Saturday, April 23, 2016

At very long last, the website is live!

Please visit us at the newly updated website -  Thank you!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes...  (oops...stop singing!)

Lots of changes on tap for Frame of Reference in 2014!  The biggest, and the most bittersweet, is that Christine and Roxie are chasing their respective dreams in Vermont as of January 1, 2014.  After many years of living in Limbo, hoping to return home to rejoin her family in the Green Mountain State, it has finally happened!  Enough pieces have fallen into place, allowing me to buy Christine out of the framing business; she is staying on as a design consultant on a permanent basis, so I'll still have help and advice on the projects that escape my creative side.  I'm thrilled for her, and I miss her and Roxie tremendously, but I soldier on.

For those of you who want to know what Christine is up to, follow her on her blog,

As for me, I'm up to a ton of things!  In addition to having to learn the accounting side of the business, I'm making a few organizational changes, streamlining the production schedule, and as always, heading to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks to check out what's new and cool on the market, to make sure that you've got access to the latest and greatest.

Also on tap - a commitment to being a little more connected to the world.  I will do my best to post something new to the blog every week; most of those posts will be project oriented now.  And, as much as it pains me to do so, I've taken over the Frame of Reference Facebook page - look there for photos, current business hours, upcoming events and cool projects, and maybe an occasional photo of Roxie for those of you who need a fix.

Last, and most certainly not least, a website!  We've done the blog for years - there's no need to go into the myriad reasons for this - and I've finally committed to getting a real website online.  We'd hoped for mid-January, but the holiday season and the huge business changeover sort of took precedent, so look for a launch in February.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Who's Your Framer?

Nope - that's not a typo.  This isn't a post about organic gardening, rather, it's about being a professional in an industry that doesn't actually require much by way of professional commitments.  Huh?  Well, here's the thing - being a picture framer isn't like being a lawyer, or an accountant, or any other vocation which requires education, training or licensing.  In theory, all it takes to have a picture framing business is a space and a few tools.  Many framers working today haven't actually had ANY formal training - they learned from their parents, or their former boss, or they just made it up as they went along.  As Derek is so fond of saying in his classes, "Any idiot can put a frame on a picture, and many do."

So who's YOUR framer?  Has your framer had anything in the way of formal education, learning how to correctly frame your treasured possessions?  Does your framer take advantage of educational offerings, attending trade shows and seminars to learn about trends in the industry?  Does your framer network with others and keep abreast of the most currently accepted methods for handling and preserving artwork for display?  Does your framer teach other framers innovative techniques for creating unique frame designs?  If we're your framers, then the answer to all of the above questions is "YES!"

Derek just spent four days in Las Vegas, attending the West Coast Art and Framing Show, the largest trade show and educational expo in the United States. He was there to teach a class on stacked moulding designs, which will be reproduced over the next few months in Picture Framing Magazine (PFM), the largest trade publication for professional framers.  Derek was also invited to participate as the sole independent framer on the annual breakfast panel, a "state of the industry" event hosted by the magazine's editors and moderated by the owner of the largest retail framing business in the United States - a prestigious honor indeed.  And it's not his first rodeo, so to speak: over the years, Derek has taught at several national conventions, both for PFM and for the Professional Picture Framers' Association (the national trade association.)  He served a term on the national board of directors for the PPFA, and both he and Christine have served as president of the Northern Rockies Chapter of the PPFA and have written articles in PFM.  Derek has also taught privately and consulted for several picture framing businesses in Western Montana, helping with training, marketing and shop setup.

What's the point of all of this rah rah talk?  Shameless self promotion?  Honestly, YES! We know that picture framing is expensive!  It's one of the few things left in this world that is truly custom, and beyond design, the vast majority of the work is hidden in the package where the consumer can't see it.  Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it shouldn't be done right!  We see what amounts to criminal damage done by other framers on a regular basis when we take apart pieces for reframing.  Artwork held in with masking tape, surgical tape, even duct tape - none of which are appropriate for coming into contact with your artwork.  Mats made from wood pulp which will discolor and acid burn your artwork.  Treasured objects stuck down with silicone or white glue.  Does it really matter?  Maybe not for the $15 poster that can be easily replaced, but for almost everything else, from your child's school art project to your wedding photos to your grandfather's apothecary tools, of course it matters!  Framing should preserve your treasures for future generations, not harm them and cause them to deteriorate because the framers didn't take advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.

So, who's your framer?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Starting the year with a bang

It is January.

Sorry, but that needed saying right off the bat.  And not only is it January, it is almost the end of January.    Good gracious - how did that happen?

These dark and dreary winter months are not generally chock full of art sales.  Yes - shocking, isn't it?  The world is hibernating.  The world is home, glued to the couch.  The world is watching football.  The world is not shopping for art.

