JACKSON TWP.: Patrons have seen the Lazar’s Art Gallery and Creative Framing signs at the southeast corner of Hills and Dales Road and Woodlawn Avenue for decades.
So it came as a shock when another big sign recently popped up: “Closing.”
Lazar Tarzan Jr., 60, said he was closing the family business that first opened in 1966 and plans to pursue a new career as a licensed Google public photographer.
Past customers, some with tears in their eyes, have stopped by to say their goodbyes — and also to take advantage of going-out-of-business prices.
Lazar and his wife, Mary Ann, have operated the business for the past 20 years, adding unique gift items to the artists’ works displayed there.
“We love Don Drumm and wanted to have a gallery like his in Akron,” Mary Ann said. “We’re happy that we were able to bring such a variety of art and American artists to the people of Canton.”
The gallery has been named one of the top 100 in the country six times and is known for its colorful, whimsical displays.
“We represent over 700 artists,” Lazar Tarzan said, “and we like to visit our artists and watch them work.”
He credits his father, Lazar Sr., with helping him develop a critical eye for art.
“My dad is an artist, so he always took us to museums and galleries, and when we lived in California I was his model at art shows at Laguna Beach, La Jolla and Balboa. We were always surrounded by art.”
Tarzan recalls a visit to New York City while his dad studied there.
“His apartment was above the Ed Sullivan Theater, and I watched the crowds gathered there for the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.”
Today his father, well-known as a portrait artist, still paints at the age of 93.
After the family returned to Ohio, Elizabeth and Lazar Tarzan Sr. opened Creative Framing in their home.
“Both my parents held outside jobs,” Tarzan Jr. said, “so sometimes we worked all night framing. It’s a family business.”
Over the years six additions were added to the small home, giving the gallery space to feature blown glass, pottery, contemporary hand-crafted furniture, sculptures and Judaic art.
Tarzan’s brother, John Tarzan, operates the Maple Street Gallery in Hartville, while his sister, Nancy, owns the Berlin Creek and Blue River Galleries in Holmes County’s Berlin.
Christine Janson-Sponhour has worked at the Jackson Township gallery for over 13 years. Now the floor manager, she began as a framer.
“It has been a wonderful experience,” she said, while showing customers the large collection of Clyde Singer drawings and paintings.
“It’s the end of an era,” Virginia Olivieri said, as she and her husband, Fred, admired beautiful glass art. “We’re really going to miss this place. It’s great shopping for unusual gifts.”
The Tarzans said what they will miss most is their customers, many of whom have become friends.
As they retire from the gallery, they plan to continue to support the museums and arts organizations in the Canton area.
For more information about the businesses, go to www.lazarsartgallery.com/