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Over a century of art, frames and history

by Rich Lewis

| @richlewis4ink

Few businesses nowadays can hang their hat on offering a century of service. Greensboro’s own The Art Shop, however, has handily passed that milestone and is still going strong.

Like a great old painting that has traded out frames through the years, The Art Shop has moved about, changed its appearance and updated itself continually. And from its founding in 1899, it has always managed to hold the eye and the interest of those who experience it.

Today, from its location on West Market Street, The Art Shop has one of the best designed gallery spaces in the area, with an offering of fine art and sculpture that really needs to be seen to be appreciated. They showcase artists from around the world and also shine the spotlight on some of North Carolina’s best such as Phillip Philbeck and David Kessler.

Owner Andy McAfee said the 5,500 square feet of gallery space gave them the opportunity to feature a wide selection of artists and art. You can move from seeing the beautiful portraits done by Pino Daeni to David Kessler’s vividly colored abstracts, right into bronze sculptures by Leon Bronstein and Nano Lopez. You can even take in some of the Art of Dr. Seuss if you’re a fan.

McAfee said they were going to be creating a special gallery space purely for North Carolina artists, as well.

“I graduated from Appalachian (State University) with my degree in Art Marketing,” he said, “and I was lucky enough to start my career working for William Mangum here in Greensboro. I really got the chance to meet a lot of NC’s artist. Then I came to work for Lenny Dolin here at the Art Shop about five years later and when they retired earlier this year, I just had to buy this place.”

He explained that beyond the 19 years of work he had put into The Art Shop, he really loved the history of it. “You can go back and look at the old advertisements and the moves over the years and see how the past owners have adapted to their customers and the marketplace.

“Those owners made it through the Great Depression, four or five recessions “¦ it’s just amazing,” he continued. “So many recent businesses like this didn’t survive the economic crash in 2008, but we held on.”

A big part of the century plus of success comes from not being tied purely to selling art. The Art Shop has an expert level frame shop featuring a wide array of frames, glazing and mats. They can also handle specialty shadowbox framing and are extremely experienced in conservation quality framing and preservation techniques.

Restoration of aging or damaged paintings, prints and photographs is also a service they are uniquely equipped for. McAfee and the other skilled artisans can even restore old frames to their glory. This kind of work takes a huge database of knowledge and immense hands-on experience, and there are many examples of their work on site.

McAfee is also a skilled art appraiser, something that comes in handy quite often. “People bring in their great aunt’s painting or an old print they’ve found and I’ll get out the loupe (a monocular magnifying device for close detail work) to see what we can find out .”

He went on to say that while most times these don’t turn out to be miraculous million-dollar finds, every now and then something truly wonderful can turn up. More than anything, it can give a person a chance to really find out the history of a piece of art handed down from generation to generation. Maybe your grandfather did bring back a masterpiece from the war, or maybe that etching was actually a modern reproduction, but either way, you’ve now got a story, he said.

Another big factor in the continued success of the business was in developing an online presence. McAfee said that while there were so many outlets on the web selling art, aggressive marketing coupled with their selection of hosted works had really made an impact. Potential customers from around the world can now see the works held in the gallery, see pricing for reproductions and even request quotes on original pieces. You can check it out at www.artshopnc.com and get a feel for what is offered. Some works, though, you just need to see in person, so stop by as well! !

RICH LEWIS is a father, husband, writer and cook who makes his home in Greensboro, NC.

WANNA go?

The Art Shop is located at 3900 West Market Street in Greensboro. They are open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. They are closed on Sunday. You can give them a call at 336-855-8500 or drop them an e-mail at info@artshopnc.com.

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