Westborough – After graduating from Westborough High School in 1986 with art awards, a few scholarship offers and an acceptance letter to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Ed Turner got a part-time job in a neat little art store, then known as Koenig Art Emporium, in the Westborough Shopping Center. Turner worked for Richard and Bonnie Thomas, who had purchased the business in 1982. Working at the Art Emporium was just the right fit for Turner, and would later become the centerpiece of his career.
“I remember going to “the greenhouse” on a long dirt entryway off of Lyman Street with my whole family,” Turner said. “There was nothing else on the street that I could remember back then but new plants and flowers. A few years later, it [a new shopping mall] was all the rage, which brought Butch Hobson – at that time star third baseman for the Red Sox – to sign autographs for the opening of a bank there. That new mall was the Westborough Shopping Center, and I was just a kid.”
After graduating from RISD with a degree in illustration, Turner began his career as a freelance illustrator. He worked for companies, including Houghton Mifflin, Warner Brothers, Niles Restaurant in Manhattan and Disney. He also supplied illustrations for local businesses, such as Systematics in Westborough, Hairlines in Shrewsbury, Central One Credit Union in Shrewsbury, Green Friendly Golf in Hopkinton and the Massachusetts National Guard.
He even collaborated with Westborough officials helping to recreate the Admiral Denfeld oil painting for the Town Hall and assisting in the design of Westborough's street sign logo – a sleigh that is still used today.
One of Turner's favorite ongoing tasks is working with Bagdon Advertising on the Community Advocate's weekly cartoons, which he's done since 1992.
Back when he was still a student, Turner became a valuable asset to the Art Emporium because of his business acumen and knowledge about the store's supplies. He worked at the establishment throughout his college years, first becoming the art supply manager and then eventually, store manager.
He nurtured a new skill at the Art and Frame Emporium – teaching. Customers wanted to know how to use the art materials and Turner was a natural teacher. As a result, he founded his own studio/art lessons business known as Art Lessons on the Rotary in 1992. His classes became so popular that waiting lists became necessary for his potential students. He ran this sideline for almost 15 years.
After nearly 30 years of ownership, Richard and Bonnie Thomas made the decision to retire and to sell the business to Turner, the person they knew and trusted most. Turner and the present crew of artists who work with him at the store are knowledgeable about the vast inventory of art supplies and are skilled in coming up with great gift ideas and solutions for any customer's needs.
The store is chock full of art supplies, and has one of the largest selections of frame samples (over 3,000) for custom-picture framing. The staff listens closely to what customers have in mind and guides them throughout the selection process.
Turner has some new plans in store for the place.
“Education is always huge here. Most art supplies need to have an explanation on them. People also come back with questions on what to do next. From my experience in college, discussing work in front of other artists is always a great problem solver for most art. I am developing a Thursday night critique group, where artists can bring in works that they are stuck on and discuss it with other artists or be able to just come down and mingle.”
He is also introducing “Zentangle” to the public, and will have Zentangle night every other Thursday night.
“This is a fabulous art form,” Turner said. “This is something that anyone can do. It taps into the creative mind. It is such a relaxer for the brain – it is better than a crossword puzzle or Suduko.”
For more information about Zentangle and to see a vast assortment of artworks, visit Arts in Common at Bay State Commons Saturday, Oct. 1. For more information about the Art and Frame Emporium, visit the store in the Westborough Shopping Center (at the corner of Route 9 and Lyman Street), call 508-366-5650 or e-mail [email protected].