The framing world has come full circle. At least according to Joel Brown. The co-owner of Brown’s Fine Art & Framing says this neighborhood was the center of the framing world in the 60’s. “You had people like Herb Carrithers and his frame shop,” Brown remembers. “He taught classes and people came from all over the world to take them. He even invented implements still used in framing industry today.” Brown says Carrithers put Jackson on the map in the framing world.
There’s another name in Jackson synonymous with framing and he’s back where he started nearly twenty-five years ago. Mike Nunnery has joined the staff of Brown’s where began his career in 1989. “Joel and I have remained good friends and so I called him when I knew we were closing downtown” Nunnery says.
Nunnery’s and Gallery 119 were on President Street and closed earlier this month. When business partner Mike McRee and Nunnery closed downtown, Brown had thoughts of wooing Nunnery back to Fondren. “I talked with my mom (Mary Grace) and sister (Allison) and said “Let’s see what he’s going to do,” Brown says. Nunnery laughs at the rumors he’s heard of his retiring and moving to Florida. “I wish,” he says with a chuckle. Instead, he says being at Brown’s is “like coming home.”
The original Nunnery’s was on Meadowbrook Road in Fondren from 1998 – 2010 and had many loyal customers. And Nunnery already had a familiarity with the neighborhood. “It’s so convenient and central,” he says. Now, being at Brown’s brings a whole new level of credibility to his and their work. “The reputation here is wonderful and always has been.”
The feeling is mutual: Brown is glad to have Nunnery’s expertise. “We have dealt with some of the same customers for years, so Mike already has a following here,” Brown says. “We’ve made a point to have continuity for his customers and bring the same level of quality.”
Framer Calby Boss is a part of that equation, too. While Nunnery is the face of framing at Brown’s, Boss is the hands. “He knows what he is doing,” Nunnery says. “He may be the best I have ever seen.”
Nunnery says it feels like he never left after being away for 25 years. But he may be most thrilled with what his new job brings to his customers. Nunnery says “It’s 100 times more convenient and everyone is thrilled I’m here.”
Johnston Joins Fondren Art Gallery as Framer
Just down the road, there’s another new framer, this one with a fresh perspective on something that could be seen as ordinary. John Johnston has been with Richard McKey’s Fondren Art Gallery for two months. Johnston worked with Mike Nunnery at Nunnery’s downtown and, once he knew of their impending closing, found McKey’s gallery. Johnston says “I saw a sign that said ‘framing’ and so I stopped in.”
Johnston’s career came about just a year ago though he has been framing his own work for several years. “I got into this because of my love of fine art,” he explains. McKey calls Johnston a creative talent and a hard worker. “I can come to him and say “Pick out a matte, pick out a frame” and it comes out perfect,” McKey says. “That’s rare.”
The 26 year-old says framing could be ho-hum. “But creativity comes in to it deciding on your materials,” Johnston explains. “Richard had been working toward giving framing a new creativity (when I came here). At least for him and I, we’re trying to do something different and fun, yet classic.”
Working in the relaxed space of McKey’s State Street Studio, Johnston cranks up his music and works to fulfill customer’s needs. “It’s good to have him here,” McKey says. “He brings life to the building when I’m away.”
And with Fondren Art Gallery’s acquisition of Peacock Alley Framing, the timing was right to have Johnston on board. Gallery Manager Cindy Hatten Smith says “it all came together in a perfect way.”