Gallery Spotlights | Visual Arts

Nobrow: Serving Coffee and Art

After the recent closing of Salt Lake City’s Kayo Gallery, many art fans and artists were wondering: what will become of that lovely space? The answer is Nobrow, a coffee shop recently relocated to the space on 315 E Broadway that has come to exist as a welcome place for both beverage and art. This was owner Joe Evans’ ultimate goal. He wanted Nobrow to function as both a coffee shop and a gallery; the art was not to be an accessory or mere decoration but a co-focus. “Integrating art isn’t necessarily a way to get more customers,” he says, “but a way to build the art community that I want to be a part of.” As an art and music lover, Joe’s interests and ambition for the shop were similar to those of former Kayo director, Kenny Riches, who leases him the space –a space that begged to maintain an art flow.After having been a gallery, the space was ready and conducive to showing work: plenty of white, open wall space remained, as well as artist studios,which Evans continues to rent. This passion for maintaining a venue in the building is key in supporting local artists. In addition to the studios, there are consignment items for sale from such local favorites as Sri Whipple, Trent Call, and Gentry Blackburn — who will be opening her own art boutique, Frosty Darling, on Broadway in the near future. There is also a free graffiti space on the cinder block wall along the east side of the building; artists wanting to throw work up need only to stop by and talk to Evans. Local musicians also consistently play at Nobrow; many approach Evans on their own, others are invited. In conjunction with artistic peers such as Riches, Evans curates shows monthly* to keep art on the walls and to retain a hospitable environment for the artists and musicians of the community.

As the name implies, Nobrow sought to abolish the distinction between coffee shop art and gallery art — to have quality work in a quality coffee shop that would also be valued as an art venue. It is tailored to meet the needs of both, which was Evans’ vision. The continual influx of art in the old Kayo space is welcome; if we had to say goodbye to one of Salt Lake’s favorite galleries, its nice to have art remain, and be able to get a cup of joe as you browse.


* Nowbrow currently shows the photographs of Jamie Clyde; later in January a Portland painter will be featured; also noteworthy is the show in March that will be an international graffiti artist show, in conjunction with all All Nation magazine.

Cara Despain has a BFA from the University of Utah and is an artist and freelance writer.

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