Friday, April 20, 2012

U DISTRICT: Gargoyles, Surf & Coffee at the Boulevard

Where does 4.20 find you this lovely eve? If you're looking for art on the Ave, you're in the right place! With four fantastic new venues, this month's University District Art Walk is explosive! I'm hoofing it alone to-night, but I don't mind. I decide to start on the south end of the Ave and make my way northward.

My first stop is Cafe Allegro, one of the art walk's new venues. I've never been there before, possibly because it's located in a retro-fit alley just around the corner from Magus Books, or more likely because I have at least five favourite coffee stops on the Ave, and I never thought to explore the little alley. But I know as soon as I walk through the door that I'll be back. Established in 1975, Cafe Allegro has the distinction of being Seattle's oldest espresso bar. It turns out my friend Michael is pulling shots behind the counter, and he tells me that the featured photographs, traditional black and white silver gelatin prints by Billy Ballard, are a chronicle of Cafe Allegro's history. One of the oldest photos shows a patron holding a cigarette at a time when smoking was still allowed inside the establishment.

Billy Ballard @ Cafe Allegro
Cafe Allegro
I leave with a delicious chai latte, courtesy of Michael, and follow the alley up to BC Surf & Sport, another brand new U District art space. Established in Florida in 1977, BC Surf specialises in clothing and accessories for surf, skate, snowboard, and swim. They've steadily branched out across the US, and now includes thirteen locations in six different states; the newest is Seattle. Their debut show features work by thirteen artists: 179, Cris Cook, David Enriquez, Baso Fibonacci, EGO, Alex Johnson, Pars, Pgee, Solace, Spear, Jeffrey Taylor, Joe Vollan, and Luke Yates. The bar is flowing freely, and the party is overflowing onto the sidewalk!

BC Surf & Sport
Jeffrey Taylor @ BC Surf & Sport

Joe Vollan @ BC Surf & Sport
EGO @ BC Surf & Sport

Just up the Ave from the brand new surf shop is Gargoyles Statuary, a unique and enchanting University District art space. Gayle, the proprietress, is the initiative and heart behind the University District Art Walk, and her efforts have kept the art walk alive through many months of ups and downs. This month, the featured artists are Jessika Geiger, K. Amarak Waters, and Henna Luna. Geiger's curious characters and Waters' tiny monsters are are an excellent complement to Gargoyles' familiar Gothic aesthetic.

Gargoyles Statuary

 "Each character is a fusion of my past, my present, and the people in my immediate environment. Their struggles, desires, and personalities are revealed through their faces, gestures and surroundings." - Jessica Geiger

Jessica Geiger @ Gargoyles
"My monsters arise from popular culture, mythology, religion and dreams to evoke the darker, primitive regions of the psyche. Incorporating traditional figurative art with fantastic imagery, they represent my exploration of what it means to be human and what would happen if humans were no longer at the top of the food chain. We are often defined by what fascinates and frightens us." - K. Amarak Waters

K. Amarak Waters @ Gargoyles
Dominique Cilento's functional fine art collages are still on display at Aprie Clothing, but I also notice some of her work in Gargoyles on my way out the door, in particular, a lovely cat themed journal and tiny treasure boxes.

Dominique Cilento @ Gargoyles
The coffee shops on opposite sides of Gargoyles have conspired to trade artists. Tom Whipple has migrated his digitally manipulated photographic assemblages to Starbucks Coffee, and Tully's Coffee is now featuring the landscape oil paintings of John Patterson. An accomplished photographer, Patterson decided to switch his medium to oil and graphite in order to explore the challenge of a new art form.

Tom Whipple @ Starbucks Coffee
John Patterson @ Tully's Coffee

The University Business Center is on the way back to my truck. I missed them last month, but with their gallery right next to the historic Metro Cinema and art walk signs pointing toward the 3rd Floor, I have no excuse not to check them out. Unfortunately, once I find my way upstairs, it seems that everyone has left for the evening. I'm still able to view the art, a fun series of acrylic paintings extrapolated from photographic details by Niki Sherey, but I'm unable to meet the artist.

It's dark by the time I arrive at Boulevard Grocery, officially my favourite new venue on the U District Art Walk. This month, they're featuring NARBOO and starheadboy's acrylics on wood and canvas as well as their limited edition original art on Seven Coffee Roasters bags (the in house coffee roasting company).

The coffee bag project is a collaboration between Boulevard Grocery and local artists. Each 1-pound bag sells for $21 with a cut going to the artist, the store, and a charity. NARBOO and starheadboy are the first artists in the cycle, but there will be more to come! For more info on Boulevard Grocery and Seven Coffee Roasters, check out Lauren Kronebusch's fantastic article written for the U District Daily.

Original Art Coffee Bags @ Boulevard Grocery
Jeff, Boulevard Grocery manager w/ my coffee
Brandon Baker (a.k.a. NARBOO) and Dave Bloomfield (a.k.a. starheadboy) are both well known street artists/muralists/graphic artists who regularly show in the Seattle area, and share a studio space in the Greenwood Collective. They're also both hanging out in-house this evening, painting coffee bags as art walkers come and go. I can't leave without purchasing a kitty-covered bag of beans, artfully displayed by Boulevard Grocery manager Jeff. Fresh delicious smelling coffee and original art for only $21? I'm absolutely going to make this a habit.

Starheadboy & Narboo @ Boulevard Grocery
The University District Art Walk is growing swiftly! With new art spaces joining every week, next month should be even more spectacular! Support your local art scene! Cheers!

~ BCDuncan

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