| Follow Us:



The Untitled Bottega

314 E. Baltimore
Detroit, Michigan 48202

Flaco Shalom

By MJ Galbraith
August 22, 2013

Flaco Shalom has turned a bunch of "no"s into one giant yes and is calling it Untitled Bottega.
After being told by a number of local art galleries that his art wasn't good enough, Flaco decided that he'd start his own gallery. The idea came to him in 2009 and was realized in 2011, when he opened Untitled Bottega at the lofts on Iron Street. Flaco's gallery was so successful that by August of 2012 he outgrew his Iron Street location and began searching for a space that could accommodate his vision.
"I wanted a modern day Alexandria," says Flaco. "That ancient library where people would come for knowledge, information, creativity, philosophy."
Beyond the art shows, Untitled Bottega has hosted fashion shows, hip-hop shows, dance recitals, poetry readings, screenplays, and indie films. Such a large idea has proven to require large grounds, so Flaco has acquired a number of buildings on the block of E. Baltimore Street as bordered by John R and Brush. The new art gallery will be at 314 E. Baltimore and the rest of the Untitled Bottega campus will accommodate the other events. Untitled Bottega should be back up and running this fall.
Flaco's tenacity and resourcefulness go back to an early age, when he would draw and sell comic books for a dollar to his middle school classmates so he could, as he says, buy potato chips and pickles. So when he began to get turned away from local art galleries, he decided to take his fate in his own hands. And without the support from local art galleries, he has done pretty well on his own: Flaco was selected as a 2012 Emerging Artist by Detroit's internationally-renowned Heidelberg Project. His art has drawn interest from as far as Japan, where he recently visited and sold his work.
Whatever personal success Flaco has achieved with his own artwork has not diluted his desire to grow Untitled Bottega and help other artists' careers. He relishes giving others their first chance, keeping a policy of saying "yes." The Bottega doesn't turn artists away.
"At the end of the day, I'm always going to be an artist and to have apathy as an artist will not make you an artist at all because art is based off feeling," says Flaco. "So me understanding the struggle and the hardship of another artist is what's always going to be the driving force behind what Untitled Bottega is. Someone is always going to need their first chance. There are a lot of no's out there and few yeses and I want to be the constant yes in the community."
Untitled Bottega will also provide workshops that Flaco describes as more of an artistic yoga or stretching rather than instruction. He also speaks of free paint parties where he'll spend $300 of his own money on paint and canvases and then invite other artists to come down and paint with him. It all comes down to nurturing that culture of "yes." It's something that he feels is his calling. Flaco calls the art gallery his church and he wants everyone to know that they're welcome.
"My ultimate goal is artistic independence for every artist that comes through my door. Welcome home. I've got ten commandments written up and one of them is to be self-sufficient. I want every artist that comes to the Bottega to, at the end of the day, be self-sufficient. You don't need a label. You don't need a franchise, or anything to be backing you. You come up with your own marketing. You come up with your own branding. You do your own thing, you're going to be good. Do your own thing. You don't need anybody else. You don't need to be supported by some corporation or some business. You can do it on your own."

All photos by Doug Coombe. 

Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts

Twitter Feed

Related Resources

  • The Heidelberg Project
    The Heidelberg Project is an open-air art environment in the heart of an urban community on Detroit’s East Side.