Get Your Caffeine Fix With A Side Of Local Art

May 5, 2011  

Elizabeth Erickson
eerickson@smu.edu

Coffee shops across Dallas seem to be adopting an eclectic atmosphere and drawing on local artists to create an environment that encourages community and inspires customers to grab another cup of joe.

Alan Geddie is the owner of the local Dunn Bros. Coffee in Addison. He says that having live music most nights of the week from local musicians and a hearty rotation of local artists’ work for sale decorating the walls sets a tone.

“I think it creates an ambiance for the customers and I think it’s a good thing for the artists so they can expose their wares on the walls. We just think it’s a nice touch,” said Geddie.

Geddie thinks it’s the experience that his customers walk away with that keeps them coming back for more coffee at Dunn Bros.

“I don’t think they come here, ‘Oh, there’s great artwork’ or ‘there’s great music.’ They come because of the coffee for one, but then for the experience,” said Geddie.

Working on a laptop at the high wooden table in the back corner of Dunn Bros. is Al Doyne, a frequent customer at the shop, who says he sometimes comes as many as three times each week. Doyne, said he enjoys Dunn Bros. because it is a peaceful atmosphere and there is less of a hum from people chatting than there is at Starbucks. He points out that the clientele of this shop is more professional and the whole atmosphere has a real serenity to it. But what Doyne really enjoys is the artistic expression present at Dunn Bros.

“I like the art. It’s different. He [Geddie] changes it a lot. You get the chance to see different types of art that you don’t even know is out there,” said Doyne.

MoKAH in Deep Ellum also saves a place for artists and musicians. It is owned and operated by a church, known as ‘Life in Deep Ellum.’

Jonathan Cortina, a Radio, Television, Film major at the University of North Texas worked at MoKAH for two years and emphasized the benefits that music brings to the MoKAH coffee bar.

“We’re trying to promote the community as a whole. Artists and local bands are going to definitely come in and support the whole venue,” said Cortina.

He adds that it isn’t just local bands that come and jam or local artists who put their work on the walls, but mainstream bands come to the venue to play and art shows, exhibits and wine tastings are held as well.

Jeremy Gaston is a local hip-hop artist who goes by the stage name Matta Fact who has performed at MoKAH and another local shop, Saxby’s.

“I think the beauty of being able to perform in coffee shops, even with acoustic set-ups, is transcending genres. You’re able to hear folk, pop, hip-hop, and it gives you a broader audience to be able to showcase your work to,” said Gaston.

Gaston says that the main motivation for many local artists performing in local shops is the exposure they gain.

“If you look at hip-hop and rap, they’re making mix-tapes. They hand it out wherever they can to get people to notice. It’s kind of their [local artist’s] mix-tape experience to get in these coffee shops and get exposure and play consistently.”

The support-the-local-artist concept is being adopted at a brand new establishment, The Collective, which is currently open in Carrollton but will have its official grand opening in late May.

Owner Andy O’Donnell sees The Collective as a place that can bring creatives together around common interests beyond just coffee.

“I wanted to integrate all of the other things that I like which are also art into one location: live art, painting, discussions, philosophy, activism, live musicians, fire dancing. The only kinds of art that I don’t take are duplicated art. It’s got to be all original and live and real,” said O’Donnell.

A large portion of The Collective is devoted to O’Donnell’s primary art form, tattooing. But with paintings scattering the walls and an opportunity for local musicians to perform music, it affords the tattoo parlor portion of the shop a greater opportunity to thrive because it increases the amount of traffic overall.

O’Donnell says that his primary motivation for giving artists the chance to experiment in The Collective’s space, is the opportunity to grow the way that he did. He says that learning to tattoo was an uphill battle because it’s a “closed industry,” where less is taught to prevent people from getting better. He feels that if he creates a place for people to have an outlet to experiment and learn their creative practices, it will benefit everyone.

“If everyone just works together, the world will be a better place. I’m trying to just gather talents to let them work and use each other to become stronger,” said O’Donnell.

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Comments

One Response to “Get Your Caffeine Fix With A Side Of Local Art”

  1. padilla on May 6th, 2011 3:04 pm

    Great art leads, Elizabeth. How do I share the story w my artists/peers?