Antique expert to speak at Hills & Dales
LaGRANGE — Spalding Nix, an antiques and fine arts expert from Atlanta, says there’s a good reason many people enjoy learning about antiques.
“Antiques are fun because almost everyone has some in their life,” he said, “and it’s nice to get to know them better.”
Nix will be at Hills and Dales Estate on March 8 to do exactly that. His lecture, “10 Rules for Collecting Antiques,” is aimed at helping his local audience re-evaluate what they’ve got. He’ll focus primarily on wood furniture, with an emphasis on detecting age, type of wood, style and provenance.
“It might be that rocking chair is not quite as old as Grandma thought,” he said. “In the confusing world of antiques, we’ve had over 100 years of reproductions. Something made as a reproduction of a period piece may now be an antique itself.”
The lecture is free and open to the public as part of a yearlong series of events marking the 100th anniversary of the Fuller E. Callaway family home.
“We’ll have tips for everyone from the seasoned connoisseur to someone getting ready to buy their first home,” he said.
As part of the presentation, Nix will analyze and interpret the “life stories” of several pieces from the Hills and Dales collection.
A visit to the Callaway home, a 30-room Italian-style villa completed in 1916 and now a house museum, is an especially good way to see fine antiques, Nix said.
“People respond to pieces in that setting,” he said.
Nix’s own interest in antiques dates to boyhood, when his father, an architect, encouraged his interest in art and took him on frequent trips to the massive Scott’s Antiques Market.
“My expertise, I would say, is a long exercise in training your eye,” he said.
That “long exercise” took him to the University of Virginia, where he majored in art history and studio art and interned at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He worked at an Atlanta gallery, then attended the University of Georgia law school, specializing in intellectual property and international law and interning in the legal department of the Smithsonian Institution.
A friend who was director of the museum at UVA suggested the unusual career path.
“I asked him what the art world needed and he said, ‘The art world needs more lawyers.’ That stuck with me, and it has proved to be a good combination. It led me to a great job at Sotheby’s.”
After several years in client development at the famous New York auction house, Nix returned to Atlanta in 2003 to open Spalding Nix Fine Art, specializing in 18th and 19th century paintings. His emphasis has gradually shifted to contemporary fine art, displayed in a sumptuous setting with period antiques.
His wife, Aimee Bowles Nix, a former interim director of LaGrange Art Museum, serves as gallery director.
“She has great memories of her year in LaGrange,” he said.
An accredited member of the American Society of Appraisers, Nix is also a sought-after speaker. His most recent engagement was a presentation on “A History of Period Style in Chairs” at the Booth Art Museum in Memphis.
The March 8 reception begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Hills and Dales Visitor Center, 1916 Hills and Dales Drive, with the presentation to follow at 7. Reservations are required to ensure adequate seating and can be made by calling 706- 882-3242.