If you’ve never seen furniture that incorporates shark and eel skin, abalone, yak butter, hidden compartments, or an Imperial 5-clawed dragon, you owe yourself a visit to see the collection of Winnie Wall.
Wall has lived in Rockrimmon with her husband, Ken, for 30 years, and began collecting Asian antiques 20 years ago during frequent trips abroad. She may now have the nation’s largest private collection of uncommon antique furniture from Korea, Tibet, and China that date from the mid-1800s all the way back to the 13th century, spanning the Qing, Ming, and Yuan dynasties. Her collection includes around 700 personally-chosen pieces of exceptional quality.
Sixteen years ago, the strength of Wall’s collection motivated the couple to open Galleries Extraordinaire, a fine art and Asian antique gallery in the Cherry Creek district of Denver. They established a high-end clientele of international collectors, and enjoyed the energy of the annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival. Last year, they chose to move the gallery to Colorado Springs. On December 3, they celebrated their 1st anniversary at the new location of 1301 W. Colorado Ave., in Old Colorado City.
To fully experience the collection of ancient antiques and contemporary art that mingle at Galleries Extraordinaire, tour it with Wall by your side. She is full of stories, because each piece of furniture is a personal treasure and each artist is a personal friend. Come along with me on a private gallery tour with her that we broadcast on Facebook live video: http://tinyurl.com/zo933ek.
Wall is Chinese, and grew up in Hong Kong. The only sibling of 4 children to catch the “art bug,” she came to the United States alone, at the age of 19, to study design in New York City. Getting to know Wall, it’s clear how her outgoing personality and adventurous life story have taught her to bridge Asian and American cultures. “Everything I buy is because of history and culture,” Wall says.
Bridging cultures is essential to cultivating new collectors of treasures like the ones at Galleries Extraordinaire, where museum-quality pieces range in price from $1,000 to $500,000. Wall’s extensive knowledge of each piece can make you feel connected to it, even if you’ve never considered owning a Korean medicine chest or a cabinet from a Tibetan temple. In this first year in our community, the gallery is attracting new local collectors from Rockrimmon, Kissing Camels, Skyway, Broadmoor, and Manitou Springs.
Here are some of Wall’s tips for collecting antiques:
· Buy only what you truly like.
· Do not be afraid to buy a piece showing a few cracks, wrinkles or discoloration. An authentic antique should have a good patina, showing it has lived, bursting with a story to tell.
· Use caution and ask questions. What is the seller’s experience? What is the original source? Has the piece been restored and how is it done?
· Many complex factors affect value. A knowledgeable mentor can help you learn these dynamics and how they change over time. Galleries Extraordinaire has handouts right inside their entrance that introduce you to valuation considerations for Chinese, Korean, and Tibetan antiques.
Even if you’re not in the market for a Buddha table, the Walls invite you to visit Galleries Extraordinaire and say hello! They enjoy the chance to share about their rare collection, and are proud to now showcase it in their own community.
Originally written by Angela Seals of the Cultural Office and published in the Woodmen Edition on Dec. 7, 2016.