Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Go for the Coffee, Stay for the Art: Bryce McCloud's Mural at Barista Parlor

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM

There are several reasons to stop by the just-opened fancy-pants coffee shop Barista Parlor (including but not limited to Mast Brothers chocolate, mugs that are the exact perfect size and weight, fantastic light fixtures, and of course, really great coffee), but if you're anything like me, you'll probably make a bee-line to the mural on the shop's back wall, inspect it from close up, gawk at the craftmanship, then back up and gawk at the artfulness of its presentation. It's the latest creation of Nashville printmaker Bryce McCloud, who runs Isle of Printing (for more on that, read this).

Bryce says he's been conceptualizing the piece — which is based on the famous ship The Prussian — since last fall, but the actual production time was more like a month and a half. He worked with an assistant, Giada Coppi, to find nautical images in old books, create letterpress plates out of them, and print hundreds of little tiles to make up the massive image. There are around 12 colors in the mosaic mural, which Bryce describes as "kind of like paint-by-numbers, but on a really big scale."

I'd heard that the mural was somehow "iPhone-enhanced," and asked Bryce to explain exactly what that means. Apparently, when you take a photo of the piece with your iPhone, the image is broken down into a version that is a little simpler than what's visible to the human eye. The process compresses the colors into a smaller range, and it ends up being a more realistic depiction of the ship than the pixelated mural.

Since the ship is a traditional symbol for crossing from one world to another, it seems well-chosen in a work that explores the tension between what's natural and what's manmade, especially in a space that's so obviously working towards a movement away from mass consumption. I'm willing to bet we'll be hearing a lot about their coffee over the next few months, but Barista Parlor may also have a future as a fine art showroom. This piece is a must-see.

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