In 2010 I began volunteering at Beth Sholom’s Out of the Cold program. After dinner I set up paints and paper for any guest to come by and paint. What started out as a casual activity quickly grew in popularity. After a few weeks, the Art Circle, as we coined ourselves, had garnered some regular painters and onlookers. We were creating a lot of work and decided that we wanted to have an art show at the end of the season to exhibit and sell the work.
I began popping in to neighbourhood frame shops to see if they might have some scrap matte board that they could donate to us. I never expected the reaction I would get walking in to Elgin Picture and Frame, a shop I had never entered before.
A man greeted me at the front and listened as I explained to him a little about our program and our vision for an art show.
“How many pieces will you be displaying?”
“Probably about 60.”
“We could probably do that for you.”
“What do you mean?” I asked him, puzzled.
“Leave the artwork here, and we’ll do our best to matte it all for you. When do you need it ready by?”
It turns out that the person who had greeted me at the shop was Dave Bain, humble owner of the family business. His father opened the shop in 1978, naming it Elgin, after his hometown in Scotland.
I explained to Dave that he didn’t have to do all that work for us. We wouldn’t be able to pay him. We would be satisfied if he was able to just give us the matte board and we could cut it ourselves. Dave responded that he and his team would be able to do it faster and more professionally. He insisted that he was happy to do it. His casual generosity astounded me.
Elgin Picture and Frame continues to work for the Art Circle every year, matting about 60 pieces, and even framing a few free of charge. They also offer generous discounts to all those who attend the Art Circle shows. 2013 will be their fourth year in a row contributing to the program.
When I asked Dave why he has continued to do all this work for us each year, he responded simply that winter was an easier time for them to help out, and that the company values charitable arts-based initiatives in the community.
To learn more about Elgin Picture and Frame, visit their website at www.elginpictureandframe.com.