Thursday, May 6, 2010

Café Saltz

  Cup of the Day #20
Black and white cup by Gwyneth Leech 2009
India ink on white cup

I was up later than I should have been the other night, hanging out on the page of my Facebook friend, Jerry Saltz. Jerry is a New York art critic and lively conversations spring up on his Facebook page daily, ranging wildly over the territory of art, life and politics. A cast of artworld characters join in regularly and with nearly 5000 friends, his page has become a kind of virtual salon, as noted in the press recently.

On this particular evening, to my delight, a coffee conversation was percolating. At issue was buying cups of coffee versus making it oneself. Jerry is firmly in the going out to buy it camp, stepping away from his writing four times a day to purchase coffee, brown-bagged and ready to drink.
"I go to different places for my coffee", he wrote.
"I will often ask people about issues of the day: "What about this immigration thing in Arizona?" "What do you think of the Health Care thing?"
I never argue back. I am just very curious about what people think.
I also like to give very large tips after they put my coffee into brown paper bags; a way to spread the wealth (except at Au Bon
Pain where the bags aren't the right size and I bag my own and the coffee lids somehow often open and I spill and leave these trails of coffee before I notice it or I burn through the bottom of the bag)."

I am with Jerry on this one. Except for my morning tea, which must be brewed at home in a ceramic tea pot and served in a mug, I can't pass up the social contact of buying my brew to go. Whenever I spy a new coffee bar, I go straight in to order something and ask questions. When working alone all day, it is hard to resist popping down to the corner to shoot the geo-political breeze with the Yemeni deli man, even if his coffee is just average. As a bonus, the Yemeni deli man is looking out for me. Knowing that I am a painter, he recently arranged the exchange of business cards between me and an art dealer who also buys coffee in his shop. The dealer and I haven't met yet, but the e-mails are promising.

Back on Facebook Loren Munk, another New York artist and anthropologist of the every day, was scolding Jerry: "the coffee situation made me cry. I personally volunteered to teach Jerry to make good coffee, but alas, he demurred."
Finally, Loren quipped, "Buy a man (or lady) a cup of coffee and they're buzzed for an hour. Teach them to make coffee and they'll twitch for a lifetime."

I reckon Jerry just gets all the buzz he needs.

 Jerry Saltz (center) with Facebook Friends
February 2010
photo by Gwyneth Leech


  1. I love that drawing, Gwyneth.
    Make more.
    Taht generic Greek Coffee Show cup will SO MISSED once it is gone.
    You are creating premonitions and memories of that cup; the one you did is a gift; cheep; handmade; someone with too much time on their hands; an object both primitive and lunatic; but something very special.
    Thank you,
    Jerry Saltz

  2. PS. Maybe you should ask everyone you know to make a cup for you; give it to you; you will show them somewhere sometime.

  3. Thanks Jerry,

    I draw on the cups in meetings, when I rather be in the studio. I draw on the cups when I am traveling, when I rather be in the studio. I draw on the cups in the studio, when I should be painting. I guess I jsut want to draw on cups!
    The cup collection is a great idea. Thinking about putting that into play.


  4. Gwyneth, one of the first Julian Schnabel broken-plate paintings I ever saw was supposedly based on the standard blue cardboard cup with the Greek themed ruins and sculpture.

  5. Do you have any drawings on cups that playfully piggy-back the text already there?

  6. I always choose the cups with an eye to the text.

  7. Jerry needs a Tassimo machine.

  8. Will have to read up on Tassimo machine!