Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Barista art comes to The Old Oak Coffeehouse


January 13, 2021

Deborah Cameron

"We have so many talented people who work here. It wasn't hard to fill the walls," said Old Oak Coffee's general manager Hannah Carlson on the employee art exhibits on display through the end of January.

For more than a year and a half, The Old Oak coffeehouse has displayed local art to their caffeine-craving customers. Now they're starting off 2021 by going in a different direction. They're displaying work by the people who've always satisfied those cravings: the baristas, managers, and the coffee house's co-owner Patty Machen.

Throughout January, the caffeine slingers' art is adorning the Old Oak's bright yellow walls. The style of the seven, distinct displays range from the geographic and nature pen drawings of Kari Salter to the brightly-colored, free-form paint on canvas expressions of Andrew Wintergerst. The rural-focused work of Kate Kleekamp is also present alongside Assistant Manager Calum Wintergerst's mixed media art that was partially inspired by Americana tattoo styles, and Shy Elizabeth's detailed, tightly packed and elegant expressions.

Each artist's education and art experience also vary, ranging from advanced degrees in art and design, to those who have experimented and been educated without formal training. What's clear throughout the show, is that there is no shortage of passion, dedication, and creativity in those on the other side of the counter.

Hanna Carlson, the Old Oak's General Manager, is one of the presenting artists. As she's usually responsible for curating others, featuring her own animal-focused acrylic art is a change. At the same time, she's grateful that she and other staff members have a new way to connect with people beyond the act of filling their cups, ringing orders, and daily chats that, for the time being, remain across plexiglass.

"It's happening during kind of a hard time, so it was a nice way for everyone to come together with art. It's a really special thing," said Carlson.

She explained how the idea for the show came about. "It started with one barista who wanted to have an art show and ended with seven of us displayed. We have so many talented people who work here. It wasn't hard to fill the walls."

Customer Ben Ward of Wyoming, a first time visitor to both the Old Oak and to Niwot, was looking at the art while he waited for his drink. "I like the artwork, all of it. I've played with some liquid acrylic painting at painting sessions at breweries and I've really enjoyed what is here. It's fun to see what someone else can do with it."

On the Old Oak's Face Book page, found here, customers have similarly positive reactions to the show as each artist was given their own photo posed by their display.

Fans commented almost as much about the artists' work as about the drinks they made. Comments under Andrew Wintergerst's post focused on his cherry mocha, cappuccino and conversation. Machlen's work, showing both her pottery and a pastel landscape, had the most interactions. Fans focused on her smile and general love of people.

There are seven miniature showcases in all, so many that Carlson had to take down one area of a beloved crafted ceramic coffee mug display for the month. She said regulars shouldn't worry --- the usual availability of the locally crafted, hand-fired mugs will return once it's over.

Carlson was pleased to be able to pull the exhibit together, as much for the staff as for the community. She summarized what the exhibit's meaning was for the group when she said, "this already feels like a big home, like a big family. Now that we have our art up it just feels even more so."

To see more photos: https://www.lhvc.com/photos/01_13_2021

Find the artists’ work online:

Hannah Carlson: Instagram: carlsonhannah321.wixsite.com/artbyhannah  Instagram: @hannahcarlson_art_

Shy Elizabeth: flow.page/shyelizabeth

Kate Kleekamp: facebook.com/oldoakcoffeeniwot

Patty Machen: facebook.com/oldoakcoffeeniwot

Kari Salter: kasa5939.wixsite.com/portfolio Instagram: @kari.salter.design

Andrew Wintergerst: facebook.com/oldoakcoffeeniwot

Calum Wintergerst: wintergerstcalum@gmail.com


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