Art Burn: Artists Get More Than a Coffee Break at Gold Bar Espresso

We've often wondered what it takes to get one's art displayed at local restaurants. Money? Notoriety? Clearly, if you're trying to bust into the likes of Malee's or District American Kitchen, you'll need representation via the galleries they've partnered up with. This (almost) guarantees the restaurant that the art they receive won't suck, but it also prevents the little guy from getting a break.

Photo of a desert landscape by William "Bill" Fuller

What to do? Grab your portfolio and schedule an appointment with a place like Gold Bar Espresso in the Basha's plaza at McClintock and Southern Ave. in Tempe. Like most coffee houses, it's an easier and cheaper affair: if the owners like your artwork you're in, and they don't take a commission from anything you sell (although they don't assume liability if your work gets damaged, either). 

Granted, your paintings or photos might get lost amongst the clutter of Michael Parkes prints, stained glass windows and movie memorabilia at Gold Bar, but hey -- two words: solo show. More after the jump... 

May's featured artist is remote Pine, Arizona photographer Bill Fuller, whose black-and-white architectural images are also currently on display in Sky Harbor Airport's Terminal 4. His work is serene and straightforward, the natural light cast on each monument of man or nature illuminating the beauty of the city.

The downside is that Fuller's photos are displayed behind glass. Not only does it make it near impossible for us to get a good quality image of the artwork, the colors are weaker and the surroundings are often reflected in the glass. Fine in a white-walled gallery, but not so much in a busy, loud, colorful coffee shop.

"Wow. Makes me want to get a black-and-white camera," said one customer working on his laptop beside this picture of the Grand Canyon. It's a breathtaking photo -- but the irony is that Fuller's work is so quiet that you only notice it when there's no sound, color or movement to distract. (Or when some strange person starts photographing the pictures over your laptop.)


Fuller's images are crisp and clean. Somehow he manages to capture each city's "bones" without one single human being in the frame, not even in populated hubs like San Francisco or Chicago. While some people would argue the heart of a city is its residents, Fuller shows us that the city is like a living, breathing entity of its own -- quiet, still, and beautiful. 

Bombs away!

Gold Bar's eclair looked equally impressive. It was a mound of sweet caramel-colored dough heaped with real melted chocolate (not the fake stuff most grocery store bakeries use) and filled with tons of thick Bavarian cream. Mmm...tasty. The downside is that it was a total. gut. bomb. Not light and fluffy like the Dunkin' Donuts variety, but crusty and thick, like a scone in eclair's clothing. Tummies were aching, especially when the sugary breakfast was washed down with uber-sweet vanilla chai.  

Next time we'll just do it simple, with iced tea and a black-and-white cookie to match the artwork.

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden