Person of the Week
Alyssa Ingram: Framing Art and Life
Alyssa Ingram is a newly elected member of the board of the Madison Art Society and the owner of The Frame Shop on Wall Street where she displays some of her art work and takes care of her clients' picture framing needs. (Photo by Maria Caulfield/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Painters and illustrators are creative people with an artistic frame of mind. For Alyssa Ingram, that’s particularly true, both figuratively and literally.
That’s because Alyssa is a newly elected member of the board of the Madison Art Society (MAS) and one of two MAS members whose works will be on display at the Madison Town Hall in the months of September and October. She is also the owner of The Frame Shop on Wall Street in Madison.
So, not only does Alyssa have the talent to paint her own art, she also has the skill to enhance them with her picture frames.
“The framing is kind of an art form, too,” she explains.
Alyssa bought The Frame Shop two years ago, after working there for four years with the previous owner. But working with picture frames was something she had been doing for at least 25 years.
“You know, I fell in love with the framing end of it, right out of college. I was an artist and needed to get things framed because I was trying to sell my stuff out of college. It’s expensive to frame but cheaper to do it yourself,” Alyssa says with a laugh.
A resident of Deep River, Alyssa loves to paint landscapes, seascapes, and water scenes. The beaches of Madison and the boats in Deep River are an attraction to her. Her shop displays not just frames of different colors and textures, but also a number of her paintings and a few from other members of the MAS.
Impressionistic, but Realistic
A graduate of the Hartford Art School at the University of Hartford, Alyssa majored in children’s book illustration.
“I like landscape. I was in children’s book illustration, so that’s more whimsical,” she says. “So, I wouldn’t say that my art is 100 percent realistic, but more impressionistic, I guess, because it doesn’t look like a picture. It looks more painterly.”
Her art may be more impressionistic but her attitude shows a more realistic side. When she made the decision to stay at home to raise her children, she began painting small pictures with watercolor.
“I’m most comfortable in watercolor because I stayed at home with my kids for 10 years and you couldn’t set up everything. (But with) watercolors, you could get to it really quickly.”
She also started putting together 12 paintings every year to make a calendar to give to friends and family, a tradition that began in 2000.
“I do a calendar every year that I don’t sell too often, but I do it for my family and friends. So, I have to come up with 12 new ones a year,” she says, adding that the yearly project gave her a goal and motivated her to keep painting.
Today, The Frame Shop gives her even more freedom to branch out to acrylic and oil because it has a small studio in the back, with an easel and more room to work.
As far as her home décor is concerned, Alyssa laughs when she reveals what kind of art is on her walls.
“Oh, my walls are a big clutter of everything,” she says.
She reveals that her walls contain keepsakes of her life with her husband, Bryan, and their three boys, Hayden, Brady, and Dylan.
“I like to frame different types of things—you know, mementos from vacations,” she says. “Every time you go away, you need to get a little snippet of something to bring with you.”
The items she frames in shadow boxes range from seashells to a jersey for her youngest son, Dylan, who plays hockey.
‘The Other Madison’
Alyssa and her family weren’t always Connecticut residents. When her husband’s graphic design work transplanted them away from Connecticut, Alyssa and her family moved to another Madison, also close to water—the city of Madison, Wisconsin, nestled between lakes Mendota and Monona, with three other smaller lakes in the vicinity. The family stayed there for 10 years.
She likes to refer to the City of Madison as “the other Madison.”
“Madison, Wisconsin is beautiful. It’s wedged right between two huge lakes, so you do see a lot of water,” she says.
“But it’s not the ocean,” she also admits.
As fate would have it though, Alyssa and her family returned to Connecticut when her husband’s position was downsized. He started his own graphic design company out of their home in Deep River and she began her own picture framing business.
But two other reasons pulled them back to the east coast: their families and their love for the shoreline.
“Back east, here, was always our plan to come back because our families are here. My husband’s family’s in this area,” she says.
The beaches of Madison are beautiful to her. “That’s why we came back from the other Madison, because we love the ocean,” she says.
“We’re on the coast, and that’s where we like to be, to see all the beautiful landscapes and the skies and the different colors, and just to capture all the beauty that’s all around us,” she says. “There’s a lot going on around us all the time. So, you have to pick those quiet moments and the little snapshots of beaches.”
As for her favorite artist?
“Georgia O’Keefe. I grew up loving her,” she says. “She’s just an artist I grew up hearing about and loving her style. She’s in all the art books, she’s in the museums.”
But Alyssa points out that what makes art has nothing to do with the name or fame of an artist. She says a person does not have to be enamored by a master artist, like Van Gogh or Monet, to be happy with art.
“I’m not saying that all of the famous artists aren’t good,” she says. “They’re fabulous. They’re huge. Everything they do is great for different reasons.”
She recounts how she fell in love with a painting of a rowboat her husband spotted at an estate sale and sent an image of it to her at the shop.
“He took a picture of it and I said, ‘Buy it,’ because it’s beautiful. I don’t know who did it. I wish I knew who did it,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be known. I have no idea who that artist is, but I think the painting is beautiful and it makes me happy. And that’s what art is to me.”
For more information about Alyssa Ingram’s art at the Madison Town Hall or her picture frames, call The Frame Shop on Wall Street at 203-779-5213 or visit www.theframeshoponwallstreet.com.
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