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An Artful Eye

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The past and present collide under the discerning gaze of Patrick Kearney 

Art and antique aficionado Patrick Kearney, vice president of Susanin’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, is enthralled by the unique story of every object he beholds, seeing sterling silver candelabras, Baccarat paperweights, or recently discovered heirlooms as portals to another time.

Here Kearney reveals some of his insider tips on where to find the best antiques in Chicago, his favorite cocktail bar and more.

What do you love about your job?

Our consignors introduce me to the extraordinary pieces in their diverse collections by inviting me into their homes (or bank vaults!) and I listen. Art and decorative objects are more than ornamental; they narrate the story of travel adventures, extraordinary craftsmanship, and the special moments that give our lives meaning and value. Objects that have created an atmosphere of glamour and opulence for a past generation are brought back into the marketplace to write the next chapter of the story. The art & antiques market is an enchanting business, and never, ever boring!

What are your three favorite galleries and museums in your home city?

Douglas Rosin on Wells Street inspires me to recall that great design is never out of style. Mid-century is currently in vogue, but the truly great pieces were never gone. They have an amazing eye for bringing then, now, and forever together into the present moment.

The Driehaus Museum’s collection is a converted historic home here in downtown Chicago, preserved with Tiffany fixtures, and a cache of Art Nouveau treasure. A visit there gives me the chance to soak up inspiration, in a home that has hit the pause button in one of my favorite eras. Their current exhibition Maker & Muse is not to be missed!

Thomas Jolly Antiques is an excellent balance of antique & contemporary pieces. Mr. Jolly has a discerning eye for that “oh so perfect” piece that you’ve been searching for, or that piece you didn’t know you couldn’t live without!

Can you share what you would do for your dream day in Chicago?

My perfect Chicago day would have to be a mix of new and old, contemporary and antique. Mixing styles has always shaped my taste both at work and at play. Here in Chicago, all you have to do is to draw the gaze upward in the Loop for architectural inspiration. You’d think after a week at Susanin’s I’d want a break from looking at art and decorative objects, but I always have so much fun visiting the Randolph Street Antique and Vintage Market. Maude’s Liquor Bar on Randolph is a great place to stop in that neighborhood for dinner & drinks. Home Bistro in Lakeview and Vincent in Andersonville are brunch classics for me and my friends.

I have been spending time at the Art Institute of Chicago since I was a child, and the collection has had an undeniable imprint on my passion for art and beauty. The Irish exhibition currently on view is an absolute treasure, and a poignant reflection on how a mix of cultures has shaped this great city.

A day in Chicago is incomplete without spending time alongside the greatest of the Great Lakes, whose waters gives us more than just a shoreline, but a deep identity. I love to decompress with a bike ride along the winding path of Lake Shore Drive or soaking up some sun with friends.

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