The Art Corner

Location: salem, Massachusetts, United States

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Is there one of those obnoxious Emoticons showing the rolling of eyes? I'm sure there is. Yesterday, as I drove past the old building, I saw that the door was open and the landlord's Cause and Origins guy was there, whom I'd met and worked with over a MONTH ago! I thought it was a Done Deal, as to the cause of the fire, as did my Public Adjuster. But now MY insurance company has sent in their OWN guy, who is working with the landlord's C&O guy! How over-the-top and put-too-fine-a-point-on-it is THAT? It's been FIVE WEEKS!

I GET it--the insurance companies have a bunch of lawyers working to do EXACTLY that, as lawyers are wont to do.

Anyway. We are working hard to be open Monday, but we won't have a working credit card processing machine until later that day or maybe the next, or maybe later in the week. I don't truly know. We have SOME frame corner samples that were delivered today, with more coming tomorrow and many more due--hopefully!--Monday! We are still waiting for our mat cutter, which won't fall until Tuesday, and then we have to wait until Wednesday for help to set that up and the glass cutter. Today, we picked up a frame chopper, which was DONATED! Thank you, Connie! Glad to help you out and get it out of your basement!

So I guess that means our "soft" opening won't happen until later that week...

We have the go-ahead for our planned signs. I just have to drop off the signed permit tomorrow with the $20 check to the city Planning Department. Elaine went to the Design Review Board meeting last night, as I was tied up with Jim McAllister's "Roast." She reported twenty minutes later that the Planning Department and the Design Review Board had not approved our signage and one other as quickly EVER BEFORE! Some kind of record...
I understand, as I 'm a sort of person who likes to leave as little as possible disturbed where ever I go. Though I have purple hair, I try to "fit in" where possible. I'm not a Radical, just an eyebrow raiser. I saw what the other tenants had for signage, thought of our fugitiveness in that space, and said--this is enough! Nothing fancy.
Look for more improvements as the weeks progress.
The Art Corner
231 Washington St
Salem, MA 01970
RE-OPENING JUNE 2! Open M-Sat, 9-5, except June 7, open until 3. GO, Big Brown!

Monday, May 26, 2008


I guess we took the holiday a little too seriously and spent the day removing what--we hope!--was the LAST of the customers' work from the burned out store. I can remember a couple of customers' pieces that we have been unable to locate. And some of the stuff we dug up today, we knew what they were, but they were so badly damaged, that they weren't worth salvaging. Really. I KNOW that there may be the customer or two who may decide that that old map, which had fallen into shreds, may be puzzled together, but is it worth it? Really? Including all the mildew?

THIS is what this is all about--the "worth" of paper, material goods. I UNDERSTAND that family heirlooms were lost. I really do. Unfortunately, one of my "hobbies" is to go antiquing. I love the hunt for some treasured object I can posess which might complete my collection of this thing or another.

I get sad, however, when I see things like pocket watches, which I know were given to retirees in the Old Days as a treasured memento. But none of that person's family cared enough to see that that "pension" was passed down. And so you see it on the Flea Market field. I hope that when I am old enough that the days ahead of me are far shorter than the days behind, I can sell my collections to benefit ME, rather than the vulturine "Antiques Dealers" waiting for my last breath.

I, too, profit from those sad families. I buy Antique Frames and clean them up and re-sell them. I love them! Customers love them! Unfortunately, many of those antique frames come with photos or prints or artwork in them. I tried to save most of those that I had collected over the last year or so, but the water damage took the majority of them. I am gradually re-building that, as well as the store.

Memorial Day is appropriate for today, as we remember those who have gone before us! Including antique-hunting SCORES!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Almost there!

We are building to be ready to re-open June 2 at the temporary location of 231 Washington Street. To that end we have painted the walls a nice, soft white, which is very neutral, so the wall color will not interfer with the artwork presented to us by YOU to be framed.

We are frustrated at every turn. We go in for an anticipated full 8 hours of work and then end up spinning our wheels after a few hours. Because we are waiting for supplies to come in! Or we are waiting to try to create a space in which to bring in the work that survived the fire and have a decent place to show it to the customers and to be able to assess it. We can't rush into things here. We need to be able to spread out the work and treat it, with the customer standing over our shoulders! Gladly!

We all need to realize--ME especially!--that this was no one's FAULT! This was my number ONE Worst Case Scenario since I bought the store 3 years ago. A FIRE.

Here it is. We're willing. Let's work together. (I need to stop beating myself up over this and feeling guilty.)

