Monday, November 23, 2015

Introducing the Artisans at the Annex.

Since we are in the art and framing business at the Studio Shop, it is often the artists and the designers who get all of the attention. In this post I would like to take a moment to introduce and pay tribute to the artisans who work behind the scenes at the Annex with their craftsmanship and commitment to aesthetics. Most of the Annex staff come from a background in the arts, whether formally trained or self taught, they all are passionate about good design and creativity. These folks include Gary Mohan, framing manager; Steve Stowell, woodshop; Micah Paul, craftsman and designer extraordinare; Flora Demars-Owens, retail manager; Katrina Magowan, art consultant, designer and framer; Andrew Marshall, art handler, stock clerk and framer; and myself, Carl Martin, I do the paperwork, manage the website and try to insure that the Annex runs smoothly enabling everyone to perform their best. One other person that deserves mention here is Mike Lang, an independent framer who has partnered with the Studio Shop for almost three decades. We have a great team here and I am extremely grateful to be working with all of them.
If you're curious where the cutting edge of picture frame design is, well it is here with designer and framer Micah Paul. He has added technology into the picture frame world introducing micro-processors, lights and sound tracks to his already intricate designs.  Here is Micah's tire tread frame designed around a movie poster for the Quentin Tarantino film Death Proof. It is lit from behind to recapture the ambience of a movie theater lobby with back lit movie posters.
 We currently have three Micah Paul frames on display at the Annex, the Death Proof frame, the skull frame and the amazing handmade motorcycle chain frame made for a vintage Peugeot motorcycle poster.

Cowboy memorabilia frame
 by Gary Mohan
Gary Mohan, framing manager at the Annex is a consummate craftsman with almost 30 years experience in the picture frame industry. Many of you already know him from working at the design
table with custom projects designing frames for memorabilia frames, tapestries, family photos and fine artwork.

Mike Lang is an independent picture frame artisan who as worked with the Studio Shop for over 25 years. Both Lang and Paul were featured in our Studio Shop Art of the Frame Show. Lang imbues his work with a love for wood and creative whimsy, especially as displayed in the spring leg tables at the Annex. Here he is pictured in his studio next to his rustic Lone Star frame, named for the 5 pointed metal star on the frame. All the wood and hardware are reclaimed and a testament to Lang's creative vision.  

Flora Demars-Owens has been with The Studio Shop over four years as an amazing frame designer. She has well over a decade of experience as a frame designer in LA and SF and has recently expanded her creative touch to curating the home design offerings at the Annex. Some of her selections include an etched glass martini shaker. Even cocktail artisans need fine tools.

Beautifully crafted photo frames of inlaid wood, awesome colors and natural wood, too.
Steve Stowell builds every frame for the Studio Shop with precision cutting in the saw room and wood finishing for custom jobs and repairs. Steve is also a talented photographer having spent several years a as a wedding photographer and now focusing on landscape and location photos. Some of his work was displayed in the Annex windows earlier this year. 
Many of you may already know Katrina Magowan at the Studio Shop where she wears many hats as art consultant and frame designer. Her training at Cal Arts in Southern California has honed her artistic skills in painting and aesthetics. She spends a day or more at the Annex each week contributing to frame production and designing. She also collaborated with Micah on one of his designs that is being entered in a design competition in Las Vegas. More on that later.
Andrew, our art handler, delivery driver, installer, man of many skills is also a marvelous painter. Three of his paintings are in the Annex windows in October, November, realistic renderings of Lego pirates.
At this time of Thanksgiving we at the Studio Shop are very thankful for all of the creative individuals who contribute their enthusiasm and dedication to make it a wonderful place to work and be surrounded by art.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Studio Shop at 100! The First Forty Years (1915-1955)

This is the second in a series of posts describing the 100 year history of The Studio Shop. The last post left off with Dorothy and Ralph K Crawford’s marriage in San Mateo, and the opening of Dorothy’s photography studio on Burlingame Avenue (The Studio Shop at 100, The Early Years).

