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THURSDAY, June 2 — Thirty years ago, Roy Saper opened the doors of Saper Galleries and Custom Framing in downtown East Lansing.The gallery celebrates the anniversary with a free event Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The gallery’s collection features over 1,500 works of art by over 150 artists from 15 countries.
Roy Saper, founder and owner of the gallery, has been involved in the East Lansing community since he came to Michigan State University as a 17-year-old freshman in 1969. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Saper discovered his passion for art when he bought three Picasso reproductions at Harvard Coop in Cambridge when he was a preteen.
“I have always loved, admired and have been passionate about the amazing talent of the great artists whose works I was exposed to in significant museums of quality art,” Saper said.
Two of the museums he frequented were the Art Institute in Chicago and the Flint Institute of Art.
“I started buying what I could, attended art auctions as a teen and bought artwork I could afford,” Saper said. “Tens of thousands of transactions later, I have placed original artworks in homes, offices hotels, and other facilities worldwide — and do so every day from downtown East Lansing.”
After graduating from MSU in 1978, Roy Saper started an in-home gallery on Bailey Street in East Lansing. In 1985, he bought land in downtown East Lansing and designed Saper Galleries and Custom Framing. The gallery opened in 1986.
“I am at the gallery Monday through Saturday and the first Sunday of every month,” Saper said. “When I’m not at the gallery, I am generally working at home by computer, handling our international and internet orders, communications with clients, artist evaluations, buying art, processing orders and managing our operations, as well as live chat inquiries.”
A large part of Saper Galleries’ success is its commitment to community. Saper and his family invite schools and organizations into the gallery for special events and educational programs.
“I and Saper Galleries are and have been very actively involved within the Greater Lansing community in many ways,” Saper said. “We support well over 100 organizations.”
Saper was awarded the East Lansing Crystal Award in 1988 for service to the community.“I made a commitment to serve, and that won't be diminished,” Saper said. “True commitment, dedication and passion does not fade. It is part of the heart, a part of the person.”
The 30th anniversary celebration will acknowledge Saper Galleries’ success, as well as an celebrate others who have dedicated time, interest and funds toward promoting arts in the community. Guitarist Elden Kelly will be provide music for the event, which is open to the public.
“Friends and those new to Saper Galleries can enjoy the art, music, beauty and friendships,” Saper said. “This is my living room, where all are welcome — particularly those who have never set foot in an art gallery before or considered acquiring a work of art.”
While 30 years is a great accomplishment, Saper has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“I am 64 and want to keep going another 50 years,” Saper said.
Saper Galleries 30th Anniversary Celebration
5-8 p.m. Friday, June 3
Saper Galleries and Custom Framing
433 Albert Ave., East Lansing
(517) 351-0815, sapergalleries.com