It's the end of an era. This weekend, at the conclusion of the annual Theta Charity Antiques Show, the event will make its final bow. After more than a half century as one of the city's most-enduring and must-attend experiences, the show is over.
"This was a very difficult decision for our chapter," Mary Kristen Valentine, a Theta alumna and the show's marketing manager tells CultureMap. "In response to declining sales and attendance over the last few years, we established a long-range planning committee to evaluate the show and determine whether it was still the right philanthropic endeavor for our chapter.
After careful consideration, it was their recommendation that as the event has become increasingly complex and expensive to produce, our volunteer organization does not have the infrastructure in place nor the resources available to carry the Show beyond 2019."
Started in 1952 by the Houston Alumnae Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, the antique show brought together dealers, collectors, and designers from around the country. Proceeds went to a core set of non-profit organizations, known as permanent beneficiaries: Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens/The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Child Advocates; the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation, and Texas Children’s Cancer & Hematology Centers. Each year, additional nonprofits also received proceeds from the show.
Over its 60-plus-year history, the Kappa Theta Alphas Charity Antiques Show raised nearly $8 million Houston and Gulf Coast-area organizations.
While the show may be closing up shop, this weekend still provides lovers of beautiful objects, antique enthusiasts, and home decor designers ample opportunities to see and shop. The weekend's schedule is packed with a preview party, book signings, lunch buffets, and more.
"We have dealer talks at various booths throughout the weekend," says Valentine, noting some not-to-be-missed events at the show. "These are short talks given by select exhibitors who are experts in a particular time period or objects. The schedule can be found in our show catalog, available upon arrival. We also have two panel discussions, following by book signings. On Friday, Alexa Hampton, Charlotte Moss, Thomas Jayne, and Thomas O'Brien take part in a discussion moderated by Margot Shaw. And on Saturday husband-and-wife pair Steve and Brooke Giannetti talk about their work."
Guest can also expect an array of one-of-a-kind pieces, everything from artwork to furniture to home accents. Among those creating excitement for Valentine are a painting by British artist James Edward Buttersworth featuring America, the very first boat to win the America's Cup race in 1951, which can be found in Booth 11 with exhibitor Roberto Freitas, and a rare Russian tea strainer with enameled decoration by Pavel Ovchinikov that's in Booth 2 and exhibited by The Silver Vault.
"We also have a rare angel skin coral necklace with matching earrings from the 1950s that can be found in Booth 16 with exhibitor Rosaria Varra Fine Jewelry," she said.
For close to 70 years, the Theta Charity Antiques Show allowed collectors and lovers of beautiful objects to shop in style and give back to the community. If the saying is true that all good things must come to an end, those who love stunning artworks and objects d'art will want to make time on their calendars to be part of this grand finale.
The Theta Charity Antiques Show runs Thursday, November 21, through Sunday, November 24, at the George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida De Las Americas. More details can be found on the show's website.