The Studio Shop began when Ralph bought a picture framing business from Henry Schath on San Mateo Drive. He was establishing his store in the Husing Building in 1915, which is now a parking lot on California Drive, behind Kabul Restaurant.

A newspaper article from January 1916 writes of a flood caused by heavy rains that winter. Ralph's store was one of the local businesses that sustained damage. He estimated his loss at an astounding $50 from the water that poured in under the doors, running over pictures and other goods.
Studio Shop business card, undated.
Courtesy of the Burlingame Historical Society.

Two weeks later another news article announces that Ralph and Dorothy Crawford plan to move their separate art and photography studios to a new building, the Stark building at 1289 Burlingame Avenue. At this time they merged the two businesses, and housed themselves above the Studio Shop on the second floor of the Stark building.

On June 18th, 1922, The San Francisco Chronicle wrote “Travelers from afar tell us of their delight with the charming Studio Shop in Burlingame which Dorothy and Ralph Crawford conduct and in which their art is expressed--the unusual Photographic Art of Dorothy Crawford, and the connoisseur’s appreciation and collection of rare objects of Art in which Ralph Crawford excels.”
Soon after establishing herself in the area, Dorothy had an eager following of clientele in San Mateo, Burlingame, and Hillsborough who sought for her to photograph and memorialize their every special event. Not just an exceptional photographer, Dorothy was charismatic, witty, and extremely driven.

In 1925 they purchased a vacant lot, 311-315 Primrose Road. Ralph drew the design for a new English cottage style building, in which to run their business.
Ralph K. Crawford building opening announcement.
Published in San Mateo Times, 1931

But in 1929, at just 52 years old, Ralph passed away from leukemia. Only a few months later the Great Depression began. In the face of these tragic events, Dorothy persisted in having the shop built. It was constructed by Williams and Burroughs, and dedicated as the Ralph K. Crawford building in 1931.

Ralph K. Crawford building, undated.
After Ralph’s passing, and through the Great Depression, Dorothy Crawford kept the Studio Shop running. Not only did she run the business, but sought to give back to her community of Peninsula residents in keeping them in touch with the art movements of the day. A series of exhibitions of leading California artists were featured at the Studio Shop during the thirties. Notable artists Maynard Dixon, Percy Gray and Ralph Stackpole were showcased.

Later, as a succession of relatives came to help with the business, Dorothy traveled extensively, through the United States, Europe, and even to China. She led a driven and exceptional life, well ahead of the changes being made in women’s rights during her lifetime. At 67, having run the business independently for 15 years after Ralph’s passing, and through the devastations of the Depression, Dorothy retired due to Parkinson’s Disease in 1944. Her niece Carolyn Misselwitz took over the management of the business, continuing with its gifts and framing aspects until she retired in 1955.
John Benson, ca 1955.

John Benson was a high school shop teacher, between jobs with a young family to support in 1955. Seeing a For Sale ad in the Chronicle for a picture frame business, John borrowed $500 from his father-in-law for the down payment, and together with his wife Martha, bought the Studio Shop.

Dorothy’s brother, Sid Frink, taught John the art of picture framing during the Bensons’ first six months with the business. Much like Ralph and Dorothy, John and Martha quickly became established and involved members of the community. They were a perfect couple to continue what the Chronicle had described 33 years earlier as customers’ “delight with the charming Studio Shop in Burlingame.”

Next episode: John and Martha Benson run the Studio Shop, raise their three daughters, and continue the business’s dedication to its community.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Tom Soltesz: Modern Impressionist

Impressionism Today!  at The Studio Shop art gallery
February 20 - March 15, 2015
Artists Reception: Friday, Feb. 20 at 5:30pm

Tom Soltesz lives and works in Northern California where he paints California plein air landscapes in the tradition of Impressionist painters such as Claude Monet of France and the California Impressionists: Percy Gray, Edgar Payne, William Wendt and others. When the French Impressionist influence reached California in the 1890s it was embraced by artists who found the Impressionist ideas and techniques to be well suited to capturing California's bright sun and natural beauty. Like the Impressionists before him, Tom Soltesz employs their techniques of quick brushstrokes and vivid color to capture the ever changing light when painting en plein air.

