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Coffee and Art

by Darryl McGrath on April 11, 2013


There’s something about a city the size of Albany that works especially well for local artists—it’s small enough to get your name out there, and large enough to have a wide range of places to show your work.

With that thought in mind, Tierra Coffee Roasters on Delaware Avenue—at the site of the former Ultraviolet Café, next to the Spectrum 8 Theatres—hopes to expand on the Ultraviolet’s tradition of showing local artwork in a small, intimate setting.

Diane Yannich's SPIRIT WOMAN

“We’re looking to make it more of a gallery-type setting,” said Ron Crieco, who manages the Delaware Avenue site, which opened in mid-December, as well as Tierra’s Madison Avenue location next to the Madison Theatre.  “We recognize there are more local artists who want to sell their art, and we want more people to come through.”

Among the plans for the Delaware Avenue location expected to begin this spring: receptions to announce new exhibits and to honor the featured artist.  Although Delaware Avenue is a smaller space than Madison Avenue (which has a permanent installation of large-scale paintings by Albany muralist Samson Contompasis), the Delaware Avenue layout allows for work to be hung in a progression on four walls that wrap around the seating area.

For Diane Yannich, the featured artist this month, the small-scale layout invites people to look at her work as they linger over a second cup.

“When I’m in these places, conversations lull, and I look at the walls,” she said.  “Coffee is my first love, art is my second. So I was quite happy to be here.”

Yannich was a Woodstock resident for 25 years before moving first to Voorheesville and then, six years ago, to Albany. She works in acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink and mixed media, and her exhibit at Tierra is a retrospective that covers more than two decades of her art, in styles ranging from realism to abstract.

She trained as an advertising artist at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and later as an illustrator of nature scenes. She taught natural science illustration at Ulster County Community College for nearly a decade, a phase of her career that is reflected in her studies of wildflowers, mammals and birds of prey. Mushrooms, shells, vines, feathers and reptilian scale patterns often appear in her work, which is drenched with vivid colors and sometimes touches of gold.

She brings all of these elements together in the centerpiece of her exhibit, the portrait she calls Spirit Woman, and which is a tribute to her late mother, Diane Greubel, a makeup artist who specialized in teaching women recovering from facial surgery how to apply cosmetics. The stylized profile wears an abstract feathered headdress that Yannich said symbolizes relationships she has lost over the years. She recalls her mother as “a beautiful woman who taught me color.”

Yannich’s exhibit will be on view at Tierra Coffee Roasters (292 Delaware Ave., Albany) through the end of April.