(Above: Artwork awaits sale to new homes at ReSale Art in Portland)

By Randi Bjornstad

Owner Beverly Hecht-Levy describes her southeast Portland business, ReSale Art, as “a consignment shop masquerading as a gallery.”

Actually, it’s both. It’s a place to browse art offerings — paintings, limited-edition prints, sculpture, ceramics — created by upwards of 200 Northwest artists at any given time. It’s also a place to buy them, either in person or online via ReSale Art’s website at resaleart.com.

Beverly Hecht-Levy, owner of ReSale Art in southeast Portland, in an undated photo

Hecht-Levy isn’t an artist herself, but she’s been around art all her life.

“I grew up in a home with art on the walls,” she said. “My mom collected art and took art classes. My parents sent me to classes, but I realized I just wasn’t an artist. However, I love art and love being around it.”

Eventually she grew up and earned a degree in behavioral psychology.

“I specialized in animal behavior, and after I got married became the mother of three boys, so that education came in handy,” Hecht-Levy jokes. “But by then I also had started volunteering at the rental sales gallery at the Portland Art Museum, where I eventually became a member of its board. I was very interested and involved.”

The idea of starting an art consignment gallery came to her as more and more art owners came into the museum’s rental sales gallery, where people can either rent or purchase art for their home or office walls. But rather than wanting to take more art home, they wanted to sell art they already had.

“That’s not something we did at the museum gallery,” she said. “But when my kids grew up and left home and I wanted something else to do, I didn’t want to go back to my previous careers, so I came up with the idea of doing a consignment gallery.”

It was a learn-by-doing venture. The rental-sales gallery had 100 volunteers coming in and out and only one paid manager, so starting from scratch was a real education, Hecht-Levy said.

“Looking back, it’s ‘What was I thinking?’ I didn’t have a business degree, I just knew there was a lot of art out there looking for new homes. I was probably a little naive. But this has been successfiul and fun.”

In 2006, she opened the consignment gallery, renting a booth in the Stars & Splendid Antiques Mall in southeast Portland. When she outgrew that, she rented a larger space in a warehouse, also in southeast Portland near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, OMSI. She’s been in her current 1,400 square-foot space on S.E. Milwaukie Ave. for more than a decade.

In addition to paintings and prints, ReSale Art in Portland finds new homes for sculptures and ceramics by Northwest artists

The criteria for artwork accepted at ReSale Art is simple: It has to have been created by a professional artist who lives or once lived in the Pacific Northwest, primarily Oregon and southwest Washington; and the artist must have been represented somewhere by a gallery or museum.

“That’s because I don’t want to be in the position of judging art, whether it’s good or not,” Hecht-Levy said. “Even a great artist can make a bad piece of art — I didn’t realize that at first. But I don’t judge. Art is so subjective. I just want to find appreciated art a new home when people’s tastes have changed or they have accumulated more than they can handle.”

She has two compatriots at ReSale Art, both with backgrounds in visual arts.

Erin Marshall “comes to the table from art school and interior design, and she works at both,” Hecht-Levy said. “She has definite opinions about what would work or not.”

Likewise, “Brad Rogers also is a working artist, and he has owned galleries before,” she said. “It’s interesting the way we all look at art differently, but there are usually two of us in the gallery at the same time, and when someone brings in something they want to sell, we can usually give them a price range based on past experience with sales. Pricing art is not an exact science.”

The provenance of paintings and sculptures at ReSale Art varies a good deal, coming from smaller, personal collections or estates to massive pieces that have been exhibited in businesses or institutions.

“There have been some really great things that have come in, some that I wish I could have bought myself,” Hecht-Levy said. “But I won’t do that unless it’s something that has been on display for a long time and not sold. Most of the time I don’t end up getting it.”

Of course, her own house is pretty full of art already, because she started collecting art long before she opened the resale gallery.

“And then a few years ago we downsized, and we knocked out walls to create kind of a ‘great room’ atmosphere,” she said. “After that, I said, ‘Why did we do that? Now we don’t have as much wallspace for art.’ But one of my sons is an interior architect, and he always tells me that less is more.”

Despite the tragic disruptions of the past year, occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, ReSale Art has had “a stellar year,” Hecht-Levy said.

“I think it’s because people are stuck at home, not eating out, not planning expensive trips,” she said. “So they are spending more money being at home and fixing up their houses and making them more pleasant places to be.”

Because a good deal of her business is done online these days, with many customers able to stop by to pick up items they’ve bought at the curb, “We have had a shockingly terrific year and have been to keep all three people employed, with someone in the shop and others working at home,” she said. “We were able to work on artist bios and paint art stands — everybody had projects.”

She loves selling used art on the “secondary market,” being able to match up quality pieces with new owners who might not be able to afford art on the “primary market.”

“I really believe in I’m doing, finding new homes for artwork and introducing people to really talented artists from the Northwest that they might otherwise not have known about,” Hecht-Levy said. “I’m having a really good time.”

She’s in a position now to pass her love of art on to grandchildren.

“Of course when they come to our house, they see the art on our walls, and we talk about it,” she said.

Once, when a toddler granddaughter came to visit, she looked up at the wall and saw a painting of well-known vaudeville performer Artie Hall, Hecht-Levy recalled.

“She was just a year-and-a-half, but she was so taken with the picture of this dance hall girl, and she just started talking to the painting,” she said. “It was all baby talk — it was so cute.”

Resale Art

What: Consignment sales of fine art

Where: 7227 SE Milwaukie Ave., Portland, OR 97202

Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Information: Telephone 503-310-9507, email bev@resaleart.com; online at resaleart.com

A large acrylic painting by the late Eugene artist Mark Clarke, titled Landstripe, is one of the many offerings currently for sale at ReSale Art in Portland; the 1978 painting measures 72.5 inches wide and 50.5 inches tall and bears a tag from First Interstate Bank