Wednesday, November 10, 2010

CHANGES: Drawing Board Celebrates 35th Birthday in Montpelier

By Theodore A. Hoppe

One the iconic symbols of Montpelier, albeit a rather small one, is a neon blue sign that reads ART. It hangs in the side window of the Drawing Board, an art supply and framing shop at 22 Main Street, one of the first buildings you see when heading into Montpelier's downtown area. It is a beacon to artists and art lovers alike. This one three-letter word aptly describes everything one needs to know about the Drawing Board.

For the past thirty-five years, (has it really been that long?) the Drawing Board has been the place in Central Vermont to find everything "art": quality supplies of every kind – paints, brushes, easels, paper, "over 100 gorgeous handmade papers from around the world", pens, pencils, pastels, clay. There are bookbinding, printmaking, and drafting supplies, and many other surprises – post cards and greeting cards of famous art, and materials to create art "trading cards". The store exhibits works of art by local artists in the limited space on the brick wall above the counter. Even the window displays are thoughtfully artistic, and stand out among the other store-fronts on Main Street.

To celebrate, their 35 years in business, the Drawing Board is having a birthday party on Saturday, November 13, 2010, from 12:00- 5:00 P.M. There will be cake and balloons, and lots of prizes and surprises. Everything in the store will be 35% off, and they will be taking $35.00 off any custom frame order over $100. So stop into the Drawing Board to wish them a "Happy Birthday".

"The best part about being here in business is the customers, and the friends we've made over the years," says Ray Brown. When Ray and his wife, Jody Wilson Brown, took over the store, they knew about art and framing, but had no business experience. So being new to business, and new to Montpelier, they had to learn as they went along. "We have always had a great staff, great employees, and that helped," says Brown.

The art world is continually changing, and the Drawing Board has had to change along with the times, so they now have a website. Asked to recall some of the challenges they have had to face over the years, both Ray and Jody mention the flooding of Montpelier in March of 1992. "We had planned to make some changes to the store at some point, but the flood caused us to renovate everything. We got a lot of help after the flood to keep the business going. It's a lot nicer now than it was.”

When asked about some of the other memorable events of being in business, they recalled some of the contemporary artwork that they have had a chance to frame. "Andy Warhol, Chuck Close”, said Jody, to name a few. "We framed some pieces for the White House, and a Rembrandt etching," added Ray.

As Ray Brown thought for a minute about the many memories the business has provided, he said, "...and we're still having fun doing it." It is always a plus to have a job you love to do, but who wouldn't love to connect with people's inspiration and creativity every day. That is "fun" indeed. The rest of the story, as a saying goes, is that the Drawing Board has, over the years, become an active and generous part of the community, the art community as well as the business community. Thank you, Ray and Jody.