Pensler Galleries is located just off Dupont Circle and a few doors up from the Phillips Collection. The gallery benefits from its proximity to the high-quality 19th- and 20th-century American art and early modern masters found at the museum; consequently, its collection of works for sale seems to have been inspired by the discerning eye of Duncan Phillips, the art patron who founded Washington's "first museum of modern art." Alan Pensler first sold art out of the trunk of his car while a graduate student at George Washington University in 1976. However, for the past 12 years, he's been doing business in more established quarters, occupying the ground floor of a turn-of-the-century brownstone on Q Street. When Pensler Galleries was founded 21 years ago, it dealt primarily in American painting, a market that recently has become so popular that high-quality works for sale are difficult to find. Subsequently, the gallery has expanded its interests toward European and Latin American artists, to maintain the collection's high standards. In his introduction to the 1996 catalogue, Pensler states his "goal has been to provide works of art that not only have decorative appeal but also intrinsic artistic merit that will stand the test of time." Pensler Galleries is for serious collectors who want to hang something beautiful on their walls, but also something with history. Pensler chooses his collection carefully and takes the time to share with collectors his thorough knowledge of the artists he features. Only an appointment will assure entrance into the two low-ceilinged show rooms. Works are displayed against walls lightened by honey-colored, rough textured fabric, which contrasts with dark, polished wood floors. The space allows visitors to quietly contemplate the mix of paintings and prints hung on its walls. -- Laura Baptiste
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