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Coming Into Frame

Francis Michaels’ art and frame shop Pop Revolution preserves memories with an artistic eye.

Francis Michaels' journey in the world of art began as a boy in Upstate New York. He was fascinated by the interesting scenery and old, worn-down buildings. The textures of the peeling surfaces, the varying colors of the fading paint and the gradients of rust against the background of the landscape caught Francis’ eye. They called him to capture the way he saw things in film. It was a passion.

“I was always saving up to buy my own cameras,” says Francis.

After moving to Ohio, Francis earned a degree in photography. With a keen eye for detail, his education helped him develop a deep understanding of color and balance, as well as digital craftsmanship. He embarked on a mission to create a space that would celebrate not only the art itself but also the ingenuity of presenting memories in the most respectful and captivating way.

In 2008, Francis opened the doors to Downtown Mason’s Pop Revolution with business partner Ben Neal. Francis had been selling his original photography and regularly collaborated with Ben to frame his personal work. About nine months after meeting they decided to start their own business.

Pop Revolution specializes in custom framing, photo printing and preservation. The name itself reflects Ben’s artistic vision and the art world at the time, thus the art that would be displayed at the gallery. Pop Revolution is not just a place to encase art; it is a dynamic space where frames become an integral part of the artistic narrative.

Francis’ business partner Ben has been working with frames for more than 25 years, having been trained by some of the best craftspeople in the Cincinnati area.

“He understands what needs to be done to preserve photos and important items correctly,” shares Francis.

Pop Revolution uses top-of-the-line printers, designed for art reproduction. Francis can work with painters and other visual artists to photograph their art to create prints on either paper or canvas that they can sell. Francis also works with customers who want to reproduce portraits, landscapes, or any everyday image they have.

Francis explains, “I use my expertise with customers who are not professional photographers to help them get the best possible product based on the materials they provide. I spend a lot of time with people who can take a great picture, but need a little help on the back end.”

Pop Revolution has several kinds of specialty paper ranging from the everyday Kodak photo paper to archival papers. These papers may be heavier and tend to be acid-free to help facilitate the longevity of the print the client decides to frame.

Additionally, Francis can print on canvas and then “stretch it,” meaning to pull the canvas across a wood frame to make it ready for display. Anyone with their own canvas that has already been printed or painted on can also bring it to Pop Revolution for them to stretch.

Some of the most requested non-art items that people have preserved are sports memorabilia, jerseys, coins, and even swords. One memorable item that Francis and Ben preserved was a soldier’s uniform from World War II.

Francis and Ben had the uniform material sewn down onto the backing so it was permanently affixed inside the frame, which also protects it from wrinkling and holds its shape.

“All the material we use - the mat boards, paper and glass - are archival quality. There is no acid in the materials. A normal sheet of paper has acid in it, which makes things yellow over time. We use UV glass which helps protect what we are framing from UV rays. Most framed items are not put outside, but in your home, where there is light coming in no matter where you are, it helps protect items from fading,” says Francis.

For items like memorabilia and coins, Francis and Ben might use acid-free silicone to hold the items in place inside the frame. 

What sets Pop Revolution apart from traditional framing stores is Francis' ability to use innovative framing techniques. When appropriate, he explores unconventional materials, styles, and formats to create frames that are as much a piece of art as the works they encase. Francis collaborates with customers to ensure that the framing enhances and complements the essence of each piece, creating a harmonious union between the frame and the artwork.

Francis says, “One of my favorite projects was for a woman whose husband was a professional pianist. She brought in whole piano keys - not just the black and white part you see but the whole key that goes into the piano. We didn’t use any glass, to allow the keys to stick out for a more dynamic effect. We were able to set those on top of copies of his favorite sheet music.”

The story of Francis Michaels and Pop Revolution is one of passion and innovation. Francis and his business partner Ben are committed to the highest quality of care for the memories their customers hope to preserve for years to come. PopRevolutionGallery.com

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