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Preserving family memories

B & R Art Gallery in Canyon Country restores, replicates and frames old photographs and more

Posted: June 10, 2010 10:46 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2010 4:30 a.m.

The Matthews family looks over artwork ready to be framed at B & R Gallery

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Pete Fries and his wife, Charlotte, found a 1892 handbill buried within an old trunk in their attic.

The folded piece of paper advertised a play in Kansas. Some of the actors pictured on the front cover included Charlotte’s past relatives.

The Fries could have thrown the paper away, or tossed it back in the trunk.

Instead, they took the handbill to B & R Art Gallery on Sierra Highway. There, owners Dave and Barbara Joseph cleaned, restored, pressed and framed the flier.

Now, the antique handbill hangs on display in the Fries’ Saugus home.

The couple has made a habit out of framing their family heirlooms with the help of the Josephs’ Canyon Country business.

“Family history is essential — to know where you came from, your background and the nation’s history,” Fries said.

“Each individual has a story that needs to be passed on to future generations.”

The Josephs have owned B & R Art Gallery for more than 25 years. Their store is a colorful display of fine art paintings, drawings, and sculptures for sale.

In addition, a major part of their business is restoring or replicating photos, paintings, collectibles or other pieces of art for preservation.

Using a process of making fine art prints known as giclée, B & R Art Gallery replicated a watercolor painting for Fries.

The painting depicted an old-fashioned service station where Fries once washed cars and hung out with his brother, father and granddad.

Fries worked on the painting with his brother and son.

“To instill an appreciation for family history and tradition is very important through art and different collectibles,” Fries said. “You can hold a handbill from 1892 — or a photo of a Union soldier — and you can actually see who these people are. It brings history and your family to life.”

Fries gave a giclée copy of the painting on canvas stock to his brother and sister. He kept the original for his home.

“You can’t tell the difference; it’s just amazing,” he said.

The Josephs caught on 15 years ago to the giclée process. Ink is sprayed onto a canvas or paper, Dave Joseph said.

A typical photograph, painting or photo transfer to canvas may only last 15 years before fading, the Josephs said. The giclée ink-jet printing process can yield a work of art that can last for more than a century, he said.

“We’re making a new photograph, but using 100-percent archival museum inks will keep the integrity,” Joseph said. “It preserves not only the memory, but the value, too.”

B & R Art recently copied and framed a set of acrylic paintings using the giclée process for client Charles Matthews.

The Fair Oaks Ranch father has painted several landscapes of places like Yosemite, Hume Lake, the Golden Gate Bridge and Green Sand Beach, Hawaii.

The locations are getaways he has travelled to with his wife, Stacey Matthews, and seven children. The Matthews plan to hang the paintings in their home as well as sell copies of the artwork.

“It has to be archival — to have a frame and backing for a frame to preserve it,” Matthews said. “We were really impressed with (Dave’s) craftsmanship.”

In the hyperspace age of instant messaging and e-mail, Matthews said he wonders if people stop to consider the generations that follow.

With a painting that can be preserved for decades, “You’re leaving a legacy,” he said.

Dave Joseph said it is important when a piece of artwork is restored or replicated it is done to the highest museum standards.

“In 50 or 100 years when they pass it on to future generations, they’ll get it in the same pristine condition,” he said.

The Josephs took over B & R Art Gallery in 1983. The couple expanded the store and created their own thriving business, also giving local artists like Tibor Deme an opportunity to display their art.

“It’s a great feeling that someone presents your work and it’s on their wall,” said Deme, a commercial and wedding photographer from Valencia.

Deme’s photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge stands out as one of the first pieces seen upon entry to the gallery. It was framed by Dave and Barbara Joseph. The Josephs have a way of choosing just the right frame to flatteringly display his artwork, Deme said.

Dave Joseph said he could do the frame-design work “in his sleep,” but he prefers to work with the clients. The gallery owners have worked with everything from $30 prints to $200,000 paintings.

They said they look forward to seeing what pieces their clients bring in every day.

“To be able to help people preserve memories,” Dave Joseph said, “it’s all worth it.”

B & R Art Gallery is located at 17726 Sierra Highway in Canyon Country. The website is www.bnr-art.com. Visit www.youtube.com and search “Dave Joseph Hotel California” to see a video of the gallery.

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