Martin Lerner Gallery opens in Roxbury

By Julia Green
A new art gallery opened its doors in Roxbury in June and already boasts a remarkable calendar of exhibits scheduled through December. The Martin Lerner Gallery, located on Route 30, is the first gallery owned by Lerner, who spent 20 years working for Konica Minolta Business Solutions in photo imaging and whose primary background is in retail. His artistic side, however, emerges through his own avocation: photography.
Lerner and his wife purchased the space in 2005, and after using it as a residential and real estate space, opted to utilize the area for an art gallery.
“We decided to open the gallery because my wife has a professional background in the arts and we’ve both been very interested in the arts,” Lerner said. His wife, Yung Yung Tsuai, is a native of China who came to the U.S. as a dancer with Martha Graham in 1969 and has enjoyed a successful dancing career here. She is currently on the faculty at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, and is a published author.
“Both of us are very attracted to the arts and high-quality arts, and she’s got a very good eye,” he said. “My wife had Chinese antique stores for five years, and next year we’re planning to spend a month featuring and showing people these precious antiques in the gallery, and she’ll have some friends do various demonstrations of Chinese arts.
“I have an interest in photography and so I guess one thing led to another and we had an artist who was interested in showing his work, and we decided to go ahead and try it.”
Lerner said the gallery is a work in progress, adding that his wife’s Chinese background and his American roots add a unique dimension to the gallery and its exhibits.
“We’ve been married 40 years and I think we bring multicultural diversity, and I think that’s an area we probably excel, where we’ll have art from different cultures and also people of different cultures,” he said. “And I think taking that into our culture, and the American culture and experience and presenting something that’s very original; I think that’s something that people in the community can look forward to, and something that I think would be our niche or specialty.
“And we have a direct link to Asian art, and I think that that is something people can look forward to seeing, how different cultures are coming to the U.S. and creating something that’s really cutting edge and new and beautiful.”
Currently on display is a collection of oil paintings, pastels and sculptures by Norman Darvie, who has received numerous awards for works in various media.
The current exhibit will be on display through July 23; the following exhibit is a dual show of watercolors by Hou Fai-Yueh Shiina and oil paintings by Dan Pelonis, which will open on July 31. Lerner’s own photography will be on display along with photographs by Ruth Darvie, Steffie Kinglake and Javier Munoz beginning Sept. 11, and a collection of oil paintings by John Darvie will show beginning Nov. 6.
“Our criteria is really that we’re looking for really high-quality art, almost museum quality, and we feel that the current show is of that level,” he said. “But it’s a work in progress, and we’re really trying to take our time with this and let it grow and let the gallery find its own voice.”
The Martin Lerner Gallery is open Friday and Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. For a complete calendar of exhibits and information about the artists, visit the gallery website at martinlernergallery.com.