Contemporary Art Meets Centuries-Old Antiques in the Catskills
7 Main St | Andes, NY
Sean Scherer doesn’t really do things by the book. At Kabinett & Kammer, his antiques, curiosities, and natural wonders shop in Andes, NY, Sean curates a collection of vintage objects with a contemporary point of view. It’s a place where 19th century furniture plays alongside taxidermied fauna and locally made blown glass objects. And, while traditional antiques dealers would balk at Sean’s disregard for pedigree and provenance, he sees it as a natural expression of both his art background (as a Manhattan based contemporary artist) and his lifelong passion for vintage. “It can be a $.50 item or a $5,000 item. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as I see something of value in it aesthetically.”
Before heading upstate, Sean lived in downtown Manhattan until the events of September 11th compelled him — like so many New Yorkers — to consider leaving the city he loved. It took just one visit to a friend’s farmhouse near Andes for Sean to contact a local realtor. What he found — Andes’ original 1800s post office — not only came to be an ideal setting for his curated collection of vintage objects with a contemporary point of view, but also, most recently, the place he calls home. The store brings in a range of customers — from celebs like Martha Stewart to casual passersby or tourists from Denmark, but Sean’s favorite patrons are the ones who’ve never owned or purchased antiques before. “My shop really is showing people a way to bring disparate objects and old objects into their life and their home that they probably didn’t think was possible before or they didn’t even realize they could fall in love with.”
The shop is located in Andes’ original 19th century post office, with high ceilings and a front wall of windows that makes it a perfect retail location. “At night with the lights on it’s like a light box — you can really see the whole store, and it’s a wonderful sight when you come around the corner,” Sean says.
“I have a passion for old mirrors,” says Sean about this gallery wall in the shop. “I think every room needs a good mirror. They reflect light and give you another view of the room you’re in. In the right place, mirrors almost become another picture or a window.”
Sean is pictured here in front of a wall installation comprised of old book pages and lithographs that he’s been adding to over several years. “Pre-internet, all information had to be disseminated through books,” he says. “I think it makes a great wallpaper.”
Evident throughout the shop is Sean’s desire to create conversations between objects that seem to have nothing in common, like the birds shown here. “I love the dialogue between these two objects even though they’re from totally different periods and completely different aesthetics. One’s an antique eagle that would have been in a much more traditional colonial home and the other is a taxidermied crow, but together they look so great.”
Numbers are another theme found throughout Kabinett & Kammer, from a surveyor’s ruler to a wooden shield that once housed and organized hotel room keys, to this vintage set of miniature children’s game balls.
The metal lemon tree is an example of 1950s tolework, which has become a passion for Sean. “They’re all handmade and they’re real art forms and sculptures in their own right,” he says of tolework pieces. “If this was in your little old aunt’s room in Palm Beach you probably wouldn’t think anything of it, but in this context it looks really cool.”
The images on these contemporary glass votives are reminiscent of the 19th century prints for which the shop is partially known, as well as for Sean’s own seashell tattoos. “They’re kind of a great link to everything that’s in the shop and to me.”
“When you’re stuck in one period, it’s boring,” Sean says. “But when you put a 1950s mid century vase on a 19th century original painted cupboard and you add a couple more objects, you’re creating a dialogue from color, shape, form, and texture and you’re allowing people to really see those objects.”
Sean also tries to support local artisans as much as he can. Shown here are 100% beeswax candles made by Greentree Home Candle Co. in the Catskills.
This metal jaguar sculpture is, in many ways, the embodiment of Sean’s approach to collecting and curating his shop. “Typically I wouldn’t have a sculpture of a cat,” he explains, “but the way this one is balanced — all held up by the one paw, cantilevered on its base — it’s so lifelike. It’s got great shape and form and movement.”
Kabinett & Kammer’s wall of windows bathes the store’s contents in natural light, including Sean’s collection of boxes. Those, along with stools and mirrors, are staples in the shop: “I love things that are very utilitarian, handmade, homemade, and still very useful today.”