Harry and Barbara Heesch may be relatively new to the Denver business community, but theyâ€™re certainly no strangers to owning their own business.
â€œBarbara and I have been in business for 40 years,â€ said Harry, owner of Fine Framing on NC 16 in Denver.
The couple lived in Boston and had their own business there before relocating to Denver five years ago to be closer to family.
The Heeschesâ€™ business in Boston had nothing to do with framing. Yet when they decided to move south, Harry adopted a new game plan.
His father was a painter who framed his own work. According to Harry, the results looked amateurish. It piqued an interest for him.
â€œWhen I decided to move down here, I basically tried to find out how frames are made,â€ Harry said.
He apprenticed with a gilder from Tiffany for four years before moving here and opening Fine Framing. Harry also put his newfound talents to a more personal use, reframing all of his fatherâ€™s artwork.
At the shop, Harry gets the frames he uses from suppliers. Even though he could make them himself, he finds this way more cost and time effective for his customers.
â€œI have a woodworking and metal shop at home,â€ he said. â€œI canâ€™t do it here because of the dust.â€
One thing the Heesches can do at their shop is showcase art by local artists.
â€œWe really encourage and promote local artists,â€ said Harry.
The front of the shop functions as an art gallery, with painting, photography and pottery by talented area residents. Itâ€™s something about which the couple feels strongly.
â€œLocal artists just donâ€™t have a place to show their work,â€ Harry said.
Through Fine Framing, the Heesches have made countless new friends, some artists whose pieces they feature, some customers whose treasured artwork theyâ€™ve framed. Both say they love the mixture of southern hospitality and culture theyâ€™ve found in Denver.
â€œThis is just a wonderful, wonderful area,â€ said Harry. â€œWe should have moved here much sooner.â€
Although the coupleâ€™s surroundings may have changed, their collaborative work efforts havenâ€™t. According to Harry, the two have always worked side by side. At Fine Framing, Barbara mans the front of the store, while Harry works in the back.
â€œWe let him out every once in a while,â€ joked Barbara.
But in all seriousness, the Heesches know the business theyâ€™re in has changed a lot. The mom and pop frame shops have disappeared for the most part as box stores and their mass produced products take over. As a family-owned custom frame shop, Fine Framing is now the exception rather than the rule.
Yet the couple says they welcome the competition. It helps them keep bringing their â€œAâ€ game to the table.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Fine Framing is a piece of art the Heesches donâ€™t have hanging in the front of their shop: one of modern artâ€™s most famous forgeries, a print of Salvador Daliâ€™s â€œColumbus Discovers Americaâ€ that appears to be signed by the artist.
According to Heesch, an appraiser told him the signature is a fake and one of a number of prints of the work with forged signatures. Heesch considers the piece a true treasure.
â€œIt truly is the most unique piece of art weâ€™ve ever had,â€ he said.
While the Heesches are definitely art enthusiasts, they say theyâ€™re far from artists themselves.
â€œWeâ€™re good at painting walls,â€ said Barbara.
Theyâ€™re also good at supporting art and their adopted community of Denver at the same time.
In addition to featuring local artistsâ€™ works at Fine Framing, the couple participated in last yearâ€™s Denver Art Trail, an event that has art lovers spending a day traveling to different locations to view work by area artists.
Fine Framing was a stop on the trail, and the couple featured three different artists. They say over 100 people came through the shop during the event.
â€œWe had people from Mooresville, Charlotte, Davidson and Lincolnton,â€ Barbara said.
The couple plans on participating again this year. Itâ€™s another way to support art and artists in the community the Heesches now call their own.
Fine Framing is located at 120 South NC 16 in the Food Lion shopping center. You may contact Harry and Barbara Heesch at (704) 827-1301.
by Allyson Levine