Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

August 16, 2005 > Ohlone Arts

Ohlone Arts

by Beth Booth

Here is an interesting formula for implementing a life vision: A couple, residents for 23 years with three grown children, see their Mission San Jose community as a charming historical area where unique attractions and businesses abound The husband, a project manager for McGraw Hill, had learned the art of picture framing from his father. The woman, a local dental hygienist, appreciated the arts and felt the area was full with undiscovered talent. One day, a few years ago, he dropped his business card off at a frame shop on Mission Boulevard with a note scribbled on the back: "If you ever want to sell this place, please give me a call."

And that's just what happened when former owner Roy Coker decided to sell in 2003. Today we are fortunate to have Chris and Nancy Downend as the owners of Ohlone Arts, 43319 Mission Boulevard.

The dictionary defines talent as a "superior natural ability," and that is what you will find at Ohlone Arts. It is a friendly place to visit where talent greets you throughout the store in many forms. From local artists' note cards just inside the door to the many pieces of framed original art and giclee (high-resolution, high-fidelity reproductions done on a special large format printer) on exhibit, the shop is brimming with exceptional work.

In the store's design center you will witness how the skill of picture framing results in creative styles and unique methods of preserving and displaying family pictures, art pieces and collectibles. A local collector has trusted Ohlone Arts to mount and preserve his extraordinary collection of presidential signatures and memorabilia. He feels that their careful attention to detail makes Ohlone Arts archival framing museum-quality work. These days most of the framing is done by co-manager Keith Davis, himself an artist who is constantly expanding and improving his knowledge and skill in framing.

Ohlone Arts' business cards read, "Custom framing and supplies." The framing is certainly "custom" and art supplies are plentiful; however, artists should take note that the selling of art supplies is being phased out in order to enlarge the gallery. For the next few weeks until early September, all art supplies are 50 percent off of retail. That's quite a substantial savings for anyone using drawing supplies, paint supplies and art related activity books.

The vision for the continuing development of Ohlone Arts includes providing an exhibition area for artists. Downend shares the opinion of others when she says that the Tri-City area has excellent local artists who are not receiving the recognition and exposure they need and deserve. Featured artists are sponsored every six months. To date these have included the work of Hal Booth, Lynn Slade, Sharon Dwyer and Maria Romeo.

The Gallery opening in 2003 featured the oils, serigraphs and giclee prints of local artist Hal Booth who passed away in July of 2003. Proceeds from that exhibit were donated by Ohlone Arts to the founding of the Hal Booth Memorial Art Fund. This fund currently offers grants to local teachers to develop visual arts lesson plans based on the concepts of peace, acceptance and tolerance. This commitment to supporting the arts is a reflection of the Downends' belief that art education, be it music, visual arts, or theater, is an essential part of student education that encourages development of positive self-expression and self-esteem.

Another showing of Booth's art, "Hal Booth - The Originals," will be at the gallery from September 10 through October 8. This exhibit will include original oils, acrylics, serigraphs and watercolors from the last 20 years. Kathy Frederico, an art student of Hal's, has been instrumental in developing the design presentation for this show.

In the design center, the emphasis is quality when showcasing every piece that is framed. This reflects a business standard that each customer's order deserves the best materials and creative designs available. From their opening day in 2003, Chris and Nancy Downend decided their business slogan would be,"Ohlone Arts - With us it's personal," and so it seems to be! Drop by for a visit. Ohlone Arts is located at 43319 Mission Boulevard in Fremont. Business hours are Tuesday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Contact the store at (510) 657-2977 or visit them on the Web at

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