When Jamie DeWitt was a senior in high school, he knew what he wanted to do in life. He can remember dropping calculus to pick up another art class. That decision led to almost four decades with a career in the art industry.
“It was always the thing I felt was a natural God-given talent,” he said. “Art was something I was exceptional at.”
After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree in painting with an emphasis on color theory and design, DeWitt found the perfect location for his business within two weeks of graduation.
He opened Studio 105 Art and Frame Gallery in May of 1982. His father, who managed Zales Jewelers on Main Street, loved the area and inspired Dewitt to seek a downtown location as well.
“I knew I wanted to be downtown,” DeWitt said. “I rented the building for $160 a month. I remember taking out a $500 loan from Citizens Bank to get started.”
Almost 40 years later, the art and frame gallery is in the same location. DeWitt feels fortunate he was able to purchase the building, which dates back to 1884.
Not only has the location stayed the same, but DeWitt is proud to have preserved the mission and vision of his business while expanding the services he offers.
“Enhancing our customers art through experience design and craftsmanship while investing in and promoting our local visual artists is the mission statement of my business,” DeWitt said.
In the beginning, Studio 105 Art and Frame Gallery mainly sold abstract paintings. DeWitt quickly realized he couldn’t work on a painting for weeks and make enough money to raise a family. Soon after, he began to offer custom framing and today has more than 4,000 corner samples to design from.
As DeWitt began expanding the framing side of his business, he shifted his focus to custom work that would help display original artwork, portraits, and other designs for special pieces such as graduation certificates and diplomas.
“I haven’t painted in 30 years,” he said. “It’s time-consuming to complete paintings. I didn’t want to be a weekend artist. I was either in or I wasn’t. Framing is what was paying the bills. I’m doing the same thing I love second best which is still amazing.”
In addition to the custom framing, the business offers a wide array of artwork from local artists including handmade jewelry, picture frames, and books that are written or illustrated by local writers and artists.
Supporting other local businesses is important to DeWitt. He said he believes it’s more important to work hand in hand with businesses than to compete.
“When we say we support local artists, we mean it,” DeWitt said. “We enjoy working hand in hand with Studio Slant. Our support for local artists comes in all forms.”
Vickie Filbin has been with Studio 105 Art and Frame Gallery for five years. Not only does she complete the finishing work of the custom framing, but she says she enjoys the great customers, meeting new people every day.
“Design is the key,” she said. “I’m not an artist, I can’t paint, I can’t draw, but I appreciate it. It’s a fun environment to work in and it’s relaxed; it’s a place where there’s no pressure.”
DeWitt believes that the atmosphere his dad created in his business years ago, has carried over to his studio today.
“The way he treated his customers has blessed this business,” DeWitt said. “It continues to bless this business every day.”