From left to right: Jerry Thigpen, Nancy Mattimore, Mary Maida, Vera Madlinger, David Hewitt
After several years working as a commercial art consultant, Mary Maida opened Signature Art Gallery in 1996. A 1982 FSU graduate with a degree in Marketing, Mary entered the art business gradually by providing art to a law firm, then a restaurant, then a bank – gratefully realizing an opportunity to build a wonderful career in the art and framing business. From the beginning, Signature Art Gallery’s primary focus was to set forth a vibrant and exciting cross section of original artwork and limited edition prints. Mary made the deliberate choice not to limit Tallahassee exclusively as a traditional market, but to present a diverse selection of works that are meaningful and compliment the environments in which our clients live and work. Our ultimate objective is to make the Gallery welcoming and enticing, our staff to be knowledgeable and courteous, and to facilitate an enjoyable and rewarding process of collecting art. Ever present and active in the Gallery, Mary also works as a commercial art consultant for various businesses throughout Tallahassee and the region.
Vera and her husband Lynn moved to Tallahassee in 2002, at which time Vera joined Signature Art Gallery. Vera’s years of experience in the art and framing business have proven to be an invaluable asset to the Gallery. Whether Vera is focusing her talents at the framing design counter or sharing her easy manner assisting clients with art selections, she makes every client feel special. Vera graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1974 with a degree in Interior Design. After graduation, she worked for two years as a designer and then worked at home raising her two children. When her youngest child started school in 1984, Vera entered the world of picture framing, and soon received her certification as a Certified Picture Framer (C.P.F.). Vera worked at the Proud Fox Gallery in St. Charles, Illinois, from 1990- – 1998 and with Regency Fine Art in Atlanta from 1998 – 2002. As Gallery Manager, Vera’s days are quite full supporting the Gallery’s dedication to presenting original art that is high quality, compelling, and fresh.
Nancy joined the Gallery in 2001, and has been very active in many areas of the business. She has been an important element in our evolution through the years and a constant bright spot in our art world routine. Whether it is a First Friday, a Trunk Show, a special opening, or a regular weekday, Nancy adds a dimension to client services that we greatly appreciate. We share her with her husband Mike, daughters Leila and Grace, and the many community organizations to which she lends her time and expertise. A Communications graduate of FSU, she worked as a flight attendant for National Airlines and later Pan Am until 1987. Always customer poised and picture perfect, we think this is where she honed her cheerful demeanor and ready smile.
Dave’s background as a professional Offshore Power Boat Racer gives him a unique perspective: the importance of staying ahead. Dave joined Signature Art Gallery in 2003, after having been a professional art framer for approximately 30 years. His extensive background in the art and framing business includes owning “Village Gallery” with his wife Darlene in Venice, Florida for 16 years, and owning a contract framing business in Madison, Florida where he specialized in handcrafted frames for various artists worldwide. During his years in the framing business, Dave won several national framing competitions and served as a judge in several competitions. In 2007, he earned the designation of a Master Certified Picture Framer (M.C.P.F.). This prestigious designation, places Dave in a very exclusive club where there are less than 100 M.C.P.F.’s worldwide. Dave’s commitment to staying current with the latest preservation practices and products is a tremendous asset to the Gallery as we strive to provide our customers with the highest quality and best value custom picture framing.
A Tallahassee resident since 1975, Jerry toured the Southeast for 15 years playing guitar. He continues to play with local R&B groups, including Tallahassee’s Gem, Acme Rhythm & Blues. Jerry has been with the Gallery since its opening in 1996. Jerry is the Gallery’s consummate jack-of-all-trades moving from the back room, to the Gallery, and to the framing design counter with ease. As Production Manager for all retail and commercial framing projects, Jerry oversees the ordering of all custom materials and manages the work flow of our busy back room operation. Thanks to the many talents of Jerry and Dave and their support staff, Signature Gallery is able to provide our customers with the finest quality finished product. Whether our client’s’ need is a museum quality framing of a high-end original work, a complicated shadow box, or a custom installed art hanging system, our highly-skilled staff is always available.
What is a Master Certified Picture Framer & Why is it it Important?
When evaluating one picture framer over another, an important consideration is their level of expertise and degree of qualifications. For many picture framers, being a framer is something they came to after a previous career, and they look at it as a business that stems from a hobby. While these framers may offer a nice selection of frames and sometimes a low price tag, without having the proper training and education, they can often do more harm than good. If not continuously trained and educated to keep up with the latest industry developments, some framers can use improper and damaging practices. To avoid having a precious item damaged or compromised, it is recommended to look for a framer that has earned the title of Certified Picture Framer or Master Certified Picture Framer. These titles are given to individuals by the Professional Picture Framers Association (P.P.F.A.) after completing rigorous testing and continuing education.
A C.P.F. can be applied for after having one year of experience in the framing industry. The title is earned after taking a four-hour test that demonstrates knowledge of proper framing practices, materials, and art-handling techniques. To maintain the title, a framer must take re-certification classes and continuing education courses every four years. A framer with a current title of C.P.F. has a solid theoretical knowledge of proper framing techniques and materials. One word of caution – some chain stores have their own in-house certification and use initials similar to C.P.F. However, this should not be confused with the more stringent standards set by the P.P.F.A. These in-house certifications rarely indicate any type of expertise.
An M.C.P.F. can be applied for after being a C.P.F. for four years and fulfilling all continuing educational requirements. To be designated as an M.C.P.F., the candidate must complete a rigorous testing process that includes practical hands-on demonstration of the highest standards of preservation/conservation framing and a written demonstration of that knowledge. The testing procedure involves the testing committee sending the applicant four pieces of artwork – a work on paper, a work on canvas, an object and a textile piece. In the applicant’s own workshop, he or she must frame each of these pieces to the highest standards of conservation framing. The applicant must fill out an extensive condition report, detailing what materials and techniques they are using and why. Once these pieces are completed, the applicant must bring them with their reports to the designated testing site. There, a panel of judges will dismantle each piece and examine it closely, sometimes as extreme as putting elements under a microscope to verify the accuracy of the report. In this exam they are determining the procedures and materials used. While the judges are performing this examination, the applicant is given a fifth piece to complete in 90 minutes at an on-site workshop. The same standards must be upheld. Part of the reasoning behind the timed segment is to assure that the applicant is the individual who performed the framing on the other four pieces. The judges use a 100 point system to evaluate each piece – taking off points for any detail that does not comply with the set standards. The lowest total score allowed is 94%. If all the pieces, after judging, come in above 94% then the title M.C.P.F. is awarded. Currently, there are less than 100 M.C.P.F.’s in the world. In order to maintain their designation, they must complete continuing education every four years. A framer with the title M.C.P.F., not only knows the highest standards of preservation/conservation framing, but has demonstrated them unequivocally to a certifying board.
What does all of this mean to you, a consumer? While anyone can say they are a good framer, or that they do “museum quality framing” remember to look for the initials C.P.F. or M.C.P.F. behind their name, because it is verification that the framer has demonstrated a desire to excel and a passion for the industry. Without the initials, they may be a competent framer, or they may not be, and more importantly, the framing product is in question. If you have something of value to you, whether personally or monetarily, trust it to someone who knows what they are doing. Work with someone who has taken the time, effort, and expense to acquire professional certification.