Frames for You manager, Joshie South
By Claudie Benjamin
Most employees of Frames for You are artists. They care intensely about how a matte and frame enhance a work of art. They take the time, enjoying the challenge of assisting a customer in their choice of a framing option that matches their taste and pocketbook, says Joshie South, Manager of Frames for You.
She has worked at this frame shop/gallery at 136 West 72nd Street for 30 years. Joshie is never without her paints and sketches in watercolor on her commute to work and back home every day. Her art, like the work of fellow staff and other artists, is on view and for sale. “Our window tells it best,” says Joshie. She is proud of the frequently changing display of paintings, prints and photographs. Pre-Covid, exhibit openings were hosted at the shop.
Joshie already had ten years experience as a framer when she arrived from her small home town near Spokane, Washington to begin Pratt in 1990. Needing to work to support herself, she stopped in at two frame shops and got the job at Frames for You a week after coming to NYC. She has worked for three owners. Current owner, Maria Accorsi calls her “my amazing manager.”
Maria acquired the store from its previous owner in 2018. With a BA in art history, an MA in art design, and a background in producing art fairs in Miami and NYC, the gallery/frame shop concept was a natural for her. “As soon as it is safe,” she says, “Frames for You will absolutely resume hosting art openings and events that may spill onto the sidewalk.”
Each member of the Frames for You team specializes in a different part of the framing service. This includes dry mounting and frame joining. All are amazed that they are so busy during the Covid period. Joshie feels the robust business is almost too good to be true, but homes the trend lasts. She speculated that customers feeling constrained during the pandemic, embrace the idea of hanging a piece of art and decorating to lift their spirits.
Staff team members (l-r) Jose Orellana, Joshie South and Brenda Hayes
As an artist, Joshie uses her commute time in the subway to paint abstract watercolor sketches. In her own very personal way, Joshie finds that thinking about a color, the blue, for example, she is using in a work she is painting, uplifts her spirits. It’s more calming than dwelling on problems and frustrations.
Understandably, satisfied customers keep returning. Jaq Belcher, an artist who makes large “carved paper lace”, regularly has her pieces framed at the West 72nd Street shop and shipped to a gallery in Nashville, TN. Photographer Jesi Kelly, who lives in the Bronx and displays at Frames for You, recently sold a triptych of Mount Wilson in the Red Rock Canyon from the shop.
Trends in frames evolve like everything else. Twenty to thirty years ago posters were big. The shop even had special viewing racks to provide customers with a convenient way to flip through options and make selections. These posters were often placed in metal frames. No longer. Metal frames are mostly out. Almost the only posters recent customers have brought in to be framed were not reproductions of art by famous artists, but more often, posters they’ve picked up on travels to Paris, Venice, Buenos Aires or Tokyo. The use of non reflexive plexiglass and glass has also increased over time.
The framers are focused on providing just what will make the customer feel happy and excited about hanging a piece of art in their home. “It could be a very small sketch or a large painting,” Joshie says. “We have the experience and stock to provide the right framing for a piece of art whether it’s a floating frame, a sleek lacquered frame or a classical fancy gilded frame with carved swirls and scrolls.”