Local business finds blend in coffee and art
First Friday with the Arts is a long-standing tradition in the community of downtown Cape Girardeau. More than 30 art galleries and businesses that are members of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri extend their hours, host live musicians, offer refreshments and invite the community to support the arts.
That tradition continued in full swing on Friday, Feb. 3, at local coffeehouse and restaurant, Cup 'n Cork.
Located at the corner of Independence and Spanish streets, Cup 'n Cork is situated in the heart of downtown, just a stone's throw from Southeast Missouri State University's River Campus. Owners, Tina and Patrick Abbott, bought Cup 'n Cork in 2013 and have since opened its doors to First Fridays.
"It's one of our busiest Friday nights of the month," Tina Abbott said.
A typical First Friday at Cup 'n Cork features multiple artists, including those whose art is featured on the walls of the restaurant, live musicians and faculty, staff or graduate student readings from the Department of English at Southeast.
The walls of Cup 'n Cork are rarely seen empty, as each new month brings the work of a new artist. Featured this month at Cup 'n Cork is graphic designer and photographer Tim Vollink. A mix of photography and manipulation, Vollink's work reflects his background in graphic design and his focus in digital art.
A Southeast alumni, Vollink got his degree in art with a minor in photography and now works as a graphic artist for DSW Signs. Vollink said his love for photography started at a young age, in his father's darkroom. That same love for photography is something Vollink has shared with his son, Conner, who also contributed two prints to the display at Cup 'n Cork.
This is the second time Vollink's work has been displayed at Cup 'n Cork, but his work has been featured all over the Southeast Missouri area in art galleries and some publications. One of the things Vollink appreciates about hanging his work at Cup 'n Cork is how accessible it makes his art to the public.
Featuring local artists' work is something that the Abbotts are passionate about.
"Local, to us, means that they have some kind of ties to the community," Tina Abbott said. "I consider a local artist a local business, so we are a local business helping local businesses."
The art featured at Cup 'n Cork is sold right off the wall, and the Abbotts don't take any commission from the sale.
"I get really cool art on my wall, and they make a living," Tina Abbott said.
Other artists who have been featured on the wall include another Southeast alumni, Craig Thomas, whose murals can be seen in such places as the river wall, in the atrium and library of Cape Central High School and at the West Park Mall, to name a few.
"[The Abbotts] really support the arts here at Cup 'n Cork," said Thomas, whose art was displayed for the month of January.
Cup 'n Cork is also home to the Department of English's monthly faculty readings, which typically take place on the first Friday of each month from 5 to 6 p.m.
Dr. Dale Haskell, professor in the Department of English at Southeast, has been spearheading the readings for years, but will be passing the torch to Dr. James Brubaker, assistant professor and director of the University Press at Southeast, and Dr. Dan Crocker, assistant professor.
"Patrick and Tina have been incredibly supportive of us and do everything they can to support the arts and this community," Brubaker said. "It's so nice when a place is excited to have you."
The live music for the evening was performed by solo artist and local musician Dyami Cluney. Cluney is a graduate of Cape Central High School and close friends with the Abbott family.
Also involved in First Friday with the Arts at Cup 'n Cork this month was a book signing for an anthology entitled "Small Town Tales," produced by local publisher Michael Ignacio Jr. Ignacio, along with being the TRIO academic coordinator at Southeast, is the creative director and owner of Kapuha Press, LLC, a company that found its footing in early 2016 and has since published several novels, audiobooks and an anthology.
Some of the authors who worked on "Small Town Tales" include Southeast alumni Eric Ralfs, Adam Armstrong and Brittany Colbert, as well as part-time instructor Michael "Mickey" Heath.
If hosting all the artists, musicians and writers wasn't enough for one night, the Abbotts also had freelance videographer Gary Reischman taking footage for the release of an upcoming commercial produced by Semo Media. Cup 'n Cork and Semo Media are just two of the many members of the Downtown Merchants Group, an organization that exists to raise money for promoting downtown merchants. Derick R. Charles, owner of Semo Media, will be creating 30-second commercials for each business involved in the Downtown Merchants Group.
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