In that vein, here are a few images of the "in development" front room, or "Showroom!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Interior Temporary Space "Before"

Here's what the new, temporary space looks like right now. Remember that it was to be a pet store, so the bilious green is apropos! We're painting it, starting tomorrow, a nice soft white called Timothy Seed. The dark walnut wall panels are beautiful, though, and will serve us well. Our frame corner sample panels will be a matching color mat board called Seamist. Framed with a dark walnut and antique two-row gilded and beaded moulding that'll blend right in.

We intend on having a section for our Custom Framing directly facing you as you come in the door--the wall that has the fancy lights will be our corner sample wall. Under that will be the very popular watercolor frame kits. To the right, facing the street, will be the main Gallery Wall, with the Oil Painting ready-made frames under that. To the right of that will be our Antiques Gallery, with the Antique Frames on display, as well as more of the Art Gallery. We'll have a Design Area, a Sitting Area, an Antique, and a Transaction Area. All will be truncated from what we had at the original store, but, we think, more efficient.

In addition, we will take whatever frame stock and materials that we salvaged from the fire and offer these materials to you at a STERLING price! (We have to make up whatever the insurance company decides they won't cover, as you KNOW they'll try to give us as little as possible! PLUS, my MOM was a "Depression Baby" and so, I am a "waste not, want not" person. I can't BEAR to throw out what I consider perfectly good moulding and supplies, even if they have a slight smoky smell! I guess it's also a bit "green" of me, as these trees were cut down/killed for the lumber to make the frames and then they'd be thrown in the trash? Can't do that! Sort of a "they must live on!" philosophy on my part.)

It's really NOT about the money; the insurance company is required to pay me for the loss. It's the principle of the thing. If they are reading this and say, "well, we won't cover that!" because of my comments here, so be it! I look at the lengths of moulding in the cellar and I see stuff that is perfectly useable. Framing material that I hand-picked from the samples salesmen showed me. Frames like the sweet deal I got at a trade show from a particular company in which the frame was being discontinued and I bought a whole bunch of it at a great price. Two days after it was delivered, Elaine sold one order in it that paid for the entire shipment! It sounds mercenary of me, but that's how things work in Retail! From then on, we called that frame Elaine's Moulding! Besides the fact that it is BEAUTIFUL! AND underappreciated!

I had origianally thought to make ready-made frames from the salvaged moulding, but realized that artists would be selling their work to the public in this possible-problematic moulding--(I personally don't think so, but one cannot take a chance in this litigious world!) So I think we'll make up a "special" corner display board of moulding styles that "survived the fire" and offer them at 50% off the retail. We'll of course cull the moulding as it comes out of the burned store's basement and throw out the really smelly stuff. You see, flames never touched the basement and smoke and heat travel UP! Yes, yes, Gravity works and so, over the last three and a half weeks since the fire, soot and ash and smoke-smell have been settling into the basement, so we are gradually taking out what we can, now that the insurance company has given the "go ahead."
The next couples of weeks are going to be intense. We intend to open on June 2nd, a Monday. We intend to move all the customers' in-house work to the new location sooner and call them all to deal with their situations on a one-on-one basis. We need to re-frame works that existing customers wish to save, or deliver the water damaged works to the appropriate restorers. Unfortunately, we CAN'T refund any monies paid yet, until we get more advance money from the insurance company. We ARE fully insured for the damaged and lost works of customers; I just don't know how much documentation the insurance company will want. I fear that they'll want to give only the amount of the materials involved for the creation of the works and not what they would sell for! I and my husband and friends had several works which were destroyed that fit under that blanket, so we're anguishing too.

Yesterday, to that end, we plucked a sampling of mouldings from different sections of the cellar moulding rack--Top Row, Left, Middle, and Right--Middle Row, Left, Middle and Right--Bottom Row, Left, Middle and Right. Plus under the Joining Table, which suffered a lot of water damage--same scenario.

So far, only ONE moulding sample exhibits a slight smokey smell. The rest are fine, though one does exhibit a mildewy smell, also a factor. We'll cull and cull and cull, until we have a base of salvaged materials that we feel confident will not cause YOU any "smelly" problems down the road!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

231 Washington Street

This is our NEW address! Until the old store is repaired...

231 Washington Street used to be Biscotti Cuchina and was, for a very brief time, Creature Crossing, a pet store that used to be on Loring Ave. I'll take photos tomorrow of the new space and post them as soon as I can.

