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On an uncharacteristically rainy Los Angeles Saturday night, Project Gallery + Espresso opened with an inaugural show by young San Francisco-based artist Zio Zeigler.The brain child of Sarah Gough, originally from Kentucky via Miami, Project is not a coffee shop with art for sale; there are no tables or chairs and certainly no wifi. It was developed to be a gallery first with an artisan espresso bar to breach the gap between the art world and the passer by. A concept so simple you’d wonder why it hasn’t been done before.



Sarah imagined the concept while working as an event planner in various art galleries and observing the way the museum-like spaces intimidated their audiences. “Project started as a multifunctional space,” Sarah tells LAC, “I wanted it to be all about the art but there was something else added into it. It’s an art gallery that just happens to have an amazing espresso bar in it.” Rain or shine, Sarah has succeeded in creating a welcoming space; warmth is emanated through exposed brick and the barn wood bar which holds the magnificent espresso machine in the rear of the gallery. The aroma of coffee drifts out onto Cauhenga, drawing you in, while the small act of holding a coffee cup makes you dawdle around the gallery, wanting to stay, not ready to leave.

With the intention of ‘keeping the space active,’ Project is a blank canvas for book signings, charity events, film premieres and the like. The gallery has already been propositioned by a tattoo artist to showcase his talents in the front window, an idea that speaks to the breadth of possibilities the space offers.

 Zio Zegler’s work brings vibrant energy to Project’s debut, a fitting showcase of color-drenched canvases and murals that are almost deceptive in their detail. Creating an illusion of simplicity from afar, Zio’s work is incredibly intriguing, drawing you closer (coffee in hand of course) to discover intricate patterns and stories. He works both in the studio and on the street, and you can see a collision of these two worlds in each of his works. One half of Project has been blessed with an enormous mural painted straight to the wall by Zio and completed in six hours, impressive considering the elaborate complexity and sheer size of the work. It will be a bittersweet moment when “Lost Illusions”  closes and the mural is painted over, but Zio’s work is now ingrained into Hollywood forever, his murals dotting the walls along Cauhenga—a completely unplanned yet  ingenious preface to the opening of Project.



So the space is great and the art resonates, but what of the coffee? Sarah’s “Espresso Master” Toby believes Project has all the makings to be the best espresso in LA. “We have the machine, we have the talent, we have the roaster, we have every ingredient right.” The beans are sourced from a micro roaster who produced a blend specifically for the gallery, and in that vein the men behind the machine are also working on a signature ‘Bourbon Vanilla Latte’ as a throwback to Sarah’s Kentucky roots.

Project is an exciting moment for the LA art and coffee worlds alike. It is a space for all, with infinite possibilities to walk out feeling all the richer.

{ Photos by Captain Chris. }


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