When David Teague first opened America Antiques and Design — a decorative arts gallery and showroom in Lambertville — he had a box of small, old clock faces that he began to play around with, adding electric motors, swapping or fabricating new hands, to create unique, working clocks. These small clocks evolved into much larger pieces as Teague began to acquire unwanted clock faces from the sides of buildings and clock towers.
These antique clock dials, which measure from about 2.5 feet to 16 feet in diameter, come from around the world. Teague acquires them mostly in Europe but also the United States and South America. He often travels to get the clocks but now, he says, “they often find me.” A recent purchase was a large collection from Belgium, about 70 clocks. These “found” parts are reconstructed, in various combinations, with fabricated hands and faces, and are powered by custom-made motors (each motor is signed and numbered) to create one-of-a-kind timepieces.
These clocks are well-sought after and have appeared in movies — “Spiderman,” “Pollack,” “Autumn in New York,” “Unbreakable,” and “Random Hearts”; design magazines — Architectural Digest, House and Garden, Better Homes and Gardens, Essence, Vogue, Country Living, Metropolitan Home, design NJ; as well as private collections internationally — including Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Jersey resident and actress Eva La Rue (of “CSI: Miami” and “All My Children” as Dr. Maria Santos Grey).
Teague estimates that 30 percent of his business is generated by his clock designs, the rest from Teague’s own hand-crafted furniture as well as an eclectic collection of 19th and 20th century artifacts, painting, furniture, and architectural elements, and contemporary artworks and crafts from local artisans. The gallery/showroom has a distinctive urban chic feel to it and would certainly fit right in on any street in Soho.
Every second Saturday of the month Teague hosts a special event at America Antiques, in conjunction with the Second Saturdays tradition in Lambertville and New Hope — a night on which galleries host art openings, boutiques stay open late and host special events of their own, and musicians play on the sidewalk corners. The goal is to create a special evening for locals as well as draw visitors from afar to experience the great cultural and culinary resources the two cities have to offer. The next event takes place Saturday, December 9.
While Lambertville is best known for arts and antiques, it’s also a small oasis for foodies, a point that Lambertville’s website, www.lambertville.org, plays up: “The city is among New Jersey’s cuisine capitals. Despite its relatively small size (one square mile and a population just under 4,000), Lambertville ranks among New Jersey’s top 10 communities in Zagat ranked restaurants. The city has 14 eateries listed in the prestigious dining directory.”
“The whole town is trying to coordinate their efforts so that people come to town as a destination and go gallery hopping, enjoy the restaurants, have a few cocktails, have some hors d’oeuvres. It’s a nice night,” says Teague, who pulls out all the stops on Second Saturdays. The gallery/showroom is transformed into a living, breathing art party to rival any New York gallery opening, with catered food by Taste Catering (tasteiseverything.com), live music, video projections, and guests that make up a veritable who’s who of Lambertville — a mix of artists, gallery owners, art aficianados, and Lambertville devotees.
Last month for Second Saturdays Teague hosted “Stick and Stones,” an exhibit of the work of Bucks County artist Edward Murphy. According to the press statement for that event, “A melding of art and architecture, Murphy’s work combines the modern, deconstructivist style of Frank Gehry with the organic approach of land artist Andy Goldsworthy. Each piece in the recent collection is made entirely of natural and salvaged objects such as river stones, sticks, tree bark, and metal, which take the form of freestanding, hanging, and wall-mounted sculpture. A woodworker and sculptor for more than 20 years, Murphy forges a range of materials, textures, and colors found in nature to create one-of-a-kind pieces reflecting the inward or outward, humorous or serious ‘soul’ of their components.”
“We like to celebrate local artists who have been drawn to the area for its tradition in the arts,” says Teague. “It’s so beautiful, Bucks County has been a magnet for artists for a hundred years. And they’re still here. We at America seek out artists who show a passion and we try to share it.”
Teague, an artist himself, is currently working on, among other projects, a DVD series titled “Artists at Work,” from which he showed excerpts during last month’s Second Saturdays event. He describes the series as an “art-film project (involving) video portraiture of area artists in the process of painting, sculpting, and performing.”
Teague was born in Philadelphia, and has two younger siblings, Mike and Rebecca. Their father, David, was a truck driver and their mother, Michelle, home-schooled the kids. Teague says they lived a very nontraditional, liberal lifestyle, making their own clothes, growing their own food, and living “off the grid.” This came to an abrupt end when the family lost their father/husband to a truck accident when Teague was 10. Their lives took a 180 degree turn, as Michelle remarried a minister, Ray. They became missionaries and lived a very conservative life.
Teague was the first in the family to graduate from high school, graduating from Lincoln High School in Philadelphia in 1980. His stepfather wanted Teague to become a carpenter, so he did, also working as a roofer. He did not like the work much but began to make furniture in his spare time. In 1991 he took the plunge and rented a storefront in Doylestown to sell the furniture he had made. He made a go of it there for a couple of years and then moved the gallery/showroom to Lambertville, where he has been for the last 13 years.
Teague’s furniture designs combine found material and new fabrication. He constructs coffee, console and dining tables; lighting fixtures; and mirrors, using wood from old barns, steel from antique industrial machinery, and antique glass. He even has a few pieces of furniture that incorporate steel from the New Hope-Lambertville bridge from when it underwent repair a year and a half ago.
This month’s Second Saturday event at America, falling as it does right before the holidays, will focus on local artisans. “We will combine the talent of eight or ten artists, who will display gift-oriented handmade arts. It will be a collage, if you will, of various artists who are in our ‘family,’ who we’ve shown before, and will show in our future,” says Teague. America will showcase handmade jewelry, clothing, and paper goods, as well as paintings, sculpture, and antiques. The event includes “festive food and libations” and a live music performance by jazz musician Jim Stagnitto, a founding member of New Hope Collective, a consort of Bucks County performing artists.
Says Teague: “There is no better gift to give someone than an original piece of artwork, or an antique that’s rich in history. This will be the perfect event for people who are looking for more meaningful ways to express themselves this season. Our pieces tell stories of their own unique origins and designers, and their purchase supports local artisans.”
Second Saturdays at America Antiques and Designs, Saturday, December 9, 6 to 9 p.m., 5 South Main Street, Lambertville. For more information visit davidteaguedesign.com and americadesigns.com or call 609-397-6966.