Brewing art

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, December 25, 2010

Where do you go to check out what local artists have to offer?

These days, you might find what you’re looking for at a coffee shop.

The decor inside Gymocha coffee shop reflects the artistic venue the business has become.

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When Cindy and Russell Pihlstrom opened the store in February of 2010, the two had spent a great deal of time assuring that the style inside the shop would reflect an artistic and industrial feel.

“We pulled from a lot of design magazines to find that modern, industrial feel,” Cindy said.

Unique seats, including manicure salon-type chairs, along with artistic light fixtures and furniture, decorate the coffee shop, which was converted from an old Hardees. And no matter which direction you’re looking in, there’s local art.

And the thing is, the art is always different.

From one week to the next, artistic creations could include anything from sculpture-type exhibits to painted portraits.

“They all have a different style,” Cindy said of the artists who have work displayed in the store. “I think that’s what makes it fun.”

It’s something that’s good for the customers, too, as they’re able to shop while they socialize, eat and sip on their favorite warm drinks.

While the art is definitely there to add to the feel of the coffee shop, all creations on display are up for sale. In a sense, Gymocha’s partnership with area artists is good for both the coffee business and the business of those artists who are seeking to share their work with the area, while earning enough funds to support their livelihoods.

In addition to displayed art, Gymocha has also hosted a few musicians — something Cindy would like to see more of in the future.

In November, the store hosted a CD release party for a local Christian artist, Heather Deters. The Nov. 4 gig not only allowed Deters to share her music with locals, but also an opportunity to sell a few CDs, which she certainly did.

It’s also been the venue for a few other local musicians who have set up shop for acoustic gigs.

In the future, Cindy said she would be interested in partnering with local musicians to host a monthly open mic night. While it hasn’t happened yet, she said she’d definitely enjoy the opportunity to do so, especially with the college so close by.

“We’re really open to the idea,” she said.

While the coffee shop is quickly becoming known for its artistic-friendly atmosphere, that wasn’t part of the initial business start-up plan.

What the Pihlstroms didn’t realize at that point was that their hip cafe would become a hot spot in Austin for artistic displays.

Cindy said it naturally evolved into a main aspect of the operation.

Pieces of art adorn the walls of Gymocha, which is quickly gaining a reputation for not only art, but performances as well. - Eric Johnson/

Rather than purchasing art, the two began to think about the idea of displaying local art on the walls.

We thought, ‘How can we make this different and fun for local artists?’,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of places for people to lay their creativity down.”

That’s how the Pihlstroms stepped in.

It started with Cindy approaching artists. Gradually, artists began inquiring about opportunities. Now, the shop has a waiting list that stretches to spring for local artists wishing to display their work.