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A Little History
Once upon a time, two artists met in college, fell in love and got married. After they had their art degrees in hand, Andy and Cynthia Lenz moved to the beach town of Cynthia's parents and grandparents, Santa Cruz.
While taking classes toward a Masters degree in Art, Andy couldn't find the supplies he needed near home. Solution? They took a big leap of faith and founded Lenz Arts on August 1, 1968. After a few months of operating their fledgling business out of their apartment, they opened a retail storefront of 900 square feet (including loft!) on March 1, 1969 on Pacific Avenue near the head of what was then known as the Pacific Garden Mall.
On July 6, 1972, Lenz Arts made a needed move to its far larger current location of 10,000 square feet at 142 River Street. On the fringes of downtown Santa Cruz, the building was originally constructed as a community cold-storage facility. Ah, the room for yet more art materials!
Andy and Cynthia did some paperwork with the State of California in 1976 and Lenz Arts officially became "Lenz Arts, Inc." In 1979, Andrew Jr., not quite a teenager, cut his first of many thousands of picture framing mats, under the direction of the head framer at the time Jerry Lenz, Andy's younger brother.
After graduating from UCSC, Andrew Jr. was promoted to store manager in 1989. In the fall of 1991, the Lenzes added a warehouse to hold extra merchandise as well as their many thousands of feet of picture frame moulding and the saws required to cut it. This freed up yet more space in the store for art materials! Woo-hoo!
Since then, they've remodeled a few times to make even more room for art materials, moved displays and departments around, stacked and squeezed in product lines, good stuff like that.
Lenz Arts remains a very family-oriented business. Andy retired in January 2016. While also retired, Cynthia still gets business questions a few times each month and applies her expertise. Andrew Jr. runs the store on a day-to-day basis along with his brother Matthew and nearly two dozen staff member artists.
In March 2016, Andy and Cynthia were recognized in Houston, Texas with the International Art Materials Association's Lifetime Achievement Award to honor their significant impact on the fine art materials industry. (See the newpaper articles and video below.)
"We all look forward to serving you!"
Lenz Arts in the news:
NEWS COVERAGE of our 2-alarm fire on March 16, 2002:
Fire-damaged Lenz may reopen next week
[After 12 days of very long hours and hard work, Lenz Arts reopened.]
FIVE YEARS LATER - FOLLOW-UP STORY of our fire:
Lenz Arts Nears 45th Birthday
Editorial, Hits and Misses (Anniversary)
Labor of Love
And a nice newspaper article about San Francisco Bay Area printmaker Tom Killion, complimenting Lenz Arts:
Andy, Cynthia and Andrew Lenz in the early '70s
142 River Steet, over four decades ago.