Joan Furchgott: Fueling the arts

Joan Furchgott with husband, Brad Sourdiffe. Courtesy photo
Joan Furchgott with husband, Brad Sourdiffe. Courtesy photo

Joan Furchgott has been driving from her home in Lincoln to the renovated Queen Anne Victorian on Falls Road for more than twenty-five years, so the Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery which she runs with her husband Brad Sourdiffe, has become a home away from home. Back in 1983, Sourdiffe began working for what was then called Shelburne Frame and Art, doing framing and restoration work. In 1990, Furchgott joined him and they bought the business one year later.

Shelburne Frame and Art had primarily been a framing business, but Furchgott was interested in making it more of a gallery. Artwork now runs the gamut from realistic landscapes to abstracts, sculpture and woodwork. Most of the art is created by Vermonters, with roughly 5 percent from New York or other regional sources. “There’s just too much good art right here,” said Furchgott. “I’ve had a little bit from other places but I’ve stuck close to home because there’s so much here that’s worthwhile.”

Furchgott likes having an eclectic mix. “The variety comes down to what I define as being really individualistic work with a strong technical foundation,” she said. “I don’t look for any particular kind of work, but it has to have integrity and not be generic-looking.” The couple is willing to make house calls for customers who want advice on where to hang a piece of art or what would look good in a particular spot. The gallery also has a craft shop for Vermonters’ handmade items or those certified Fair Trade.

Furchgott and Sourdiffe continue to do custom framing, ranging from posters and metal frames to 22 karat hand-finished wood. They have framed everything from children’s drawings to museum-caliber art, and Furchgott believes they have more samples than any other local shop. Lastly, the couple continues to do restoration work on frames and other objects. When they ran a business out of their home, they restored pieces for the Vermont Statehouse and the Hood Museum in Hanover, New Hampshire, and they continue to provide those services.

The gallery features rotating exhibits which generally focus on one or two artists, but in November they will be doing something different. The exhibit “These are a Few of My Favorite Things” will showcase personal favorites from the couple’s inventory. That will be followed a larger group show in December.

Although business slows down in the winter, Furchgott wouldn’t consider changing locations.

She notes that it’s not only the tourists whose visits decline in the colder months but some of her regular customers who retreat to warmer climates. The commute from Lincoln doesn’t diminish Furchgott’s ardor for her location, since she takes the back roads and doesn’t have to contend with rush hour. “It’s been great,” she said. “It’s a blessing, really, because we have such devoted customers. We have a great relationship with a lot of our clients that has built up over the years. We’ve really gotten to know the people in the area and consider them our friends.”

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