It’s cloudy and gray on this Friday morning, but the students from Western High school are excited to be at Heine Brothers headquarters. They each doctor up their own cup of coffee; some take theirs black, while others add caramel and milk. After the students are settled in their seats, Alec Risch, the Head Roaster and Director of Coffee, starts talking about the coffee plant.
From the outside it is hard to tell just how ingenious and creative Monica Mahoney’s home is. When entering you can feel the warmth from a crackling fire while a small cat named “biggie” brushes against your legs. The floor plan is completely open and full of small details. I was surprised when Monica revealed to me that the home used to be a general store for the neighborhood. Pictures are hung in the hallway of the store and as you turn to see the space before you it is delightfully shocking. What used to be rows and rows of shelves and countertops, has now become a warm and inviting home, full of art, life, and spirit.
Monica lead me to the back of the house, to a portion she had recently added on. It is hard not to notice the juxtaposed material used in each space. Monica pointed to each one, telling me their origin: bricks from Phoenix Hill, windows from old factories, and vintage tools that had been collected. Though we stood in this singular place it felt more of an accumulation of the city so many of us have come to love.
We walk to the back of the property where Monica has her studio. We talk for awhile about her process and where she finds inspiration. Just like her house, Monica likes to have meaning behind the materials and subjects she uses for each piece. For example the large painting hanging on her living room wall depicts two women walking across a plaza away from a group of onlooking girls. At first glance you notice the facial expressions and vague feelings of the characters, but after Monica explains the reasoning for lines within the painting and the history between the characters, life is breathed into the piece and it becomes something so much bigger.
In the same way, Monica’s painting of the K&I Bridge for HB-State Street took time and research. Monica learned the history behind the bridge and what makes it so important to our community. In her studio hangs a picture taken after the bridge’s completion. Hundreds of workers dangling from its cross beams reminds you of the people who came before and created the staples of our skyline.
In front of us lies the bits and pieces of an art piece Monica is working on for HB-Longest Avenue. She wanted to make something that would capture the Highlands, and what better than its heart, Cherokee Park. Monica loves the fact that the park belongs to everyone and it has been such a big part of so many peoples’ lives in the community. Her piece consists of layers of wood that create a bright topographical map of the park. This vuja de affect allows the viewer to see something quite familiar in a completely different way.
Monica has a true talent for capturing our community, and we are so honored to house some of her amazing work.
It’s 9am on a Friday when six Western High School students file into Heine Brothers’ Headquarters. The sky is cloudy and construction seems to patter on outside as the groggy students find their way to their seat. Toni McDowell, Store Operations Manager, starts the day by breaking down what exactly these next couple of weeks are going to entail.
Western is not your normal high school; the students participate in programs where they can learn different skills and trades. These students are part of the culinary program and have chosen Heine Brothers’ as their out of school experience . Over the next few weeks they will learn everything they need to know to run a coffee shop, from the sourcing of the beans to handing a customer their drink.