In a small storefront behind the Lotz House on East Fowlkes Street, Michael Damico is surrounded by nearly 1,000 framing samples. There are dozens of colors and finishes, but the Damico Frame & Art Gallery owner is sorting through a certain stack of high-quality woods, looking for the perfect shell to a customer’s opulent piece.
To Michael, this initial selection step is more than a hasty point of a client’s finger. He’s an artist at heart, so he doesn’t see the framing business from a technical standpoint—he views it as an important extension of his creative work.
“My background guides everything in my business model,” he said. “Framing is a practical contribution as an art form, and design fundamentals come first for me.”
Michael says he didn’t intend to get into this business. He’s always created art—excelling in representational art and having a knack for portraying faces—but he hasn’t always appreciated the effect of a good frame. He says he used to buy thumbtacks to hang his work.
But on his first day working at a Florida framing shop, Michael says two things happened: his artistic thinking was “revolutionized” by the framing process, and he knew he was meant for the industry.
“It blew my mind how much different my art looked with and without framing,” he said. “Properly packaging a piece can completely change the emotional aspect.”
In addition to custom framing and repair, Damico Frame & Art Gallery offers a wide variety of high-quality printing and reproduction services, including photograph restoration and giclee printing. And Michael does nearly all of it in-house.
“In everything we carry, we really strive for the best blend between high quality and fair price,” he said.
Inside, the store’s narrow halls are filled with commissioned fine art and photography pieces, many created by Michael’s hand. Much of his work leans toward contemporary portraits and
representational art—like the pink-hued Marilyn Monroe portrait that greets customers at the door. Though he stays busy running his framing and printing business, he says he maintains his passion for painting.
“I still make art a great part of my pursuit,” he said.
The Middle Tennessee native opened his shop in Downtown Franklin in March 2011, after five years of running the business in Fort Myers, Fla. He chose the area for its booming businesses and steady economy, but says he found something even better once he arrived.
“Once I became involved in the community, I was blown away to learn that the internal functions were just as attractive as the external,” he said.
He says he has an “authentic appreciation” for the tight-knit relationships among business owners.
“People genuinely want others to succed here,” he said. “I’ve seen the opposite of that in other cities, and it’s toxic.”
Within a few weeks of relocating to Franklin, Michael has already contributed greatly to the downtown area. He was a part of the initial team that helped jumpstart the Franklin Art Scene, a monthly tour of the historic area’s arts offering. The event has maintained a steady presence since its September 2011 launch, drawing hundreds each month to dozens of art galleries and alternative art galleries for the “First Friday Art Crawl.”
This is the second art walk Michael has worked to get off the ground. He helped spearhead a similar event in Fort Myers, one he says grew to nearly 10,000 participants each month over the course of two years.
“I’ve seen the impact that this type of ongoing event can have, and that’s why I wanted to be part of it,” he said. “I feel it’s important to contribute to the community, rather than simply capitalize on it.”
For more information on Damico Frame & Art Gallery, visit its website at www.damicogallery.com.