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Controlling the frame: Q&A with Absolute Gallery’s Kathy Holcomb


Absolute Gallery owner Kathy Holcomb has created stunning framework for more than 15 years. Holcomb was awarded an honorable mention this April by the Michigan-based Nelson’s Moulding and Frame’s Print Competition. City Pulse reached out to Holcomb to learn more about her artisanship.

Talk about the photo in the frame.

The photo I picked, because I could choose anything I wanted, was by Eric Johnson, who is from Fowler and is a customer and friend of mine.

It’s the first piece that National Geographic noticed earlier this year. The expression of the mountain gorilla captured my attention. I just loved the eyes.

What drew you to framing?

I love being able to take an image, expand on it and make it speak more than it already does when it’s just the piece of paper or canvas sitting there. I believe a proper frame should be an extension of the painting or a picture. There’s so many options out there, it’s nice to be able to show people and work with options that are beyond just a black frame.

What goes into building a frame? What's your process?

I look at what I want the image to say, unless I’m working with a room and have to make it fit in. I really want to see a continuation of what the picture itself is saying and expand on that. So, in this particular case with the gorilla, I just saw the softness in one of the black suede mattes around it. The frame I chose is actually two frames in the image. I wanted a deep set frame, because the eyes are such a window to the soul, and I wanted it to feel like you’re looking into a window back at the gorilla.

I took one frame and turned it on its side to make the ducts, then I took the other frame and then made it into the regular frame. The frame also has texture, which reminded me of the hair of the gorilla and the texture of its skin. It also has some brown tones in the black that I thought brought out the eyes of the gorilla. When you’re really looking at the photo there are a couple pieces of leaves from what the gorilla was eating. I wanted the green to pull out the leaves that are in the piece.

What’s the importance of all these different factors besides just matching the color? How do you make these decisions?

If somebody’s coming in here to do framing, I talk to them about what the piece is and where it’s going to go and if there’s any meaning behind it. All of that can change how you design a piece, because framing shouldn’t detract from the art. It shouldn’t hide, but it should really make the piece feel more important or convey the meaning behind the piece.

Translating what customers and people are telling me, or what I see in the piece, is really what I try to do. If you’re framing it, especially custom framing it, it’s got to have some importance to you. Generally speaking, it has importance to people, because otherwise they just buy some cheap generic frame off the wall, slap something in and put it up. It should really convey the feeling behind it. I carry over 8,000 different frames and every one is different.

When you look at them it has a feeling. I’m trying to interpret what it’s saying into the ultimate product.

Absolute Gallery Mon: Closed

Tue-Fri: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat-Sun: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 307 East Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Lansing (517) 482-8845 www.absolutegallery.net


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