Today, Elaine and I swept 1100 square feet and mopped TWICE about half that, first with bleach, then with Pinesol. Justin helped. We could probably hit it again with the cleaning process and pick up as much dirt. It's amazing how dirty it was! It was such a mess when we got the key. I should have taken "before" photos, but I was too engrossed in how we would tackle our latest obstacle and how to set up the new space.

The former occupants, the pet store people, left dozens of fish tanks and piles and bags of pine shavings and guinea pig food and dog food. Filters and cages and rock displays, oh my! I was worried, because I am an animal person and worked in MANY pet stores before I got into framing, that in every tank set-up or cage I saw there today, I would find a dead, abandoned animal. I saw hampster and guinea pig set-ups; snake and lizard tanks, etc. Nothing. Good. Justin knows one of the owmers of that fiasco and he said that fellow would never abandon an animal.

Then I saw it. IT. A hermit crab tank. At first, I was excited, because we have five hermit crabs as pets at the house, and I saw all the empty shells and knew that we could use them for our crabs. Then I looked more closely. I saw three dead crabs who had abandoned their shells probably desperately looking for water. When I picked through the shells, I found another one who hadn't left his shell. All four looked healthy and happy before they were left behind. Hermit crabs are very delicate creatures and need certain amounts of humdity and temperature in their environments and most pet stores don't provide those criteria, because they are uninformed.


As it is, we will have a beautiful front showroom and a larger workroom in the rear. The showroom will have plenty of space to display frame corner samples, though not nearly as many as we had at the old space, just to keep things more managable for now, AND plenty of space to continue to display artwork! I hope that artists aren't hesitant about our little Speed Bump. We have insurance coverage still, AND the new place has sprinklers! (Well, maybe that isn't that reassuring as pertains to watercolors! Hee, hee!)

Next week, once we have the new shop clean, we will bring in work tables that we have in our home cellar and start to order the equipment we'll need. The spare wall cutter at the old store is still usable--Justin drenched it in WD40 yesterday!--so we won't have to buy a new one--yet! We'll see how it performs. It is NOT the best brand, (we've always used the BEST!) but it is serviceable.

Once we have a rudimentary shop set-up BEFORE we're ready to open to the public, we'll call the customers who's work was in the fire and analyse with them the options for their work and their framing.

A message to those customers--please bare with us! We have your work and it's safe, though possibly damaged. We have to tread carefully from here, to make sure nothing interfers with the insurance company and how they choose to handle this situation. Very few pieces were burned up. Most suffered water damage and many didn't suffer anything, except being encased in a frame package that DID suffer water damage.

We're all lucky in that respect. My worst fear, since I'd bought the store three years ago, was that we'd have to face this kind of scenario.

Here we are.

Could have been FAR worse! We could have still been in the store and someone lost their life. It could have spread to the adjoining buildings. A fireman could have been trapped by debris.

As it was, two fish died.

We look forward. We lost things, as well as our customers lost things. Things can be replaced. Paintings can be recreated or remembered. Prints can be made, if files exist.

Ultimately, we must remember that life goes on, and should be taken one step at a time.

Thank you,
The Art Corner
231 Washington Street
Salem,MA 01970

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Restoring Work

We have some materials to try to help save soaked artwork. Mainly fresh kraft paper and cardboard to help soak up water and smoke odor.

We have Lysol and Fabreze to kill mildew and odor. I looked online and saw that ammonia-based cleaners take out smoke oder effectively.

We're not professionals at this, but we will strive to cause LESS harm than what has already occured! We have a pool of conservators and consultants to turn to. And we'll take your work to them to restore, if you so wish.

As we assess what can be restored, we'll contact you and discuss what you wish done.


Artwork Triage

We had a plan today to go in and rescue customers' work, primarily under the main work counters where we store the finished orders, and under the dry mount press counter where we store most of the pending orders.

The finished orders seem mostly water damaged, but we'll know better when we take the artwork out of the framing packages to better assess them. We have a clean, dry area and the tools--newly purchased!--to do this. We'll photograph everything each step of the way and contact each customer as we go along. And discuss what needs to be done from there. This is all new to ME and, I think, the insurance company, although in PRINT, I have coverage for it! They may try to wiggle, but we'll stop that!

We can refund deposits and such, and place a claim if a piece is lost completely. Unfortunately, the insurance company will need some kind of PROOF, so get those sales receipts ready! Not just the receipt you got from us, but from when you bought the artwork!

