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How do you make Las Cruces’ Picture Frame Outlet more appealing to customers and visitors?
Add a space to show the works of local and regional artists to create Picture Frame Outlet and Gallery.
And that is just what owner Greg Groves has done with the business his father, Mike Groves, opened more than 40 years ago.
The project started with a long-needed roof repair, Greg Groves said, completed by contractor Art Diaz during Covid. When that was done, Groves and long-time employee Curtis Bristol began converting the large office space at the north end of the building into Rio Grande Fine Art Gallery. (Bristol has a background in construction and worked for Las Cruces Public Schools’ building trades program.)
The two began with LED track lighting, adding more than 200 fixtures, built eight-foot and 10-foot modular walls and did everything themselves except the taping and texture work, which were completed by a local contractor.
The last step was new carpet, installed by Casey Carpet of Las Cruces a couple of months ago, with quarter-turned carpet tiles replacing industrial linoleum as the floor covering. The same line of carpet tiles with a different pattern marks the framing area off from the gallery space.
Using Las Cruces contractors, Groves also had the parking lot repaved and did work on the outside of the building to give it “increased street presence.
“I’m the biggest proponent of shop local,” said Groves, who was born and raised in Las Cruces.
Then it was time to hang the art and “show things maybe you haven’t seen before in Las Cruces,” he said.
The gallery features paintings and drawings by John Glass of Deming, NMSU gaming designer Adrian Aguirre, Dallas artist Jill Malouf, Melvin Landry, Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt, Robert Highsmith, Robert McMurtry, El Paso/New Mexico artist Lester Hughes (President Ronald Reagan had several of his pieces in the White House), John Meigs (a close friend and neighbor of artist Peter Hurd, and the inventor of the Hawaiian shirt), University of Texas at Austin art professor Bill Wiman and the iconic photography of Mike Groves.
All the artwork is for sale, said Groves, who plans to hang works by different artists every two to three months. He will bring the art of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to Las Cruces with an art show in November.
You will also find custom coffee cups; greeting cards featuring the photography of Mike’s father and Greg’s grandfather, L.C. Groves, a telephone lineman and avid photographer; and 2023 calendars that include photos by Mike Groves, who you will still see around the store, even though he sold the business to Greg in 2003.
When Mike Groves opened the frame shop in 1981, he would drive more than three hours – often with Greg accompanying him – to Agua Prieta, Mexico, just below Douglas, Arizona, on the U.S.-Mexico border, to buy hand-made frames. He sold them wholesale in his Las Cruces store and by mail order through a catalog mailed to customers across the country.
Mike Groves bought property at 382 S. Walnut St. (just north of the intersection of Lohman Avenue and Walnut Street), where he moved the business in 1989.
Today, the frame shop is as high tech as you can imagine.
Groves can place an image of whatever a customer wants to have framed on a large TV screen that connects to his iPad and then digitally change the frame, the mat and the glass until the customer has exactly what he or she wants. The program also calculates the cost.
As you might expect, Groves’ wall-hung television is framed, but that is not unique to his business. Increasingly, he and Bristol are creating custom frames for wall-mounted TVs in commercial business and private homes in Las Cruces and surrounding communities.
There are also carpet tiles hung on the frame-shop wall so Groves can show design work, like a frame within a frame, in the old-fashioned, hands-on way.
“It’s all here, front and center,” Groves said.
Groves does framing for NMSU, he said, and has commercial clients throughout Las Cruces, Doña Ana County and southern New Mexico. He and Bristol have also created unique frames and shadowboxes that not only display customers’ treasured artwork, sports jerseys and other clothing, posters and diplomas, they help to preserve and protect them.
“Come in with an idea and let’s figure out a way to accomplish it,” Groves said.
Picture Frame Outlet and Gallery is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.