There’s nothing like rolling into a nearby coffee shop for that morning cup of joe, an evening latte treat, or for some quiet time in between the day to just chill.
And while the coffee bean aromas, fresh pastry offerings and glass jar displays of exotic teas add to this relaxing vibe, so do the artistic statements gracing the walls of these shops.
Owners of some UCity coffee shops allow their spaces to serve as settings for local artists’ works. The creative statements run the gamut – from crayoned artwork by local school children, to color photography by employees, to large-scale canvas creations by their own customers. Everyone involved calls it win-win: shops get to fill their spaces with nice works, and artists get a captive audience of admirers – and potential buyers – who look up at the walls while enjoying their beverage break.
That’s the case at Rocky River Coffee Co., where Harrisburg artist Teresa Stern crafted coffee-themed paintings-on-canvas for owner Dave Damone’s Concord location at Cannon Crossroads. Stern, a customer at the Rocky River Coffee that Damone also runs at Harrisburg Town Center, volunteered to make artistic creations for both shops.
“Artwork goes well with coffee shops,” says Damone. At his Harrisburg store, he also features framed artwork by students from Back Creek Christian Academy and photography by former employee Brittany Cope. For the Concord store, Stern painted what Damone requested: a large coffee cup filled with a swirl of cream, and a second piece depicting a coffee drop that flips and turns into a person. Stern is working on other pieces for Damone’s Harrisburg store, including a tree with coffee cups in it.
It’s a chance for Stern, who promotes her children’s murals and other creations at her website, to get the word out about her artistry. “He’ll mention my name and show my business cards there,” Stern says. “That’s the only way we’ll survive in this economy.”
Dilworth Coffee, at 5818 Prosperity Church Road in Highland Creek, recently hosted the grand opening event for Art & Soul Creations (www.artandsoulcreations.net), an initiative by artists Ernie and Jennifer Dow. Paintings by the husband-and-wife team were displayed in the coffee shop.
A big theme of the Dows’ work is flowers. Jennifer also creates collage art, and has been painting for 15 years. Husband Ernie, painting for five years, really took to creating after a job loss allowed him to paint five to 10 hours a day, says Jennifer.
Coffee shops are a great way to promote their artwork and new business venture because of the welcoming sense of community, Jennifer Dow says. “The most important thing to us is that we start out slow and work with what we have available to us.”
Faye Skotidas, owner of Dilworth Coffee’s Highland Creek location, is an art lover and is constantly looking for talented local artists.
“I’ve always thought it would be nice to feature local artists and have their pieces showing,” says Skotidas. “It is a good opportunity for the shop. It gives the customers not only a reason to see us and have our wonderful coffee and pastries, but to come in and take a look around and see if there is anything they want to purchase.”
Skotidas believes it’s more beneficial to the artists and the customers to take a look at one artist at a time, versus several, so she changes out the art on a schedule. The artwork displayed at Dilworth is all for sale, and artists pay a fee to have their works displayed. There is no formal process to have art put on the walls; however, there is a waitlist. Since many artists are interested in displaying their art, Skotidas says, there is a monthly rotation in place to give everyone a chance.
Artist Shawna Heath’s work has been seen at Jackson’s Java, at 8544 University City Blvd. Heath is an abstract artist who describes herself as having an emotional connection with her art.
“It’s unique, it’s just me,” says Heath. “Every piece I create is exactly what I was feeling that day. It’s not like a tree or house, it’s how I feel and that’s my way of getting it out.”
Located near UNC Charlotte, Jackson’s Java attracts a lot of artistic-type people, Heath explains. Alicia Driver, manager at Jackson’s Java, said the shop wants to respond to that. Customer suggestions and employee initiative help play a role in locating artists’ work to display, Driver says.
Driver believes art on the walls creates a more friendly atmosphere – and Heath agrees. “It just seems like it fit,” Heath says. “Everyone loves it.”
More info: See local art on the walls at these places:
-Dilworth Coffee: The Shoppes at Highland Creek, 5818 Prosperity Church Road, #C9, Charlotte. 704-875-6565. -Jackson’s Java: 8544 University City Blvd., Charlotte. 704-548-1133. -Rocky River Coffee Co.: (Two locations) Harrisburg Town Center, 4350 Main St., #109, Harrisburg. 704-455-5615. Cannon Crossroads, 9900 Poplar Tent Road, Concord. 704-793-1254. Rocky River Coffee.