Originally published in The Weekly Packet, July 19, 2018
Liros Gallery opens summer season, and looks for buyer
Liros Gallery owner Serge Liros’ current favorite painting, 3 Masted Schooner, by James Gale (1855-1931). The gallery specializes in 19th and 20th century art.
by Anne Berleant
Welcoming art lovers and collectors in Blue Hill for 32 years, Liros Gallery has roots that reach back to 1966, to when Serge Liros first opened his gallery in Virginia. He and his now ex-wife moved to Brooklin in 1986, tired of the traffic and pace of Virginia metropolitan life, and opened Liros Gallery on Blue Hill’s Main Street, moving to Parker Point Road 10 years ago.
“We just wanted to get away,” Liros said. “I kind of wondered if I could do a business on the [Maine] coast. It’s a little remote for a business like mine.”
Last month, he listed Liros Gallery for sale but that doesn’t mean it is closing any time soon.
He plans to keep the gallery open while it is on the market, whether for one year or 10 years, or for “as long as my health is good,” he said. “My family is pressuring me to sort of wind down.”
Liros is 77 years old, although his age or any ill health was not obvious during the gallery’s season opening reception June 28. Despite driving rain, the rooms held a steady stream of visitors.
“I wouldn’t miss his opening,” Olenka Folda of Brooklin said, as she and her friend Karen Foster enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and gazed at paintings.
Liros specializes in 19th and 20th century art, bucking the current art world’s focus on modern and contemporary work. He also devotes one room to Russian icons, a nod to his heritage, and offers framing, restoration and appraisal.
”My gallery is quite unique,” he said. “But the past 10 years has been a struggle.”
His first decade or so in Blue Hill, Liros said the art market was strong. He recalled purchasing a large estate in the early 2000s, and Chicago clients “decorating their whole house with that art.”
But, like many brick-and-mortar businesses, the internet has left its mark on galleries, making it more difficult to buy inventory and to find a good deal, Liros said. And consumer tastes have changed as high tech items become more prized.
“We don’t have the strength in the art market of the early- to mid-80s,” he said. “[People] are more interested in the high-tech scene; there’s not as many collectors.”
Plus, the recession hit this area hard, Liros added. Still, the Blue Hill gallery scene remains solid, and the art scene “is very strong.”
“It’s amazing that Blue Hill has at least five or six galleries with a population of around 2,200,” he said. “And there’s quite a lot of good artists in this area.”
Visitors from New York and Boston wander in during the season, he said, and he’s had visits from British actress Angela Lansbury and former Maine Governor John McKernan. Liros lives on the gallery premises and said if the gallery sells, he is undecided as to his future plans. “I like to ski. I like to sail. I like art. We’ll see.”
The Liros Gallery at 14 Parker Point Road is listed by Legacy Properties/Sotheby’s for $950,000.
“I don’t have great expectations,” he said. “I’ve put out the fishing line and [will] see what comes up.”