I first met Adam Collignon at a group art exhibit in Bushwick. He had just finished graduate school and was showing his piece, Hi-Fi. Last week, I met him as a fellow Greenpointer who is keeping a small business local! Artists are often painted out to be somewhat solitary and isolated. This stereotype would have you believe that an artist would never want the responsibility of being a community leader. Adam Collignon splinters that stereotype wide open.
Collignon comes from a sculptural background, but his more recent works are performance-based. He began “making performance as a place for the sculptures to go.” Collignon was able to “get more time to think [in grad school about] how these things interact. How a performance uses a sculpture as a tool of performance. Where the nature of a sculpture and the nature of a performance overlap.”
After leaving school, Collignon taught in DC for a year before settling into Brooklyn. I asked him the reason for choosing Greenpoint as his home and he rapidly responds, “Gretta” (his wife). He is often in awe of living here. “It is incredible when people come from all over the world, who just moved here and… how did you find Greenpoint? You are like so lucky. It seems so fortunate that someone would land in Greenpoint the first time. It might spoil them. Where do you go after this?” He was in the midst of eating a Peter Pan doughnut while telling me this.
Collignon’s next phase of his career is all about serving our community. He has taken over Imagic, a 22-year-old framing shop on Manhattan Avenue (937 Manhattan Ave). Fate brought this adventure to him. Collignon was walking home from the grocery store and spotted a flier on the shop window. He spoke with the owners the next day and the rest is recent history. Imagic was owned by the Kangs (Paul and Yang) who have spent over 40 years building several other Greenpoint businesses. They have just recently retired.
Instead of letting another neighborhood business become a Starbucks or Duane Reade, Collignon will keep the small business alive. The Kangs saw their business as a service that the neighborhood still needs. While other offers were made, they decided on Collignon since he will carry on their spirit of generosity. The vision is to keep Imagic fundamentally the same while updating its aesthetic and making it a pillar of the local art community.
In addition to framing services, Collignon hopes to sell art. He would love to rework the space to show art from local artists, including some of his own. Much of Collignon’s work is based in craftsmanship, so he’s considering creating a working wood shop. He would also love to create handmade frames onsite.
This past year Collignon put much of his art practice on hold to immerse himself in the business. Still he is “…constantly thinking about art. The relationship to my work is constantly changing. This time is changing the way I think about studio work. Both art and this business are ways for me to care about my community.” Collignon views producing art as a way to care about the concerns of the community while giving the community art to care about. In the shop, customers bring in family treasures or inspiring artworks to frame. He remarks that framing and creating art feel “very symbiotic. The efforts are very much in tandem.” They both care for community.