Art Burn: Hob Nobs Good For Mixed Greens/Art/Feelings

Few coffee shops have attracted the attention that Hob Nobs has, after gentrifying and occupying the former Willow House space. First, there was the public outcry over the proposed "Willo House" name. Then there was the mixed reviews and, recently, an unfavorable health inspection involving blowing in plastic gloves. The place seems to be getting a bad rap, despite the fact it's much cleaner and more welcoming than the building's former occupant.

Local art remains on the walls, and even on the tables and in the windows. There's no stale smoke smell. No crazy ocean-themed bathroom (although we kind of miss that). No dreadlocked hippie poet types, despite this very Grateful Dead ink drawing by local artist Ignacio Farias.

Like the reviews, the art here is a mixed bag of everything from cool test prints to funky wall sculptures and digital "paintings." It's not all great, but there are a few standouts.

Ice and Fire by Sienna Morris (photo for giclee print by Jay Cougar) has an alluring quality that marries Lichtenstein's pop print heroines with modern comic book art. Notice the stubborn set of the pouty black lips and the dark, haunting circles around the figure's piercing red irises. If she were real flesh and blood instead of fire and ice, this painted woman would be a force to be reckoned with.

"Debut" by Unknown Artist

In contrast, this acrylic painting displays a wild, uninhibited woman in the throes of dancing. (Or passion? Or stripping?) The disproportionate body, nudity and half-drawn face are reminiscent of a Picasso line drawing, but that only works if you're, well, Picasso. 

We're not sure the theme was intentional, as not all of the eclectic works at Hob Nobs depicted women, but we adored this particular display of the female form. Photographer Davin Lavikka captured the graceful movements and linear flow of women in traditional yoga poses, often shown in unexpected environments: amidst a nighttime cityscape, in an abandoned building, and our favorite (which sadly, we did not get a clear photo of) at the top of a butte overlooking a canyon.

On recent visits, we've sampled the Smokey Joe turkey sandwich, which was piled high with lots of smoked turkey, greens and bacony-goodness and this strange version of a Cobb salad, minus any trace of egg. What's even stranger is that the deli meats and cheeses are ripped up by the "chefs" rather than cut, leaving the salad looking like something you'd throw together at home for a lot less than the $8 they charge. Oh, well. At least they didn't blow on their gloves first.

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