Leading Ladies 2017

Dale Ryan and Donna Parsons

The Bay Magazine ·

Providence Picture Frame has a long history of making beautiful memories. The art and frame store started in 1850, and went through different iterations, from a tiny spot in The Arcade downtown to the major destination for art that it is now. Today, Providence Picture Frame is housed in a huge historic mill. They offer framing, and also photo and painting restoration, printing, appraisals and more. They’ve also opened The Dryden Gallery, with three exhibition spaces that showcase art by local artists, as well as antique maps, framed prints and mirrors. Add all of that up and you have a full acre of space devoted to local art and fine craftsmanship, and a staff of people who spend their lives making spaces more beautiful.

Dale Ryan and Donna Parsons are two women who are key to the success of Providence Picture Frame, working with owner Geoff Gaunt to ensure that the store is a destination unlike any other. “I’ve been here since this was a tiny shop in the Arcade,” says Sales Manager Dale Ryan. “I’m so proud of helping the company grow to what it is now.” Her primary role, she says, is “meeting new people and improving their spaces,” helping them to envision the difference that great framing can make not just to one photo or piece of art, but to a whole room. She works closely with local offices to place artwork that fits their business and their budget. “We will always work to find what makes the client happy,” Dale says. “Placing artwork in offices does not have to be expensive. We work with all budgets, within reason.”

Donna has been Gallery Director at Providence Picture Frame & Dryden Gallery for nearly four years, but she has been with the company for 15. “Geoff realized my passion for art and offered me the position,” she says. As Gallery Director, Donna is responsible for filling the gallery’s three exhibition rooms: the Red Gallery and the Piano Room on the first floor, and the Grand Gallery upstairs. With a focus on local artists, the Dryden Gallery has become a major art destination in the area. “I hope people see us as a great art destination with great customer service,” Donna says.” The Grand Gallery is over 3500 square feet and is considered one of the finest galleries in New England. It can host events of up to 200 people and has rotating shows. “The relationships with artists are so important to us,” Donna says. “I love being around art all day.”

This spring, the Grand Gallery is debuting a photo exhibition of work by Ed Clark. “He was a photographer for LIFE Magazine in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s,” Donna explains. His black and white, slice of life photographs capture a bygone era in America. “In the fall, we honor the 25th anniversary of the workshops of respected local artist Kate Huntington and her students,” she says. In the winter, paintings by Steven Sickles will be on display. Their permanent collection of antique maps is the biggest in New England, and they have an excellent collection of photography by Rhode Island and New England photographers.

On top of all this, Providence Picture Frame offers other ways to preserve memories. They’ve recently partnered with a Boston-based company that converts old technologies, so your old photos and videos - whether they’re on slides, old film or VHS tape - can survive into the future and do more than just sit in boxes. “Simply put,” they say, “if we can’t do it, no one can.”

27 Dryden Lane, Providence | 421-6196,

Leading Ladies, Leading Ladies 2017, Dale Ryan, Donna Parsons, Providence Picture Frame