Art gallery closing after 40 years of business

By: Jeremy Carroll | Royal Oak Review | Published February 9, 2011

 Karen and Arnold Klein stand inside of the Arnold Klein Gallery on Woodward, which features local art along with British, French and other American work.

Karen and Arnold Klein stand inside of the Arnold Klein Gallery on Woodward, which features local art along with British, French and other American work.

Photo by Jeremy Carroll

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ROYAL OAK — The Arnold Klein Gallery has a strong connection to Valentine’s Day. It was 40 years ago on that holiday that it first opened.

“I know it’s a commercial holiday, but there’s always been something charming about Valentine’s Day for me,” said Karen Klein, who, along with husband Arnold, operates the gallery. “I always make valentines for people.”

So it’s only fitting that when they recently decided to close their business’ doors, the couple from Pleasant Ridge decided they would hold a Valentine’s Day event as its last hurrah.

Located at 32782 Woodward Ave., just south of 14 Mile Road, the gallery often features work from the 19th century to the present, including British, French and American work, with a healthy dose of local artists.

“Everything that is in here, is what we like,” Arnold Klein said. “It’s really very eclectic.”

Arnold Klein, 81, and Karen Klein, 68, opened the gallery in Detroit just two months removed from having twins. Three years later, when a national gasoline shortage occurred, they moved to the present location in Royal Oak.

“When the gasoline shortage hit, people from the Birmingham area weren’t coming downtown anymore,” Arnold Klein said.

In addition to making art of her own, Karen Klein framed work for customers, while she said Arnold Klein served as an “Antiques Roadshow” type, often helping customers understand the value of their collections.

“Forty years is enough time,” Karen Klein said about the decision to close the doors to one of the oldest galleries in the area. “The economy was frighteningly bad for us. If we had been more interested in making money, we would have closed our doors many, many years ago.”

She said since they announced their plan to shut down the gallery in September, business suddenly picked up.

Barrett Klein, one of their three children, said the closure of the store would be “bittersweet.”

“To be able to see my parents conducting and operating work they love, it’s really inspirational,” he said. “It has really compelled us to purse things we really enjoy.”

Arnold and Karen Klein met in a printmaking class at Wayne State University after Arnold, working on a degree in art history, was forced to repeat the class due to a broken wrist from an automobile accident. It was in his second attempt at the class that he met Karen.

Arnold Klein worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts, but opened the gallery after realizing the salary there wouldn’t be enough to support his three children. Karen Klein sold her work at the gallery too, and will continue to do so online after the brick-and-mortar version of the store closes Feb. 14.

“It’s not an easy business, but it’s what we know and it’s what we’re good at,” Karen Klein said. “I think you really need to follow where your heart is, which goes right along with Valentine’s Day.”

The couple plans a special event from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 14 to close the gallery that will include homemade Valentine’s Day cards for customers bidding goodbye to the business.

For more information on the Arnold Klein Gallery, visit them online at www.arnoldkleingallery.com.
 

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