Providence Picture Frame’s unassuming location on Branch Avenue belies a treasure trove of big spaces filled with big art, big frames, and a big team dedicated to framing artistic projects large and small. With three floors, there’s over an acre of gallery space. That’s more than enough room for its approximately 3,000 items, including a large room to showcase Rhode Island art.
Not surprisingly, the gallery also has over 900 frames on hand and all can be custom-designed to fit any piece of art. “Many other framing companies will show you their samples, but they don’t have them all in stock,” notes owner Geoff Gaunt. “We have the space for these!”
The options range from simple wooden pieces to brushed steel to hand-painted gilding. “We can customize our frames to fit whatever you want, in a fast amount of time, because we do all of the work in-house,” explains Gaunt.
Whether large or small, the Providence Picture Frame team focuses on what the customer needs. Gaunt’s philosophy is: “Do what’s right for the artwork and do what’s right for the customer.” That means Gaunt and his team take great care to preserve the condition of the art. For instance, they are specially trained in a hinging technique called ‘mulberry wheat hinging,’ a practice originating thousands of years ago in Japan. It requires a wheat starch, which is made in-house, as well as an in-depth understanding of paper weighting. The result is a long-lasting, conserved piece of art that – should it get knocked off a wall – protects the art by easily tearing at the hinge, rather than damaging the piece itself.
And when it comes to customer service, Gaunt understands the balance between aesthetics and budget. They have several tiers of pricing for framing services, be it a child’s treasured piece or an historical treasure.
In-house, they’re able to create various sizes of printed art. Using a high-tech printer, called a Giclee, Gaunt can take a piece of original art and re-create it in a larger size on canvas, matte, and several other backgrounds. “I only use [modern] technology when it makes sense,” he says.
Providence Picture Frame also offers installation services and some of their latest projects have been especially large.
Providence Picture Frame’s latest sizeable pieces can be seen at the Pawtucket Library, where an 18-foot-by-five-foot work is hanging. They recently had large pieces of abstract art in their shop, where they built frames and then safely shipped to display at the Renaissance Hotel in Chicago. Recently, Gaunt and his team volunteered to move a local piece of history for the Armenian Church in Cranston: a WWII parachute that was a canvas for an iconic painting. Taking up a 12-foot-by-eight-foot space, this heavy work of art was safely moved and re-installed when the church relocated.
Whether installation, framing, or both, Providence Picture Frame handles substantial projects—and it’s not just artwork, either. Sometimes customers arrive at their door with a box of things. “It could be memorabilia, or things that are special to them, and they hand it to us,” Gaunt says. “We work with them to design it.”
Photography by Amber Jane Barricman
Written by: Laura Kanzler
Article published in 2013-14 annual issue.