Home is where the art is.
As our first house matures into a home, so does that first piece of original artwork, with hopes that it’ll become a family treasure later on.
Lynne Himes understands the evolution of art and home. As entrepreneur and owner of L.A. Design Custom Framing in Missoula, she’s steered the growth of her gallery from a fledgling start-up to high-end brokerage to exceptional event developer. She knows how a piece of art can tell the story of a life well lived.
“You can find something in art that you didn’t even realize you wanted,” she explained. “The heart speaks loudest.”
In 2019, L.A. Design celebrated its 30th anniversary. Lynne credits family and hometown connections for her enduring success.
“In 1989, my business partner Amber and I started straight out of college at UM. We worked for Monte Dolack. Amber did the framing. I did the marketing. When we were ready to start a business of our own, Missoula embraced our families. The only reason we made it was because of our local connections,” Lynne expressed.
The partners’ first commission came from Missoula attorney Bill Jones. Mr. Jones had collected vintage items from the famous 1923 Heavyweight Championship fight between Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons in Shelby, Montana. He asked Lynne and Amber to create a display.
“He asked us to arrange that collection in a shadow box— a big shadow box, almost six by six feet. His vision gave us confidence to take that piece to the highest level. We ordered hand-etched glass, hired the best calligrapher in the nation to reproduce a vintage ticket, and created an actual boxing ring complete with a canvas floor and cotton ropes.”
As Lynne’s reputation for detail and quality grew, she gained access to high-profile buyers.
“Our first celebrity client was Polly Bergen. We didn’t know it at the time, but she was a big Hollywood star. Since then, we’ve framed Super Bowl rings, shoes and jerseys for Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Jordan, and a sword for the Prince of Abu Dhabi,” Lynne shared. “They’re not just flat pieces on a wall. The way we design them can use every sense: visual, touch, and motion. We put our creative energy into our art,” she said.
That same care and creativity that attracts celebrity clients also draws professional artists to Lynne’s gallery. Today, she is the exclusive agent for Larry Pirnie. He created the vividly colored horse seen galloping across First Security Bank billboards around Missoula.
“Larry is iconic,” Lynne expressed. “He has always inspired me. His work isn’t just western art. It’s about taking risks, about believing in yourself, and being fearless,” she emphasized.
Lynne recounted that same fearlessness in Larry’s wife, Irene.
“I remember when she traveled across the country to place Larry’s work in hundreds of galleries. One time, she couldn’t fit a piece in her van, so she sawed it in half,” said Lynne. “Think of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that!”
Those shoe-string moments still inform Lynne’s approach to business today. The shoes are nicer now, but she continues to find creative ways to adapt.
“We have diversified. Artwork and entertaining go hand-in-hand, so we host corporate and private events in our gallery. Now, we’re more about creating a special experience,” said Lynne.
Outside of the gallery, Lynne and her staff have expanded their services. They now curate first-class events and fundraisers.
“We worked with Huey Lewis to produce one of the most successful fundraisers in the Bitterroot Valley’s history,” she noted. “We also were given the opportunity to put on a three-day private birthday party with people flying in from all over the world to Plains, Montana. We’re now designing the upcoming 50th Anniversary Gala for Montana’s Special Olympics this September.”
Moments make a home. Over time, they meld into memory. Stories, and the treasures that inspire them, pass from generation to generation. Lynne understands how art fits into that heritage.
“I don’t want to sell things that don’t have meaning,” she said. “I want people to be able to pass pieces down from generation to generation. Our clients who brought in baby spoons or that first pair of baby shoes, their kids are coming in now and asking us to create something similar for their own children. That’s what comes from being in the same town for three decades.”