An artful niche to hold

Longtime Malibu resident Kelly Silverberg, pictured, and her partner Tom Sorce took over the Fast Frame store last May. They've since opened the Malibu Art Gallery, displaying and selling work from local artists. Photo by Nora Fleming / TMT

Malibu residents Kelly Silverberg and Tom Sorce, the new owners of Fast Frame at a Cross Creek Plaza, fulfill a hobby and a passion with the frame store and the Malibu Art Gallery.

By Nora Fleming / Special to The Malibu Times

Kelly Silverberg had no experience in art or framing when she and her partner Tom Sorce took over Malibu Cross Creek Plaza’s Fast Frame store in May of 2007, but she was more than familiar with the Malibu community.

Longtime residents Silverberg and Sorce, “found a niche that they could hold,” Silverberg said.

This niche was a need for a place to display community artwork.

Fast Frame was remodeled after the April 2005 Cross Creek Plaza fires and reopened in the summer of 2006. Though housed in the same store, Fast Frame is now also home to the Malibu Art Gallery, or M.A.G, displaying and selling work from local artists.

“We kind of evolved into the business,” Silverberg said.

The former owners of Fast Frame moved to Mississippi and sold the business to Silverberg and Sorce last spring.

“It was a unanimous yes,” Silverberg explained about taking over the business. “It met all of our hobbies and passions.”

A mother of two, Silverberg found the job would not only allow her to maintain already strong community ties, but not change her lifestyle all that much.

“I could stay local and give back to the community,” she said.

Working with veteran framer and Assistant Manager Erik Watt and newly employed artist Edwin Bethea, Silverberg brought in local artists through friends, walk-ins and the Malibu Art Association to display in the gallery. The artwork now changes quarterly and is themed.

Feb. 1 saw the advent of the display titled “Asian Artwork” by local artists Mauro Caputo, Kathleen Keifer, Julie Woolley and Dale Alexander. Some of their work includes silk embroidered screen prints and watercolor brush paintings and will be on display until April 30.

The M.A.G managers have even more plans to reach out locally. Starting in May this year, the store plans to offer art classes on an array of topics, from learning how to frame a picture to how to tell the difference between an oil and acrylic painting.

The gallery also recently displayed the winners from Malibu High School’s Reflections contest.

The gallery side of the business is not the only thing to evolve. The framing itself is often much more than a simple cut and mat job. Instead, there is often an “image transformation,” Silverberg said.

Some people come in with an idea of the type of frame or mat, and others do not have any idea of how to display the image. With such a large selection of styles, colors and designs, it can actually be a complicated and very creative process.

The shop has framed everything from an X-ray of a broken arm to an electric guitar signed by Bono of U2 fame. Some customers have even come in to find a frame for a flat-screened TV.

Silverberg explained learning about this side of the business, like anything else, involves constant reading and keeping up with the latest trends and tips from experts in the field. The trends always change, Silverberg said, noting large-width mat boards, lacquer frames and Giclée photos as current popular choices.

Frames run the gamut in pricing and can be as expensive as the $2,000 one Fast Frame used for an original Chagall painting. Currently, the store offers options from 10 manufacturers. In the next few months, they plan on acquiring frames from three more.

If a frame is in stock, the job can take as short as an hour. If a frame needs to be ordered, it could take a week.

In regard to the future of the gallery and frame shop, there are “endless limits,” Silverberg said.

“People are finally starting to see who we are and that we are more than just a frame store.”

A reception for the “Asian Artwork” display artists will take place on Feb. 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the gallery located at 3838 Cross Creek Rd. More information can be obtained by calling 310.317.4869.