Michael Damico is an artist, consultant, and the owner of Damico Frame & Art Gallery in Franklin. More importantly, he is my younger brother. When it comes to self-assessments, he is modest but reasonable. So as Michael celebrates his 10th year in business during December, I asked him if I could tell you the story of how he got started and what drove him to where he is today ... from my perspective.
Being six years older than Michael, I had little interest in him when we were very young. Once during the late 1980s when I was about thirteen years old, however, I caught a glimpse of something truly phenomenal. I walked past his bedroom strewn with Micro Machines and circuit boards from electronic toys and old radios that were in various stages of being taken apart and put back together again. There on his bed was the most detailed drawing of the creature from the Ridley Scott film Alien I had ever seen. Michael casually owned up to the drawing without the least bit of pomp or circumstance. It was just a run-of-the-mill drawing for him, nothing more.
Our mom had the good sense to enroll him in private art lessons. She also gave him the freedom to explore his dark places through his artwork. This turned out to be the single most therapeutic activity upon which he ever embarked, an activity he continues to this day in order to maintain mental clarity and decompress from the roller coaster that is life.
Our step-dad fueled Michael’s interests and the insatiable desire to understand just how things work. Michael later turned that obsession into an anatomical understanding, specifically of the human face, which eventually led to the production of a series of richly complex and oversized portraits of celebrities. The series spawned a waiting list of private requests for commissioned portraits.
Michael’s great aunt, Miss Alma Gillespie, was a Hickman County school teacher for many decades. Before her passing in 2005, she spent countless hours of Michael’s life teaching him arts and crafts. During his younger years, he did more painting with her at her home in Primm Springs, TN than with anyone else. These rich opportunities fulfilled a deep need within Michael to create and fueled his self-described “obsession” to hone and perfect his skills as he grew older. By the time he got to college he knew he had to pursue an academic study of art as strongly as a fish has to pursue a life submerged under water. He attended the University of Central Florida and graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies and an Associate Degree in Studio Art.
Prior to graduating, Michael landed an apprenticeship working with an amazing Korean painter named Sonny Chin who also made custom picture frames. Sonny connected with Michael like a son, passing on all the tricks of the trade, knowing full-well that one day Michael would break off on his own.
Michael apprenticed under Sonny’s guidance for a year and a half, during which time he found himself immersed in the world of Archiving, Framing, and Fine Art. Michael had found both his calling and a way to show his art to others. So, by December 2006, he gratefully hugged Sonny good-bye and entered the world of framing on his own by purchasing Frame & Art Gallery in Ft. Myers, FL.
During his first year, he dedicated a scant 300 square feet of the building’s 2,400 square foot total to living quarters, literally showering out of a bucket. But the longing for community was strong, so he decided it was time to come home to his roots and his family in Tennessee. In December of 2010, Michael moved his business to Franklin and rebranded it as Damico Frame & Art Gallery. He opened on East Fowlkes Street near the historic Franklin square in March of 2011.
Michael’s father, Nick Damico of Primm Springs, TN, has served as “a relentless motivator” as Michael refers to him. Acting in a capacity between business advisor and business partner, Nick has been the driving force that has pushed Michael to succeed. Nick gave him specific direction as it pertains to growth and development, and he taught Michael how to work with people in a way that is fulfilling. Nick has been in the world of marketing and advertising since the days of Mad Men, making him more than qualified to teach Michael the lost art of relationship development.
And it shows. I challenge anyone to walk into Michael’s shop and see if they feel like the most important customer on the planet. He treats every customer as if he is “Jerry McGuire” and they are “Rod Tidwell,” his only client.
Besides being gifted artist, what is Michael actually like as a person? Come meet him and find out for yourself. December marks his 10th anniversary so make a point of stopping by so that you can register for giveaways of his Santa Claus portrait seen on the cover of this publication. The contest closes on December 9th and the drawing will take place on December 10th. As a further expression of Michael’s gratitude for the Franklin community that has given him so much support, Damico Frame & Art Gallery will be donating 5% of its retail sales during the entire month of December to the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin.
To learn more about my brother Michael, or Damico Frame & Art Gallery, visit damicogallery.com or call 615-815-6015.