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Sarasota coffee shop's walls are booked for local artists

Downtown cafe’s waitlist for new artists to display their work extends to 2020.

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  • | 12:10 p.m. September 12, 2019
  • Sarasota
  • Neighbors
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Coffee and art go side by side these days at a downtown coffee shop.

When Kahwa Coffee opened on Second Street in 2016, the store began the custom of displaying the works of local artists. Pieces ranging in sizes, mediums and aesthetics have transformed the coffee shop’s white walls into a canvas for the community.

“Coffee culture is becoming a huge thing in Sarasota, and the fact that we can combine that with local artists is really awesome,” Kahwa Store Manager Lindsay Olson said.

Charlotte Corker incorporates human figures and animal bones into her work.
Charlotte Corker incorporates human figures and animal bones into her work.

Patrons of the coffee shop are so hip to the idea that Olson said regulars come in the last two days of each month anxiously awaiting the next artist to be displayed.

Booked through the end of 2020, the coffee shop has become a hot ticket for local artists looking to showcase their work. Some artists have even waited more than a year to be displayed.

Charlotte Corker, a sophomore studying game art at Ringling College, signed up 14 months ago, right before she began her freshman year of college.

Now she’s Kahwa’s September artist of the month.

Although she has had work displayed in a few high school shows, Kahwa is the 18-year-old’s first-ever solo show.

“[This] has been very validating for me as an artist,” Corker said. “I want to share my art with the world, and this has given me a platform to do so.”

Her art consists of black, white and gold mixed media paintings that depict animal bones and human figures. The coloring matches that of Kahwa’s interior design, but Corker said that wasn’t intentional. It just worked out that way.

To differentiate her personal art from her professional school art, Corker uses her middle name, Lennox, to sign her artwork. Corker also prefers to use an androgynous name for her personal art because she said it can be more difficult for women to be recognized in the art world.

Raised on Long Island, N.Y., Corker grew up surrounded by art. Beginning at age 2 with finger painting, she said art was an activity she could tackle on her own without help from others.

“Art was something I could do by myself, and I could see progress, which I liked,” Corker said. “It was a way of expressing myself that other endeavors couldn’t capture.”

Charlotte Corker signed up to the Kahwa show waitlist 14 months ago.
Charlotte Corker signed up to the Kahwa show waitlist 14 months ago.

Corker’s pieces are for sale and range in price from $60 to $175. All proceeds from the show go directly to the artist, Olson said.

Artists interested in joining the waitlist for the chance to display their art at Kahwa should go in and talk with one of the baristas, Olson said. Other than a prohibition on nudity, the criteria for artwork is open for artists to explore.

“[Artists should] let it be whatever you think is going to look awesome in the space,” Olson said. “We’re really open.”


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