Beatnix offers local artists space to display paintingsAug. 21, 2006
By ANNA WOODCOCK, Entertainment editor
Students can now get their daily dose of caffeine and art at Beatnix Coffeehouse.
The coffee shop offers a new environment for coffee lovers free from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
With food, drinks, live music and "Open Mic Poetry Night," Beatnix has a variety of entertainment to offer, but it's also a local art venue.
"When we found out how starved locals were, we wanted to give them a location to display their work and help get their name out," said Todd Millerd, Beatnix's general manager and business partner.
Beatnix first opened its doors to customers and McLennan Community College art students by mounting their works on the walls.
Since the opening, the art exhibit has expanded to include more than just work from MCC students, but from artists all around central Texas.
"Classes came occasionally, too," Millerd said. "One professor had her students draw what drink they wanted on napkins as a grade."
Keeping the local community in mind, Millerd, along with his business partner Penny Simpson, immediately accepted Laura Walton's request to display her pieces of art.
"Laura was originally a customer and was one of the first artists to hang her pieces," Millerd said.
Walton later became the curator of the local art venue, searching for local artists and creating six-week shows.
"I've been to nearly every poetry night," Walton said. "One night, Penny and I got to talking and that was part of her vision, to have a nice looking, gallery-type presentation, so we put our heads together."
The first show, "New Geometries," began July 9 and ended Sunday with features from James C. Brown, Ruby Hanna and curator Laura Walton.
Brown's three-panel work titled "Relativity" is the largest piece on display and is definitely an eye-catcher, Millerd said.
Walton, who has run her own art shows in Dallas and Austin, said this is the first introduction outside of school for many of these artists who otherwise may not have the opportunity to display their works.
"It's very nice to have the opportunity for a place like this in Waco," she said. "You feel proud having your family and friends and prospective artists view your work in a local business."
The dimly-lit atmosphere mixed with cozy couches and recliners would appear to be the most unlikely place to display art.
However, Millerd said Walton makes sure to design the proper lighting needed for an art show.
"The presentation and lighting is more what you would find in an actual art gallery," Walton said.
While business remains relatively the same, Millerd said the number of positive comments and questions concerning the show have soared.
"Especially with this show, people are asking questions and are happy to find out we deal with local artists," he said.
Reicher High School senior Lauren Pate, an employee, said the art display has sparked her decorating interests for her future college dorm room.
"I always notice when we get new pieces and like to look at them during my breaks," Pate said.
All the art on display is for sale, ranging in price from $85 to $600.
Beatnix is not discounting the artwork from its loyal students.
The coffee shop is still transforming its back coffee room into a venue solely devoted to local student work, including MCC, local high schools and Baylor. The new exhibit is free and open to the public and began in early August with works from the artist Andrew Currey.