Featured in the Community News of the White Rock Lake Weekly
Volume 7 | Number 25 | December 4 -10, 2015
By Shari Goldstein Stern
Two 9-year-old Dutch boys — twins — stepped aboard an ocean liner bound for America in 1964, with their parents, Ann and Ben Massar. It was a welcome three-week journey to a new life. The family was leaving its home in Delft, Holland in The Netherlands, where 20 years earlier, according to the family, “Ann and Ben were survivors of the war and Hitler’s Nazi Army. They both lost family members during this terrible time in history.” As teenagers, Ann and Ben had endured struggles during the war, about which they wouldn’t talk until years later, when their family asked.
One of those twins is Hans Massar, who grew up in Garland. In contrast, Hans’ wife, Pam Massar was raised in Nebraska among the corn fields, where her father was the sheriff.
This year Hans and Pam are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their second generation Lake Highlands family business, Dutch Art Gallery in Northlake Shopping Center, and the third generation is learning the business. Hans’ parents Ben and Ann Massar, opened the store on East Northwest Highway and Ferndale Road on November 19, 1965. Many of the current patrons and artists have been with the Gallery since it was owned and run by “the little Dutch couple,” as many still refer endearingly to the late, senior Massars.
But before they were a free family enjoying their American Dream, Ben and Ann Massar were young adult survivors of Hitler’s regime. To survive at that time meant protecting your parents and grandparents, along with your own children against Hitler’s prison camps. The Massars survived on tulip bulbs, raising rabbits and anything else they could trade for food to stay alive. As a young girl, Ann barely missed a gunshot aimed at her while trying to escape across a canal to trade a small can of coffee for bread for her family. A nearby family took her in and protected her from capture overnight.
As a teenager in Holland, Ben peddled fresh produce door-to-door, while his dad crafted furniture. Later, Ben married Ann, and the couple opened a grocery store in Delft. It was the first, “supermarket,” carrying fresh produce along with staple groceries and meat. It was after the Massars immigrated to America on that Holland Lines ship that Ben decided to shift his focus from groceries to culture with art being his passion. Ben Massar once said, “Works of art can be enjoyed for a lifetime.”
Second generation family owners Hans and Pam Massar continue to carry on the tradition Hans’ parents started 50 years ago after moving from Delft. The gallery was operated by Ann and Ben, along with their three sons, Hans, Ton and Ben, the second generation. While their parents wanted the sons to carry on the family business, they encouraged the, to continue their education. All three brothers chose to practice law. Meanwhile, the gallery continues to flourish today with Hans and Pam at its helm.
Over the years, the gallery’s inventory has varied from Texas artwork to paintings from European masters, hand selected by Ben on regular trips overseas. At one time, Hans said his father even sold jewelry and museum replica pieces. “My father and mother always wanted to please the customer. They wanted to make sure everyone had a nice piece of art in their home.” Once the art business was established, there was a demand for custom framing, which the senior Massars added to their services.
Pam, who took over managing the gallery when her in-laws retired in 1990, enjoys the design process of custom framing. Treasured artifacts are brought in to be preserved and with each comes its story. From World War II frogman masks to baptismal gowns; football jerseys with trophies, prom photos with an invitation and corsages; baby shoes and photos are a few of the treasures for which Pam creates shadow boxes, and her passion is evident when she shows you some of the results.
Hans and Pam believe it’s the hospitable atmosphere that has kept generations of families returning to the gallery. They are talented designers who take a great deal of pride in the quality of all of their work. “If you’re investing in art, it’s a good idea to consult with a professional framer about how to maintain the value.” Pam said.
Steve Hahn is one of the local artists whose work hangs in Dutch Art Gallery. Hahn remarked on the gallery, the Massars and doors they’ve opened for him. Read about Hahn and other area artists whose work the Massars represent and more about the Massars in next week’s issue.
For more information about the Dutch Art Gallery, visit dutchartgallery.net or call (214) 348-7350.
Revised: The first paragraphed was revised by White Rock Lake Weekly.