Mountain Melody, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Mountain Melody is a beautifully balanced composition with distinct foreground, middle distance and background formed by diagonal lines of the sloping hills. The golden glow on the hillsides is quintessential California landscape.  Notice how the trees are composed of quick dashes of green and yellow highlights (much easier to see in person than on a computer image). The shadows in the distant hills are not black but a cool bluish gray which adds depth to the range of colors.
A Walk in the Woods, Oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches
A Walk in the Woods is a lovely vignette of a wooded path framed by aspen trees on either side. The sunny glade in the middle distance draws one's eye down the path. The composition is balanced by the bit of sun in the foreground which warms the entire setting.

Evening Shadows, Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches

Evening Shadows is a lovely scene which captures the last rosy light of the setting sun on leafy eucalyptus trees. With virtuoso brushwork Soltesz has portrayed the sunny branches with little more than a few dabs of yellows and orange. The sky is a lovely and subtle spectrum of muted hues which amazingly contains the entire color wheel, from pale blue at the horizon through lavender, pink, yellow and teal. 


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ken Christensen is a Wild Beast!

Impressionism Today! Feb. 20 - March 15, 2015
Opening reception - Friday, Feb. 20 at 5:30pm

The "wild beasts" were a group of French painters nicknamed the Fauves by an unsympathetic art critic in 1905 because of their bold use of color and wild brushstrokes. Despite the fact that Vincent Van Gogh had died over a decade earlier, in 1890, his use of color inspired the Fauves to explore the expressive possibilities of color over the realism of earlier Impressionists. Also influential was the influx of African artwork such as carved masks which artists admired as honest expressions of truth without the constraints of modern society.

One color tool of the Fauves was the use of complementary colors, pairs of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel and together appear brighter: pairs such as red and green, orange and blue, yellow and purple. Christensen's paintings make fabulous use of complementary colors for heightened visual impact.

Arroyo Seco, Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches
In Arroyo Seco notice the prevalence of green and yellow in the bushes of the foreground which contrasts with the complementary reddish purples in the middle distance. The bright colors and enhanced vibrancy lends a playful air to the painting.

Spring Flowers on Carrizo Plain, Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches
In Spring Flowers on the Carrizo Plain, the field is predominately yellow punctuated by its complementary color, soft purple in the foreground bushes and a distant field. The purplish bushes are accented with pale blue brushstrokes, which are contrasted with areas of orange.

Blue Horse, Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches

The first thing one notices in the aptly titled Blue Horse, is the blue horse and the orange barn. Again, complementary colors. This painting is like a symphony of color playing a call and response with one another.  The orangey yellow of the distant hillside playing with other greens and yellows in the painting and contrasting with the lavender blue shadows on the road in the foreground. The placement of a blue horse is also symbolic of the Blue Rider art movement which followed the Fauves in the 1910s in Germany.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Picture Frame Challenge: The Magic of Magnets

A client brought us an interesting picture frame challenge recently. They had a collection of cookie cutters they wanted to display and they wanted to be able to take the cutters out and use them.  Okay, that's easy, we could fabricate a shadow box frame with a hinged door and mount the cookie cutters on pegs so that they would be removable. The second request was much more challenging.

The client also wanted the flexibility to add to their collection and change the arrangement of cookie cutters in the display case. Since the cutters are of different sizes and irregularly shaped it's not as simple as displaying them in rows three across. The solution called for the mounting pegs to be moveable. But how were we going to do that?

After considering various mounting methods such as velcro and clear acrylic I came up with the idea of magnetic pegs on a sheet metal backing. The metal was covered with silk fabric for an elegant appearance.

I also added rubber O-rings to give the magnetic pegs some grip.

Here's a view of pairs of magnetic pegs before adding the cookie cutters.  Hinged door closes with magnets embedded in the frame so there are no visible latches or handles.