Jim Alterman Launches 
Ashley John Design 
as an Exclusive Resource 
for Designers

4434 Progress Meadow Drive, Doylestown, PA

Call or email to schedule an appointment

(267) 576-7975  ·  (833) 888-8156  ·  Mobile: (215) 280-8650

info@ashleyjohndesign.com  ·  ashleyjohndesign.com

By Benjamin Genocchio

Jim Alterman is a career-long multi-hyphenate, known for many things in the art and design world: antique dealer, estate jewelry wholesaler, art dealer, and passionate collector and promoter of Pennsylvania Impressionism. He helped build the market for works from this movement and continues to champion them at his gallery Jim’s of Lambertville in New Jersey, across the river from New Hope, Pa., where he has lived from his teens until today.

His latest venture is also close to home. Ashley John Design is a 40,000 square-foot single-story emporium in Doylestown Pa., where Jim has consolidated much of his varied and vast holdings, including art from the 17th to the 21st centuries, furniture, decorative arts, contemporary design, and worldwide antiquities. Today, he has transformed the expansive space into an exclusive trade-only, in-person shopping experience for interior designers and art consultants. 

Alterman is a man who trusts his own instincts and is not afraid to invest when he believes in an idea. He has been buying and selling things all his life. He started buying antiques at age 12, combing garage and estate sales and reselling his picks at Lambertville and Bucks County flea markets. At age 14, he opened his first antiques shop with his mother, a school teacher. Over the next four decades, he made a very successful living buying and selling antiques, fine art, and estate jewelry through his galleries, antique stores, and at fairs in major East Coast cities. 

Solomon Ethe

Alterman splits his time between residences in New Hope, PA., and Manalapan, FL., and also maintains an apartment in Manhattan where he previously operated a  jewelry wholesale business on 47th Street in the city’s Diamond District. Over the years he developed a passion for Pennsylvania Impressionism and today is one of the largest collectors of paintings by these artists. He is also something of an authority on the subject, having authored and published New Hope for American Art, his comprehensive 2005 study of Pennsylvania Impressionism. The book weighs 11 pounds and contains 1,000 illustrations of paintings by over 165 artists.

Alterman has always mixed art, antiques, and decorative arts in his showrooms which until recently included the Ashley John Galleries in Palm Beach. The Ashley John Galleries, named after his two children, was an expression of his abundant and wide-ranging passions — modern and contemporary art rubbed shoulders with antiques, furniture, statuary, decorative art, and design in a heady mix.  

“Often, clients would visit my galleries looking for an item and end up purchasing something completely unrelated that happened to catch their eye,” Alterman says, explaining his philosophy on dealing in art and antiques for over 40 years. “People have different tastes, not always knowing what they like until seeing it for the first time or until viewing it integrated with something of a completely different genre or period — similar aesthetically to how Dr. Albert Barnes integrated antiques and antique hardware, Native American and tribal art with French Impressionist art at his home, which became the Barnes Foundation. It just works! I’ve always had the philosophy that if I can see and find value and beauty in something, then I am sure someone else will too.”

Alterman is a confessed “buyaholic” with a penchant for purchasing entire collections of high-end dealer inventory. He likes to buy artist estates and quality groupings of almost anything and is not afraid to invest. Some of his notable acquisitions include the entire contents of Spanierman Gallery, Hartman Rare Art, Flying Cranes Antiques, and Lost City Arts. He has garnered an international reputation for buying out complete art and jewelry fair booths, offering a fixed price for everything. He buys by eye, first asking a series of pointed questions and then quickly coming up with an offer. If the offer is accepted, he immediately cuts a check and starts packing.

The same aesthetic sensibility characterizes Ashley John Design in Doylestown but on a much, much larger scale and with a level of exclusivity akin to a visit to a private reserve room in a winery. This is where he keeps the good stuff, rooms and rooms of objects and images ranging from more than 30,000 paintings and similar quantities of works on paper including prints, drawings, etchings, and lithos. There are holdings from over 80 artist estates he has acquired including those of Mercedes Matter, Lamar Briggs, Gershon Benjamin, Vaclav Vytalcil, Dora Maar, Abraham Bogdanove, Robert Emmit Owen, Martha Walter, Joseph Amar, Bill Alpert, Josef Zenk, John Grabach, Charles Searles, Burgoyne Diller, James and Myron Lechay, and Harry Bertoia.

Solomon Ethe, Blue Abstraction (from the Blue I Series), 1973. Oil on canvas.

Works by Bill Alpert and Adja Yunkers

The artworks and collections are arranged in 48 vignette-type galleries with signage modeled after Manhattan with Fifth, Madison, and Park Avenues, and 1st through 7th Streets to help navigate the massive space and identify locations of objects of interest. The volume of material is astounding, and wandering the rooms here is lots of fun. “We have far too much inventory to create a ‘shop online’ website,” he says, “you have to see and experience it.” Jim has a photographic memory and knows where everything is and its price, rattling off details as he points to artwork on the walls. 

Furniture for all tastes and from all periods is displayed in the rooms and hallways. Decorative arts are here in abundance, with a treasure trove of vases, statues, period frames, marble and bronze sculptures, Asian antiques, European porcelain, giant natural crystals, and objects d’art. All of this plus a few oddities - in the market for a life-size, life-like dinosaur figure? There are several to choose from, scattered around the 7-acre property that also includes a separate warehouse and truck trailers he has yet to unpack and add to his inventory. Barovier & Toso glass, Keramos ceramics, Ghandaran statuary, and Georgian silver are just a few things I saw.

Alterman believes there is nothing quite like this place in the art and design world and he is most certainly right. The enormous breadth and eclecticism of all these things in one place provides a unique shopping experience, one that could easily lead to hours of looking and assessment. “We are advising designers to plan for a minimum of two hours for a visit here, but we also envision that some people will come and stay all day,” he says. “If a project requires art for a hotel, or art and furniture for an office complex or a large residence, we are well suited and stocked to provide most anything they could need.”  

Works by Eugenia Sumiye Okoshi (above) and Bill Alpert (below)

Ashley John Design is open by appointment to interior designers and art consultants only and a valid resale certificate will be requested upon booking appointments. Designers are encouraged to bring their clients to help avoid the typical back-and-forth process of sending photos and waiting. Visitors will have the services of a personal shopper to assist them.

Alterman is banking on the idea that the facility, 15 minutes from New Hope and Lambertville, less than an hour from Philadelphia and less than two hours from Manhattan by car, and close to airports, will attract A-list designers and art advisors and their clients looking for something different, new and unavailable anywhere else. “Ashley John Design is a wonderland of variety for those with a discerning eye,” he says. “It’s a unique, exclusive, and special place for designers to have in their sourcing repertoire.”

4434 Progress Meadow Drive, Doylestown, PA

Call or email to schedule an appointment

(267) 576-7975  ·  (833) 888-8156  ·  Mobile: (215) 280-8650

info@ashleyjohndesign.com  ·  ashleyjohndesign.com