Christine Colvin is closing the doors of FrameWorks gallery and framing studio, but she hopes that means another door is opening for her. She has owned the business, at 2236 N. Wahsatch Ave. in the Bon Shopping Center, for five years, but its history goes back much further.
Sculptor Bill Burgess founded FrameWorks 34 years ago, then Ron and Julie Burnham owned it for 14 of what Colvin calls the “glory years,” when renowned photographer Myron Wood frequented the business.
“So many people still come in the door and ask me, ‘Where are they? What are they doing now? How are they?’" Colvin says of the Burnhams.
Colvin's carried on those traditions of great customer service and support for the art community ever since she bought the business from Sherri and Ben Hotchkiss. But all her outreach efforts to artists, schools, businesses and organizations, and her welcoming smiles to customers, weren't enough to overcome the tough financial times.
“Everything is going up," she says. "Supplies are going up, utilities are going up, the rent goes up and the unemployment insurance goes up. And the amount of customers walking through the door goes down, and what they want to spend goes down. That’s current economic realities.”
Colvin even thought about diversifying by adding a coffee shop, wine bar or gift shop to bring in more revenue, but knew that would just add to her workload.
She’ll continue framing through the end of January and is already offering discounted ready-made frames, some as low as $10. During the holidays, she displayed work by 14 artists, but that will be gone soon — she knows it wouldn’t be fair to ask artists to discount their work.
It won’t be an easy time, although Colvin is doing her best to be positive.
“It’s sad,” she says slowly. “It’s frustrating. It’s harder than I thought it was going to be. But then, I also know the last years have been tough and there’s a little bit of relief about not having to work twice as hard and make half as much.”
For Colvin, it’s all been worthwhile, thanks to the artists and art lovers she’s met through FrameWorks.
“I want to give a great big thank-you to the whole crowd. There’s a lot of people who’ve been coming here a long time. I get third-generation customers, grandkids coming in saying, ‘My grandmother used to bring me here.’ I’ve made a lot of great friends.”
And she’s had a front-row seat for the ever-changing show of local art.
“It’s like visiting a gallery every day. So between the people and the art I’ve gotten to see, it’s been amazing ... My heart is really tied up in this and the art community.”
What’s next? At first, she thought she’d sell off all the framing equipment and supplies, but now she’s not so sure. She’s been spreading the news a little at a time and has been gratified by the supportive responses, encouraging her to keep the business going in another location with lower overhead.
“I don’t want to give up,” Colvin says. “It just feels so wrong to do that. And it feels like I’m not honoring the people before me who put their heart into it.”
However this turns out, she's already attained her main goal: “I just wanted to be a bright spot in the community.”