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The frame game

Jessica Slosberg
Vail, CO, Colorado
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VAIL ” In art, as in life, there are no hard and fast rules to follow. The same truth applies to framing, but the results are of paramount importance: When a piece is framed perfectly it adds a new dimension to the art by enhancing without overpowering. A bad frame job, however, can leave an exquisite piece languishing in obscurity.

“What can I do to make this piece of art communicate with someone with no art background? They should stop and take another glance,” said Georgia Scarbrough, of The Frame Shoppe.

“Framing enhances the beauty of a piece of art; it should be a hint and not take over,” Rayla J. Kundolf, director of Masters Gallery, said.



Patrick Cassidy, co-owner of Vail International Gallery believes framing possesses the power to truly change a piece.

“(You can) really make or break a painting by its frame,” Cassidy said. “A good piece can look incredible, (but) a good piece can (also) look not too good.”



“Framing really does make a big difference,” Scarbrough said. “I can take a piece of calendar art and put a little frame and matte around it and you have a nice piece of art.”

Kay Miller, proprietor of Miller Visual Art, remembered having a woman bring in a painting she had made in high school and had it framed. When it was finished, she liked it so much she gave it a permanent home hanging in her living room.

“I encourage people to go with fairly neutral and timeless colors,” Scarbrough said. “(But) I need to understand what the client wants. (I ask) ‘what is your basic style?’ I can take down three styles that will work, (and) I think I can be helpful in making it less painful.”



From that the point, a client can indicate their likes and dislikes, and Scarbrough helps them identify ideas from further afield that they may be drawn to, considering factors like proportion and color matching.

Miller also said it is important to go with the colors in the piece and not worry so much about the furniture in the room.

“I will have people bring in a pillow they want to match, but the colors in the pillow do nothing for the colors in the art,” she said.

Framing bows to the trends of the times, much like fashion or art itself; these trends become more pronounced within affluent communities like the Vail Valley. Scarbrough has seen some noticeable changes in what people are looking for when they are framing.

“People are coming from urban areas like New York and California, and they have moved away from the rustic look,” she said. “Now people want cleaner lines and a more sophisticated look ” we used to do a lot of ‘barn-yard scruffy,’ and now it’s clean.”

Of course, some trends cross all boundaries, like the ubiquitous framed-mirror trend of late.

“Now we are doing them weekly ” a few years ago we did maybe one every six months,” Scarbrough said.

Unfortunately, rolling out your favorite painting treating it to a proper frame can cost more than you might expect.

“People are surprised that the framing in general costs more than the artwork,” Scarbrough said. “I have to be considerate of price. I can frame the same piece for $50 or $2,000, but it is not always a question of how much money a person has. Someone on a strict budget could be willing to spend a lot, if it’s going in their living room. Or a person could have a lot of money, but they are framing something for a bathroom and they will want to spend less.”

But Scarbrough thinks all clients should view framing as an investment. Beyond aesthetic value, framing allows collectors to to conserve and protect precious artwork and photographs.

“If it is framed properly, you can enjoy it for years to come,” she said. “Conservation is protecting the integrity of the artwork.”

Beyond converving expensive artwork, framing can serve as a method to get kids involved in making, collecting and appreciating art. Miller thinks that framing kids’ own pieces of art is a great way to encourage them. Framing fingerpaintings and finding a permanent home on the wall gives them a legitimacy a few months on the fridge can’t.

“It is really important for parents to encourage their kids,” said Miller, especially because art programs often get cut in schools.

But beyond kids’ art, almost anything can fill the space of a frame. Miller recently created a large shadow box and framed a skateboard for a mother redesigning her son’s room. She’s also framing a set of old Korean fans that a client’s grandfather brought back from the Korean War.

“Women who do memory books should frame them ” they’re art,” she said.


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