Yisrael Paliti sold his Oak Park-based store, Metro Frame, late last year.
It’s a wrap.
Leaving the scene of his greatest success, Yisrael Paliti sold his Oak Park-based store, Metro Frame, on the last day of December 2022. The decision disappointed the scores of customers and friends he’s made as an expert in custom framing and painting restoration.
“I was happy all the way,” said the modest and easygoing Paliti about his artistic career, including the 30 years he spent in his rented corner storefront at 26045 Coolidge Highway at Elgin Street.
Known for his trademark black knit cap or a small-brimmed hat, he likes making French toast and using a French press for steaming cups of mild Turkish coffee he gets ground at Costco Wholesale.
Citing “increasing age and decreasing energy,” Paliti, 77, said he’s glad to finally join his wife Sharon, 73, a certified public accountant (CPA), in retirement. The Palitis, members of Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park and the progressive Zionist organization Ameinu Detroit, plan to continue tending to their art-filled Oak Park home and bountiful gardens. But now they relish having more time to travel.
Meanwhile, the curtain is rising on a new era, as Sophie and Pat, of the family that now owns the name and contents of Metro Frame, get ready to open their picture-framing business.
Yisrael Paliti, with the nicknames “Izzy” or “Yis,” is a third-generation Sabra on his Jerusalem-born mother and grandmother’s side. His father, Elimelech “Eli” Paliti, made aliyah to Israel from Sambur, Poland, in the late 1920s. Eli met Adina, Izzy’s mother, in Motza Ilit, a village in the Judean Hills.
Izzy’s family — including his sisters, Pnina Niv and Asnat Amir, and his brother, Eldad Paliti, all still of Israel — settled in Kibbutz Beit Alfa in northern Israel. The kibbutz founders in 1922 were immigrants from Poland affiliated with Hashomer Hatzair, a Zionist youth movement.
Izzy’s main occupation on the kibbutz was truck driver, having served — and not happily — in the Israel Defense Force’s tank battalion during the Six-Day and Yom Kippur wars.
The young man’s life changed forever when his mother introduced Izzy to her friend and new kibbutznik Sharon Reider, a college graduate from Iowa.
Married on Feb. 13, 1973, the Palitis are celebrating their 50th anniversary this month on the kibbutz with family and friends. The young couple decided to leave Beit Alfa for Iowa in June 1975, a few months after the birth of their only child, Adi Paliti, now of Los Angeles.
Life in America
With initial help from Sharon’s parents, Izzy and Sharon worked hard to secure their future. Izzy was a carpenter’s helper and painted houses. He earned a degree in graphic arts at Iowa State University in Ames, where Sharon taught accounting, and they lived in subsidized housing while she was studying for her master’s degree in business. Sharon also taught a year at Drake University in Des Moines. Following graduation, Izzy worked as a graphic artist for a short-lived publication. When a nearby frame shop took him on, he apprenticed with artist Keith Vandepol to learn picture framing.
The Palitis were happy living in Ames but wanted a larger Jewish community to raise their son. They chose Metro Detroit to be near Sharon’s family members. After settling in Berkley, Sharon began working as a CPA and later acquired her own business. Izzy initially worked at a picture-framing warehouse.
Realizing that he preferred being his own boss, he started framing pictures at home and stayed afloat from customer referrals. Izzy credits interior designer-artist Linda Golden with helping him get his business going. After two years, in 1992, Izzy found his ideal space in Oak Park. “I liked the neighborhood, and I didn’t want to be in a mall location,” he recalled.
“I’ve known Yisrael since he opened up his shop,” said Metro Frame customer Vickie Howard of Huntington Woods. “He’s an artistic wizard; he has a good eye.” The daughter of an artist, Howard said she’s very particular about framing her artwork.
Choosing the right mat and frame was a joint process, she said, in which “we would pick together four or five frames, then sit and look at my artwork. Figuring out the framing took as long as it needed to be. He filled my needs for it coming out perfectly.”
Paliti said his approach was always to ask a customer, “What is your décor?” in an attempt to determine the customer’s personal style. “If someone wanted a blue mat, I’d ask, ‘Why the blue?’ There has to be a reason why. Sometimes I might persuade the person that another color would be better.”
A creator of sketches and lithographs, with a fondness for abstracts, Paliti said he has always pursued the goals of “educating people about art, displaying art and loving art.” He added, “There is no such thing as ‘bad’ art — it’s just different, and different does not mean bad.”
Paliti said he’s never disparaged anything brought to him to frame. Besides pictures, he’s framed jerseys, collages and shadowbox items. Paliti is proud of being tapped as a framer for four movies made in Detroit during the 2008-2015 heyday of generous tax incentives for Michigan’s film industry.
“The work that Izzy does is so superior,” said his close friend Stan Carlson of Southfield. “I’d call him a master framer. He’s framed or restored more than 100 works for me.”
The men “hit it off immediately, 15 or 20 years ago” when Stan, then an interior decorator, brought Paliti a piece to frame by his artist son, Bowen Kline of Romeo.
“Izzy really liked my son’s work and sold some of it in his store,” Carlson said. Pieces that Paliti personally matted, framed and then sold represented a smaller aspect of Metro Frame’s business.
Kline’s “expressive portrait” of Paliti, as well as a picture depicting a sunny day under umbrellas in the old port city of Jaffa (Yafo), near Tel Aviv, hang in the Palitis’ neat-as-a-pin colonial-style home purchased in 1999. The array of framed art, vintage furniture, Sharon’s collection of antique teacup sets, and more, were found at flea markets, estate and garage sales or through Izzy’s art world connections.
Three of his favorite paintings have Israel connections: one by the late architect-artist Louis Redstone shows “The Sackhne” (commonly known as Gan HaShlosha National Park), located not far from Beit Alfa — “it reminds me of home;” a Tel Aviv market scene by Yehudah Rodan and an untitled, colorful floral that his mother painted.
After buying the Robert Kidd Gallery in Birmingham eight years ago, Gerard Marti followed up on a recommendation to hire Paliti. Ticking off the attributes of the framer who became his friend, Marti said Paliti “is very good at what he is doing; he is easy to work with; his work is impressive.”
Another Metro Frame customer is Paliti’s friend Ron Povich, owner since 1994 of the Golden Fig Gallery of Fine Arts and Antiques in Birmingham. “I met Yisrael through Louis Redstone. Yis does great framing, painting repairs and is helpful in providing suggestions on the right kind of framing to make sure the piece looks really good. Putting the right frame on a piece is all the difference between something that’s ho-hum and something spectacular.”
Restoration is a whole adjunct to framing. Carlson said, “Izzy’s restoration work is unbelievable. If you take him a ripped painting, he could fix it to the point where you wouldn’t know it was ever ripped. Not every frame shop could do that.”
With his store behind him, Paliti said he isn’t interested in doing much framing. But he still enjoys cleaning and repairing works of art. He will be keeping his hand in with a home-based independent business, Metro Art Restorations. Those familiar with Paliti’s skills couldn’t be more pleased.