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Dave Knoke and Debbie Charter pose with a painting inside Knoke Fine Arts, the Marietta gallery which has specialized in 19th and 20th-century American paintings for nearly 50 years.

MARIETTA — Knoke Fine Arts, Marietta’s renowned purveyor of American paintings, will shutter its doors next year.

At age 84, proprietor Dave Knoke says it’s time to hang it up after some 50 years in the art world.

Knoke and Debbie Charter, his longtime business partner, spent decades traveling the country and developing an affinity for 19th and 20th-century American paintings. Their careers span from the days when Southern and folk art was regarded as a curiosity – if at all – to its current recognition as a vital part of American culture.

“This has been a great run,” Knoke told the Journal. “We’re just having this wonderful time with all this. I can’t wait to get here in the morning to see all these beautiful paintings.”

Knoke started out as a hobbyist collector before opening the gallery. For a time, he operated in Sandy Springs, before moving it back to Marietta some 20 years ago.

The gallery, Knoke said, has been unique among its peers in that it specializes in “investment art” – notable pieces traded by collectors which grow in value over the years.

“I have no problem with it at all but … there’s a huge difference between what we sell, and then decorative art that people buy to match the drapes and the sofa,” Knoke said.

Among the artists in whom Knoke has dealt extensively are Georgia’s own Lamar Dodd and Wilbur Kurtz. A particular favorite has been Athos Menaboni, the Italian-born painter renowned for his depictions of birds.

“Dave has probably handled more paintings by Athos Menaboni than any other dealer,” Charter said.

Aside from collecting and trading art pieces, Knoke has also built relationships with curators at the Morris Museum in Augusta and the Booth Museum in Cartersville, among others.

“If I have one thing to leave you with about this last 50 years, it’s the relationships,” he said. “The friends we have made – not only collectors, but museum directors … that’s been the most fun in this business.”

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