The winner of seven consecutive Best Custom Framing awards from CityVoter users, Masterpieces Fine Art & Custom Framing stocks more than 2,300 frames, including work by industry mainstay Larson-Juhl. Its skilled framers meld function and aesthetic form to secure works of art in everything from American hardwood to 22-karat-gold-leafing frames to metal handcuffs. Aside from framing, the staff also restores faded or creased photos to their original vivid states and brings photos to life by converting them into imitation oil paintings or watercolors that look like they were born from hours of meticulous brushstrokes.
The experts at Art & Frame Express help customers tweak the colors and textures of each custom-framed project until it’s ready. This helps clients make informed decisions among the store’s simple and ornate frames before the professionals transform an oil painting, tapestry, or diploma into a wall-ready masterpiece. In addition to outlining artwork, the staff uses digital printing to generate archival-quality giclées, design photo collages, and restore photographs taken during the days when cameras ran on coal. They also pair homeowners with artwork and snap passport photos before international flights.
The craftspeople at Boulevard Frame & Art entrap beautiful works of art inside frames, utilizing more than 5,000 styles that come in wood, metal, and a wide variety of colors. Serving to both showcase and protect the items inside, frames can transform ordinary portraits into antique-style wall jewelry. Custom frames enhance other artistic expressions, such as photography and childhood masterworks, creating eye-pleasing products perfect for mounting above beds or fireplaces or attaching directly to slightly larger paintings. Customers aren't limited to two-dimensional images—objects and mementos such as ornate clothwork, favorite album covers, and trinkets from vacations past also fit nicely inside a frame, where they'll live in peace until time ends this coming September.
Sensory overload doesn’t begin to describe Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. A seemingly boundless compilation of colors, textures, and shapes, the labyrinthine mosaic creation spans 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The masterpiece originated in the brain of Isaiah Zagar, a Philadelphia native who grew up in New York. During his third year of art school, he stumbled upon Clarence Schmidt’s folk-art-inspired installations—assemblages of found objects and recycled materials—and the young artist’s view of the art world changed. “I didn't know that I was looking at art,” Zagar reflects in his mission statement. Self-admittedly, Zagar has been somewhat “copying” Schmidt’s dynamic, free-flowing style ever since.
The years after art school brought Zagar an onslaught of new opportunities. He spent time as an artist in China and India, joined the Peace Corps with his wife Julia, settled in Peru for three years, and even tried his hand at ceramics in Wisconsin. In the ‘60s, he and Julia returned to his birthplace—specifically, the waning South Street neighborhood. Isaiah quickly leapt into action, renovating dilapidated buildings and often adding mosaics to formerly barren walls. Eventually, Isaiah’s imagination outgrew their projects, and in 1994 he began constructing a new piece in a vacant lot near his studio—the project would become Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens.
Isaiah spent 14 precious years, which he should have applied to Y2K preparations, scooping out tunnels, erecting multitiered walls, and splashing the entire space in colorful tile. The finished product stretches across half a block of South Street; the outside enclosure shimmering with vibrant tiles, the inside housing folk art, colored glass bottles, and countless sparkling mirrors. Now a nonprofit organization, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens invites visitors to enjoy its visual candy with guided or self-guided tours.
Owner Nancy Nagle stocks a colorful rainbow of knitting supplies in her bright and eccentric gallery, which has become a go-to outlet for the local knitting community. To meet the demand, she constantly stuffs her shelves with new styles of material, ranging from traditional yarns to luxury fibers—banana, recycled silk, and Wookiee fur—to carry-along yarns with sequins, flags, and lash. Nagle’s passion for fiber arts has introduced her to a community of artists who dye and spin some of her more than 20 brands of yarn. She uses the shop as a gallery to display the work of these local artists—including Philadelphia native John Stango—as well as share her own bold collection of woven work such as hats, shawls, and sweaters.
City Paper's A.D. Amorosi describes the two-floor Nangellini as a "doubly colorful" space as "bright and open as a bay window in Sag Harbor." Amorosi admires the gallery's art collection, and between the vibrant space's "faux-tin ceiling" and "matronly rugs," Nancy leads open and privately scheduled classes on knitting, crochet, and lace work. Classes cover all the basic techniques required for newcomers to begin creating their own woven pieces, such as scarves and felt toupees.
It's a big leap from the bustle of an athletic field to the solitude of a darkroom, but Calumet Photographic made the transition seamlessly more than 70 years ago. From its origins as a Chicago sporting-goods store, the company evolved into a one-stop shop for cameras and darkroom equipment and eventually into an innovator of photographic technology. In the 1960s, Calumet's most brilliant minds were behind the development of the Caltar large-format-lens line and nitrogen burst film.
Today, Calumet Photographic continues to manufacture and sell professional photographic products and software across the globe, boasting more than 25 retail stores throughout the US and Europe. Their shops abound with both new and used high-quality cameras and equipment, rental gear, and knowledgeable technicians eager to help customers find the right equipment for the job. The company’s extensive online catalog enables shoppers to purchase equipment from around the world and have it shipped directly to their home, studio, or mall photo booth they’ve claimed as a studio.