by Lisa Girard
Stroll into Chetkin Gallery on Red Bank’s Wharf Avenue and you’ll enter a world of classic, timeless beauty.
The Madison Avenue-style gallery, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is housed in a charming, historic building featuring two floors and two storage areas filled with exquisite paintings. No graphics, no giclee, no prints, and not an abstract piece to be found—just hundreds of oil on canvas works in Impressionist, post-Impressionist and Contemporary styles.
“We work with about three dozen world-renowned artists, mostly living, from France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, China, England, the Ukraine and Poland,” says Donald Chetkin, who owns the gallery, as well as an adjoining frame shop with his wife, Carol Lynn. “Typically, they find out about us. Our reputation extends into Europe, and through word of mouth we’ve gotten the cream of the crop here.”
Chetkin Gallery opened in November 1987 after Donald retired from a 20-year career in sales and Carol Lynn from her position as administrative coordinator at a local hospital. Avid art collectors for many years, they decided it was time to take something they both loved and turn it into a business—and a successful one, at that.
The gallery has developed a core of customers from Red Bank and surrounding towns, while a growing Internet presence, where you can view their entire inventory, has added others from around the country—New York, Pittsburgh, California and Arizona, among others.
Prices start at around $1,000 for the smallest works and range to $20,000 and above. All come with a guarantee of authenticity—they deal with the artists personally and never through a third party or broker, which further enhances Chetkin’s reputation as one of the area’s premiere galleries.
Like most small businesses in the nation, the gallery experienced a down period during the recessionary years of 2008 and 2009. Business rebounded in 2010 and 2011 and is trending upward so far this year. “People are tired of being restrained from what they want to do, and the mild weather has also helped,” says Donald.
To keep the gallery fresh, for both loyal clients and those off the street, the Chetkins continuously bring in new pieces. “Each year is different. We never know what to expect, and each time a new painting comes in it’s like Christmas morning for us,” says Carol Lynn. The couple also travels to Europe and other regions throughout the year to expand their collection. This spring, they’re heading to Northern Italy, where they plan to meet a promising new Italian artist.
But no matter where in the world their love for art takes them, there’s one thing, 25 years later, that hasn’t changed: “We’re so happy to be in Red Bank, where we enjoy the business climate and know so many people,” Carol Lynn said. “We wouldn’t trade it.”
Adds Donald,” We’re fortunate to be in a great area outside New York, and our clients are nice people, many of whom have also become friends.”
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, Chetkin Gallery will host a series of special events and shows. Learn more at www.chetkingallery.com.
Chetkin Gallery, 9 Wharf Ave., Red Bank