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Galleries Form Group to Play Up Asian Antiques' Import

May 25, 2000|CONNIE KOENENN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to enhance Los Angeles' reputation as an important destination for Asian-art collectors, a group of local gallery owners has formed the Asian Art and Antiques Assn.

"We've put this organization together to elevate consumer awareness about the types of objects we deal in," said Brad W. Blair, owner of Lotus Antiquities on North La Brea Avenue.

"All these shops have a good reputation for selling authentic wares, shopping abroad for their inventory and have long-standing ties with dealers in Asia," said Blair. "They are people with a genuine love for the product, not just in business because Asian art is the flavor of the month."

The 11-member group has launched its effort with an elegant brochure that can be used as a directory by professionals and ordinary customers.

Association member Gail Baral, who opened Algabar Home & Garden on La Cienega Boulevard almost three years ago, concentrates on decorative accessories and furniture from 20 countries. "In the last five years," she says, "people have discovered the beauty of Asian art and how it can fit into many styles of design. It has moved from the collector's showcase to the everyday person's home."

The new association's president, Cari Markell of Silk Roads on Melrose Avenue, says consumer education is a priority because Asian antiques are so popular right now.

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She deals in antiques spanning 3,000 years, including museum-quality Buddhist and religious art.

"We have so many people coming in here who are drawn to Asian antiques but haven't a clue about them," she said. "They're not even comfortable enough to ask questions."

Her store sells books on art, antiques and furniture, and she encourages customers to do research, particularly if they are buying substantial pieces.

"If you are paying $1,000 for a Buddhist statue, then you should seriously understand what you have, its cultural significance, its rarity," she said. "We explain cultural aspects that the buyer should be aware of."

Other members of the association are Dinallo Antiques and Japanache, both on North Robertson; Kim3 Asian Art & Antiques on Beverly Boulevard; and Marc Richards on South La Brea Avenue. Four Pasadena showrooms are Shibui Japanese Antiques, F. Suie One Co., Susanne Hollis Inc., and Yoshino Japanese Antiques.

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