Except on some days.

Like today.

Derek just got back from delivering and installing two beautiful pastels by one of our favorite local artists, Jeanette Rehahn.  "Mood Indigo" was one of them:

The other - "Swan Valley at Rest" - was just framed last week and never even made it onto the wall here at the gallery:

From Jeanette's Statement of Purpose:

 The natural world has always been at the center of Jeanette’s life.  Her first choice of vacation or a day off is always wilderness. Her private friends are those who live in the wild, quiet places... the forest, grasses, the clouds.  Northwestern Montana’s abundant natural beauty:  Its mountains, lakes, ponds and vast skies, compel Jeanette to respond to it.  She notices the simple surprises as well as the majestic scenes of quiet beauty others may pass by. You won’t find man-made structures in her work, only nature as she would present herself without interference.

Here are a few more of Jeanette's pastels, including another brand new piece that has yet to make it up onto the wall:

Thank you, Jeanette, for hanging your beautiful work here in our gallery, and for helping to make this our best January ever!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

All the News that Fits

Humor me for a second.  Real quick, go to the last post and read the very beginning.  I'll wait.


Got it?  The part about how we missed the ENTIRE month of June?

Now look at today's date.


Thank goodness we hired a new Social Media Director.  Hopefully she will help keep us on track.  Here she is, ready for her close-up:

Not only do I have to teach her to type, I guess I also have to teach her how to use my new camera.  So don't be surprised if, in the future, you see a lot of pictures like this:

In the meantime, Roxie has asked me to muddle through once again, and fill you in on everything new at the gallery.  I will do my best.

First of all, we've got a bunch of this going on...

... because we've got a whole lot of new artwork!  It's crazy!  First, this sweet little guy from Sarah Rogers.  He is called the "Night Watchman."

Ed Gillenwater has been frantically finishing up a few new pieces before he heads out of town for the winter.  Ed's furniture has been flying out the door this year - a new commissioned console table just went to its new home this morning, in fact!  The dragonfly tile in this decorative wall piece is only about 2" square.  I've got it sitting on an easel in our front window:

We have a couple of new pieces from Tabby Ivy, and a whole bunch from Louise Lamontagne.

Roxie is ridiculing me because I forgot to write down the names of these two paintings.  She says she would never make such a foolish mistake.

In the custom framing department, we have been busy, busy, busy.  In fact, we just had our best September ever.  HA!  We have had great success with a line of moulding manufactured by one nice guy named Doug right down the road in Belgrade, Montana.  He has come up with a great rustic, western alternative to barnwood.

Last but not least, we also have a few new photo frames.  The frames in the first picture are supposedly made from naturally shed buffalo horn.  I don't know if I believe that, but they are really quite lovely.  The frames in the last picture are just your every day, regular, run-of-the-mill bling.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


So.  Did you notice that we missed the ENTIRE month of June with our blog posts?  Things were crazy around here.  Truly crazy.  It wasn't the best June we have ever had, but it is up in the top three or four.  And to cap it off, we hosted an artist's reception for Louise Lamontagne on Friday night, the 29th.  We had a blast!  It was Last Fridays, so our entire block was hopping and loads of people came in.  At one point we were literally wall-to-wall people.  Josh up at Culinary Design Studio did an awesome job catering, we had an entire boat full of bubbly, and we sold six of Louise's paintings.  We were too busy to take a bunch of pictures, but here are a few:

 The booze boat!  We went through a lot of bubbly....

 We painted our door and trim "Louise colors" just for the event!  HA!

 Including the two in the window, we had 25 of Louise's paintings exhibited.

 "Renewal," the signature piece for the show, hangs beautifully on our blue wall.

Maggie and Al came to meet Louise and tell her some crazy story about Al's longtime friend having just married one of Louise's old roommates.  It's a small world!

Three of the Frame of Reference artists - Tabby Ivy, Jeanette Rehahn and Louise Lamontagne.  And that's Louise's husband Tom in the background.

What a great way to end the month.  Thank you Louise!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time flies

It has been two months since our last blog post, and that means we have either been on a long, sweet vacation or we have been working our tails off.  Alas, there was no vacation!

Derek has been busy with his three jobs, Christine has been busy as President of the Board of Directors of the Bigfork Museum, and Roxie has been busy answering phones and playing ball.  Here is the evidence:

Next week the Bigfork Museum is holding its annual fundraising auction, and Tabby Ivy is one of six "quick finish" artists featured.  Check back next week for photos!  We are also working on our summer schedule, and hope to have two fabulous shows lined up highlighting our newest artists.  Last but not least, May 25 is Last Fridays.  It is also the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend and the Whitewater Festival, so Bigfork will be hopping.  Stop in and see us!