By Kate Elliott—
Editor’s note: Shafer Leadership Academy and the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership are partnering on this six part series to highlight innovative leaders who are redefining typical during these extraordinary times.
Muncie, IN — Scroll through the Facebook page for Gordy Fine Art & Framing Company. You’ll see 93-year-old Bob Shears, grinning at a custom map of his WWII tour of duty that Gordy framed and shipped to his Las Vegas home. You’ll watch a black frame transform into a silver one. You’ll see Easel Monster, host of a YouTube educational comedy, pop into the shop. Or you’ll see the pottery and paintings of 20 Indiana artists, whose work is on display at the iconic shop, located at 224 E. Main St.
The Gordy social media presence reflects the company’s blend of expertise, community pride, educational focus and quirkiness. Owners Carl and Barbara Schafer, who have spent 25 years in the museum profession, work as seamlessly with neighbors down the street as they do with renowned museums across the nation.
“Gordy has a regional reputation for quality custom framing. What distinguishes us from the typical frame shop is that we offer handcrafted, period reproduction frames and gilded frames. We can restore antique frames for collectors and museums as well as preserving family treasures,” said Carl, who served as associate director for Ball State University’s David Owsley Museum of Art from 2006-15. “Experienced staff is qualified to conduct appraisals that meet ethical standards as well as help with the packing and shipping of art. In 2020, we expanded our services to include the printing of photo enlargements and photo restoration.”
Gordy is also a storefront for 20 East Central Indiana artists, including potters, jewelers, painters and print makers. To highlight local artisans, Gordy was instrumental in establishing First Thursday gallery walks, which have grown into a monthly Muncie tradition. From 5-8 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, local artists showcase their work or perform as shops open their doors, often with refreshments and exhibits or activities. Carl said the event has become “one of the most visible collaborations between the city of Muncie and Ball State,” as the university often hosts information booths or provides entertainment.
“Gordy is one of the most stable and long running retail businesses in downtown Muncie, established more than 30 years ago at a time when most storefronts downtown were vacant,” Carl said. “Gordy remains a centerpiece that has introduced dozens of regional artists to the community.”
Starting in November, Gordy comes alive with with locally made crafts and pictures, including whimsical “Funcie” signs and shirts or handcrafted mugs and plates. First Thursdays during the holidays, Barbara said, are the ideal time for neighbors to explore “unique gifts with a connection to our city.”
“Often our customers are shopping for friends who have moved away from Muncie, or for their grown children who need something special to remember their hometown,” she said. “Useful things such as mugs, bowls, and t-shirts are popular since they are used every day.”
Gordy suspended First Thursday gallery openings from April-July. Carl said they were thrilled to open the gallery in August and plan to continue with First Thursday gallery openings, but without the shop’s signature spread of refreshments. Masks are required to enter the building, and free masks are available, Carl said.
“Because of COVID, we miss our First Thursday parties and all of our friends who come each month to help us celebrate. But we have adapted to serve our clients how they want to conduct business — whether in person, over the phone, by texting, via Zoom or through traditional postal mail.”
Carl said the company has developed a statewide reputation for museum-quality, antique frame restoration and reproduction since 1989, when Brian and Genny Gordy established the company. The Schafers, who purchased the business in 2015, plan to continue to innovate and adapt to “remain viable and leaders in our industry,” Carl added.
“We have an expanding client base of museums, collectors, corporations, and individuals that now reaches Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and California. But most of our support comes from Muncie and the surrounding area,” Carl said. “We consider many of them to be personal friends and they have been wonderfully supportive of us since we reopened. It is remarkable how many ask us directly how we are doing, and it is clear that they genuinely care that we are doing well and will be here when things return to normal.”
Gordy has expanded services to provide curbside and home pickup and delivery. The Schafers also regularly post virtual artist talks through social media platforms to promote artists and art education. Videos about a range of topics, including oil gilding and frame restoration are on the website, www.gordyframing.com. The videos complement a robust gallery and store, as well as news and information about appraisal and remote consultations.
The hardship of COVID-19 resulted in the closure of the store’s longtime neighbor storefront, Jack’s Camera Shop. When Jack’s storefront closed, Carl said they “committed to purchasing part of their business.” The addition of photo printing fits well at Gordy, and Carl said they are proud to save services that Jack’s offered for nearly 50 years.
“This, coupled with COVID related changes in the framing industry, gives us the opportunity to pivot our business to concentrate on offering remote consultations, e-commerce on our website, and better promote our pickup, delivery and installation services,” Carl said. “All these are essential to our future growth and we are continuing to invest so these services will become more robust in the coming months and years.”
Gordy’s Fine Art and Framing Company is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Learn more about gallery openings and services at www.gordyframing.com or keep up with the shop on social media.
About Muncie Downtown Development Partnership
Muncie Downtown Development Partnership’s roots go as far back as 1983. Since then, its mission has been to create a downtown environment that results in sustainable economic and cultural growth. It does this, in part, by uniting the community through the common love of living, working, and playing DWNTWN.
About Shafer Leadership Academy
Shafer Leadership Academy is a Muncie nonprofit that provides inclusive leadership development so that people, organizations, and communities reach their full potential. Go to shaferleadership.com for an overview of its programs, scholarships and impact on the community. Connect with SLA online, social media or call the office at 765-748-0403.
Related article from this series is below.