BISBEE — There isn’t much that’s going to stop Bisbee’s Carol Chandler when she wraps her head around an idea.
Especially when it comes to art, innovative custom framing and creating a venue for local artists.
Forced to move last spring when the building her beloved Sense of Place gallery and frame shop occupied on Brewery Gulch in Old Bisbee for nearly six years sold, Chandler — who won the People’s Choice Award at the 2029 Plein Air Painting Festival for painting an early-morning scene of Subway Street — gathered up her workshop, tools and paintings and left the Gulch.
But she didn’t go far.
In November, she purchased the 900-square-foot building and surrounding property including a cavernous greenhouse fronting State Route 92 by Tin Town. Two months later, she reopened Sense of Place, Framing Art and Gardens in the former site of Ecoasis Sustainable Living Center. The building was also home to a meat shop and Shamrock Foods Distribution & Food Supply outlet in the 1980s.
With the eye-catching red-and-yellow sign at the edge of SR 92 designed by well-known local artist Steve Miller, Chandler is busier than she ever thought she would be.
“At the Gulch I had good local clientele, and word-of-mouth there was a big plus for me,” the western Massachusetts native said. “Many artists knew me, and one half of my shop was a gallery for local artists. But here, with the main highway in front, I have people coming in and stopping from Hereford, Warren, San Jose, and so many other places.
“I had no idea I’d be this busy.”
A self-taught framer with a background in wallpapering and painting, Chandler is well-known in the Bisbee art community, not only for her own superb landscape paintings, but for her innovative, handcrafted custom framing.
“I talk with customers, get an idea of what things are like in their home, what they like and what we can do with a particular picture,” she said. “I like thinking out of the box when it comes to framing pieces of art. I think my wallpapering and painting background plays into a lot.”
So does Chandler’s familiarity with tools, whether it’s mitre box saws, slot routers, table saws, even chain saws, which she recently used to create a stunning cottonwood base for a ceremonial Native American kachina doll.
“I had a 1870s farmhouse back east that my ex and I were always working on, so I became pretty familiar with handling power tools,” she said. “When you have an old house like that, you learn how to use them and know how they work. We also built a log house so tools are not foreign to me.”
In six months since she has been open, Chandler’s has turned Sense of Place into more than just a frame shop. With her artistic vision, she has created unique spaces inside the building, showcasing works by local artists like handcrafted mesquite tables, pottery vases displaying native plants and walls highlighted with custom-framed paintings.
But it’s the neighboring greenhouse Chandler — an experienced gardener who grew a garden that fed her family back east — is beginning to get her hands into at the moment. By next year, she’d like to grow vegetable starts to the public. The 36-foot-by-46-foot greenhouse already has a small, hand-built water feature, some cactus and tomato plants.
"She's quite an amazing woman," said Bisbee artist Paul Bovee who has known Chandler for years. "I can't say enough about what a great person she is. She's a wonderful artist, and a gifted framer with a eye for making a picture stand out with her ability to create really exceptional frames."
Located at 99 State Route 92, A Sense of Place is open from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.