Philz Coffee launches partnership to feature local student artists


Photo courtesy of Lily Sadataki

A class of 3- to 5-year-olds at One River School of Art + Design made contemporary art currently being displayed at Philz Coffee.

Aviva Bechky, Assistant City Editor

Almost every day, Lily Sadataki observed the art lining the walls of the school across the street from the Philz Coffee where they work on Davis Street.

As store lead, Sadataki wanted to work on community outreach. So they reached out to Heather Kipper, a Philz regular and the art school’s director, and asked if they could team up.

“I thought a really perfect way to build community and get more in touch with the people on our corner is to start a partnership with the art school,” Sadataki said. “They definitely display their students’ work, but we had so many empty walls in here.”

At the beginning of March, Philz Coffee began displaying student work from One River School of Art + Design. Now on its second display, the coffee shop plans to swap out the art once a month, varying between the works of single artists and whole classes.

Philz wasn’t the only business looking for connections. Kipper said One River missed out on opportunities to engage with Evanston in person during the pandemic, so she was excited to connect with the coffee shop.

“This was a really great, exciting opportunity to finally start to rebuild some of these community connections that we had prior to the pandemic,” she said.

For One River student Patrick Perry, the March exhibit offered an opportunity to display his work publicly for the first time.

Perry works mostly with acrylic and oil paint, creating portraits of people against bright backgrounds. Instead of shading, he uses dots of blue, green and red paint that smooth together when viewers take a step back.

“When you look at my work, from a distance you get one experience. But from up close, my hope is that it’s a different experience,” he said. “Because you see some of the brushstrokes and the different colors that your eye blends together naturally from a distance.”

Perry said reactions to the show were great, with old friends he hadn’t talked to in a while taking the time to check out his work and send him messages.

Ryko Kosutic, a Philz night barista, also said he’d seen a strong response to Perry’s display.

“We’ve actually also had people come in just to look at the art,” he said.

This month’s new display, on the other hand, features a more unorthodox collection of artists: multimedia art from a class of 3- to 5-year-olds.

After learning about contemporary artists at One River, the students worked to create “BLIND GRAFFITI,” collages alternating dark and light strips of paper that students scribbled over.

Kipper said the pieces’ contemporary style makes them well suited both for young children and for the coffeehouse vibe at Philz.

“We felt like this one was a really great example of what that age group can accomplish and learn through art-making,” she said.

Philz and One River will use the partnership to focus on displaying new or up-and-coming artists, Sadataki said. Though other coffee shops in the area have their own community ties, they said exhibiting artworks like that of the 3- to 5-year-olds sets Philz apart.

Overall, Sadataki wants the displays to encourage and spark creativity.

“This was a really positive thing and hopefully brings the community together a little more and showcases what the art school has to offer,” they said. “It’s just a great place to unwind and have a cup and hopefully inspire someone else to create some art.”

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Twitter: @avivabechky

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