Friday, February 24, 2012
Pensive Possum & Picture-Framing
Cats are the ultimate decorative accessory, see above. But we like to hang pictures on our walls, too. In November, we bought two landscape oil studies by Sam Vokey during the Fenway Studios Open House. Mr. Vokey gave us bargain prices — he is very friendly, and he was also clearing out his studio to relocate up north. He warned us that frames would be expensive because (as I knew) his work is an investment that deserves handmade construction and gilding; gold is very expensive these days. He mentioned Guido Frames, Stanhope Framers, and a couple of others. He said it was not uncommon for good frames to cost as much as, or more than, an oil painting. We'd had no idea; but we weren't about to give up those paintings on account of that. We took them home and let them sit around as canvases, postponing the daunting task of choosing frames and shelling out what Mr. Vokey said would easily cost us in the four-figure range.
As I was walking down Newbury Street yesterday, I noticed a banner hanging on the front of Guido Frames, on the second-floor of 118 Newbury Street — to the effect of, "Buy One, Get One Free." I went right up there to get the details. It's an excellent deal: buy one frame and they'll only charge you for the labor on a second (lower-priced) frame. The saleswoman told me I had to come back today or on Tuesday, which is the last day of this month-long promotion. They are closed Saturday through Monday this week.
I'm glad I noticed that banner before it was too late.
We trotted back there this morning with the bubble-wrapped canvases. The saleswoman led us through the contemplative process of selecting a frame for the larger canvas. I expected this to be agonizing — I often have a terrible time making choices — but it wasn't so bad. With her guidance, we both came around to agreeing about whether we liked or disliked each style, which is miraculous given that I'm picky and inconsistent while my husband has a curator's eye and offbeat tastes. When you find the right frame, you know.
We chose a hefty wooden frame with classic detailing and 22-karat gilding over a dark blue painted base (this affects the tone of the gilding over it, apparently). We did not faint when we heard the price, but only because Mr. Vokey had prepared us for sticker shock. For the smaller canvas, which is not that small, we settled on another handmade 22-karat gilded frame with graceful detailing. The price of that one? $40. We left feeling very pleased because we had managed to spend less on the frames than the paintings, while fulfilling Mr. Vokey's wishes as far as quality. Our two Sam Vokeys togther, framed, cost much less than half of a similar Sam Vokey in the high-end galleries that represent him.
It will take a month for them to be ready, and in the meantime, I'm going to keep practicing my selection skills by settling on a house. We are still talking about the one in Quincy, even though we are hopelessly spoiled by living in the heart of Boston. But I've always dreamed of having a Victorian house, and if we don't go for it now, when we will we?
In Quincy, we can have a drop-dead-gorgeous, sprawling Victorian mansion on nearly an acre for the price of a small, middling-quality, two-bedroom, 1-bath Back Bay condo with no outdoor space, no parking, neighbors above and below, and no soundproofing. It's kind of a no-brainer if you look at it that way. But we're being careful: we still need to figure out how expensive it would be to maintain and heat the house. Who knows, maybe that will cost a fortune. And we still need to come to grips with such a big relocation. But it's not Kansas, even if it seems that way to me some of the time. Although I don't drive, the Red Line is 10 minutes away, plus I learned that there's both a cupcake shop AND a cake shop with a quarter-mile of the house. Even Quincy may have its consolations.
And did I mention it has a butler's pantry? I would kill for a butler's pantry.