If there ever were a gallery holding down the fort—Fort Worth as it were—Milan Gallery in Sundance Square would be at the top of the list. Occupying prime real estate in the square for nearly 24 years, its Fort Worth roots go back even further, to 1979, when it was opened by the Milan family (pronounced MILE-an).
In that span, the gallery has hosted illustrious works with ties around the globe and to the old masters, even. For example, in 2016 the gallery displayed 150 of Salvador Dali’s original works. It has also hosted shows featuring the grandsons of Renoir and Matisse, according to owner Tal Milan.
“[We’re] a high-profile gallery. We search the world over for artists. I’ve carried artists from Czech Republic, Sweden and Armenia,” Milan says.
And, incredibly, Milan even boasts a bronze Michelangelo sculpture called Risen Christ, which was cast from the original stone sculpture. The asking price is nearly $25 million. He says it’s been independently authenticated.
“It came from museums in Europe [via my client],” Milan says. “It’s been in the Casa Buonarroti—and then in Dallas at the Museum of Biblical Art.”
Milan figured music and wine were the perfect accompaniment to these masterful works, so the gallery, which is open seven days a week, has live music on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. The gallery also regularly hosts “Bring and Brag” events where patrons can each bring a bottle of wine to share.
Milan developed a love of finer things from his mother, professional impressionist painter Henrietta Milan, who is represented by the gallery. She took Milan abroad for an extended stay in Europe when he was in grade school.
“We bought a van and traveled from city to city. We discovered our family in Croatia, Czech Republic and Poland. We traveled to every major museum in, I think it was like, 12 countries,” says Milan. “Before I was 10 years old, I can say I had a practical viewing of anything that was ever in the history books.”
When Milan was looking for a career change he decided working with the family business is where he wanted to spend his time. Even before his European education, art was in his lineage; Milan grew up in the art world, helping his mother prep for her shows.
“I carried paintings to shows for my mom. I helped set up shows,” he says. “As I got to be a big 10 or 12 year old, I started talking to people, selling artwork. I had a real practical, hands-on education because my mom had us carry boxes as little 3- and 4-year-old kids.”
The gallery stocks a wide array of art, from sculpture to paintings and drawings. Aside from showing strictly highbrow fine art, Milan also has a soft spot for “celebrity artists” and features work by Jane Seymour and Dr. Seuss.
Oftentimes the gallery displays 40 artists at any given time with special traveling exhibitions on view for several weeks. On March 24, Peter Max, who was known for creating super-saturated psychedelic works in the 1960s, will take over the gallery for eight days with a solo show of 150 of his original works. Future spring shows include works by Dr. Seuss and Thomas Arvid, who specializes in large-scale photo-realistic wine bottles and the rituals surrounding wine’s consumption.
Ambience and an exclusive experience is what Milan is striving for. Rather than just dealing art, the gallery is also available to host weddings, corporate events and charity fund-raisers. Milan says each week he has a number of rentals for different occasions.
“It’s about having something exclusive. I don’t carry just a bunch of local artists, I do events and art competitions,” says Milan. “We’re not your typical type of gallery.”
Alaena Hostetter is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about all of her favorite things: art, fashion, culture, music, entertainment and food.