Finding fine art at Burnison Galleries

Published 8:42 am Friday, June 29, 2012

Burnison Galleries security dog, Lisa, sits on the lap of Tom Burnison, who runs the Lakeside gallery with his wife Judi. Off the Water photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

LAKESIDE — Upon entering Burnison Galleries in Lakeside, most customers will meet Lisa, the gallery owners’ dog, before anyone else.

On Friday, the 10-pound terrier mix was wearing a black shirt with “security” written across the back.

“She’s our little guard dog,” said Tom Burnison, who runs the gallery with his wife, Judi.

The Burnisons, and Lisa, have been offering fine artwork and antiques at Burnison Galleries for the past six years.

Tom has been in the area for 17 years and also works at the Harbert Antique Mall about three miles north of Burnison Gallieries, 15460 Red Arrow Hwy., Lakeside.

In fact, there seems to be a growing number of antique galleries and art galleries lining in Red Arrow Highway as it snakes up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwestern Michigan.

Burnison Galleries started with a “clean-art only look” before diversifying its offerings to toys, sports memorabilia and books in addition to original 19th, 20th and 21st century art, sculptures, prints, posters and furniture.

“People do end up spending a lot of time here … people have described it as a comfortable respite from the beach,” said Tom, who is also a certified appraiser of personal property, including art and antiques.

Tom won’t sell anything that hasn’t received his stamp of approval.

“It’s all people I’ve worked with for years whose work I know and like a lot,” he said. “I have to really like it and appreciate it in order to sell it.”

John Michael Downes, of Chicago, is one of Tom’s featured artists. Much of Downes work at Burnison Galleries centers on trains and nautical themes.

“He has a real talent for showing conditions like water and clouds, and they are all one-of-a-kind watercolors,” Tom said. “He sells well, too, because it is a safe art that everybody understands.”

Burnison Galleries also features woodblock prints by Gary, Ind., artist Corey Hagelberg and contemporary artwork by Fritz Scholder, Bill Linden and Pegge Hopper.

People can rent Burnison Galleries, which has around 3,000 square feet of space, for private parties, corporate meetings, trade shows and receptions.

“We are well known in the community for hosting meetings, even if it is casual,” Tom said. “The place has really great acoustics, so we have done many musical events.”

Call Burnison Galleries at (269) 469-1141.