How long have you been in Prescott and how did you get involved with The Frame & I and The Art Store?
We moved to Prescott in 1980 when I was a kid. I grew up here and went to school here. We spent a few years in Tempe, but almost died because of the heat. The Frame & I was originally owned by Joe and Joanna Hensley. She was an artist and they’d started the shop to support her art. Originally it was one really tiny room. I hired on about eight years into their ownership. I was a college student at the time. Prior to that, I’d been working with my dad as a real estate appraiser. This was back when there was the first big deregulation in the 1990s, so that didn’t work out. I’d always been an artist and creative person, so I decided to look around at picture framing shops and I had a certain amount of woodworking skills from classes in high school and college. Looking back, I was lucky they were looking for someone at the time; people tend to come here and stay for a long time. I wasn’t really thinking about staying long term until about two years into it when I realized how much I enjoyed it. It’s constantly changing, not the same thing every day. You see so many things, from historical artifacts to original fine art to family collections and photos. When you’re a picture framer, you really get to be involved with everything the customers bring in, and you get to help tell their stories. In 1998, my coworker Kathleen Roeth and I bought the store from Joe and Joanna, along with The Art Store, which was physically attached at the time.
How does service and charity enter the picture? Was The Frame & I always involved in that? How about your family?
The family part of it goes back further for me. My mother, in particular, was always involved with Sacred Heart Catholic charities. It was never a question of “you should do this thing”; it was just what we did as a family, as part of our family culture. My sister, my mom, and I worked on fundraising for the school, so it was something I was used to doing. Coming on here, Joe and Joanna were involved with a couple of charities, especially Sharlot Hall Museum, Yavapai Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Cowboy Poets Gathering. Those are high-energy, auction-type art fundraisers, and they needed a lot of framing. I got my feet wet with that, and it introduced me to some other charities that needed help. … What we have here is tangible. We have objects and it’s easy to lend a hand. We can build frames, make signs, or print, and that’s easy for us to do.
Today The Frame & I and The Art Store are ubiquitous sponsors of community events. How did it grow to that level?
It just ballooned. Prescott is a really giving community, and a lot of businesses in town support events and causes and fundraisers. When you do that, you start to get known for it. For An Evening at Sharlot’s Place, a Sharlot Hall Museum fundraiser, for instance, we used to have thirty or forty pieces framed with our name on every single one. People see that and think, “Maybe I’ll ask these people when I do my event.” And, typically we say yes and not no. Word gets around. Water flows downstream, right?
Why do outreach through the shops?
If you have a gift or resources, it’s your job to share that. It should go hand-in-hand, giving back to the community, that service. We’ve been supported by this community and through this business for so long, it only makes sense to give back. It’s not an obligation, but it feels right. And I don’t support any causes I don’t believe in. There are very few that aren’t good causes, really. Obviously, by the nature of it, I give more to the ones I really believe in. We give art supply baskets for raffles and give-aways, scholarships for art classes in sculpting or drawing, and, of course, framing, so that art pieces can get a higher value than if they were just rolled up. Framing isn’t the cheapest thing in the world, so that helps those items get a leg up at auction.
What are some of your high-priority causes?
Well, first, I’m a member of Sunup Rotary Club. We grant scholarships to local students from the quad city area who have great success in school or outside of school but who don’t have the financial means to go to college. That financial need is a big part of that. That’s our primary focus as a club, but we’re also involved with maintaining the area around the Vietnam veterans sculpture on the Courthouse Square and keeping other areas in town cleaned up. At Lincoln Elementary, we put gravel around the playground. We support all kinds of causes for the betterment of the community.
Any pet projects or causes in the works?
The Anne Roberts Memorial Library in Cottonwood. She was my sister. She passed away in November. She’d done a lot of grant writing and work for the public library in Cottonwood. She’d been working on a library for the Immaculate Conception Catholic School, which doesn’t have its own space. It’s sharing space with the multimedia room right now. Anne was an avid reader and always wanted to work at a library. She got her dream job in the library system in Cottonwood about seven or eight years ago and had recently been promoted to full time. We just want to carry on the work she was doing. … I’d like for us to have something accomplished within a year — at least secure the space for a potential building. … When it comes to books and history, if you don’t have hard copies of things, where do they go? We’re very trusting in the digital age that the resources are always going to be there, but Google is not a certainty. Printed material gives you the ability to read and improve yourself without having to pay for internet access or technology. A library has resources for everyone and it doesn’t discriminate.
Why is service and giving important?
For me, it’s inspiring. You can see when you touch people and help them with the resources you have. The thankfulness and the friendships you develop are important. Thankfulness and friendships are underrated in our culture, but they help in a time when there’s so much divisiveness. It helps to know that even if someone doesn’t agree with you that they’re still your friend, and that you’re there to help, not harm. Being active in charity helps. It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or left wing if you’re there to help. If more people helped, we might not be so quick to doubt someone’s motives. We stop short when we judge others because their opinions are different. That’s one thing that’s inspiring about helping others. You realize you’re closer to other people than you might think, regardless of your differences of opinion.
Anything else you want to mention?
Just a plug for the Coalition for Compassion and Justice. They’re another group that’s really active in the community and just wonderful. They touch on so many different areas of aid, including helping people repair houses if they can’t afford them — helping people from becoming homeless and impoverished. It helps elevate the quality of life for people and raise their standard of living in a very humanitarian way. They don’t make people beg; they just treat them like they’re worthy of respect and help, which they are.
Ida Kendall owns The Frame & I, 229 W. Gurley St., 928-445-5073, FrameAndI.Com and The Art Store, 537 Sixth St., 928-443-0749, PrescottArtStore.Com. She’s also a member of the Sunup Rotary Club, which meets 7 a.m. every Wednesday Hotel St. Michael, 928-445-9313, PrescottSunUpRotary.Org.