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Providence Picture Frame Does Picture Framing, Installation, Restoration, Appraisals and More

By S. Mathur

Providence Picture Frame has been around since the 1800s and is still the largest picture frame company on the East Coast. It's also an art gallery with the largest selection of artwork in the area. This includes posters and prints, photography and paintings from local artists, and a collection of antique maps. The gallery also hosts regionally and nationally known exhibitions. In fact, it provides most services connected to art and artwork that anyone would want. Including some very unusual ones, like a request to find a suitable piece of artwork that was to be destroyed for a TV film. This meant finding the right materials, including a frame, that would burn photogenically.

Owner Geoff Gaunt worked at Providence Picture frame as a kid, and came back years later to find out what was important to him. He returned in 2002, and took over the business in 2008.

"I worked here as a kid; but between then and 2001, I had a career in a very large financial institution," he said. "I learned a lot, but missed working with my hands and I started to feel a little disconnected from the 'real world.'. The firm I worked for was greatly impacted by the 9/11 attacks. That woke me up."

Clients can include interior designers and architects, corporations and businesses, artists and collectors, and home owners. They also include institutions that need specialized help in installing artwork, such as hospitals, school, colleges and universities, restaurants, etc. Services include framing, artwork, large format digital printing, and restoration and appraisals.

"We hang more artwork in a week than most people hang in a lifetime," Gaunt said. "From a simple picture over your mantel, to massive hotels and restaurants in NYC: we do it all with our own full-time professional crew."

What sets Providence Picture Frame apart is the sheer scale of operations. Covering a space of 32,000 square feet, with 1,000,000 feet of moulding in stock, it's the largest and oldest such business in the US. It's also surprisingly affordable, and surprisingly helpful, no matter the size of the project the customer brings in. If there's a request for something they can't do, they can use their connections in the art world to find someone else who can.

Gaunt also teaches archival framing at the Rhode Island School for Design and is a guest lecturer at galleries and museums around New England. What does he like best about his job?

"Now I get to make people's lives more beautiful, one project at a time. I like that I can help people in that way," he said.

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