Old News

If I ranked the most boring things possible, reading an old issue of the newspaper would rank pretty high. Probably top ten somewhere, just below purgatory.

The newspaper is meant to be here today, gone tomorrow… and recycled weekly. But the newspaper  is a lot like food. It’s best fresh and thrown out past its expiration date; but if kept around you might just have a science experiment on your hands (with newspaper, a history lesson).

Lately, I’ve been working with the old news quite a bit creating a webpage to sell the shop’s antique prints. Maybe it’s because most of our prints reflect the history of Memphis as it unfolded, but I’m fascinated by all of them. I consistently feel the impulse to transcribe all the articles, but I realize not everybody is a weirdo like me who finds the syntax of the 1800s so amusing.

At any rate, anyone can look at these prints and see how beautiful they are. As somebody with engraving experience, I can assure you, even with the quick turnover of the news, these prints are insanely well done. The detail is dizzying.

The articles and illustrations reporting on the Civil War are especially compelling. The print above is an image of the Battle of Pittsburg Landing (more commonly known as Shiloh), dated back to 1862 when it was still breaking news.

Definitely worth a look.



The most overlooked side of framing

Usually, when thinking about frames we think about them from the front, right? While it’s counter-intuitive, the back can offer just as much to see as the front, especially with famous works of art.

The artist Vik Muniz had an amazing show a couple years ago where he reproduced to scale, inch-by-inch, the backs of world-renowned paintings like Starry NightLes Demoiselles d’Avignon, and American Gothic. The pieces are so precisely forged it would be nearly impossible to tell them apart from the originals. Unless of course, somebody looked at the back… which would be the front of the painting… but the back of this work.

Vik Muniz

Verso (Starry Night), 2008
Mixed media object
29 x 36.25 x 12 inches

In the press release, Muniz explained:

Whenever someone wants to see if an artwork is ‘real’, the first gesture is to look at its back or at it’s base; the part of it that normally isn’t visible to anyone else but experts, dealers, museum conservators or the artists’ themselves. This happens because while the image’s objective is to remain eternally the same, its support is constantly changing, telling its story, showing its scars, its labels and periodic clichés. So when a cousin of mine told me his 7-year old could paint a Picasso, I told him ‘probably, but he couldn’t do the back’. As a teenager, I used to fix the neighbor’s TV as a hobby. I wanted to learn how to fix clocks too. Whenever something’s function is basically visual, there is always an opening in the back for the curious to do it damage.

-Vik Muniz in an unpublished interview, 2005

Here’s a link to the rest of the work. http://www.sikkemajenkinsco.com/vikmuniz_viewexh3.html

I really wish I could see what the backs (fronts?) of those pieces. What could they be? Paintings?  Another back?

So, if the whim strikes you, turn around your frames today and see what’s going on back there.


Biggest frame ever?

The aforementioned Frankenframe is now up and on display. While it’s certainly not the biggest frame ever, at 7′ x 7′ it’s the biggest in the shop and a sight to see if you’re passing us on Poplar.

Like Dr. Frankenstein, Mike pieced together some beastly parts to animate an even more beastly whole. Unlike the doctor, Mike made his monster a real looker. Consequently, the Frankenframe has yet to encounter any repulsion or rejection; he’s fitting in just fine. And thank god for that because a torch-wielding mob  could do some serious damage to a frame shop.


Weird Science

Mike’s been doing some really interesting things in the shop this week (with frames of course). The saw has been buzzing, the dust has been flying, and just in time for Halloween he’s made some monster-sized frames back in his lab. Frankenstein-sized. Moving one of those beasts into place was no less of a puzzle than shipping a whale. They should be springing to life and on display any minute now.

He also just constructed an imaginative frame for the entryway to the design room. It’s a gorgeous frame in its own rite, but Mike went the extra mile and crafted a small, angled frame which, for lack of a better description, frames the frame. Only a framer could dream it up. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it’s definitely worth seeing for yourself.