Thursday, May 7, 2015

TBT: "Picture Framing"

Today I came across a bunch of diagrams I drew up for frame jobs during my days as a picture framer.

Over the years I've worked in three different frame shops in three different Connecticut towns.

The best years were spent at Barney's Place in Greenwich. It was a high-end frame shop and art supply store - which also had a separate art gallery that would put on shows every month or so, usually with artwork selling from "just a few thousand" to the "well into six-figures" range.

Part of what made those years so great was the quality of the artwork we were working with and the framing that we were doing. We were the frame shop that got "the big stuff" - and by "big stuff" I mean "really freakin' expensive". One day I would be framing a finger painting by someone's kindergartener and the next day I'd be framing an original painting by Jackson Pollock.

During my time at Barney's Place I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of amazing, rare and valuable artwork. Oil paintings by Monet... Signed photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe... Preliminary sketches for "The Scream" by Edvard Munch and for the painting "Whistler's Mother" by James McNeill Whistler... Original works by Keith Haring, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Alfred Stieglitz, Joan MirĂ³, Salvador Dali, N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, Jean-Michel Basquiat and countless others. It was an honor and a privilege to be able to work with such amazing pieces!

And the framing we were doing was very high-end... very intricate... very detail-oriented, archival-quality framing. On some jobs just the frame alone would cost the customer $1,000.00 or more. It was incredible.

The only thing I didn't like about being a framer was the "working with the customers" part. I hated having to do that. I hated their indecisiveness... and their wanting things to be "as cheap as possible" - or wanting something framed to "match the couch". I loathed being called to the selling desk. I much preferred doing the actual framing.

But the best part of my time spent at Barney's Place was that I was working alongside my brother Peter - who was the manager of the framing department. During those years we became closer than ever - and I count those days among the happiest of my life. We got to spend a LOT of time together, and truly became best friends.

Standing at my workbench... working beside my brother... having conversations... listening to James Brown blasting on the stereo (which we chipped in together to buy for the shop)... semi-dancing while framing - THAT was my "Happy Place".

I miss it. I truly, truly miss it.

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