by Corinne Whiting
– The Capitol Hill Times –
In her new book “Eclectic Coffee Spots in Puget Sound,” Tacoma author and artist Marsha Glazière explores 120 coffee houses, among them some of our most beloved Capitol Hill caffeine corners. The book features 41 paintings of the spaces that most inspire Glazière (including Espresso Vivace and Joe Bar), along with maps, recipes and photos of cozy gathering spots like Fuel Coffee, Bauhaus Books and Coffee, Kaladi Brothers Coffee, Roy Street Coffee and Tea and Victrola Coffee and Art on 15th Avenue.
Glazière said she felt privileged to belong to an artistic tradition in which she was able to depict everyday life, “making a statement about myself and the world in which I find myself a part.”
Over the years, she’s used her paintings, drawings and sculpture to examine the human figure, horses, architecture and landscape. Glazière took an eight-year artistic detour to northeast Florida and, upon returning to the Pacific Northwest in 2004, immediately fell back into the coffee culture.
“It didn’t take long before I became inspired and challenged to go beyond architecture and abstraction, revealing human activity within the urban landscape,” she said. She now turns her artistic focus to a topic near and dear to her heart – and to many of ours. Coffee, please!
We recently caught up with Glazière to learn about her latest project:
CHT: How did you come up with the idea for this project?
MG: Well, although an artist doesn’t always know exactly when inspiration strikes, my focus was on urban environment at the time – buildings, streetscapes, freeways. When I returned to Seattle in 2004, I once again became engulfed in what had become coffee mania eight years later. It was hard not be aware of the sheer number and variety of coffee venues everywhere I turned. They are indeed part of the urban landscape of Seattle. The idea just clicked! But, in fact I shelved it for about a year because I was involved with whatever I was painting at the time. I knew that such a project would be a big undertaking and wanted to give it my full attention.
CHT: Did you create this book with a certain audience in mind?
MG: Definitely — artisan coffee and satisfying gourmet food as well as creativity in the arts have increasingly come to define our NW tastes and values. I felt that there would be plenty of coffee and art lovers, coffee aficionados, and book lovers who would enjoy celebrating who we are regionally and that an artistic interpretation would have great appeal for the Puget Sound region and beyond.
CHT: How long have you been a coffee lover?
MG: I guess my daily routine of morning coffee evolved into a more discerning coffee palate when I started grinding my own beans. That was when coffeehouses and carts began to proliferate in Seattle in the late 1970s into the 1980s. Coffee became something one really thought about and savored — all those choices!
CHT: What kind of research went into selecting the venues you ultimately chose?
MG: In the course of three years, I visited approximately 230 coffee spots. I would start my research online, geographically, then decide upon a particular city or region and try to figure out what was where. With maps and names in tow, I would set out to visit between three to seven coffee spots a day. I often found that places had closed or had moved, but many serendipitous times discovered others that were not online, mainly because they didn’t have a website or Yelp presence.
Ultimately, my choices were based on discovering a special characteristic or feeling about the place. It was often the architecture or furnishings and just a general feeling of comfort and positive energy therein. It was never my intention to evaluate the coffee itself.
CHT: You wrote that this project taught you a lot about community. Can you expand on that?
MG: I will say that I did not expect to discover the community element which coffeehouses truly provided until I bore witness to life inside the architectural framework. The camaraderie among people and often their canine companions was palpable and I sensed (and was often told by regulars) that people loved coming here for coffee and to schmooz. Coffee spots are anchors, hubs in many neighborhoods or towns.
From the book’s introduction:
“In our increasingly-fast-paced world of electronics, hyperactivity, and constant change, gathering with friends, even coffeehouse strangers, perhaps fulfills our deep-seated desire for community. Whether we engage in conversation or focus on a book, our laptop, or e-reader, or on the artwork being exhibited, being anchored in the company of others may be as satisfying as a cup of coffee itself…But perhaps, most importantly, coffeehouses offer a place where we truly feel most welcome and comfortable—Our Home Away From Home.”
What I discovered in visiting so many coffee spots, is that we human beings truly want to share ourselves and our thoughts, to engage in great conversation and to know that others enjoy the same things that we do…the satisfaction of a great cup of coffee, and perhaps a special treat and a place of belonging. The coffeehouse has for centuries provided this embracing conducive environment. We find comfort in being together instead of being alone.
CHT: Describe your perfect afternoon in a coffee shop.
MG: I gravitate toward cozy small coffee spots, or places where there are quiet nooks — the energy is welcoming and people seem comfortable; there’s interesting art on the walls; few if any folks are on their laptops; I’m with a friend and I have the luxury of time to just kick back and chat. Of course, I expect to enjoy a rich extra hot latté.
CHT: What’s next for you?
MG: Great question! It’s hard to see the forest through the trees, being so embroiled in the marketing of my book…but I’m actually looking forward to getting back to painting. I have several ideas that have been incubating. I just need to give them time and attention.
Join Glazière for a book signing December 1 (6 p.m. to 8 p.m.) at Vivace Espresso Bar at Brix, 532 Broadway Ave. E. Four paintings from the book will be on display.