Saper Galleries Brings Global Art to Capital Region
Besides everything on view, there is an impressive collection that isn’t currently being displayed. And, failing that, Saper can probably find just what the buyer wants by searching it out though his connections with the art world and making it available to the purchaser. With 1,500 pieces of art in the collection and work by more than 150 artists from 15 countries, Saper Galleries is the end of the rainbow for those looking to enhance their environment with art.
Saper, the man behind the galleries, has been fascinated by art from an early age. He studied viola as a boy and attended high school at Interlochen Arts Academy where he was surrounded every day by the arts in all their diversity. Even at the age of 14, he began collecting pieces of art that spoke to him. After high school, he attended Michigan State University, initially with the intention of majoring in music therapy. However, he found himself drawn to a completely new field — computers. This was in the late 1960s when the world of technology was in its infancy. Saper ended up as one of the first-ever MSU students to graduate with a degree in computer science. He went on to complete the course work for a Ph. D in economics, but his path led him in another direction.
“In 1978, I started selling art out of my home. My first customers were not people in the area. Rather, because I had unique works of art, people from outside the community traveled to purchase pieces from me,” said Saper. “I acquired the land, the last vacant parcel in downtown East Lansing, for the current gallery in 1985. In preparation for my first show in the new space, I contacted well-known community figures and asked them that if they could acquire any work of art, what would it be? Then I went out and bought art by the artists they had chosen. I had work by Calder, Chagall, Picasso and other well-known artists. That’s how I began building the collection I have now.”
For 34 years, Saper has been making available to people the works of art that people want, works of high-quality that are very desirable.
“Our phenomenal success came about not only because of what we have available but also because we treat every single person who comes through our doors with respect,” said Saper. “We give them time, courtesy and dedication; we are interested in their opinions. It’s more than the Golden Rule; we treat people the way they would like their parents and grandparents to be treated! You can see by the testimonials on our website that our customers appreciate the way we do business.”
Saper travels the world to buy pieces of art; he was recently in Israel where he purchased a quantity of ceramic relief work by Ruth Faktor. He has traveled to Costa Rica for hand crafted boxes, bowls and trays made of cocobolo wood. He goes often to New York City and others centers of the art world. But he also welcomes artists to his gallery who come in to show Saper their work.
Close to 1,000 artists each year visit Saper hoping to interest him in their work. He says, ‘”If I like it, I buy it. And I don’t buy just one piece. When I visited Israel, I ended up purchasing 150 pieces by Ruth Faktor. I don’t look at resumes, reviews or lists of where an artist has exhibited. What’s important to me is whether or not the art speaks to me. “
Saper is always learning, he says. He continues to seek out work from relatively unknown artists, and his interests are vast. His expertise is similarly panoramic. He is often called upon to make presentations, write articles and even testify in cases of art fraud.
Saper Galleries offers art at prices ranging from $20 to six figures. There is also a full-service framing center. He says, “Our business model is different from most businesses. Yes, we want to make money, but we want to do it in a way that honors our customers. We offer everything at a fair value and always keep respect for our customers and our artists foremost in our minds. That model has served us well.”
For Saper and his three employees, the art “business” isn’t 8 to 5. The gallery has an interactive website, live chats, and they are always available by phone. They do a great deal of business with people outside of Michigan and outside of the United States via phone or Internet. And, even though the gallery is busy, every customer can expect personal service and a genuinely positive experience.
The gallery itself is large with art at every turn. Natural light flows throughout the rooms, and art is grouped to its best effect. It’s easy to understand why people find visiting the gallery a moving experience. And it’s easy to see that Saper’s artistic vision has created an environment that is filled with beauty, imagination and inspiration.
433 Albert Ave.
East Lansing, MI
Phone: (517) 351-0851