COZEE Show art gallery takes over The Crib

Local artists showcase, sell work in partnership with area businesses.
LOCAL ART — Art hung on all the walls in The Crib so people could admire and purchase it as they worked.
LOCAL ART — Art hung on all the walls in The Crib so people could admire and purchase it as they worked.
Molly Birch

A gleaming copper coffee machine hisses into a cup of milk, frothing and steaming with a husky breath as a barista engineers a luxurious latte. The Crib coffee house was full of students and community members meeting for coffee to relax with friends and grind out homework as weekend due dates loomed. 

However, the coffee shop walls looked a little different the weekend of Dec. 1, 2 and 3. 

Marquette native Jacob Darner organizes art shows in the community in partnership with local businesses. The shows provide an opportunity for local artists to show their work without the heavy expectations of a more professional setting.

Art featured in the COZEE Show, with many more filling the walls and placed around the coffee house.
(Molly Birch)

Darner says this past weekend’s COZEE Show, packed with art from 39 artists, stands out from others he has planned. 

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“I’ve been … putting on these shows across town at different participating businesses for a couple years now. But this is definitely the best one by far so far,” Darner said. “It’s a small community, but I think that kind of helps. Especially when it comes to the arts, everybody kind of comes together.”

The Crib was decorated wall to wall with art taking every form imaginable, ranging from paintings, jewelry, photography, clothing, stickers, posters, prints and beyond. People were able to peruse the coffee house for fresh, local art pieces while enjoying their coffee and conversation. 

However, Darner says the COZEE Show is not a typical gallery show. This event also featured live music from local bands and artists, with a special video screening only shown during the weekend’s reception Saturday evening. 

“The show is art and music. It’s more of an exhibit [or] display setting rather than a market or anything like that,” Darner said. “It is still, I would say, like a pop up.”

COZEE Show’s live events began on Friday at 6 p.m. with JASNO, GERKO & Sinful Jebediah, Iridescence and Passed Out, Curbside performing live. 

The excitement continued into Saturday with a reception starting at 5 p.m. Ryan Dart Jazz started off the evening with a live performance before a video screening. Bands Wood-Violet and Fridge Buzz also performed live to close out the evening. 

The COZEE Show was a juried event, and awards including best in show and honorable mentions were handed out Saturday evening. 

Sunday finished off the weekend with another round of live performances starting at 6 p.m. from The Make-Believe Spurs, Fence Crows, Troy Graham and Ethan Bott.

Darner works with local businesses to support the show. Many made donations, including Jim’s Music which donated all the sound equipment used for the music and video screening.

Another example of art featured in the COZEE Show.
(Molly Birch)

Darner, who works as an artist himself under the moniker Darn Good Art, was an NMU student studying photography before the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdown began, he made the difficult choice to step away from university when luck struck.  

“I had made the decision to stop going to school, and then about a month later, I got an email,” Darner said. “I got invited to a show in London to display my art. That was kind of a nice little reassurance. That opened a lot of doors, and I made a lot of connections.”

Darner said the London show included keynote speakers, one of whom spoke about the importance of gallery shows for artists to get their work and name out to the public. He quickly realized, however, these opportunities were often limited to bigger cities in the country like Houston and New York.

He asked the speaker how smaller artists can take advantage of opportunities that are too far or expensive to travel to. 

“She basically was like, ‘if you can’t find or make it to these opportunities, you can make them yourself.’ And so that kind of stuck with me,” Darner said. 

The many local businesses that made donations to support the COZEE Show. (Molly Birch)

Darner organized his first show in 2020, and roughly a dozen shows later, the rest is history. He notes the most arduous part about being an artist is the business side of the craft. 

“The hardest part about being an artist is that most of the time you’re representing yourself, and that’s hard because not only do you have to be good at [your] work, you have to know how to reach out to people and businesses and come up with a game plan and a strategy for displaying your work,” Darner said.  

He said anyone can be an artist and anything can be art. It starts with people recognizing their own talent. 

“Keep creating, that’s a given, but beyond that, just be your own biggest fan. Creating generally, is kind of a vulnerable exercise. It’s like riding a bike,” Darner said. “You keep going, keep creating again, and you’ll eventually be comfortable enough that you can start getting out there and reaching out because if you don’t, it’s pretty unlikely that somebody else is going to come along and recognize it.”

Darner said he plans to take some time off after the COZEE Show, but another art show is in the works. It will be held at the Ore Dock in February.

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