Here they grow again: Rouge gallery adds framing business to its portfolio
A red tide has been rising, slowly and steadily in our mountain city over the last few years and recently it took another passion-fueled surge forward. Instead of an invasion of single-celled phytoplankton killing fish and wildlife in its path, Rossland’s own red tide has been floating the arts scene in town. Claude Stormes and Roberta Post have recently pulled their best Brett Favre impression and come back out of retirement again to lead the latest venture: A custom-framing operation attached to the Rouge Gallery.
Just as a high tide floats all boats, so too have the artists in town been lifted, challenged and inspired by one another as the entire scene has found its feet through the establishment of the Rouge and its subsequent leaps forward.
First came the formation of the Rouge Arts Centre Society, followed quickly by the original gallery at the east end of the downtown strip opening to rave reviews. The artistic explosion then ramped up once again as the Rouge moved into its new home in the BMO building and has begun spawning additional revenue streams.
With its latest innovation, which unassumingly opened doors for business in mid-December, the Rouge Arts Centre Society now counts a top notch downtown gallery, a thriving music series and a not-for-profit custom framing operation among its growing list of assets and attractions.
Throughout his art career, Claude Stormes (originally from California, he met his wife Roberta Post in Toronto. They relocated to Rossland in 1995) had been doing custom framing, largely for his own work.
In the mid ‘naughts (2000-2010 has got to be called something catchy) Stormes and Post started Post Art Framing on the upper floor of the old Velvet Hotel building downtown. A year or two ago they retired the business. Now, though, after a valiant effort at retiring and living the good life Claude has returned to the framing world as Roberta continues to work on the Rouge board to frame up the society’s future revenue streams.
“Oh yes, we left [the framing business] and retired and brought all of our equipment home,” explained Post. “When I discovered that this space wasn’t going to be used for what was originally planned I asked Fletcher [Quince] what he thought about a custom framing business. So we thought we’d do it in conjunction with Rouge, owned and operated as part of the society so that it’s really clear that it’s not a profit making business. So we’re able to plan just like the gallery to put the profits back into the community and we’ll discover what avenues that will take and what our mission is when the board meets next.”
Located in the basement floor of the BMO building between Mountain Life and Kootenay Nordic Sports on the Washington Street side of the building, Rouge Framing officially opened on December 15th in its cozy 600 square foot confines.
Over the Christmas break, the new operation (which will be doing custom framing as well as building some pre-built frames) already saw its first several projects come trickling in between hosting family get-togethers at the Stormes-Post residence.
Indeed the couple is back for a good time, not a long time as they hope to find the right person or persons to mentor, teach their craft to and pass their knowledge down to the next generation and keep what they’ve started going in Rossland.
“We’d like to retire again,” added Post. “We keep retiring and coming back so we’d like to retire again in time. I don’t know how long it’s going to take to find the right person but that’s the plan.”
What might that appropriate person be like? According to the framing couple, the most critical skill has to be someone that is meticulous and pays very close attention to detail.
“We’re really looking for someone who is meticulous as well as artistic. It requires a lot of attention to detail. These frames are something people are going to have for a long time, so it’s got to be done right. It’s furniture for your walls basically,” explained Post.
From measuring accurately, cutting the frame, running it through the Morso chopper and into the clamps for gluing, there is a lot of tedious work that goes into a product that by nature is relegated to a life of supporting roles. In that sense one of the real artistic challenges in framing is creating a product so close to perfect that it doesn’t take centre stage. As the couple noted, “the ideal situation is when you look at a framed picture you don’t notice the frame. If you can frame something and really not draw attention to the frame right away then you’ve done a good job.”
The framing business truly is one in which the behind the scenes actors work tirelessly to make their front men/women look good. That metaphor couldn’t be more true for the Rouge Center for the Arts Society as it continues to churn out new initiatives and projects like Rouge framing, all of which are designed to support the continually-growing arts scene in Rossland.