weatherly’s collection. We love birds too, so there’s always a selection of decoys, carved eagles, and folk art birds.
If you won the lottery, how would you go about enhancing your collection? I would buy several Edmund Osthaus English Setter paintings. We have had setters for 17 years and adore the way Osthaus captures the personality and grace of this breed.
What are the pros and cons in your business that people don’t realize? The best thing about the business is the people I interact with on a daily basis, from the pickers who help me locate unusual pieces, to the artists who handle restoration of oil paintings, works on paper, furniture and porcelain, to the collectors who share their passion and knowledge as we buy and sell from each other. These personal connections and the thrill of discovering beautiful objects, especially ones with historical information available, offset the difficulties of the business.
The worst thing about the business is battling changes in taste, with too many people chasing trends and not allowing themselves to enjoy the richness of living with unique pieces with fascinating stories to tell. We are lucky to live in an area of the country which still contains a treasure trove of pieces brought back by ship captains among the first to trade in Canton, folk art made by sailors on voyages lasting years, pieces made by furniture craftsmen who were artists in wood and pieces made by folk artists who expressed love, patriotism and humor in varied media. I wish more people trusted their own taste and had the courage to mix things that make them happy, without seeking validation in conformity.
Name a character in fiction or reality who would feel most at home with your personal style/collection? (And why?) The person who would feel most at home with my collection probably loves the sea and boats. They may own a home on Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, the Cape, Shelter Island, along LI Sound or on the California coast. They understand that the clean, geometric lines of 18th and early 19th c. American furniture and the patterns and colors of American folk art live happily with modern art and furniture, adding warmth and charm. My customers are well aware that many modern artists were inspired by simple American folk art and were among the earliest serious collectors of the genre. They appreciate pieces with big personalities and authenticity. They love pieces that make them smile. They enjoy color and texture. They usually love animals, especially horses, dogs and birds. They are confident in their own style and love the idea of living with pieces that they will not see in their friends’ homes. One long-time customer has his own museum in my favorite city, Istanbul, and a few times a year ships containers to Turkey filled with a surprising collection of American 19th c.children’s chairs, marine paintings, ship models and folk art.