Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-30
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Custom frame shop has served LGBTQs for two decades
by Jake Wittich

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Duran Duran's 1982 album, Rio, blasts from the record player of Wall to Wall Framing, a custom frame shop in Edgewater. The record sleeve is propped up against a bookshelf lined full with other classic records, displaying the Patrick Nagel-designed album cover as if it were hanging in a gallery.

Leif Forre, the openly gay man who owns the shop, stands at a nearby work table, drilling hangers onto the back of a framed artwork. He's surrounded by almost a dozen other pieces—a portrait of Prince, a poster for an upcoming charity and several other artworks—all in need of his custom framing.

Forre's shop, located at 5554 N. Winthrop Ave., celebrates its 20th year of business later this year. What started as a small operation in the basement of a West Loop industrial building in 1999 has now grown to a business staple in the Edgewater community.

"When I moved the shop to Edgewater 16 years ago, the neighborhood had a lot of boarded up and abandoned buildings. There weren't many businesses here, so it was kind of a rough start," Forre said. "But then a lot of the gay community started moving here, new businesses came in and my businesses really grew alongside the community."

Most of Forre's clients include artists, designers and a range of people from the neighborhood, downtown and the suburbs. He doesn't advertise, so most of his business comes from word-of-mouth, he said. In the last year alone, his business grew by about 20 percent.

In an emailed statement, Ald. Harry Osterman said commended Forre's business success, calling Wall to Wall Framing a "an anchor" in the neighborhood's business district.

"[Forre] has contributed to the areas increased vibrancy and safety, and his business brings new people to our community," Osterman said. "Leif contributes to many important organizations that serve and support the LGBTQ community, leading by example. I look forward to working with Leif for another 20 years."

Forre has consistently used his business to support the LGBTQ community, donating his services to LGBTQ organizations such as Chicago House, TPAN, Howard Brown, The Legacy Project and Heartland Alliance, where he volunteers at the Edgewater food pantry every Thursday evening.

"You have to give back to the community," Forre said. "When you reach a stage in life where it's been good to you, you need to give back. I need to help with other organizations and make sure that I'm using my business to help the LGBT community."

Lori Cannon, founder and Northside Food Program coordinator of the Heartland Alliance, said she met Forre shortly after he moved to Chicago from a small town in Iowa in 1991. He was new to the city and looking to get involved with Open Hand Chicago, an in-home meals program for people diagnosed with AIDS that Cannon co-founded in 1988.

"I always thought his phraseology was unique for a young man, but he said he wanted to be part of 'a mission that offers good intentions,'" Cannon said. "He came to my program with this larger-than-life personality and just rolled up his shirt sleeves, then got to work stocking shelves and serving clients."

Cannon said Forre even bought a record player for Heartland Alliance's Vital Bridges Food Program.

"Every week, he comes in with his carrying case full of vintage albums," she said. "It'll be an Ella Fitzgerald homage, some early Aretha Franklin or '70s rock. He's got a very eclectic, like himself, collection of music, fashion and frames."

Cannon commended Forre's long history of charity work and giving back to the LGBTQ community. She said he's always offered his framing as a gift to community organizations' black-tie events, fundraisers or silent auctions.

"Over the last two decades, I've seen his shop transform from downtown to where he's at in Edgewater, but he's always generously donated his superior and artistic work," Cannon said. "It bespeaks a young gentleman who's not just a good businessman and talented trades professional, but a very kind and generous person."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Illinois Restaurant Assoc., owners oppose elimination of tip credit 2019-11-12 - On Nov. 12, the Illinois Restaurant Association ( IRA ) and dozens of restaurant industry operators and servers held a press conference to ...

Gay News

Andersonville holiday programming includes 100 businesses 2019-11-12 - CHICAGO ( November 11, 2019 ): More than 100 Andersonville businesses are featured in the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce's ( ACC ) holiday ...

Gay News

Exhibit examines contributions of refugee, immigrant writers 2019-11-12 - The American Writers Museum, 180 N. Michigan Ave., celebrates refugee and immigrant writers with its newest exhibit, "My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers ...

Gay News

Protest set for Deerfield Chick-fil-A 2019-11-10 - A group of suburban activists plan what they say will be a "family-friendly" protest on Nov. 14, the opening day of a new ...

Gay News

Affordable Requirements Ordinance Dashboard is out 2019-11-07 - The Chicago Department of Housing unveiled a new, interactive, user-friendly tool—the Affordable Requirements Ordinance ( ARO ) Dashboard—to make affordable housing data more ...

Gay News

'LGBTQ+ All in for Kina' party Nov. 14 2019-11-06 - On Thursday, Nov. 14, at Cantina Laredo, 508 N. State St., 6:30-8:30 p.m., LGBTQ+ leaders and allies from across the Chicago area are ...

Gay News

Val's halla Records to close by Nov. 30 2019-11-06 - Iconic Oak Park store Val's Halla Records will close by Nov. 30, The Chicago Tribune reported. The business has been open for 47 ...

Gay News

Oscar 2020 kickoff party Nov. 13 2019-11-04 - The "A Night With Oscar 2020" kickoff party—featuring a Chicago ball scene talk back—will take place Wed., Nov. 13, at 6 p.m. at ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ Biz Boot Camp finale Nov. 12 2019-11-04 - The LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois will host the completion of its inaugural LGBTQ+ Biz Boot Camp cohort Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6-8 ...

Gay News

'Boys in the Band' starting Jan. 29 2019-11-03 - Windy City Playhouse, 3014 W. Irving Park Rd., is presenting Mart Crowley's groundbreaking play, The Boys in the Band, directed by Playhouse Associate ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.