We had an up and down day today pulling out stuff and discovering what survived (maybe!) and not. Pieces that I was sure were fine, because I thought I saw the backs of them, turned out to be nothing but wallboard. Other peices that I thought were toast turned out to be only water damaged.

Some of the glassware survived. Being not so porous, the glassware needs only a good cleaning with ammonia and Fabreze. Many of the procelain horses survived.

Equipment in the back room has been damaged almost beyond repair. But I found unpaid BILLS intact and checks and checkbook pages still usable, as well as a reorder form!

The WEIRDEST thing I found today was what looked like a EGG on the back counter. I picked it up and wondered what it was. I couldn't imagine of how it got there, or what piece of artwork or equipment might have left this *melted* perfectly ovoid thing; then I thought that it was a pigeon egg! I've seen many of those, as I own a formerly homeless homing pigeon as a pet and she used to lay eggs all the time before she got too old. The egg I found today "candled" as a true egg--I shone the flashlight through it! It was hard-boiled! It was pretty hard, too, so I struck it with a chisel just to be sure and the shell cracked like a proper egg should. I guess pigeons have been nesting in the eaves?

Maybe I'll retrieve that as well to include in a collage of the fire--the ignition wire, the egg. What else will we find?

It's like a sooty, smokey puzzle.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Customers' Work

We have the go-ahead to go in, starting Thursday, to "rescue" customers' work! We are excited!

This is the scenario: we can go and take out all the customers' work that we can find and bring it to a safe, DRY location, where we will set-up shifts for removing work from soggy wrapping and frames and then try to dry the work as efficiently as possible, while photographing each step for each work , no matter it's intrinsic value.

Then we will store the work, while contacting YOU, the works' owners and then the insurance company to find out what to do next.

We'll triage the work. Those pieces that aren't damaged, we'll offer to complete the framing with new materials. It'll just take a few weeks more. Those that have damage, we'll work with the customer to find if they want the piece restored, if possible, which our insurance will cover, or if it's a total loss, our insurance is supposed to cover that as well. In the end, it's up to THEM, and to YOU!

We're moving forward in this long process...

Wendy--call 978-745-9524, Mon to Sat 9-5 to speak to me directly about your work at the store.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Temporary Location

We have a verbal agreement on a temporary location in the same neighborhood as the original store. I won't say where yet, until we get the signed lease in our hands, which should be some time end of this week, beginning of next.

In the temporary location, our selection will be much smaller, but we will have our suppliers catalogs on hand for extra selection. We can order samples from them, if you are really intrigued by a frame in a catalog. It'll just take longer.

We'll have the same staff, but personnel will be divided between the two locations. While the construction crew is repairing the first floor, we hope to be rebuilding a new and more efficient moulding rack in the cellar, since the cellar won't be much involved in the construction work, except for the electrical(!)

My one main concern is that the landlord's insurance isn't enough to cover the cost of the damage repair. He may decide to total the building.

In that case, we have our temporary space (fingers crossed!) and have time to find a NEW, permanent place! Prolly on Canal Street. That area is slated by the city for renewal, is easy to get to, and has many spaces available.

As it is, we will continue to honor our recently released coupons of 30 and 35% off custom franing. We will also gradually build up a new stock of our famous watercolor and oil painting frame kits. It appears, from the photos taken by my husband, and his visual assessment, that the antique frames in the cellar fared well. We will continue to build up that stock as well, though at a slower pace than the last year, as our resources will be limited until we can be back in full swing again.

Ever onward and upward!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Reclaim Time Frame


I talked further to my insurance adjuster and my public adjuster today and it seems we will not be allowed to assess customers' work for at least a couple more weeks, because the landlord's adjuster has to go in and measure and his construction crew has to measure and estimate, before WE can go in and reclaim the stuff that belongs to us and to YOU!

It's rotten, but it's the same attitude the firemen had the night of the fire: save lives first; stuff second! Which is why they JUMPED to the task of saving the goldfish!

The building owner has first priority in these matters, I've been told. The tenant comes second. I can understand this attitude, because, without a building, you got NOTHING!

The store phone # is up and running, so you can call me directly at 978-745-9524, 9-5pm seven days a week. PLEASE call if you have an order at the store! I need to catalog everyone's work and contacts, so we can get back to you as soon as we know what to do! We're winging it here! We've never been through such a scenario, and hope to NEVER again!

But it appears that it's going to take time. I'm a VERY patient person, but this is wearing on even me!

Ah, well--just another Speed Bump on the Road of Life--I guess.