By Nancy Tannler
Meeting the lucky people who find passion in their work is a consistent theme of local business owners here in SE Portland. Terre Phillips, owner of Portland Picture Frame, is no exception. She is one of these individuals whose road led her to the framing business and now the celebration of twenty-five years in business.
Love of art, color and design lured her away from her roots on what she calls a “gentleman’s farm” in Wisconsin, to college in Madison at the University of Wisconsin where she received an MFA in art. In the early nineties she left the M idwest and made Portland her home.
The question always exists: what does an artist do for a living with their art degree? Framing pictures became an avenue of expression for Phillips.
She apprenticed in local shops before being offered the opportunity to buy Portland Picture Frame (then located at SE 33rd and Division – yes, in the tiny lighting building).
Phillips went into business ownership with her former husband, Theo Macri. “We didn’t have any extra money but a couple of people loaned us the money and we were able to build a business.”
For several years, Portland Picture Frame and Macri Gallery operated at SE 23rd and Division. Both were involved with the East River Arts Community participating in first Fridays, promoting, selling, framing, and living art.
In 2000, they bought out Picture This (a frame shop who’s current location is at 2805 SE Holgate). After a few years, life changes sent the couple in different directions.
Since framing was Phillips’ thing, she stayed with the shop. There’s that saying that nature abhors a vacuum, so when Stephanie Wade came in for the third time to apply for a job, there was a position to fill.
Phillips hired Wade right away and they have forged an alliance that is the driving force behind Portland Picture Frame today.
Wade had done her due diligence by working at Beard’s Frame shop for several years. She is a jewelry maker and a photographer; all attributes that enhance the eye to see clearly. She was able to jump right in and soon became the manager..
By this time, old and new customers were keeping Portland Picture Frame busy.
“Almost everyone comes in with an idea of what they want. We’ve framed just about everything and can easily visualize the end result.” Phillips said.
“It’s our job to make sure that we hear what the customer wants and that it coincides with what will make the picture look best.”
This is often achieved by offering up other mat or frame suggestions.
In all the years in business, the shop has only had one person who couldn’t see the wisdom of their experience and forged ahead with an idea that later needed to be reframed.
“For repeat customers we remember what art we have framed and are familiar with their design and style,” Wade said. Through the years they have built good relationships with their customers.
“We’ve laughed and cried and hugged and listened and shared stories and found joy here and in our work,” said Phillips.
Everything at Portland Picture Frame is made from the ground up. This includes mats, frames, glass, odd dimensions, shadowboxes – everything. They hand pick all the molding and have one of the largest selections in town.
The business guarantees their work will with stand the test of time and they are hoping that one day soon they will get to do a tour of some of the homes just to see how the art looks on the walls.
The camaraderie between the two women is genuine and often hilarious. They are able to give each other the space and grace to both work and have other outside activities.
Wade’s daughter was an infant when she first came to work for Portland Picture Frame. Working at the shop has allowed her to attend school meetings and events and generally be there to witness her growing up years.
Terre is a self-described artist in remission who is completing a body of work (Icons) for a show in Oct. 2019. She is an accomplished equestrian, Saddle Seat is one of her areas of expertise. She has won many awards in the field and stays busy tending to her two horses and teaching the next generation to ride.
It’s quiet when you open the front door to the shop these days since Phillips’ pug, Chauncey P. Gardner, (named after the Peter Sellers character in the movie Being There), passed away.
The shop mascot has always been a rescue from Pacific Pug Rescue. Right now Phillips is in mourning for Chauncey, but sometime Mr. or Ms. Right Pug will show up again to welcome customers to Portland Picture Frame.
Portland Picture Frame 2801 SE Holgate 503.236.1400