Armstrong De Graaf

Michigan's oldest continually OPERATED GALLERY NOW part of J. Petter Galleries




Spanning its nearly 80-year history Armstrong De Graaf International Fine Art has gone by many names. Beginning in Ann Arbor in 1946, The Forsythe Gallery, Ann Arbor’s first fine art gallery, was founded by Jessie W. Forsythe. Forsythe began the gallery in her home before moving to its location in the Nickels Arcade near the University of Michigan campus in 1956. As she neared retirement Forsythe reached out to Dan De Graaf offering him the directorship of the gallery. Instead, De Graaf purchased the gallery joining forces with Forsythe, who continued with De Graaf in developing relationships and representing some of the finest international and national contemporary artists. 

The De Graaf Forsythe Galleries continued to grow its legacy over the decades expanding to Chicago, West Palm Beach, and of course Saugatuck. De Graaf had a passion for connecting people with art, educating the public on how to discerningly look at an artist’s work, and demonstrating how it enhances a person’s life as part of their everyday environment. The success of his passion has been proven by the gallery’s longevity, the collectors that remain clients, and its notable auctions and museum collections.

As Dan De Graaf looked toward ending his tenure as the director long-time collectors Jane and David Armstrong heard the call. Jane had worked for the gallery in Ann Arbor 35 years earlier and was a pioneer in the Holland Area Arts Council where she served as director and board member for many years. One of the HAAC galleries bears her name. David had been on the faculty and an academic dean at Michigan State University, an executive with Herman Miller, an independent entrepreneur, and a consultant before acquiring the gallery. Upon their purchase the gallery’s name again changed, becoming Armstrong De Graaf International Fine Art. 

Armstrong De Graaf International Fine Art has been a staple in the West Michigan art scene. Focusing their attention on the art coast of Michigan, the Armstrongs opened new branches of the historic gallery while continuing the main gallery on Water Street, including the DryDock Gallery located in Butch’s Dry Dock restaurant in Holland, Michigan. 

In 2015 Juli Petter took on the challenge of upholding Joyce Petter’s art legacy when she took ownership of the J. Petter Galleries. When the Armstrongs were ready to do the same they approached Juli to take on the Armstrong DeGraaf properties. Armstrong De Graaf International Fine Art is now part of the J. Petter Galleries and the J. Petter Galleries Holland Annex, featuring contemporary and historic artwork from long-standing Armstrong DeGraaf artists as well as new additions. 


We at the J. Petter Galleries are honored to continue the legacy of both historic galleries as we work with the artists and collectors that Armstrong DeGraaf International Fine Art has cultivated.

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