When we look at a hung wall art we wonder what inspired the artist. When we look at family pictures we wonder where the time went. What we don’t guess at is who framed the print and what they were thinking. That’s Marlo Crocifisso’s silent talent—her contribution to the piece so it can add intellectual element to a space within a home or business.
Owner of Art Haus Framing and armed with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana, Marlo found her calling accidentally while working for a gallery and frame shop in Olympia, Washington. Upon returning to Missoula, she went to work for Monte Dolack for ten years, preserving his art in perfect heavy borders. Marlo found something intriguing about the framing process.
“It is so opposite from the art process, which is messy and intuitive. Framing is precise and perfect with its measurements. I can also hide imperfections. It’s a nice balance for me as an artist,” said Marlo. “Plus, I kind of like organizing other peoples’ stuff,” she admitted. It’s true, a well-chosen mat and sturdy wooden box does help the viewer arrange the scene.
A frame is more than just an aesthetic with a hook. According to Marlo, “The purpose of a frame is preservation, protection, and conservation of the art work so that it’s archival, so that it will outlive you.” And yes, framing can be more expensive than what is actually on the medium, but as she tells her clients, “It should be like buying furniture. It’s something you will keep forever.”
While framing is precise, the method of creating the protective sheath is ultimately a collaboration around her design table, between herself and the client. It starts with questions about the motif of their home (or office, or wherever the artwork will end up). What kind of wood is in the space? What color are the walls? Are there more silver or gold frames already present? Is the area more modern or traditional, or somewhere in between? Sometimes customers will bring in pictures of their interiors.
From there, Marlo begins pulling samples off the wall, and there are many. She’s quick, already knowing the strengths of various textures and colors. It’s like watching a coach know exactly which players to put in and when.
Some forms of art do have rules when it comes to framing. Oil paintings are traditionally protected by linen liners rather than standard alpha-cellulose boards. This not only looks better, but it also prevents the oils from rubbing against the materials. Other forms have no rules and actually require a bit of problem solving.
“I once framed a graduate’s geology hammer. I had to figure out how to make it look like it was floating in the frame,” she confesses. Marlo’s background in color theory is a huge asset for beholders of art. “I can see colors in certain mattings and paintings that some people can’t see. Believe it or not, whites can be very different. This one actually has red in it, and this one is more blue,” she confirmed as she compared two almost identical bleached panels.
While the main purpose of the frame is protection and longevity of its showcase, Marlo believes the main focus should be the artwork. “But you look at the art and frame as one piece. It’s symbiotic and not competing,” said Marlo. This is accomplished by being a bit of what she calls a “Neutral Nancy.” She is not going to suggest overwhelming colors in the borders so as not to outdate the prize. Again, you want your piece to be timeless. In the end, with Marlo’s help, her clients get to be part of the finished work. They have the rare chance to add their own creativity and eye to the final masterpiece.
Art Haus Framing is a space buzzing with both what will be and what has been. In addition to framing, Marlo offers ready-to-purchase pieces such as those of her dear friend Nancy Greenfield who passed away last year. With the permission of Nancy’s family, a small selection of both framed and unframed prints are available.
“There is such great imagery and stories behind her photos. I can still hear her laugh,” said Marlo. Nancy’s photograph titled “Grandpa’s Staircase” hypnotizes the viewer into feeling a nostalgia for a space they’ve likely never been. The observer never once wondering what the framer was thinking, and well, that’s how you know it’s done correctly. This is the ultimate silent preservation, ensuring the artists’ work lives on long after the artist.
Art Haus Framing
1540 West Broadway Street #12