art:. meg wachter, the civil service cafe


some things do happen by chance. and, how chance favored a local brooklynite to give Iceland to the borough.

smdlr: Oh the wonderful world of Instagram, which has brought us to live-chat today. Where do you live?

Meg Wachter: I live in Bed-Stuy about a half block away from the cafe actually! I have lived in this part of Brooklyn for 2 years now, but have been in Brooklyn for 8 years.

s: Are you a coffee drinker?

mg: Yes. I do love the ritual of starting your day by going out and buying a cuppa’ but I really enjoy making my own.

s: What do you make?

mg: I have a grinder and a French Press. I’m really digging Brooklyn Roasting Company’s Mexican Chiapas at home. And, whatever they’re serving at Civil Service now.

The Civil Service Café now operates where Tiny Cup once was. 

mg: I’m not even trying to blast, but I’m happy to have decent and consistently brewed coffee in the neighborhood.

s: No shame. I love when people speak the names of what they love. Speaking of which, I saw a glimpse of your photos via The Civil Service Café’s Instagram. That’s all it took for me to love what I felt. It looked liked some enormous landscapes hanging on the wall.

mw: Yes, there are four large scale prints from my Icelandic landscapes series. I went in the latter of 2012, mainly because why not.

s: So, please, share with me about who you are as an artist.

mg: My first solo show was last year, the ones here are the remaining of 10 prints, saved two which I still have.

s: Congratulations on selling your photography. So, then how did the exhibition come about at The Civil Service Cafe, especially since they are newly open.

mg: It was sort of kismet really.

s: I love kismet stories. Tell me about it.

mg: I organize for Brooklyn Skillshare (a community-based, community-led, & community-building learning events organized and taught by Brooklyn residents). was looking for space to hold last year’s big day-o-learning which brought me to another collective workspace but it was too small.

I still had the remainder of my show sitting have sold a few prints but still had the remainder of the show just sitting around my apt and once the cafe was about to open I overheard Ayo [of the café] out on the sidewalk talking about how bare the walls were still.  I shamelessly approached Ayo asking if they were looking for art.

s: And the rest, one could say is ‘art’ history. Awesome kismet!

mg: It really is. 

s: Can you talk to me about what it feels like showing in a coffee shop, given that a lot of artists show in galleries, museums and bigger spaces?

mg: Art shouldn’t be prohibitive. These photos were meant to be shown, so, it was no service to them being crated up. I’ve gone in there since to hang out while I do my laundry and it’s nice to see it in a livable space versus a gallery space.  The landscapes were meant to be viewed large as well, so I’m happy to have these window-size sort of time-travel pieces around.

s: I love that “livable versus a gallery.” Do you think a space like a coffee shop has the ability to incite particular conversation when art is around and by extension add a deeper element to coffee culture versus when a space has no art up -which a coffee shop totally has the right to decide to do?

mg: Iceland is a total 180 from Brooklyn landscapes.

s: Talk about a true experience of being transported!

mg: And, having approached the owners to have my work in their shop and it turn into getting to know them, its been an amazing experience. Its further a community driven hub for me personally. The photos can now reach a totally different audience.

s: For those that may be artists out there hoping to do the same, or for a coffee shop wondering if art should be apart of their cultural repertoire what would you say.

mg: I say to artists go for it. I didn’t even consider asking until I heard totally by chance that there walls “were bare.” I get to allow someone to be transported even if for a minute.  It’s a win-win situation.

For more of Ms. Wachter’s work visit here. And, for her zine, ‘Got a Girl Crush’ visit here.



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