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Drink and drawings: Coop cafe adds art and alcohol

Inspired: Albert Justiniano’s art will be on display at The Coop in Bay Ridge until Aug. 28. He is heavily inspired by his Puerto Rican culture, family, and religion.
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This kid-friendly cafe is growing up!

A Bay Ridge coffee shop that offers baby play dates and romping space for rug rats is expanding its pallete, putting thought-provoking art on the walls and adding wine and beer to its menu. The owners of the Coop say that the changes are a way to make the Fourth Avenue cafe a space that caters to all.

“We want a space for the community where everyone feels welcome,” said Nick Murphy, an owner of the Coop. “Everything from people with children to people who want to enjoy the art with a glass of wine.”

On display through Aug. 28 is “Metaphoric­al,” an exhibit featuring vibrant paintings and monochrome sketches by Albert Justiniano, along with Frida Kahlo-inspired shadow boxes by Anna Arroyo.

Both artists operate off of the philosophy that art is a sort of medicine that keeps you healthy, and Arroyo felt the cafe was an ideal venue to display their work.

“It’s like you’re feeding all your senses,” said Arroyo. “With the art it’s like you’re feeding your heart.”

The artists live far from the Ridge, but one of Justiniano’s local colleagues noticed the coffee shop’s bare walls and reached out to the owners to propose an art display. Justiniano, from the distant island of Manhattan, developed his show with the owners, and he invited Arroyo, who currently lives in the wilds of New Jersey, to share the walls with him. Their shared roots in New York City was a factor when planning the show, he said.

“We’re native New Yorkers and that’s really important, because no one is anymore,” said Justiniano. “We wanted to show what native New Yorkers can do.”

Murphy plans to showcase a variety of art in the space, and already has the space booked through December with art he described as minimalist, political, and esoteric. He hopes that local audiences and artists will flock to the Coop to check it out.

“The art is a great way to promote a dialogue,” Murphy said. “We want people to appreciate how creative people are in Bay Ridge and Brooklyn.”

The Coop was recently approved for a license to sell wine and beer, and is just waiting for it to arrive in the mail, said Murphy, so soon Bay Ridgites will be able to savor the art with a mug of craft beer or glass of wine.

“Metaphorical” at the Coop [9504 Fourth Ave. at 95th Street in Bay Ridge, (718) 680–0269]. Open daily, 7 am–7 pm.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at mspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow him on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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