10 Questions for The AVENUE Gallery
Diana Wyant, owner
1 How did you get into the framing and antique print business? Life can take unexpected turns. Happily. I always loved drawing and art but enjoyed intellectual pursuits and planned to be a lawyer. I got an offer to model with top agencies in Europe and New York and ended up working in Europe for seven years, which in turn led me into fashion. I later had my own design house and was hired to revamp a couture house in Paris. Still in Paris, I started another business drawing Paris and creating a greeting card company. I came back to the States, continuing the card business. When I was hired to do a consulting job for a small frame company, I found a new vocation. The frame company did not take my advice, but I did! It started with doing installations and groups to finding the right piece of art and the right chest of drawers to anchor the art. Not to mention the right frame.
2 A frame can make or break the piece. How do you help clients choose? Any rules of thumb? Framing isn’t any different from fashion. You look at colors, shapes, combinations, and a sense of proportion. There is always a visceral reaction when something is right. There are always three choices that work. Depending on the room, you can use a paper mat or fabric mat, a wood frame, or a gold frame.
3 What distinguishes a good framing job from a mediocre one? I take the time to explore framing choices and educate my customers at the same time (they’re the ones who have to live with the choice). This is what separates good framing from “formula” framing.
4 What’s your definition of a framing faux pas? Mistakes happen when a framerdoesn’t do the proper research. You need to know: In what room will the art be hung? What are the wall and fabric colors? What size wall? All of this helps to determine the best framing choice. Otherwise, expensive mistakes can happen. Integrity is essential. Customers need to ask questions. Too often they just accept that the frame job is correct. I am constantly upset when I see that shortcuts have been taken within the framing. It’s inexcusable to use packing tape to hinge or back with cardboard, which isn’t acid free.
5 What’s the most important thing to consider when grouping or displaying a collection at home? Don’t hang pictures too high! Remember that the art needs to relate to “earth,” not float upward to the sky. Your eye should be able to look right into the center of the art.
A person who is about 5'7" or 5'8" will have an excellent sense of the right height. In grouping, there is always a natural combination and balance that falls into place. Suddenly, there is a dynamic between pieces that just works.
6 What’s the most unusual piece or collection you’ve ever framed? Most challenging?
I framed a large 1800 wall map of Asia, which was in four sections, totaling about 64" by 74". The four sections were framed independently in quadrants. We floated the sheets so that you could see that it was truly an old map. The four sections were separated by mahogany strips. There was a lot of silver in the map, and the outer white-gold frame, which had an Asian feel, picked up all the tones in the map. This was the perfect marriage of a more contemporary look and an antique map.
7 Any creative framing ideas for those on a budget? It is always possible to achieve a couture look with a minimal budget. Simple toned mats and just the right proportioned mats combined with a simple frame can be sublime.
8 Tell us about your services. Do you ever visit clients at home to consult on art placement? I am always available to make a house call or send choices home to ensure the correct frame and art choices. People come to The Avenue knowing I care. From the most valuable museum piece to a family photo, the art—and my clients—will get the attention it deserves. l also carry an amazing selection of antique prints—it’s art that has history to it. Antique prints can be purchased for $5 or thousands, and the prints are timeless. With the right framing choice, they work in a contemporary setting or traditional one. You can fill your walls with every imaginable category: shells, views, botanicals, architecturals, maps, and charts. How exciting to purchase an old chart that was actually used on board ship and survived from the 1800s! Or find a map that shows your family ancestor’ home? It’s a niche business learned through hands-on and day-to-day experience; it is fun to pass on the history of paper. These are centuries of man’s intellectual progress right in front of you that you can
9 What do you collect personally? I look at all the antique paper in my gallery as my collection. I love seeing an appreciation kindled and an emotion experienced when a new collector walks in and walks out with a newfound treasure in hand. In my gallery, people often develop a passion for old paper.
10 What’s your favorite piece from your own collection? The map of Asia was phenomenal, one of the most exciting pieces I’ve done, both visually and aesthetically. But there are too many pieces I’ve seen to pick just one favorite. That’s the fun of this business. There’s something exciting all the time.
The AVENUE Gallery
117 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880
Diana Wyant, owner