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National fine art auction house opening new Calgary gallery

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It's taken a year for the owners of Heffel Fine Art Auction House to make their new building just right to display work by their featured artists. But now the space is open for business and boasts impressive collections from Alex Colville and other Canadian artists.

"We have a long history of selling Colvilles both in auction and private sale as well," said Robert Heffel, vice-president of Heffel Auction. "The show's fantastic, it's a really special show."

The business was started in 1978 by Kenneth Heffel and is now run by his two sons Robert and David. It has auction houses in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

"We have offices all across the country so Toronto has some pretty impressive facilities," he said. "In terms of warehouses and an exhibition space this is the nicest one, we do have our warehouse in Vancouver (but) this one's actually a little nicer."

Heffel says the Calgary location now is a secure, state of the art storage facility with a controlled climate.

"The most important thing actually for our works is that it's a consistent temperature and a consistent humidity," said Heffel. "Big variations aren't good but a consistent (temperature and humidity level) is the most important."

SEEING WORKS OF ART IN PERSON

The gallery space is a chance for customers to see works of art in person before they're posted in monthly online auctions.

"We were one of the first in the world to conduct fine art auctions online in 1999," said Heffel. "We were one of the global leaders in online auctions of fine art but we've always been kind of a combination of clicks and bricks, so both the online component with the bricks and mortar component, a combination of the two."

Vancouver artist Ross Penhall now shows his art through Heffel and likes the new gallery space.

"I feel very at home here, you want to fit," he said. "Years ago when I was approached by a gallery, I liked the other artists that were there, they weren't necessarily exactly like me, but they were painters so I want to be in a gallery where there's painters."

'RESPECTFUL'

Penhall has known about Heffel's reputation in the art world for years.

"What they do for the art in Canada is just so respectful," he said. "That's the word I think of when I think of Heffel is respect, you know, they respect me and their employees."

Heffel says he not only likes to connect with his customers, he forms close bonds with the artists showcased in his galleries.

"Well, I love Ross Penhall's work," he said. "His paintings are about light and when you see them in person, his paintings look great and when I did the studio visit with him it really came together but also Ross is such a nice guy."

Heffel is excited about the new Calgary space and says the auction business is the best business in the world to be part of.

"Because almost every day something amazing comes in and it's like Christmas every week seeing a great treasure come in and it's exciting," he said.

Heffel is hosting a live auction in Toronto May 25th that will also be accessible on-line. Learn more about the company here: www.Heffel.com

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