Elizabeth Enders recently worked with Bark Frameworks to create custom frames for “Come In!” a joint exhibition of her paintings and works on paper at Real Art Ways and the Lyman Allyn Museum — both in Connecticut. The show at the Lyman Allyn Museum was guest-curated by Charlotta Kotik, Curator Emerita of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
For our designers, collaborating directly with an artist leads to framing that is particularly responsive to the art. Enders, whose work has been framed by Bark a number of times in the past, met with designer Amy Hinten to create hard maple frames, each one tailored to a specific work. They chose a simple stem profile, which has a long lineage – it is derived from designs that Bark pioneered in the early 1970s. These stem frames have proven very useful to our artist and gallery clients for a variety of works on paper, and this framing style has become ubiquitous in galleries in recent years.
This specific design is highly versatile in our hands because of the many ways Bark designers can refine each frame to suit an individual work of art. The frame width and depth, matting, and finish can all be fine-tuned in response to the artwork. In framing Enders’ works on paper, Hinten designed the frames to be unusually deep to accommodate the movement of the paper with changes in relative humidity. One of three matting choices was selected for each piece: a window mat (which covers the paper’s edge); an “island” window mat (in which the paper’s edge is exposed within a window mat); or a simple float. Though the differences may be subtle, these choices significantly affect how the work is perceived. Enders’ experience in framing her work made her keenly aware of these distinctions.
Frame finishes for the works on paper reflected both ends of the tonal spectrum, though the choice was not as simple as black and white: in some cases, a custom black stain was made to provide an emphatic border for works like the India ink drawings in slide 2. For other works, the frames were sprayed white (we use an almost infinite range of whites). A third option was also used, a finish we developed decades ago which we call a “white rub,” in which an opaque finish is wiped on and rubbed off the frame surface, leaving a film of paint through which the figure of the wood is slightly visible. In other words, the finishes of the frames don’t just range from black to white. They — and their relationship to the wood — are inherently different. These differences are crucial in viewing each framed work.
Enders’ large paintings for this exhibition (most were 60” x 60”) were also framed in hard maple. These artworks were floated; and a grey rub finish that we developed — and that Enders has specified before — was applied to the wood (seen in slides 1, 5, 6, and 7). In short, a neutral palette was chosen for all of the works, yet in each case, care was taken to choose finishes that presented the work in its best light. In this way, simple frames can gracefully enhance the work they surround.
Come In! can be seen at both venues through January 3, 2016.
Photographs courtesy of Real Art Ways.