Why is it you seem to stumble upon the best art when you aren't looking for it? I have driven madly around towns, to galleries and museums on many a trip, only to find a few pieces that really stood out. But walk into a coffee shop and wham, great art hits you in the face. Realistically it probably has something to do with the fact that the business doesn't have to rely on the art sales to pay their rent. They can take a chance on non-Hallmark imagery, they can exhibit new talent - expressive art that speaks out. Even most established galleries (newbrow and lowbrow) seem to have to depend on "art stars" with a proven sales track record. The real world.
Went on a week-end trip to Sonoma recently. While I was on my usual out-of-town search for coffee (that will even come close to Peet's) I found Barking Dog Roasters. They make a damn good cappuccino and I was a happy girl.
The killer art on the walls made me even happier. Not a single image of a winery in the place! Paintings by local artist Claire Raymond filled the space. Every single one of them was kick-ass, some funny, some intense but all were riveting eye-candy. Mostly they were portraits of interesting imagined (or not?) characters. The mustard colored walls and poor lighting didn't help the art, but Claire's bold, expressive strokes and colors overcame the garish gold. Hard to take good photos of all of them, so here's the best of the lot. The one directly below is a collaboration with Nichol Gonzales.
Big kudos to Barking Dog for giving Claire and others a place to show their works. The pieces are very reasonably priced, down-right bargains, so if you are in the hood check out her work and pick up a piece for yourself. Couldn't find a website for her but if you do- please let me know!
Barking Dog Roasters Link