Courtny Chatham has gotten used to the disbelief on people’s faces and the amazement in their voices when they visit the Art & Antique Centre of Oak Brook.
“I’ll sit and I’ll watch people’s faces,” Chatham, director of the facility, said. “And they will comment, ‘You are not supposed to find things like this in Oak Brook.’”
The things that get people’s attention at the gallery include William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s painting of “Dawn,” valued at more than $1 million; a collection of Tiffany lamps; a room full of Persian rugs; and sketches by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
The gallery is the creation and passion of Oak Brook resident and business owner Kinoosh Jafari. A longtime collector of art and antiques, Jafari is a surgeon, gynecologist and oncologist.
“He has a love of art,” Chatham said. “For 15 to 20 years, he has been building his collection. He is an artist through and through.”
The gallery opened in February and has been selling art and antiques, as well as displaying them to the public. It has also conducted art classes for children and adults, and had exhibits and private events.
Jafari told The Doings last fall the idea for the gallery came to him when he ran out of room to display works he had obtained.
“I have been an art and antiques collector for many years,” Jafari said. “I have gotten overstocked and do not have the chance to look at and enjoy them.”
There are only a few items not for sale at the Art & Antique Centre. One is the work by Bouguereau. Also, off-limits are Jafari’s own creations, displayed in a separate room at the gallery.
Everything else within the 10,000-square-foot facility is fair game, according to Jafari.
“As I always say, ‘Everything is for sale, if the price is right,’” said Jafari, a native of Iran.
Chatham said the facility has averaged about 20 visitors a week during its first seven months of operation. She said people going to the building for a medical appointment have stopped in to browse the facility’s wares.
“We have done some promotions of events at the gallery,” Chatham said. “Gradually, word about us is getting out there, and that is not a problem with (Jafari).”
Chatham, who has three degrees in art, said Jafari is fine being a destination for a select group of art lovers and collectors and not being a museum for the masses. But the gallery still wants to instill a love of art in individuals through art classes, provide event space for community groups, and focus on under-served areas of the art community.
“There is a large Indian community in the area and it is important to serve those residents,” Chatham said.