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  • Writer's pictureMonmouth Arts

Skulls and Maps at Red Bank FrameWorks

By Margaret Goddard

For the last week of Membership Month, we are highlighting the businesses that form the foundation of our creative community. Red Bank FrameWorks, one of our business members and a Monmouth Street neighbor, has a history of high-quality framing services as well as a rotating exhibit space. We talked to owner Steve McMillion about the quirks of the framing business and the exhibits coming up this spring.


Red Bank FrameWorks owner Steve McMillion is a bit more than just a framer. He is an artist himself and a collector of everything from rock music posters to folk art to vintage tattoo designs. Steve is always looking for antiques, buying boxes of unwanted torn paper for his collages or collecting atlases and maps of the area. You can find all of these treasures in his shop.

Steve comes from a high-end framing background. Twenty-five years ago in Chicago, he started making frames for his own artwork and began working for framers, specializing in conservation framing. He moved to London to frame for auction houses and museums. So when he founded Red Bank FrameWorks ten years ago, he applied that traditional framing expertise to clients who wanted their child’s artwork or a diploma framed. He makes sure that twenty years from now, if you open up one of his frames, that object or artwork has been kept in perfect condition.

Over the years Steve has noticed that people will test him out, maybe bringing him a simple piece to frame before trusting him with a valuable painting. “You have to develop trust with people and show them you know what you’re doing,” he says. “I don’t advertise much; it’s all word of mouth. People talk, and really that’s the best kind of referral, isn’t it?”

Steve’s definitely a one-man-show. “I like it because everyday I do something different. It’s mostly just me here, so I’m framing, matting, cleaning toilets, sweeping floors, emailing, working on the website, photographing, and marketing.” Not to mention curating. Steve always has an exhibit up in the frame shop. He regularly shows local artists like Jose Arvelo, Ericka Bruno, Mike Quon, and Colleen Lineberry. Up next: curator Ellen Martin’s group show, The Art of Dance, followed by Lou Storey and Eileen Kennedy’s joint show, Seasons.

Painting on reclaimed metal by Georgia artist R. A. Miller, next to a painting by Ericka Bruno.

Steve brings a distinct perspective to framing. “I try to do something different,” he says. “If I just did a black frame with a white mat that’d be kind of boring. It’s like fashion. You could wear black pants and a white shirt every day, but like fashion, it’s about trying to make something different and stand out.” Similarly, the prints, posters, and photographs he sells in his shop reflect his style and not the mainstream. He likes to carry “unique, unusual stuff.” You won’t find anything Impressionist for sale.

And now for the question everyone wonders: What’s the strangest thing someone’s wanted framed?

A human skull. The lady brought it in with her in a Bloomingdale’s “little brown bag” when I was working in New York. You never know what someone will bring in. It’s always a challenge. There’s no chapter in a manual on framing some of these things. It involves a lot of construction and craftsmanship to preserve these things.

If you have any skulls you’ve been meaning to frame, he’s your guy.


Upcoming Exhibits:

February 28 - March 28

Opening Reception: Friday, February 28, 6-9 pm

Group show of artists exploring the theme of dance.

Seasons: Work by Lou Storey and Eileen Kennedy

April 3 - June 26

Opening Reception: Friday, April 3, 6-8 pm

Lou Storey and Eileen Kennedy examine the cyclical calendar through their disparate mediums.

“This is Peggy, patron saint of framing. I found her at an antique store and we kept her up there for inspiration.”

Interested in becoming a member like Red Bank FrameWorks did? Become a member of Monmouth Arts today!

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