Report from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon
Finarte International Arts Fair
by Susanna Kirchberg
On the chilly morning of January twelfth three eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailor trucks pulled up to the CINTERMEX convention center loading docks in this northern Mexican city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. Loaded with antiques and fine art, they were arriving from Mexico City and Guadalajara after hours of grueling highway travel. The drivers had been commissioned to transport the cargo, merchandise belonging to several different business owners, by a young man with a big dream-- Carlos Noyola.
Ropes were loosened and directions shouted to workers emptying crated oil paintings and blanket-wrapped furniture into the hall. Expectations and speculations about the coming event were ample. The annual FINARTE International Arts Fair was about to open for the second year as Mexico's newest national antiques show. Would participants be able to justify the long journey, the hours spent pricing and packing, and the expenses incurred to attend the show? The answer would lay in the events of the following six days and in Noyola's work over the past year as the show promoter.
Movement embraced the area as dealers rummaged through balls of newspaper, pulling treasure after treasure from trunks and wooden packing crates. Carved ivory crosses, 18th century paintings, nichos, santos, crystal, bronze, sterling silver, pottery and the occasionally needed drops of glue, brought peppery chatter from participants who found themselves torn between having to arrange displays and longing for a glimpse of their neighbors wares. Set-up time was a full day and a half, helping to ease the anxieties of having to cram so much stuff into so little space. Perhaps just a minute could be stolen to inspect that 19th century vermilion chalice across the hall....
Originally touted as having three distinct focuses: antiques, contemporary art and designer Mexican country furniture-- the show had been reduced into one area due to cancellations and some miscommunications. The growing pains which many new events experience were evident, and for the most part were understandable.
Noyola and his staff had spent most of 1998 working to generate interest and support for this year's FINARTE antiques show. Visitor attendance was moderate but the serious collectors were not afraid to spend freely on sought after pieces. The booths, which ranged from twelve to sixteen hundred dollars per space, were filled to the bursting point with some of the best antiques that Mexico has to offer. The prevailing impression was that one had entered a connoisseurs paradise.
A lively Saturday evening auction drew a strong crowd of participants as bidders vied to win possession of desired booty. The presentation by Oscar Ibarra Corona on the clay sculptures of turn-of-the-century artisan Pantaleon Panduro (see El antiQuario Vol. 1, No. 2 for more on this topic) also brought a healthy number of visitors to the event.
As the event drew to a close on Sunday evening, Noyola commented how pleased he was to have noticed that this year's FINARTE antiques show had shown an increased number of younger shoppers. "They are, after all, the key to the future of our business," he noted. We couldn't agree more!