LOCAL BUSINESS PROFILE: SAPER GALLERIES
|By Nick Robinson|
Not your parents’ art: Saper Galleries puts a personal touch on art dealingWhen you think of an art gallery, what comes to mind? Maybe big, empty hallways with paintings on the wall, spotlights blazing across the canvases. Or maybe it’s a stuffy art collector with a British accent, displaying the masterpieces of Van Gogh or Monet.
Or maybe you’re already bored with the idea.
Well, walking into Saper Galleries, at 433 Albert Ave. in East Lansing, you realize that all your preconceived notions about art galleries are untrue.
“We looked all over the area: Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos,” he said. “Then we found this junky, vacant lot. So I designed our building, and we moved in May of 1986, a week after my son was born.”
Over the years, Saper Galleries has been host to a multitude of different art show. The 2006 Picasso show won Décor Magazine’s top award in 2007, and the ongoing exhibit on Dr. Seuss paintings is receiving great attention. Saper credits his years of success to his unique way of conducting business.
“Our doors are open,” Saper explains. “We try to make it like a public place, but it’s totally privately owned. It’s more like a living room, not a museum or a library. I want people to be totally comfortable. You can even bring in your homework and kick off your shoes if you want.”
In designing the gallery, Saper was very careful to be as environmentally friendly as possible. It’s a rarity to see lights on, due to the vast number of skylights, bringing in more natural light, which Saper says is the best way to view art. And even when the lights do come on, there are sensors that will dim when no one is around.
Saper is really just concerned with helping people, not only in getting art but also helping themselves.
Saper Galleries has also helped out in selecting pieces of artwork in many Lansing-area businesses and public places. One of the more well-known pieces is the statue in front of Oldsmobile Park, the Lansing Lugnuts’ stadium: a baseball player autographing a baseball for a child, with two other kids seated on a bench nearby. Saper also has another big project up his sleeve.
Saper plans on being a permanent fixture in the area for another 30 years, if possible. It’s his dedication to the arts and patronage to the community that won him one of the City of East Lansing’s Crystal Awards in 1988, the first year they were awarded.
“There’s no expectation that you have to walk out of here and have bought something,” he says. “It’s about creating a connection to the artwork. Enjoy yourself, and if you’re not, then you haven’t been here long enough.”
433 Albert Ave., East Lansing 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday - Saturday (517) 351-0815 www.sapergalleries.com