Leading the way to beauty through art.
By Maureen McDonald
Step inside Art Leaders Gallery and see how a Ukrainian painter brings to life colorful urban scenes and European countryside paintings using a palette knife and thick brush strokes to achieve a three-dimensional effect for clients. His work is so popular the gallery flew Konstantin Savchenko to Michigan for a couple weeks so clients could meet him in person and purchase his work without a six-month wait for an overseas shipment.
“We love to discover new artists and bring their works of art together with clients,” says Bonnie Mansour, co-founder, CEO and gallery director. For Savchenko, one of the most popular artists in Europe, Bonnie gave an eighth of the elegant gallery space for him to paint his masterpieces and host a well-attended one man exhibition party in his honor.
Artists using hand-blown glass, bronze sculptures, photography and oil paintings find worthy displays in the 10,000 square foot gallery designed by Jason Mansour. The gallery is located in West Bloomfield on Northwestern Hwy. and Orchard Lake Road. Artists set the price of their work, which ranges from $1,000 to $50,000.
“We travel to all the major international Art Expos and discover artists from all over the world to provide a collection that embodies the most exceptional artists,” Bonnie says. The gallery contains the work of Dr. Seuss, Gabe Leonard, the celebrated cinematic artist, Nakisa Selka, Pietro Adamo, Craig Alan and dozens of others. Mansour works with her husband, co-founder and CFO Jason Mansour, and two other employees in a shop they call home.
“We spend more time here than we do in our home,” Bonnie admits, especially because their son Alec, 21, is a University of Michigan student and daughter Mary, 20, is at the SAGU University in Texas. They have a full kitchen and a lounge area at the back of the gallery designed by Jason Mansour as well.
Love triumphs amid world-class beauty
The Mansours met while Bonnie was attending the College for Creative Studies in Detroit as well as working as a corporate art consultant. They shared a passion for art and courted at galleries and museums.
Bonnie told him her frustrations of limited resources working out of an office and wish to own her own gallery one day. They married their fortunes and launched their own place. In 1992 they opened their first 2,000 square foot gallery in Novi, ample space to showcase art so clients could view options in the splendor of good lighting and sophisticated atmosphere. The couple made three successive moves to larger, more opulent quarters.
Just after they moved into their current space at great financial cost, their reception was snarled by the orange barrels, as Michigan Department of Transportation put down new concrete and reconfigured the busy intersection. Orange barrels aren’t conducive to art. Walk-in traffic slowed to the single digits.
“Thankfully, we are blessed to have a large roster of loyal clients and many referrals. We loaded up artwork in our truck for clients so they can see the selection in their home and it went quite smoothly. We’re glad it is done,” Bonnie says. The gallery added a new service, offering space rental to corporations and individuals for parties and fundraisers. These activities expand the pool of people who see the work up close.
Their newest feature is an interactive website; people can browse through photos and bios of nearly all the artists exhibited at the gallery and weigh possibilities of what would go well in their home or office. When clients email or text she recommends a live visit. “Art is very visual. Sometimes you can’t buy it online,” Bonnie adds. “You need to see it and feel it in person. Photos won’t give you the impact and texture.” NS
Visit Art Leaders Gallery
33086 Northwestern Hwy. West Bloomfield.