The Dreamer: Serving up Coffee and a Gallery of Local Art

The aroma of fresh ground coffee beans, mixed with the chatter and laughs of customers provides for a warm, coffee shop experience at The Dreamer

This may appear as the typical sounds and aroma of a college campus café, but the sights of local and varying art pieces that cover the walls of this open, modern coffee house give it a unique twist that separates it from the competition.

Event Coordinator and Art Director of The Dreamer, Jay Bell, knows the struggles of a starving artist looking for any venue to promote and sell work.

“I’m an artist myself so I know how hard it is for people to see things,” Bell said. “There’s not many places to put it, and where you can put your art to sell they take a large chunk of what your profit is.”

The Dreamer allows any artist to come in free of charge and claim an open space on their white walls, which act as a blank canvas for artists promoting their work.

“I wanted to help other artists that have had the same struggles as I do and give them a place where they can sell their artwork,” Bell said.

According to Bell, about 50 different artists’ work is displayed over the stark white walls. The diversity of mediums includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, wire sculptures, jewelry, wooden gourds and even handbags that are hand-sewn using recycled coffee bean bags from The Dreamer.

Junior Tate VerDuin, an art major from Mississippi, always had a passion for art at a young age. She made her first dress at the age of five from the help of her grandmother and started painting at the age of seven.

VerDuin intended on studying athletic training at Central Michigan University, but after receiving insight about building a career as an artist from Tree Love Collective Director, Gordie Morton, she decided to pursue her dream as an artist.

“[Jay and I] are both artists ourselves and we really want to see more local artists and people who just don’t know where to start to get their art out there,” VerDuin said.

Nestled in the very back of The Dreamer sits the “Artist of the Month” room, which solely promotes the artwork of one artist for the entire month and allows them to fit as many pieces as they can on its walls. Their art is also shown on The Dreamer’s Facebook page along with a profile about the artist. This March, VerDuin claimed the room, displaying her fabric pieces, ceramic pieces, handbags and even a 4×5-foot painting she sold for $400.

“It allows us to focus on one person and give them their own space so that people will look at them in a little bit of a different light than something that’s in the gallery by itself,” Bell said.

One of the other things The Dreamer has done to promote local artists’ work is putting on events that incorporate live artwork crafting. This includes the most recent event, the speed art competition.

Jamie Morse, a senior english major from Flint, Michigan, recently entered the speed art competition, which challenged artists to create a piece in two hours and had attendees of the contest vote to decide the winner.

Using acrylic paint on wood to create a monk figure, Morse won the competition.

“It’s really cool to have a place like this to display your art because a lot of times the only art displayed on campus is from art majors,” Morse said.

Video provided by: Austin Stowe