Art Basel

Miami’s Borders framers gives an edge factor to fine art

When the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse needed to frame a massive, 70-inch by 70-inch photograph from Pieter Hugo’s hyena series and a John Baldessari print, Borders Fine Art Picture Framing got the call.

And when the Rubell Family Collection wanted to frame delicate works by Keith Haring and paintings by Andy Warhol and Lisa Yuskavage, curators turned to Borders.

“They are great,” said Juan Valadez, director of the Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood. “We look to them for the more difficult works, irregular shaped works.”

Borders is Miami’s go-to place for art aficionados seeking museum quality materials for fine art, created in-house by design-savvy proprietors who know their clients on sight.

“We frame the artwork for the artwork, not for the room it is going in,” said owner Steve Meeks Sr. “We try to do it to keep the aesthetics of the artwork. The frame is like a stage for the artwork — it can either make it or break it.”

Borders’ niche is also aimed at protecting valuable fine art. “Miami is such a humid environment that if it’s not framed properly it becomes moldy,” Meeks said.

Inside Borders’ warehouse-like studio in Little Havana, floor-to-ceiling panels are filled with more than 20,000 frame samples of the unique and unexpected: bamboo wood frames from Colombia; leather frames from Peru; inlaid wood frames from Italy, and hand-carved, European-style frames with gold leaf, made by craftsmen in New York.

“It’s a lost craft that very few people are able to do and make it work because the carving has to be done perfectly,” Meeks said.

Meeks started the business in 1986 in Coral Gables; it was so popular that when he moved to Southwest First Street 15 years ago, customers followed. Today, his son Steve Jr. and daughter Lauren work with him.

Over the years, Borders has framed valuable paintings by Marc Chagall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, René Portocarrero and Mario Carreño. Framing prices range from $50 to $4,000.

Clients run the gamut from private collectors to galleries and museums. The Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami has used Borders for decades, for matting, framing and creating labels for nearly every exhibition.

“We can go there and find unusual guild frames or painted frames, said Director and Chief Curator Brian Dursum. “And we know it is going to be done correctly. Sometimes it has to be floating — we elevate the glass away from the surface because we don’t want a build up of static or it to be too close. They know and they understand all that.”