If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine the stories that a piece of art tells. More than just a drawing or painting hanging on a wall, a piece of art oftentimes is a living, breathing representation of those who helped to bring it to life. The artist may put pen, paint, or a photograph to the canvas, but the art is not complete until it is framed and ready to be hung. That’s where Deb Spicer of Eastlake Framing comes in: “A frame should be the bridge between the art and the home,” she says.
Deb’s love for art began at the young age of five at her family’s home along the McKenzie River. She and her twin sister Barb would spend their days playing “art gallery” as one little girl would present a freshly-made piece of art to the other and they would discuss how to make the picture come to life. "My mother enrolled in a correspondence course in interior design when we were ten-years-old and we poured over the course content for hours on end,” explains Spicer. “It was such a formative experience.”
This accidental exposure to the art world helped to create the strong bond between sisters and a lifelong love for interior design. But, it was an eye for business and a willingness to accept change that lead Deb to what would become her life’s calling as a well-respected art restoration expert and owner of Eastlake Framing in Bend.
Thirty-five years ago, she packed up her belongings, followed her ski bum boyfriend to Bend, and opened a small business called Sudden Developments, specializing in photo developing. After an eight-year stint, she sold the processing lab but embarked on a photo restoration practice and framing career that evolved throughout the 90s. The transition from a photography-based business coincided with the rise of digital photography and Photoshop, allowing Deb to seek new opportunities and be ready when serendipity would strike.
That’s when, in 1992, a photo restoration client suggested she talk to the owner of a downtown art supply and framing store called Eastlake Art. She began working in the framing department which soon took over the whole shop. By 1995, Deb bought the business and renamed it Eastlake Framing. Five years later, she moved the successful business to its current NW Galveston Avenue location. “Many years ago, I found my own voice in my business,” explains Deb. “I learned to trust myself; trust my own sense of taste and style, my own sense of aesthetic, and my own intuition.”
This trust shines through not only in the service she provides, but the way she runs her business. Spicer has always given back to our community through her charity work. She has played major roles with the Family Resource Center and Deschutes Children’s Foundation and when she retires, she hopes to volunteer with a local hospice organization. For their efforts, Eastlake Framing was awarded the Distinguished Small Business of the Year by the Bend Chamber of Commerce in 2008.
At the shop, Eastlake Framing’s core staff of Deb and her four employees take great care with each painting, photograph, or heirloom that comes in to be framed. Each framing job begins with communication between Deb and her client as she starts a personal connection with each one. She gets information on the background, end goal of the piece, and if it will hang in their home or another’s. “My goal is to always create a framed piece of art that compliments and completes the art while enriching the lives of the people living with it,” she says.
Eastlake Framing sees a wide range of heirlooms come through their doors as well. In addition to old photos of past generations of family and friends, they have been asked to enhance the look of old property deeds and plat maps, a collection of luggage tags, pocket watches and other jewelry, and military memorabilia.
One of the more special projects Deb has worked on combined a family heirloom with national pride. One day, a man walked into the shop holding an Olympic torch. In awe of what the man held, Spicer began her conversation with him in an effort to get the story. He explained that his father competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, his father, who was in a wheelchair at the time, was asked to carry the torch. The man included a photograph of the event with the torch. Spicer and her team affixed the torch with wire to a composite background in a plexiglass box. The photo was then placed next to the torch to complete the work of art.
In addition to Eastlake Framing, Deb is sought after for her restoration work of old paintings. She works on aged and damaged pieces of art at her home studio to keep the smell of chemicals out of the store. This work is a complete contrast to hustle and bustle as business owner. “When I am doing my restoration work, it’s quiet and meditative,” says Deb. “It’s a slow and meticulous process. The quiet focus feels good. It’s rewarding to watch a painting come back to life.”
The restoration work ranges from an hour of touchup to several days for a complete restoration. A typical piece ranges from eight to 20 hours of work and costs between $350 and $600. Deb guesses she has done close to a thousand restorations so far. At home, she surrounds herself with the art that makes her feel good. She points to one such piece of artwork hanging above her mantle in particular, Allan Bruce Zee’s Waiting for the Believers. Ironically, the 40- by 60-inch photograph in a hand-carved frame with a hand-wrapped fabric matte and gilded fillet depicts France’s St. Amand de Coly with no art on its walls. “We need to all learn our own personal aesthetic,” says Deb. “So much joy and pleasure can be found by surrounding ourselves with things we love, including art, which is such a personal thing.” EastlakeFraming.com, 1335 NW Galveston Ave, Bend.