West 54 Café, one of the area’s breakfast and lunch hotspots, this Sunday is debuting their monthly art show, which will feature some of the area’s most respected and emerging artists. On Sunday, Feb. 28, the Fenwick Island coffee shop’s first free show will kick off at 5 p.m., and organizers are inviting the public to enjoy food and drinks while getting to know some of the community’s artists.
“We found that there’s enough local art around here,” said Garrett Gooding, an employee at West 54 Café, “and even more still coming in. We realized it’s a great way to benefit everyone. It gives artists more exposure, and people stop in to meet them.”
West 54 Café has already been working with some local artists whose work is for sale at the shop. Kathy Denk’s hand-painted martini glasses, furniture and other works offer a warm and vibrant welcome to customers stopping in, while Pete Mueller’s photography captures the essence of the serene beach life that southeastern Sussex County has to offer. Their work, as well as pieces by local artists Caitlin McKimmie, Heather Hapner, Pamela Mason D’Aleo and others, will be up for sale and display this month.
One of this Sunday’s stand-out artists is Emily Cress, who has recently returned to her love of oil painting after establishing herself in area as a successful tattoo artist. Her emotion-filled portraits capture an entrancing world of fantasy and reality all at once.
“There was a pretty big learning curve,” Cress recalls, “going from painting, which I started when I was 11, to tattooing. But oil paints definitely relate to tattoos. It’s definitely nice to get back into painting and have people appreciate it, too.”
Her artistic inspirations range from the classic look of portraits from the 1930’s and 1940’s, such as those of Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, to more modern artists.
“Art has always been an outlet for me,” said Cress. “It’s just something inside me.”
West 54 Café’s owner, Evelyn Baione, is eager for the first art show at the coffee shop.
“People always come in and see the art we have and ask where they’re from,” she said. “They’re always shocked to hear it’s local art, and I wanted to make them aware that there are lots of local artists on the shore. Most of them are waiting tables, bartending and working other jobs on the side. You’d never know all the talent this area has.”
She even has next month’s art show already in the works.
“March is Educational Awareness Month,” she said, “and when you talk to these artists, most of them will tell you they got started in grade school. I’d like to get the schools involved next month and show the artistic ability in local youth.”
West 54 Café opened up last summer, and has seen a growing clientele and many pleased customers.
“It has really been great,” said Baione. “Everyone still thanks us for being here. We’re fortunate to be located in a great community, and we’re even looking to do some changes. We want to bring more things to the coffee shop that our customers want to see.”
“Business has been very steady,” said Gooding. “We had planned a winter renovation in January, but we weren’t even able to get started on it because business was rolling in.”
Stop in this Sunday to West 54 Café in Fenwick Island, just beside Catch 54, along Lighthouse Road between 5 and 8 p.m. to meet with local artists and hear them speak about their works. Monthly art shows will continue on the last Sunday of every month, with different themes along the way. The event, as well as refreshments, is free and open to the public, and the café’s favorite coffees and specialty drinks will be available for purchase, too. For more information about West 54 Café, including upcoming events and menu items and drinks, become a fan on Facebook, or give them a call at (302) 436-5505.