By Nancy Tannler

The iconic old building that faces Hawthorne Blvd. at Mt. Tabor is now reinforced in case The Big One hits. Despite the commotion of the deconstruction and reconstruction, Gabe Rahe along with his staff was able to keep Art Heads, SE 50th & Hawthorne open and doing business as usual.

New look for old building

Given the choice to close for three weeks or work around construction for three months, Rahe chose the latter. He and his employees scrambled to move the framing business around the space while construction was going on.

“We moved all the display racks, work stations, tools etc. to a portion of the building that wasn’t being renovated. The most difficult part was to make sure no dust particles touched the art. Our customers were very accommodating too.”

Owner Gabe Rahe utilizing new work benches

The end result is iron subterranean shafts and crossbeams that will keep the building safe in case of an earthquake or natural disaster. Another end result of the reinforcement was Rahe’s collaboration with the contractors to create a work space to his specifications.

“We had a blank slate to work with,” he said. He and his fellow employees knew what would make the work space flow and designed the shop to fit their needs and those of their customers.

Starting in 2019, the makeover at Art Heads will be complete and Rahe will own the business. He was first employed here when Art Heads was located in the Hawthorne Masonic Building in 1999. After moving to this location in 2005, he became the manager and started the process of buying the business.

When the recession hit in 2008, Art Heads created a new line of ready-made frames to offer to their customers. This kept the doors open and the four employees working. With ready-made frames they could offer every price category from the person living on a fixed income to someone wanting to frame an expensive piece of art.

Smooth functioning work space

In framing they take into consideration color and size, the environment it will be placed in and the completed piece. Not everything requires a gilt gold frame as in bygone days. “People spend a lot of time looking at the art on their walls, and we want it to look its best.”

The business is also capable of refreshing paintings and photos, doing enlargements and restoring some works. If its not in their purview of expertise, they know people who do art restoration they can recommend.

Creative expression is an intrinsic part of Gabe Rahe’s makeup. It was what first brought him to the framing world all those years ago and continues to drive him to this day. He helped design and build all the new tables and storage units, taking aesthetics and ergonomics in mind.

The frame displays have been magnetized and will feature more selections. The west facing shades can be drawn so they create a backdrop for art exhibits that are soon to be part of the scene here. They have incorporated the Halsey Hanging System on the tall ceilings making it possible to display art in this open space.

One of his most recent at-home projects was to build a skate park in his backyard for his son. He helped from engineering the design to pouring the concrete. Rahe says he enjoys projects that are like a big puzzle. “It gets me going.”

While The Southeast Examiner was doing this interview, one of Rahe’s customer-friends, photographer Larry Olson, stopped by to say hello and see how work is progressing. Art Heads is that kind of a place because the owner is that kind of guy, a friendly, welcoming person who along with his staff can make the art on your walls reflect how you feel about a particular piece of art.

For more information, drop by 1506 SE 50th St., call 503.232.5299, or visit art-heads.com.