MEET CONSTANCE G. KANTAR
Kantar Fine Arts
By Elaine Dohan
Owner and director of Kantar Fine Arts
Gallery in Newton, Constance Kantar credits her parents with instilling
the love of beauty which has enriched her life.
“I grew up in a home filled with art.
My parents were major collectors. My father, Samuel Glaser, was an
architect with a wonderful eye for art. We were surrounded by paintings,
sculpture and books by such greats as Degas, Chagall, Picasso, and Henry
Moore. When we were children my brother, sister and I would gather
around the table to examine a new, wonderful art book my dad had just
brought home. We knew that this was a special event.” Her family,
including actors, filmmakers and photographers are all passionate
Kantar moved to Newton in 7th grade.
She attended the old Weeks Junior High School and Newton High School. It
was at Weeks that she first met William Kantar. They went on to high
school and college together and married in 1960. From the beginning,
they shared a love of fine art. Paying $30 per month for three months,
they purchased their first piece, a lithograph by Odilon Redon, while
Billy was a resident in psychiatry.
Kantar majored in government as an
undergraduate at Radcliffe and took many classes in fine arts. She holds
a Master’s in Fine Arts from Harvard University.
She began her career as a political
activist during the Vietnam War, first organizing and working for
candidates on the state and national level, including Robert Drinan,
Bill Clinton and Al Gore. She was a delegate for Steve Grossman to the
2002 state convention and is on the Democratic City Committee.
Before opening her gallery, Kantar was
president and general manager of the Newton Symphony Orchestra for
twenty-five years. While in that position she initiated the Art for
Music program, in which an established artist was commissioned yearly to
create a print or drawing to be produced in a limited edition. This
piece of art, “enhanced the image of the symphony, in addition to
providing revenue for the artist and the orchestra.”
Constance G. Kantar opened Kantar Fine
Arts seven years ago in her 100-year-old home in Newton. The Kantars
have raised their four children and “many litters of Shelties” in that
house. After completing his medical education, Dr. Kantar, a
psychiatrist, opened his professional office there as well.
Initially, Kantar used the first floor
living space as a gallery, removing her own collection to hang the work
of artists she represented. “It worked very well. Viewers could see a
piece in the context of a home. They saw that you don’t need just the
‘right’ furniture or colors.” Two years ago, a wing, including gallery
space which opens onto a four season garden, was added.
All of the art exhibited at Kantar Fine Arts is museum quality.
Some pieces are from Kantar’s personal collection. In addition, she
represents a number of artists, mostly from New England. Some are people
whose work is already well recognized; others are emerging artists who
“are creating the outstanding work of the future.”
Kantar’s focus is to make excellent
contemporary art available to people in the Greater Boston area. She
hopes to offer those who visit her gallery an environment in which they
can achieve a “sense of comfort. Viewing art should be an uplifting,
mind stretching experience.”
In addition, Connie Kantar shares the
skill and knowledge gained through her multi-faceted education. “A
gallery owner,” she says, “should offer a mini course to give each
visitor an understanding of what is special about the work. A great
piece of art,” she explains, “is a masterful handling of the chosen
material to communicate with the viewer through color, line, texture
Ms. Kantar is quiet and delicate with
startling blue eyes that sparkle when she speaks about her collection.
Pointing to various pieces, she directs the viewer to observe a fish
with “flowing, lyrical lines” and a “surface patina giving a sense of
the ancient,” or the “tension between the turn of a head and the legs”
created by a few brushstrokes in a painting, or a bird with “wings that
cup the air.”
Even viewers who have no initial
reaction are helped to develop a greater awareness of what they are
seeing. “Opening the gallery,” she says, “links me to a great family
tradition. I want to open the doors of the art world to the community,
showing people how wonderful it is to live with a great work. Collecting
art is within the reach of everyone.”
Reprinted by permission from
The Middlesex Beat, March 2003