Michael Francis says that he likes to follow what he believes to be the Lord’s example of taking in something broken and transforming it, “like us,” into something beautiful. Francis, owner of the eponymous Michael Francis Creations Gallery on Wall Street, very much relates to the worn down or broken nature of this furniture. He has opened a new store with freshly transformed, artfully hand-painted antiques and home furnishings, its interior filled with his salvaged, born-again items.
Francis credits his furniture line to his recovery from drugs and decade-long relationship with God after living the life of a full-blown addict since he was 14. If in the 1980s you ever coveted one of those denim jackets with an album cover skillfully hand-painted on the back, you might have been admiring his work. By 18, he was doing tattoo work. By 31, around when his first son Blaise was born, Francis began to realize that he cared a whole lot more about consequences than he ever cared before.
Francis said there was no one “A-ha” moment delivering him to recovery, but rather many moments in which he began to recognize that he felt “dark and dirty,” and what he describes as “a series of broken hearts around me” of family and friends. Unhealthy relationships, unhealthy decisions and the palpable pain and anguish of his family were no longer acceptable trade-offs for his drugging. His rock bottom was losing two successful tattoo shops in Brooklyn and Queens, and a beautiful house in Whitestone. “I was left with two bags of clothes to go to detox, which is how I got to Kingston.” Francis said he found grace through the window of Kingston Hospital while detoxing, and recognized it as such when he saw a Jesus march heading down Broadway.
After detox, Francis went back to what he knew and opened up the first tattoo shop in Kingston on Wall Street, called Ink Inc. Despite hitting Narcotics Anonymous meetings ever day, his road of recovery involved several stumbles and short-lived relapses. “I am broken, deep down inside … If I falter, and stop taking it seriously for even a day, I can fall very easily,” he said.
Fortunately, he said, people in his life point it out when it begins to happen, and adds he feels blessed to have the sense to listen.
Upon the arrival of his second child, Josephine, now 5, he painted her bedroom furniture with whimsical dragonflies, butterflies, flowers and crawling lady bugs. Francis sat back to view his completed work and cried seldom-known tears of joy. It was in that moment, Francis said, when he realized the fulfillment of taking something unfinished and transforming it into something unique, personal and beautiful. “It fed me in a way that I have never been fed,” he said. “I knew then I wanted to do it after that.”