15 Mar MEET THE MAKER: THE ART PLACE
By Tracy Jacks
Pride in the process is on full display at The Art Place.
Who among us doesn’t appreciate some fine art? Nobody likes a barren wall, and nothing makes a house a home quite like some framed paintings, photos, family heirlooms, or cherished memorabilia. But as local artisan Dean Fait reminds us, sometimes the real artistry is found in what frames your home’s art.
For 28 years, Fait has owned The Art Place, specializing in art prints, custom framing, and connecting the Quad Cities with an array of talented artists. For Fait, it’s been the realization of a life-long dream that began decades ago at a small print and framing gallery in his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “I got a part-time job by stopping in repeatedly until they hired me,” he said with a smile. “I fell in love with every aspect of the job. The part-time job turned into a full-time position, then to assistant manager.”
Fait moved to the Quad Cities in 1989 to help open Art Plus in Southpark Mall, and it wasn’t long before he found himself a mall art impresario. “I bought out the partners in 1994 and changed the name to The Art Place,” he explains. “My wife and I soon expanded to two, then three stores in Duck Creek Plaza and Northpark Mall. Business was good through the 90’s, but we noticed big drops in traffic in 2000, and then 9/11 happened. It was either look for a space outside the malls or get a different job and close up the stores.” That new space came courtesy of the late Stanley Goldman of Hyman’s Furniture, who showed Fait the space at 1606 2nd Ave. in downtown Rock Island that’s been home to The Art Place since 2004. Over the years, The Art Place has become known as an area leader in affordability, timeliness, and craftsmanship.
“I’m different from most other frame shops in that I order length and cut and join everything myself,” Fait explains. “Because I’m cutting everything specifically for each job, every job is custom. Yet, because I order length to lower my costs, I’m very competitive in pricing, if not the least expensive framing shop for some distance.”
The Art Place also offers an impressive array of art prints, from legends of the past to local artists.“When I worked in Sioux Falls, we sold limited edition prints from big name artists all over the U.S.,” says Fait. “Since my move to the QCA, I obtained dealerships to carry most of these artists. Over the years, I’ve added local artists like Michael Blaser and, a few years ago, Quad City images from Ange Glade.”
No matter the source of art, it’s the craftsmanship of the framing process that Fait prides himself in. “Whether you’re a talented artist like Ange Glade or just someone that wants a $20 poster on your wall, the framing process is the same.” Some customers are very specific with what they want done, while others let me ‘play’ and give me complete freedom to ‘make it look good!’”
Skilled at Photoshop, Fait can touch up old photos and do design work, and the framing doesn’t just stop at pictures. “Already this year, I’ve framed four jerseys,” Fait says. “I’ve even done shadowboxes with all kinds of different things in them. If you can imagine it, I like to think I can frame it.”