If it wasn’t for the countertop and back wall of sample frames in Morgan Picture Framing & Art, you would think you had stepped into a cozy art gallery, and not a place of business. But that’s the point. Artist and owner, Ellis Morgan has followed his passion since childhood, and it has led him to his new shop in Albany’s Summit Northwest plaza. Morgan says, “It’s been an adventure”.
His adventure got underway in earnest when Morgan was in the third grade and lived in Fort Riley, Kansas. That year he entered a local art contest sponsored by The Kiwanis Club. He took first place with a work he called, ‘Running Indian’. He still has it today. Morgan solidified his talent in the 11th grade by taking Governors’ Honors. Talk with him a little bit about his art, and you will come to see that everything he does carries its own unique meaning. Morgan is a big believer in using symbols to convey the message in his artwork.
Morgan’s first inspirations came from the pages of comic books. “Superman, Batman, and the rest had me wanting to come up with my own characters, so I really focused on drawing the human body.” He spent much of his youth in Europe, visiting family. “My mother’s German, so we got the chance to see a lot of things; museums, churches, and it got me into the Renaissance period”, said Morgan. “I began to study and practice, a lot. I’m a big believer in ‘practice makes perfect, really in everything in life.”
His fascination with the human form and the realism of the early masters like Michelangelo and Chagall, soon merged with his interest in the surreal works of Picasso and Dali. Morgan’s own sense of style began to take hold, and in the early 90’s his works started selling. His use of color and form drew people’s attention, but it was more than technique that made it happen. “You can do a vase of flowers, and it’s just that, a vase of flowers,” Morgan shared. “But a painting can be so much more. I believe in using symbols to tell a story”.
Hanging in his gallery is one of Morgan’s favorite pieces he calls ‘Two Jews’. He did it about ten years ago, and the oil painting is a good example of his approach. “It’s actually a love story”, Morgan revealed. The work shows what seems to be a single male figure sitting, perhaps in prayer. But a closer look and you can see the man’s love, the spirit of a woman holding him close. Then the surroundings come into play, and you see that this symbol of devotion and commitment is taking place in a concentration camp. It’s a powerful way to say, love conquers all.
The gallery at Morgan Picture Framing & Art is an interesting venue for local artists. Morgan says he gets a “good vibe”, from people that stop by. “I have had folks tell me that it’s good to see a store like this in Albany”, Morgan said. The collection reflects his attitude that art should force us to take a look at what’s going on around us, and learn from that awareness.
Years ago, Morgan took a job at a local framing shop, in an effort to combine his art with his work. It was the decision that turned the corner, and led him to open up his own place about a year and a half ago. He does work for businesses and private homes, with a focus on treating his customers right on price and quality. Morgan says many are surprised at how expensive framing can be; “but it doesn’t have to be”.
Morgan Picture Framing & Art is located at 2818 Old Dawson Road, in Albany. You can also find it on Facebook. To have started his business right in the middle of the economic slowdown was a challenge, but Morgan believes his shop, like his art, is a symbol of his direction forward. Stop by and see if you can sense that as well.
The gallery of local art at Morgan Picture Framing & Art.