Tony Cooper and the crew of Frame Gallery cordially invite you to come and celebrate thirty years of business in Athens on Saturday, July 27th from 10am to 4pm. Refreshments will be served, there will be door prizes, a chance to view original pieces by such world famous artists as Salvador Dali, Peter Max, and Miro in the shop’s gallery, and the opportunity to get some fine prints and other items at greatly discounted prices. Also on display in the shop’s gallery will be the work of Mark Moore, a local artist who has won international awards.
Tony is an artist himself, as well as an artisan framer, and his work has been commissioned all over the United States. I have had the great joy of being one of his customers as well as he being one of mine, and everything I have had him frame I have been more than proud to either give away as a gift or hang in my own home.
Some of his recent work, including original paintings of the Courthouse and Kreme Delite, will be on display in the gallery. Tony is taking orders for high quality canvas reproductions (known as giclees,) beginning in July so that they can be ready in time for the holidays.
One of the things that causes him to shine is his ability to repurpose items and find new ways to use unusual materials for framing. He loves to take things that may otherwise look ruined, and put them in just the right frame or shadow box and completely revitalize them. The iconic rusty early ‘50s Ford that shows up on his business card not only brings back memories of the white one we had when I was very small growing up in Seattle, but the photo itself is a great pic, eye catching, and well composed.
As we talked about what he wanted to see happen as a result of the celebration and sidewalk sale, he said with enthusiasm, “I want people to know that they don’t have to go to Paris or Italy to see great art. There is great art and there are great artists right here in North Alabama, and I want people to discover that.” He continued, “I have lived in North Alabama all my life, and the area resonates with the works of artists, potters, musicians, you name it.”
Tony has done work for Art On The Square, as well as many custom pieces for people in Athens, and is just as passionate about helping other artists as he is getting his own work “out there.” Last year Athens Now did a piece on a young man named Lance McLemore, a remarkable artist who graduated from UAH, and Tony had an exhibit of Lance’s work in the gallery section of the shop. Tony also did the installation of Lance’s show when it was exhibited at UAH as part of his senior project.
I have rarely seen a host more excited about throwing a party, and I spent nearly two decades in the catering business! “I want to celebrate the rich heritage of art we have here, and I want to show gratitude and appreciation to the people of Athens and Northern Alabama for 30 years of business. I also want people to understand what good can happen when local people shop local,” he added.
Then he added something that warmed my heart, may sound surprising, and is not, if you know Tony at all. His major competitor in the area is on the Square, and he has no problem at all referring clients to them if he knows that he cannot meet a potential customer’s needs. Some of this stems from his generous spirit, some of it is good business sense. “If I help them, it helps me,” he told me. Custom framing, like so many things that used to be considered an art, has to do constant battle with technology and imports produced in countries that essentially use slave labor. “Making referrals keeps us all in the game,” said the official Daniel Moore football litho distributor, and “staying in the game” is empowered by shopping locally.
“People come in here who are from Arizona to New York,” he said, and his gallery is one of the largest in Athens. He says “Athens is a great place to call home,” and to show you how firmly he believes that, you need to come to the Frame Gallery on July 27th and get refreshments for your tummy and art for your soul.
701 N Jefferson St
Athens, AL 35611
facebook: Frame Gallery-Athens Alabama
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner