Standing inside his recently-opened art gallery on the corner of Atlantic and Little Rock Avenues in Ventnor, the former location of Scout Clothing and Decor, artist David Holtzman spoke about his lifelong love of art.

It was his dream to one day open a high-end art gallery in Ventnor, his hometown, and with it ignite a cultural awakening in the city.

His dream is now a reality.

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"When I wake up in the morning, I think 'God, this is great'," said Holtzman, less than a week after the gallery's grand opening.

The grand opened on Feb. 16, a snowy Saturday, and it brought in a packed house gathering people from all demographics.

"It was the biggest mix of people you can imagine," he said, "from all ethnic backgrounds, all ages from 80s to people in their 20s."

There will be a second grand opening sometime in May to accommodate Ventnor's seasonal residents who have yet to return to the area.

An upscale art gallery is unique to Ventnor, Holtzman said, and it's something locals desperately wanted.

"From what I heard at the opening, everybody was longing for it. I mean they're really thirsty to get some of this cultural juice flowing in the area," he said. "Ventnor has talked about in more bringing culture, but not much has been done. I'm hoping since we brought this caliber of place it will jumpstart it and make this more of an art area."

Holtzman Gallery houses an eclectic array of high-end works including a mint condition etching of a 1928 Louis Icart "Don Juan," a self-portrait by Anthony Quinn and limited-edition Erte sculptures. Holtzman also has a few of his own pieces hanging in the gallery, including a self portrait he did in the early 70s as a teen, and works by his late-father, Alex G. Holtzman, who passed away in late 2012 and to whom the gallery is dedicated.

He father was also an artist and an art collector. When he died, his collection was passed down to David and his sister, Paula. Aside from collecting artwork, his father also collected autographed baseballs, Boy Scouts of America memorabilia and a "Norman Rockwell Scrapbook For a Young Boy," which is filled with famous signatures and collectable postage stamps, including a stamp dedicated to and signature by Helen Keller.

Holtzman said his goal is to maintain an upscale, but a varied array of art in the gallery.

"I didn't want to stick with one type of art because there are so many different types of people out there." he said. "The versatility for me is critical."

Though it's been less than a week since the opening, he predicts a positive future for the gallery and is excited to see what becomes of it.

"I'm real optimistic that we're going to do really well here," he said, "and I'm hoping to be here forever."

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If you go

What: Holtzman Gallery

Where: 5301 Atlantic Avenue, 609-822-8482

Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Also open by appointment.

For info: (website to be launched in the coming weeks.)

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