With unexpected snow storms and freezing downpours interspersed with teasing signs of spring, February can be one bleak month.
For the past four years Small World Coffee on Witherspoon Street has brightened the February gloom with a month-long community art show. Aptly titled “The Love Show,” the event raises funds for a local community non-profit. This year, the proceeds go to HiTOPS, the teen and young adult health center on Wiggins Street.
Some 100 people turned out last Friday night for the show’s opening reception. The coffee shop was transformed into a gallery and party space devoted to art in visual, musical, and culinary forms: with DJs spinning and baristas passing around treats donated by Olives and The Bent Spoon.
Many of the artists brought friends and family along to mingle with the store’s loyal customers, members of the community, and small world employees.
Four years ago, when Ms. Durrie and her team formulated the plan to curate a community art show, the month of February was chosen as a time when such festivity would be most welcome and the love theme was a natural. “We decided to make it a fundraising event as well as an art event accessible to all,” said Ms. Durrie. “We liked the concept of an opening party that would be so full of energy celebrating art and artists, with hors d’oeuvres and live music, so much fun that it would warrant asking for a suggested donation of $20,” she said.
Participating artists are asked to create pieces in response to the word ‘love,’ in broad or specific terms. “We are always inspired by the range of talent and creativity and thank all of the artists,” said Ms. Durrie. “We are so thankful for all of the wonderful entries, but alas, we only have so much space on our walls.”
In addition to the sale of the artwork, the coffee shop also sells love show t-shirts ($24.95) and stickers ($1), from which all of the proceeds benefit the selected not-for-profit. “While each of these fundraising efforts may be small in cash value, I am a big believer in the power of many small good gestures,” said Ms. Durrie. “That is one of the sub-themes of the show.”
Past beneficiaries have been the Arts Council of Princeton (2010), the D&R Greenway Land Trust (2011), and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (2012). In order to “spread the love around,” says Ms. Durrie, Small World Coffee decided to select a different not-for-profit each year so that different organizations would have an opportunity to get their message out to a potentially new audience. “What I did not realize when we decided to do this was how great it would be to get to know all of the different not-for-profits. I’ve truly enjoyed learning more about each of them and expanding my knowledge of our community.”
To date the coffee shop has raised some $1200 all told. This year, more is hoped for. “The bad weather on opening night may or may not allow us to exceed our goals, but it is not too late for people to come in and buy our stylish love show t-shirts or purchase a piece of original art work.”
Friday’s weather presented some challenges. While snow arrived, the scheduled performers, Motorfunker DJs from WPRB did not, necessitating a last minute change of plans. “But the strength of our Small World community came through,” said Ms. Durrie, who called local musicians Chris Harford and Matt Trowbridge to save the day by bringing in their sound system and turntables and DJing the dance party at the end of he evening.
More than 40 local artists: painters and photographers participated. Many donated the proceeds from the sale of their work, or a part thereof, to HiTOPS, which promotes adolescent health and well-being and is the only free-standing health center focusing exclusively on youth in New Jersey. Founded by nurse practitioners and health educators, it has been providing risk reduction education and health promotion to youth for the past 25 years.
“The event wrapped up at 11 p.m.,” said Ms. Durrie. “It was a good night.”
The Love Show continues through March 5 at Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, Monday through Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information on HiTOPS, call (609) 683 5155 or visit: www.hitops.org.