Coffee Shop Art Sales Slow
Economy has some art lovers holding back, shop owners, artists say.
As the co-owner of Beep Beep Gallery and manager of Aurora Coffee, Mark Basehore believes in the value of art on the walls.
And while the value of having art on the walls is priceless for a coffee shop like Aurora — whose Little Five Points location is popular for its arty ambiance — Basehore wonders about the market value of the art he's hanging these days.
While he was pleasantly surprised that art sales in general were as good as can be expected for most of the recession, over the last six months, he has noticed a dip in sales.
"We haven't put our thumb on it yet," Basehore said. "It could be attributed to people changing their lifestyle and not spending on luxury items or things they don't need. It could be that people have bought art at Aurora already and don't need or want to buy more."
As an example, he cited a recent show of works from artist Sister Louisa, the alter-ego of popular Atlanta bartender Grant Henry.
His controversial, religious-themed work often draws a crowd and generates discussion.
This show was no different. Yet Basehore said fewer than a dozen pieces were sold.
"I was a little surprised," he said.
Even as some Atlanta artists struggle to sell their work, at least one professional turned to art to make ends meet.
Keri Cawley was laid off this year from the construction-management job she landed upon graduating with an architecture degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design.
So she took her friends' advice and started selling her art — often collage assemblages made from found items such as computer parts — for about $100 a pop.
She started hanging her pieces at Drip coffee shop in Glenwood Park and other cafés.
It paid off: Cawley secured a full-time job, working as a contract artist for TWOvital, a company that makes art and sustainable architecture from reclaimed construction waste.
Do the two gigs help match her previous salary?
"Not even close," she said, with a laugh.