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Forty-Five North Art Gallery, A Big City Experience in a Small Town Environment

Posted on September 19th, 2019
Every business has a story. How it came to be, the trials and tribulations along the way, and the successes. Here is a peek behind one of Alpena’s newest art galleries, Forty-Five North Art Gallery. We caught up with owner/artist August Matuzak to find out more about his story and the story behind Forty-Five North Art Gallery. 

Before entering into the world of retirement, August Matuzak spent his career in the insurance business. As he was nearing retirement at age 56, he knew he needed a hobby. Ultimately, this hobby turned into a full-fledged business to complement our beautiful downtown Alpena.

Making art with August Matuzak

“Since age 21, my entire career was spent in the insurance industry. I knew after retirement I would need a hobby and I have always loved art, especially bold colors in art. Before opening the gallery, we had been doing art fairs and selling our work to customers out of our house. When a prime space became available downtown back in 2016, we took advantage. It had always been a dream of mine to have our own gallery and showcase our work along with the work of other artists that would complement one another.”

Augie began working with fused glass in 2011. To date, this is still his favorite medium to work with.

“It’s so colorful and can be appreciated for its form, function, and beauty. Every piece created turns out different and the color combinations are endless.”

Forty-Five North Art Gallery celebrated it’s 3rd year in business this year, but as with any new business, Augie and his wife Peggy had a few trials tribulations bringing the gallery to life!

“Days after acquiring our gallery, we were head first into renovations on the building when my wife Peggy fell outside on the ice and fractured her knee cap, essentially putting her out of commission for the duration of the renovations. Luckily, we had the help of friends and relatives who came to our aid and helped out with the interior work to make sure we stayed on schedule.”

Thankfully, Peggy has since healed and you can find her smiling face at the gallery, available to help you out with any of your art needs!

Since the grand opening in 2016, Forty-Five North Art Gallery has had tremendous feedback from the community, as well as a few exciting experiences.

Peggy Matuzak alongside some of the art in the gallery.

“Since opening, we have done a number of projects. Everything from one-of-a-kind designs for homes, to over 200 hand-made pieces for a large corporation for gifts to their employees. Our work has also made its way overseas as gifts, as well as out to the west coast to art collectors.”

In addition to their art pieces, Forty-Five North Art Gallery has over 20 other artists in their gallery. The work ranges from colored pencil drawings to pottery, jewelry, watercolors, pen and ink, and woodwork. All are very unique, with most of the talent from Alpena and northern Michigan.

“Our guiding principle for accepting the work into the gallery is that is has to complement all the other work in the gallery, it has to speak to us as something we would put in our own home and it has to be affordable for everyone to enjoy. Art should be available to everyone, whether you are spending $15 on a small suncatcher or thousands on an original oil painting. We hope that we are offering a big city experience within a small town environment.”

If you haven’t stopped by Forty-Five North Art Gallery in downtown Alpena yet, what are you waiting for? The gallery is open from 11 am – 5 pm, Monday through Saturday.

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