By Dave Rossetti   Published Feb 09, 2005 at 5:38 AM Photography: OnMilwaukee Staff Writers

{image1} As the calendar marches closer to Valentine's Day, Milwaukeeans are faced with the holiday's hallmark images. Sights of cupid, chocolate-filled, heart-shaped boxes and red roses are everywhere, and romance will soon be in full bloom.

The DeLind Gallery of Fine Art, 400 E. Mason St., has turned the year's most romantic day into a month-long celebration with its latest themed show, "Love is in the Air."

The exhibition features about 25 pieces, according to gallery owner Bill DeLind, and transcends artistic styles, mediums and periods.

"It'll completely cut across all different types of art, from many different years with many different artists," says DeLind, who has owned the gallery since 1969.

However, the exhibition doesn't focus strictly on romantic love. DeLind says display pieces will include the show's centerpiece, an 1895 painting by French painter and draftsman Jules Cheret, "Elge a la luxure" ("Eulogy to Lust") to still life paintings of food by Leon Huber, because, DeLind says "we all love to eat." The etchings of Louis Icant, which idealize the feminine form, also have a place in the exhibition.


It's all on display and available for sale in the gallery's relatively new digs at the corner of Mason and Milwaukee Streets. The gallery vacated its Cathedral Square location at 811 N. Jefferson St., its home for 15 years, to make way for Zyng Asian Grill last spring.

The grill has since come and gone, but DeLind says the gallery is thriving in its revitalized surroundings. He says he takes full advantage of the gallery's 18 windows -- he only had four before moving -- to display his collection to passersby. The gallery's close proximity to nightclubs, restaurants and hotels ensures plenty of pedestrian traffic, giving individuals a chance to drop by on a whim -- or window-shop and come back another day if they first notice the place after hours.

"What I do is leave my lights on around the clock," DeLind says. "There are a lot of people on the street at 2 o'clock in the morning."

The gallery's current home isn't as large in terms of square footage -- 2,500 compared to 3,000 at the old location -- but DeLind says the smaller space hasn't changed how he's done business since moving April 1, 2004. He custom ordered several portable wall spaces that supplement the pre-existing structure, and says he has as much room to hang his wares as in the previous location.

DeLind says the move -- made in part due to increasing rent at the old address -- ended up being more than worthwhile.

"Despite the fact that's known as April Fool's Day, it turned out to be a darn good move," he says.

The gallery, which still highlights works by internationally and regionally known artists, will continue to rotate its feature exhibition about once a month. Following "Love is in the Air," the gallery will begin showcasing "The Sons of Light: Paintings and Drawings from the Barbizon School" on March 18.