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Left of Center by Joshua Maloni
Customers who walk into Sue’s Frame of Mind should be prepared to block out.
They’ll need to block out time, because owner Susan Sullivan will, invariably, chat with them for at least 20 minutes; and they’ll need to block out space in their home or office for a framing that will, no doubt, become a magnificently mounted showpiece.
Patron Andrea Ferin explained, “Sue has a formal background in art, so her sense of color and proportion are spot-on. Her work is also carefully done and of very high quality.
“One might think that ‘black and white’ photos (many of which are not truly black and white at all) should always be framed in white mats. They shouldn’t; particularly those that have aged, are hand-tinted or were made with various antiquated photographic technology. It’s very, very challenging to mat and frame subtle colors correctly, but Sue always takes the often-extended time to help me choose exactly the perfect materials.
“It can be equally difficult to work with more colorful items and, again, Sue takes the time to work with me – no matter how long it takes – to do it right.”
Ferin has become a regular customer at Sue’s Frame of Mind, which opened 10 years ago on Center Street.
“I always trust her completely with my items, so she has framed every single family photo – old or new – on my gallery wall, and there are dozens. They date from the turn of the early 20th century to the present,” Ferin said. “Sue frames my fine art, as well, whether it be a traditional oil or watercolor or a digitally enhanced or wholly digitally produced work.
“No two items require the same techniques. Many require completely out-of-the-box ingenuity. Again, Sue always takes the time to do them as they should be done and to make sure the piece is actually enhanced for the eye of the viewer. This has included three-dimensional objects, among which have been very, very fragile lace pieces – some quite small, and one extremely large – that required exacting preparation, including being painstakingly sewn onto the background.
“They look great!”
Village of Lewiston Historian Russ Piper has often relied on Sue’s Frame of Mind when in need of bordering the rare treasures found inside the Lewiston Local History Museum.
“I first met Sue 26 years ago when she first started working at Eddie’s Art Shoppe as a framer,” he said. “Over all these years, she has done some incredible work for me for both my private, personal collection, as well as those now housed in my museum collection at the Red Brick School.
“From the very beginning, she has been a consummate professional, whether it be repairing, restoring, creating, or just framing whatever item I have brought her over the years. Always taking the time to suggest the perfect frame and mat or coming up with ideas to showcase the particular piece. I will oftentimes leave an item and let her choose what will become the finished artwork. I have always been more than pleased with the finished piece.
“Over the years, we have developed a close friendship both personally and professionally. I will always recommend her to create a lasting impression with her talent and ability to create a cherished work of art. Truly a real pleasure to work with her and for always taking the time to ensure everything will be perfect and enjoyed wherever it be displayed.”
In a Sentinel article about Sullivan’s first anniversary in Lewiston, she was called a “Chatty Cathy.” That description that still puts a smile on her face.
“Anybody that walks in to see me is meant to be comfortable. You come in, you’re a friend. It’s an at-ease atmosphere. It’s not high stress,” Sullivan said. “We chat. It gives me the opportunity to know my customer. To get a better idea of what they want.
“So, I’ll ask them questions. It’s all in giving me an idea how better to do this framing job for them: What are their favorite colors; what is the room like? Are you a fancy person, or do you like clean lines? All these little questions get me to understand what they’re looking for; to make better choices for them to do their project, make their project.
“It may sound as though I’m a ‘Chatty Cathy’ – which I am – but part of that is getting to know the person. Because someone will say, ‘Just do it.’ But no; I want to do it for you, for that person. It’s so nice that people do custom picture-framing, rather than just going out and do prefab decorating. Because your house is your home, your sanctuary; it’s all about feeling comfortable in it. It’s yours, and it should reflect that. Not just some generic, everybody’s-got-a-painting-on-the-wall.
“There’s going to be some things in the house that tell your story, of your path, and your direction, in your life; and that you enjoy seeing every time you walk in that room, framed up on that wall. You can say, ‘I got this on vacation,’ ‘I did this during the summer.’ ”
The work of local artists also is cherished at Sue’s Frame of Mind.
Writer and educator Mary Furlong said, “Sue’s Frame of Mind opened on Center Street at about the same time that I began watercolor painting. What a blessing it has been for these past 10 years! What a friend Sue has been! She is so supportive of all local artists.
“In addition to a generous artist’s discount for matting and framing, she gives us wall space to show off our work alongside her own wonderful photographs. She shows respect for our framing choices while, at the same time, offering her own artist’s perspective. She is quick to pass along compliments from fellow artists as well as from potential buyers and ‘just looking’ art lovers; and she keeps us in touch with one another and with the Western New York art world.
“As an artist, I look upon Sue’s shop as ‘Art News Central,’ as a mini gallery, and as a continuing source of inspiration.”
Ultimately, “It’s all about the customer; all about them,” Sullivan said.
As she reflected on her store’s 10th anniversary, Sullivan said, “I think everybody is meant to be where they feel they fit. And that works with anything, whether it’s business, or where you live, or where you work, or where you want to go to school. There has to be comfortable surroundings, and this has always been.”
Sue’s Frame of Mind is located at 748 Center St., Lewiston. For more information, call 716-754-7074.