Better late than never for new gallery owner

Published 6:49 pm Friday, October 17, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Better late than never; it's the age old cliche most people have heard.
But, on Ellen Kizer, a self-taught painter who recently opened her own art gallery on Front Street in Niles, the cliche seems to fit perfectly.
Kizer, who was born in Niles, grew up, went to school and raised her children here.
For 21 years she worked at a factory in Buchanan where she drove a forklift and packed parts for a living.
Seated in her soft, brown couch and surrounded by colorful floral paintings on display in her own studio located at 222 N. Front St., in downtown Niles, Kizer said for many years she didn't even think she could paint.
Until one day about a year ago, that is, when she simply picked up a paint brush and started.
But Kizer, who is having an open house at her gallery this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., didn't go straight from factory work to trying to make a living as an artist.
Kizer said her husband, Bob, a printing broker and commercial industry loan broker who currently also operates his businesses from the Front Street Gallery, offered her a position in his business.
But, Kizer said she didn't really care for being a sales woman.
And when her husband encouraged her to take painting seriously, she decided to get started.
Kizer said the gallery, which has been open since Aug. 15, has already gotten some exposure from Riverfront Cafe, the newly opened hot spot in downtown Niles.
People visiting downtown's antique malls have also dropped by, she said.
Although it may be tempting for someone who opens an art gallery to distribute art works from other artists, Kizer, who paints as often as she can, said she currently needs the space in her art gallery to display her own works.
When she's not painting, she frames the pictures she paints.
Most of her paintings are water color, although some are painted with acrylic.
Kizer's husband thinks it's great to operate business in the same building as his wife.
And, with a background in fine-art reproduction from New Mexico, he should be able to give his wife a few hints about painting.
He thinks there is a huge market for what his wife paints, which are soft colored pleasant looking paintings of flowers. "Hospitals want this for convalescence," he said.
Paintings in the art gallery start at $15 and are priced into the hundreds.
And, there's a philosophy behind keeping prices at an affordable level.