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The San Francisco Standard

Know Your Neighbors

Arthur Koch 

A Portola Couple Transform a Former Liquor Store Into a Community Art Studio
Written by Meaghan Mitchell
Published Nov. 27, 2022 • 11:58am

Some residents of the Portola District call it “The Garden District,” while others refer to it as “The Little Neighborhood That Could.” Muralist Arthur Koch thinks of it as a tight-knit community full of artistic opportunity. 

Koch, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 40 years has made his imprint here by painting murals. He has one on the side of Grocery Outlet and another at 2444 San Bruno Ave. Now he is preparing for the grand opening of FrameArt Studio alongside his fiancée Lisa Magruder.

Koch and Magruder’s mission with FrameArt Studio is to build a meeting space for people of all ages to be creative through workshops and classes, and to highlight the many artists that live in the Portola and surrounding neighborhoods. The studio will have workshops for art journaling, printmaking, poetry, photography, painting and sewing.

“There isn’t a frame shop or community art space in this underserved area, so I wanted to have it all under one roof to foster creative energy in our neighborhood,” Magruder said.

FrameArt Studio will open with a holiday market on Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Dec. 4 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. It will feature 12 artists and craft makers from the area, including Farnaz Ceramics, prints from artist Brandi Ynocencio and vegan and keto cakes from Cathy’s Cake Salon.

The couple’s studio is a passion project that’s been a long time in the making, like their romance. It’s the type of love story you would see in a Richard Curtis film. Arthur Koch knew he always had a thing for Lisa Magruder, what he didn’t know was that passion for art and love for the Portola District is what would eventually reunite them not only as future husband and wife but also as business partners. 

They both grew up in Columbia, Missouri, and knew of each other but were not close. They reconnected later in life after discovering they were in the same painting class at Columbia College. They ended up spending the night with each other after a Halloween party later that year. 

“I remember saying to her that I always knew we would be together, and she just laughed,” Koch remembered. “I never heard back from her, so I thought maybe I was lousy in bed or something.” 

Koch moved on, relocating to San Francisco and settling in the Portola District where he worked in tech. Thirty years later with social media at its peak, Koch decided to look Magruder up in the hopes of reconnecting. 

He learned she was living in Folsom, California, and was separated from her husband. He made the two-hour trip to see her every other weekend. For almost three years, they dated long distance and took turns traveling to visit each other. “She nearly dumped me the first time she drove to San Francisco and had to find parking,” Koch said. 

Koch eventually convinced Magruder to move to San Francisco, and a few years later, in 2015, the couple started a business together called FrameArt Studio. There, they sold paintings, picture frames, taught art courses and had a portrait studio. 

“I was so glad that she was able to adapt and the city never hardened her heart, and we were able to start a business together,” Koch said. “It was a big step for both of us, and it’s great to have a partner that shares your passion for art.”

Unfortunately, the pandemic forced the couple to shut down their first studio. They have since relocated to Bacon Street. On Dec. 3rd at 3 pm, they will host their grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony alongside fellow artists and Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

Creating a new gallery and studio space fresh out of the pandemic has been no easy task for the couple, even with several small-business grants. FrameArt Studio recently launched a GoFundMe to help complete new signage, finish interior construction and hire a creative team.

Arthur Koch - portrait

Special powers

Perseverance.

Arch enemies

Rampant materialism and the love of technology.

Weaknesses

Taking things too personally.

Lineage

My paint instructor was a protege of Thomas Hart Benton, as was Jackson Pollock.

Current mission

To live my life as fully as possible and keep it in order.

'I wanted to have it all under one roof to foster creative energy in our neighborhood.'
Arthur Koch - portrait