It started out about as modestly as possible; we were two unemployed actors, Ray and Steve, who wanted to continue to eat but had less than $100 between us, so we bought a shopping bag full of attractive, inexpensive prints and sold them in Times Square in July of 1972.
It went well; we bought more pictures, then frames, until we had to rent an old truck, which we nicknamed The Wallowing Hog. Weekdays we sold in midtown, and on weekends worked various flea markets, and had to rent a second truck. We even did a two-week stint at Coney Island toward the end of the season. But by December, it was getting cold; we weren’t having as much fun, and neither were the customers, so we found a tiny shop in the subway arcade at Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights. It was half the size of the shoe repair shop that’s now there.
The business prospered as we learned about custom framing, and what it took to produce a high quality, archival grade of framed work we could really be proud of. We made a lot of friends, some of whose grandchildren are now our customers, and expanded our range of abilities and services. Fourteen months later, we moved across the street to our current location at 117 Henry, near Clark Street.
After about five years, Ray left to resume his acting career. We closed our second store on Atlantic Avenue, and I focused on improving the service and scope of this shop, maintaining the congenial, personalized relationship with the customers, which has been essential to our staying power. My wife, Lois Look, put her excellent eye for art to work, selecting decorative and fine oil paintings and limited-edition prints that made the gallery unique and beautiful.
Although we’ve greatly enjoyed serving public and private institutions and firms, the most rewarding experiences have been creating specialized designs for personally significant pieces brought by the customers for framing. Among these, my favorite was a selection of memorabilia to be framed for an ex-soldier who had been assigned to go to occupied France to rescue his own aunt many years ago and was awarded the Bronze Star upon his successful return.
This medal, a symbol of his courage, was just one of the pieces that were included in the shadowbox frame along with his letter of assignment, a photograph of the young soldier and his aunt, his sergeant stripes, her yellow armband and a photo of Gen. Patton pinning the Bronze Star on the young man’s chest. The color scheme of the framing was that of a World War II military uniform, and it was very effective. The completed assemblage was personally presented to the heroic veteran by his very proud daughter and son-in-law.
There have been many others, some reverent, some funny and some just challenging. One such was a unique item to be framed – a whale’s tooth. The catch was that the customer wanted to be able to take it out for viewing, and easily place it back in the frame; the solution was to design a frame for it wherein the holder was covered with suede to prevent damage to the tooth, yet clasped it firmly in position. The customer was very pleased, and that kind of enthusiastic response is one of our best rewards.
Although most projects are a lot less complicated, each one is carefully designed and executed to provide lasting pleasure and preserve its value. Care is always taken to suit the framing to the customers’ preferences and their budget.
We’ve grown as we’ve aged, and custom framing is just one of the quality services that Jubilee Gallery provides. Others include matting, mounting, stretching of canvases and needlework, on-site consultations and digital photo restoration, and of course, the seasonal selection of artworks offered for sale.
We accept all major credit cards and are open:
Tuesday through Friday from 11:00 to 7:00, Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00 and Sunday from 1:30 to 6:00. We’re closed on Monday, and during the summer, we’re closed on Sunday as well.
You’ll enjoy the friendly atmosphere and attentive service here, and we hope you’ll visit soon.
Stephen deFluiter, owner of Jubilee Gallery