Since Fort Thomas Coffee first opened its doors in 2012, it has become more than just a locally owned shop to fuel up on caffeine. It is also place to connect with others in the community, and a place to experience great local art. Fort Thomas Coffee's current exhibit, Movie References, will be featured in the shop throughout the month of November.
Naturally, when an art show popped up in town with a cinematic theme, I wasn't going to miss the chance to attend. Billed as "clever and witty movie-themed artwork from local artists," the show does not disappoint. Our very own Mama on a Budget and I attended the show's opening at the beginning of the month, and we were both very impressed by the work being exhibited at the shop (so impressed, in fact, that Mama on a Budget purchased prints to frame for her son).
Movie References was curated by the artist collective known as Astro Beast, and features work by a variety of local artists. I recently spoke with Levi Bethune, who is one of the founders of Astro Beast. "Astro Beast was started as a way for Justin Boh and myself to be involved with local comic conventions. That idea grew into us forming a curated gallery of pop-culture art done by local artists (our friends). We pick a theme, commission artists, and then curate individual pieces that then get hung in the shows," said Bethune.
Curating a show at Fort Thomas Coffee was a natural next step for the Astro Beast team. According to Bethune, Fort Thomas Coffee has a great appreciation for both art and artists. "We have the privilege of knowing Lori and David Valentine, the owners, and they are a very generous family," said Bethune. "FTC is investing in Fort Thomas and the people therein, and we're honored to be included in that movement. Lori was really excited about having our gallery hung in their shop, and it's a unique offering."
For Astro Beast, shows like Movie References help to pave the way for Comic Con shows. "One of the strategies we have with Astro Beast is to pick themes for our shows throughout the year, and then choose the best of those pieces for our Comic Con shows. We launched at the awesome Cincinnati ComiCon back in September, and the next convention we have is in March at the Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. Between now and then we have plans to run themed shows in a couple more coffee shops, and maybe even a comic book shop and arcade," said Bethune.
The Movie References exhibit primarily consists of art inspired by some of modern cinema's greatest action and superhero films. This was a direct result of the artists' favorite films falling into those genres. "My personal style of art is quirky and whimsical, and my favorite movies are superhero and science fiction films. I find the combination of those two worlds allow for a lot of puns. I'd say that Star Wars gives me the most inspiration, and based on the art currently hanging in FTC, that answer is similar for the other artists," said Bethune. I'm pretty sure Bruce Wayne himself would be impressed by the Batman-inspired artwork displayed throughout the coffee shop.
Movie References will only be exhibited for a limited time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you've seen the last of Astro Beast's talented artists. "The art will be hanging in FTC through the end of November, but then a few of the pieces will be back if they happen to align with future themes such as 'mashups' or 'Sci-Fi,'" said Bethune. You can purchase pieces from the show at Fort Thomas Coffee, or you can head over to Astro Beast's website to purchase prints.