Phil Kennedy at Work

Employee owner name: Phil Kennedy

Department/Job at Bark Frameworks: Art Preservation (focuses on Mat Making)

How long have you worked at Bark?: Eight years.

Hails from: Massapequa, Long Island.

What did you do before you worked at Bark Frameworks?
Before Bark, I worked at a smaller frame shop in Manhattan which had a similar clientele – collectors, galleries, artists. I started out woodworking, and by the time I left I was doing on-site fittings. Prior to that, I worked at an art gallery in midtown. The desire to do something more “hands on” led me to apply for a job in framing. At Bark I originally was hired as an Art Handler/Driver, which I did for the first year (see photo below). I then moved to Art Preservation and the Mat Department.

Phil Kennedy with Delivery Truck

What is the biggest challenge in your area of work at Bark?
The Mat Department is the first set of eyes on jobs in Art Preservation. It’s very important to ensure that all job information is correct before proceeding, and to stay ahead of schedule to guarantee that all client deadlines are met, as the components produced by the Mat Department are necessary for other departments down the line. This, while maintaining the highest level of quality and precision that our clients have come to expect from our hand-cut mats — and always working to improve processes and elevate standards — can be a challenge.

What do you like best about working at Bark?
It’s a great privilege to be able to see world-class art in such an intimate way on a daily basis. Not many people have that opportunity. The physical act of certain processes in the Mat Department and the high attention to detail required can be very meditative. I also find it stimulating and very cool to be surrounded by so many creative, interesting, and just really nice people who come from all different backgrounds.

Has there been a particularly memorable framing job you worked on?
Our work with the Whitney Museum [designing and making frames for many works in their permanent collection for their 2015 re-opening] definitely stands out for me. I also worked on a series of projects where we collaborated with a contemporary artist to create unusual and complex mats to house the artwork, some of which had 70 or more window openings hand cut into a single oversized mat. Definitely not something you’d want to mess up on the last cut!

What does being an employee owner mean to you?
Being an employee owner means that work becomes more than just a job you go to every day. You feel like you are a part of and invested in something in a real way, and not just along for the ride. We are all invited to be involved in the decision-making, and you can see the tangible results of your input. The company’s future is in our hands, and it’s very exciting to be a part of this evolution.

Phil Kennedy Speaking with Co-worker

Are you an artist?
I’m not a visual artist, but I do play the drums. Drumming in bands is one of the things that brought me to New York City.

Any outside hobbies/interests you have when you’re not making frames?
I love to travel and hike with my wife. One of the most interesting trips so far was a recent visit to Switzerland where we spent time hiking “hut-to-hut” through the Jungfrau region of the Alps. I also really enjoy rock climbing and biking.

Thank you, Phil!

Interview Text and Photos: Jennifer M. Clark
Originally published: May 2019.