date published: November 7, 2005

If your home is suffering from a case of the blahs, or you can't wait another day to fill that empty spot on your wall, Boston is the place to be this month. A visit to The Boston International Fine Arts Show, November 10-13 at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, or the Greater Boston Antiques Festival at Shriners' Auditorium in Wilmington can provide thousands of ideas for beautifying your home the old-fashioned way.

Art lovers interested in exploring diverse galleries or expanding their own collections can peruse or purchase traditional and contemporary fine art at the Boston International Fine Art Show. The "only fine arts show of its kind" in New England, according to show co-producer Tony Fusco, returns this month for its ninth year.

"The purpose is to bring outstanding galleries to Boston that people here wouldn't ordinarily get to see," Fusco says of the event. The show features a variety of media from the 17th to 21st centuries, ranging from the American landscapes of Winslow Homer and Albert Bierstadt to modern Japanese prints from Kiyoshi Seito. Impressionist paintings from Pierre-Auguste Renoir and modernist art from Marsden Hartley will also be on view, as well as works by prominent Boston artist John Singer Sargent and an exhibition of contemporary pieces from the collection of Boston's Vose family, America's oldest family of art dealers.

Early birds looking to claim dibs on the perfect piece should check out the Gala Preview on November 10, which includes fine wine and dining, live jazz, and free re-admission to the show throughout the weekend. Proceeds from the $100 ticket price benefit the Wang Center's education program, Suskind Young at Art.

New to the show this year is Young Collector's Night on November 11. Missy Sullivan, editor of The Forbes Collector , offers tips for young art lovers in her lecture "What Every Smart Collector Should Know: Lessons from Connoisseurs." This night, Fusco says, is "a way of introducing people to a world of fine art that might be otherwise intimidating." A cocktail reception offers opportunities to mingle with artists and dealers, and learn more tips that may put you on the road to Guggenheim status.

For shoppers who fancy more functional-yet equally beautiful-pieces, the Greater Boston Antiques Festival is the place to hone your antiquing skills. Twice a year, dealers from far and wide journey to what's touted as one of the top antique shows in the area. Now in its 10th year, the festival brings together 162 international dealers, for a weekend that draws longtime collectors, home decorators and holiday shoppers.

The festival's popularity can be attributed, in part, to the quality and vast variety of antiques offered. Antiques and collectibles from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century come from as far as China, Russia and England, as well as throughout the U.S. "We have a pretty unusual selection," notes event manager Marvin Getman. "You can pretty much find anything that's old at this show."

The show's most popular items include decorative home pieces, such as lamps, oak furniture, fine art, framed prints and Victorian collectibles. Collectors of rare, quirky items will relish sifting through old maps and postcards, antique quilts and linens, vintage tiles and Russian religious icons. "We offer an eclectic mix so that everyone, from new collectors to seasoned collectors, can find something they like and can afford to buy," says Getman.

Getman adds that serious shoppers even bring along personal decorators to help pick out the perfect pieces. But if you're attending the festival solo, don't fret. Dealers gladly share their expertise and offer the history of their items, as well as tips on preservation and upkeep.

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