With the age of digital photography making it easier for us to capture moments of our families and loved ones, it may seem like the days of painted portraits are behind us. However, one local business is thriving on creating such works of art for its customers.
Memory Portraits, and its secondary company Galleria, located at 600 N. Weinbach Ave. Ste. 810, specializes in making art out of family pictures. Owner Dave Morris started the venture in 2000, according to President David Dunigan and General Manager Pam Bates. The original business worked solely with funeral homes locally and around the country to create customized portraits on matte paper for grieving families.
“He’s really the one who knew that it was something that was needed, especially with cremation being popular,” says Bates. “The family needs something they can bring home.”
Dunigan says the business’ first portraits were in a Rembrandt style, using strong lights and heavy shadows — which they still do today. However, he adds with the popularity of digital cameras, the company’s orders now include more touch-ups or enhancements of personal photos of loved ones to look as if they were painted.
Memory Portraits also does work with the Patriot Guard Riders to provide portraits of fallen soldiers to their families at no cost. “Those are probably the most powerful, the most meaningful,” says Dunigan.
“And (The Patriot Guard) will send us pictures of the family and it’s just neat how the families embrace these portraits,” says Bates. “It’s not expected (by them).”
The work the business does with the Patriot Guard is something both Bates and Dunigan take pride in. “We feel those families have paid a very high price for allowing us here at Memory Portraits to enjoy our freedom, so we appreciate that,” says Dunigan.
With the success of Memory Portraits came a demand to do more than just portraits for funerals. That was when the business expanded and started Galleria, which Dunigan says is more for the Evansville public and consumers.
“It is picking up in popularity. I think nationwide, it’s become more of a popular trend to hang canvas on your wall, especially personalized canvas,” he adds. “It’s neat. It’s personalized customized art.”
The business employs eight in-house artists, who are on hand to talk with customers and work together to bring a superior product to clients. The artists are very hands-on with the entire process, and working together builds camaraderie, says Dunigan.
He says the most rewarding aspect about the business for him is helping people. “It’s helping people deal with grief on the funeral home side and it’s helping people decorate their homes in a positive manner on the Galleria side,” he says. “I just like that we’re helping people and making their lives better.”
For Bates, the reactions from clients are what she enjoys. “Just people’s expressions once they see the finished product in hand (is rewarding),” she says. “They find comfort in them.”
For more information about Memory Portraits, call 812-423-6389 or visit memoryportraits.com.