Learn the story behind Heritage Art Galleries
Our story was published in the well-known online art website The Rickie Report.
Read the article below...
A NEW FACE TO A WELL ESTABLISHED FAMILY BUSINESS
HERITAGE ART GALLERIES AND CUSTOM FRAMING
Heritage Art Galleries was founded in 1982 by Sam Vitro, a master art restorer from Italy. Services quickly expanded from custom framing and art restoration to acting as a national wholesale art and framing source for design professionals and the general public alike.
Two years ago, Sam’s family moved to Fort Lauderdale from Montreal to join his gallery and framing business. Having Claudio, Linda and Ian working full-time in the business for a couple of years prior to retirement would make the transition easier for Sam, who had been framing and restoring fine art for more than three decades. But unfortunately, Sam passed away unexpectedly and the family’s plans were accelerated.
“We were all devastated at his passing, of course” said Claudio, “but since Sam had always envisioned passing on the business to my children as a legacy we have just continued it in his honor.” Claudio continues, “I see immense growth potential in Heritage. I still have a lot of hard work ahead of me but I am confident I will grow this business and create the legacy that Sam wanted.”
Claudio Tomassone, Sam’s brother-in-law for 44 years, is a real estate broker and investor from Montreal, Canada. Through the years when he would visit Sam and his sister at their Hollywood home, he said he would spend every spare moment at the gallery. “I was always fascinated by art appraisal and restoration,” said Claudio. “Sam did amazing work and over the years I acquired a lot of knowledge about the business from art evaluation, restoration and museum quality framing.”
Joining Claudio in the business is his daughter, Linda Tomassone. The Montreal native has been involved in the artistic world her entire life; first as an actress, then in film production and screenwriting.
“I have a great deal of admiration for artists and their creative process since I have experienced these things myself,” Linda said. “I see each painting as a piece of the artist’s soul and story. When you connect to the essence of a painting the feeling is almost magical. I love experiencing that same feeling in discovering new artists and being part of the process when a customer connects to a painting themselves.” Linda handles the marketing and event planning for Heritage while also running her own business as a social media marketer.
In 2017, Linda married San Diego native Ian Jerrell. Ian has a background in the fashion industry and an eye for artistic composition, color selection and design. He worked as Sam’s apprentice to learn the art of custom framing for the past two years.
Expansion and Services
In addition to working with Sam and learning the nuances of the business, the family spent the past year reconfiguring the gallery and workspace.
Heritage has been newly redesigned and now includes a beautiful art gallery/showroom. “We have created an inviting space here to hold art events, lectures, openings and exhibits,” said Claudio.
Ian, who is now the main custom framer at Heritage Art Galleries, said they offer a wide variety of services including custom and museum quality framing. “We have affordable prices on framing and we also offer very high end services. In addition, we stretch canvas and the stretching and block of needlepoint. We also do custom mirrors” he said.
One of the challenges the family faced at the beginning of their journey was that through the years, Sam art collection grew into the thousands of artworks from the early 19th century till today.
“No formal inventory existed for this artwork,” said Ian, “We had to get them ready for sale and it took months to go through them.” Today, artists such as Tarkay, Erte and David Schluss, to name a few, are for sale and can be seen online on Heritage’s website and in the gallery, according to Ian.
Heritage has a big marketing effort underway according to Linda. “ We now have an Internet presence and following, and are working on building an online art shop.”
What kind of art does Heritage represent?
“We work mainly with contemporary art,” said Ian. ”Inventory includes oil, acrylic and mixed media originals and prints. When we look for new artists, we of course, look for something that speaks to us, but mostly originality.”
We have been making our way throughout the South Florida arts community meeting artists, others involved in the arts, and checking out events to make sure we are always current with what’s happening.”
“The art market in South Florida seems to be booming,” said Claudio. “Everywhere you look there seems to be an art fair or exhibit. These are very exciting times for the art world. We are also looking at the Canadian market. It is full of amazing untapped talent and we are looking for originality, something new and fresh that the art world has not seen yet.”
Claudio continues to promote the business and use the sales skills he has acquired over the years in real estate to acquire new clientele for Heritage Galleries. Future plans call to open a second location or move to a larger location as soon as they outgrow the current space.
Claudio, Ian and Linda all agree that “Uncle Sam” is with them in spirit! “We feel his energy in everything we do,” said Claudio.
Linda added that it is a bonus to be able to work with her father and husband. “What an amazing experience this is,” she said. “I feel blessed. We are a great team. With our individual strengths we are an unstoppable force!”