Preserving Your Memories

Interview with Art Framer Doug Anthony

Kimberly Rene' Vanecek

Your child’s kindergarten finger painting could be considered precious art. A pencil illustration by famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera is thought to be valuable art or the ticket stubs from the last Prince concert could be thought priceless. No matter the value one places on artwork,, there is really only one way to preserve those precious pieces and that is to conserve them properly.

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In the second series of interviews with tenured art framer, Doug Anthony owner of Art Masters, says customers arrive in his Westside store weekly with valuable artwork from various notable artists like Tom Lea, Diego Rivera and Manuel Acosta that were not preserved properly.

What is the most common issue you see when noteworthy work is brought into the store?

The buyers may not have frequented a place where the staff helped pick the design or were knowledgeable about preservation framing. I see it on a daily basis with famous artist’s works—there is masking tape to hold it in place…this causes acid burns that eat away at the work or the glass isn’t UV protectant and this fades the piece.

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How do you educate the clients on preservation materials to conserve their pieces?

We have samples behind the counter that show what happens to artwork that is framed improperly—you can see the foxing (acid burns) or acid leaching and the fading from the improper glass that should be framed with conservation of museum quality glass and conservation mats and mounts because they are UV protectant.

We currently have some famous artists’ work where the price of the work has diminished significantly because the piece did not have conservation materials. We guarantee our work for five years and ask you to bring it back to us so we can check the condition of the piece and if there is new technology like special glass or new hinging materials that can enhance or preserve the piece, then we offer that.   We are currently working with The Art Avenue Gallery and their clients to introduce a conservation forum and allow guests to bring in works of art so we can check for any issues that may have developed.

If a customer has a print or canvas that has foxing (acid burns) can you fix it?

On paper it is the most expensive to repair.There is no way to return it to its original condition.  We can only contain it to a certain extent with conservation glass and mats like I mentioned before.

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I was at your store recently and noticed a canvas that was ripped and another that had a chip of acrylic paint missing. Can you fix that?

Philip is on staff and also an artist.  He has been restoring paintings and wood frames for about ten years. He did a lot of work for the diocese in El Paso by restoring their old paintings and canvases. He does an incredible job bringing a piece back to life. We feel confident enough to do canvases and redo frames to build them back to their original composition. We also fix ceramics and metals.

What happens if a client shows up with a piece that is valued at $50,000 and the artwork needs to be restored?

We know that on higher end pieces of $50,000 and above, they are better sent off out of town to Santa Fe, New Mexico or Minneapolis, Minnesota where a lot of the great conservators are located.  Along with that higher quality of restore comes an increased price tag and time lines can be months or even years before you receive your work of art.

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What should customers that have “valuable” pieces of art look for?

Make sure the company has been in business long enough to handle your artwork.  If you walk in and they have artwork stacked on the counter, it’s safe to assume that’s how they will treat your work when you leave. Ensure they are reputable and sell limited editions, originals, giclees, which means they are familiar with working with those materials. Look for accreditations like PPFA the Professional Picture Framing Association. Also look to see if they are a CPF, a Certified Picture Framer that is a registry of accredited picture framers.  This way you know you are working with qualified individuals.

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You’ve been in business for 30 years, why do you think you have been so successful?

I keep up to date with the latest in framing and design and offer my clients creative options and a local relationship.  If you give people a good product at a good price and you follow through you will do fine. But if you start taking advantage of people, they will figure that out. That’s the old saying, that if you do something right they will tell one person, but if you do something wrong, they will tell ten people.