Gordy Fine Art and Framing blends the museum world with business

<p>Carl and Barbara Schafer pose outside of Gordy Fine Art and Framing located at 224 E. Main Street, Sept. 9, 2021. Since purchasing Gordy in 2015, the Schafers have grown their reputation as a high-quality frame creation, reproduction and restoration shop. Samantha Lyon, DN</p>

Carl and Barbara Schafer pose outside of Gordy Fine Art and Framing located at 224 E. Main Street, Sept. 9, 2021. Since purchasing Gordy in 2015, the Schafers have grown their reputation as a high-quality frame creation, reproduction and restoration shop. Samantha Lyon, DN

Jeffrey Brackett’s collection, “Forgetting the Ox: Drawings by Jeffrey Brackett,” will be on display at Gordy Fine Art and Framing until Oct. 2. 

Upon entering Gordy Fine Art and Framing on East Main Street, its character shines through with hundreds of holes on its walls left from years of hanging the artwork of local and regional artists. 

Six years after purchasing Gordy Fine Art and Framing, Barbara and Carl Schafer have shaped the business into a household name for local art in Muncie through their involvement in the community and knowledge of art. 

The Schafers first met while working at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum in 1989. As a history and education major at Hanover College, Barbara Schafer fell in love with the museum world after taking an internship at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville, Kentucky. She then earned her master’s degree in historical administration from Eastern Illinois University in 1991 and worked as the curator of collections at Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 

Like his wife, Carl Schafer majored in history at Hanover College and said his interest in art history flourished when he worked at the History of Science Museum in Oxford, England, as a graduate student. Before becoming the associate director of the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State in 2006, he took a job at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and earned his master’s degree in art history at Syracuse University in 1996. 

“[Working in England] was an experience that made me understand that objects come through time and tell you a much different story than the history books,” Carl Schafer said. “History books are all interpreted, and objects tell you the real direct link.”

With a shared love for art and history and years of museum experience under their belts, the Schafers  took a leap and purchased Gordy Fine Art and Framing from their close friend and occasional business partner, Brian Gordy, in 2015. 

Gordy Fine Art and Framing offers customers expert design and craftsmanship for framing works of art and preserving family possessions using Muncie’s largest selection of frame molding. Museums, art collectors and corporations who rely on Gordy Fine Art and Framing include Richmond Art Museum in Richmond, Indiana, Buck Hill Art Association and Meridian Health Services. 

The main store area of Gordy Fine Art and Framing Sept. 9, 2021. The gallery on the wall is currently showcasing the works of Jeffrey Brackett, and the table displays hold pottery, jewelry and art prints made by local artists. Samantha Lyon, DN

When the Schafers purchased the business in 2015, Carl Schafer said it was difficult for him and his wife to understand the difference between the private business world and the museum world, as they operate at different paces. When running a small, family-owned business, Barbara Schafer said, it’s easier to meet the needs of customers. 

“When we worked in museums, we had to frame stuff to put on displays, so we have a sensitivity to the environment that surrounds a piece like the lighting, the wall color or windows nearby,” Barbara Schafer said. “We understand what plays into a framing. We can work with clients when they bring in pictures or go on site to people's homes and work with them to help them create a framing solution for what they want [to make] their pieces look really good.”

Because of their shared knowledge of museum culture, the Schafers can reproduce frames of accurate antique styles corresponding with the art’s time period, a service commonly requested by museums and art collectors like the Bob Ross Experience at Minnetrista. 

Gordy Fine Art and Framing receives customers from all walks of life, and the Schafers said they set out to provide every customer who walks through the door the same amount of professional care as any other would receive.  

Jeff Miller, owner of Corner Store Vintage in Redkey, Indiana, and a customer of Gordy Fine Art and Framing, said Carl and Barbara Schafer take pride in their work and he has enjoyed working with both of them. 

“They are very personal and friendly yet totally professional,” Miller said. “They do everything they can to promote the community and local artists. I am blessed to know them.” 

Jeff Miller (right) and Carl Schafer (left) measure a mid-century piece of fabric at Gordy Fine Art and Framing Sept. 9, 2021. Miller uses their service of custom frames for many of the pieces displayed and for sale in his business, Corner Store Vintage, located in Redkey, Indiana. Samantha Lyon, DN

One of the services Gordy Fine Art and Framing offers customers is helping them treasure family heirlooms and essentially, their family history. Carl Schafer said this service was unanticipated when they purchased the business, as he and his wife thought they would be specializing mostly in museum clients and people they had already worked with in the past. However, it has become one of his favorite aspects of the business. 

“What we found is that, with our skills, we can rescue [damaged pieces] and bring them back to life,” Carl Schafer said, “[but] sometimes we can’t bring it back to its original condition, [and] oftentimes we don’t really want to do that. 

“You want to know that it is an old thing, [but] you don’t want it to be new again, so people rely on us to bring their treasures back,” he said. “And when [we] do, [customers] get emotional. When we’ve shown them what we have done, they are really touched by it, and they know they’ve done their job correctly by preserving their own family history.”

Carl Schafer said he remembers an instance when a customer came to Gordy for a repair on a 1920s picture frame that displayed the photo of a beloved relative. 

 “There was a time in photography where you’d have these oval frames, and the photograph itself would have been pushed out in a three-dimensional way,” Carl Schafer said. “Then, there was a piece of domed glass that [went] over it, and the whole purpose of that was to make the person look like they were three-dimensional and bring that person to life. We were able to make an oval frame in the manner that [it] would have been made [during that time] and put the domed glass back on because it is still an available product.”

Throughout the year, Carl and Barbara Schafer invite local and regional artists to display their artwork in their gallery to showcase their talents to the community and perhaps, interested buyers. On the first Thursday of every month, Gordy Fine Art and Framing hosts a gathering for artists to talk about their artwork, techniques and inspirations.

Jeffrey Brackett, Ball State associate professor of religious studies, created a collection of ink drawings with abstract images made of lines that are “purposefully composed and meandering adventurously.” His collection, “Forgetting the Ox: Drawings by Jeffrey Brackett,” will be on display at Gordy Fine Art and Framing’s gallery through Oct. 2. 

Jeffrey Brackett stands with two pieces from his collection, “Forgetting the Ox: Drawings by Jeffrey Brackett” Sept. 9, 2021. The freelance artist and associate professor of religious studies at Ball State said he takes inspiration from Buddhism for his artwork, and the title of his show is meant to relate to the Buddhist metaphor of Ox-herding. Samantha Lyon, DN

Before agreeing to display his artwork at Gordy, Brackett said Carl Schafer came to his house and helped him set up his artwork to showcase from his garage. 

“[Carl] came over, we put our masks on, he looked through all my work [and] made lots of nice comments,” Brackett said. “He loved what he saw — they are so kind, so patient and very generous. And it’s not fake —  they’re totally genuine.” 

Along with supporting local and regional artists in the community, Carl Schafer was the founding president of the Muncie Arts and Cultural Council, which promotes the activities of arts organizations in Muncie. Now, he currently sits on the Mayor’s Arts Awards Committee and is on the board of Muncie Downtown Development Partnership while Barbara Schafer is a board member for the Cornerstone Center for the Arts. 

“Coming from the museum world, we always understood [that] you need to be part of the community,” Barbara Schafer said. “You can't just hide off in the corner and do your thing, especially for local businesses. We live in the community, we raise our kids in the community, we own a house in the community — everything we do is community-based, [and] we want to help our community be successful.”

Contact Samantha Lyon with comments at samantha.lyon@bsu.edu.


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