The Twin Cities is a great place to find art. Art museums, festivals, crawls and showcases abound in our fair cities. But on that tough Monday when you really need a cup of joe, or a Saturday morning when you’re meeting a friend from out of town, or even that business meeting you’re dreading and can’t seem to get motivated for, sometimes a piece of art can be just the pick-me-up you need. Art can surprise, inspire, arouse and motivate and has been doing so for thousands of years. For a dash of color with your coffee, an extra helping of creativity during lunch or just the right ambiance for that business meeting, here are the best local businesses with art galleries.
850 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55105
This Grand Avenue mainstay has adorned its walls with local art for 30 years. Featuring the work of established artists and unknown up-and-comers alike, the art at Café Latte is always something special. With a propensity toward rural themes, the art at Cafe Latte is often comforting and pleasant to the eye. That doesn’t mean that the next collection won’t be as challenging and exciting as anything found at the Walker. With a versatile mix of styles and cultural backgrounds, you’ll never have the same experience twice. Whether you’re coming in for lunch or are out for a romantic evening with a glass of wine, the carefully selected pieces are always the perfect complement to your time at Cafe Latte.
459 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55102
A welcome addition to West 7th Street in Saint Paul, Claddagh is cozy and comfortable. It’s the type of place you can find yourself spending the whole afternoon at. The featured art is part of the reason why: it can be easy to forget about ordering when enjoying the wide selection of art on the exposed brick walls. From serene landscapes, to mesmerizing portraits of friends and neighbors, to jarring modern pieces that will pull you in and refuse to let go, there is always something new and interesting to enjoy. Always involved with the community, Claddagh often hosts the artists themselves to come and speak about their work, as well as other music and literary events.
Peace Coffee Shop
3262 Minnehaha Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
This colorful coffee shop in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis looks like an art piece itself with its eye-catching bright red exterior in the front leading you to the blue door that leads inside where you’ll find the walls painted with rolling hills and trees with reaching branches. There is color and life everywhere you look. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the selection of local art on the walls. While you might find larger selections elsewhere, the vibrant, modern pieces, often inspired by graffiti and street art, represent the genre-bending arts community that helps define Minneapolis. It might not be your grandma’s taste, but that is part of the reason why it’s so special. Don’t forget to check out the huge outdoor mural on the back of the shop before you leave.
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar
308 E. Prince St.
St. Paul, MN 55101
One of Lowertown’s original art hubs, the Black Dog’s eclectic collection of art showcases not only the work of the surrounding artists’ community, but also the diversity of St. Paul’s art and culture in general. From east-Asian, to European, to African and everything in between, the art represents the cultural melting pot that has become Saint Paul. With sculptures hanging from the ceiling and rotating art pieces hanging on the walls, there is never a shortage of imagination livening up the space where you enjoy your coffee, beer, wine or tasty treat.
Blue Ox Coffee Company
3740 Chicago Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55407
In a city like Minneapolis, it can be hard to sort through all of the coffee shops and cafes that seem to be around every corner. Located in Powderhorn Park, Blue Ox has made a name for itself not only by serving excellent coffee, but also by involving itself in the arts scene. From photograph collections of local events to paintings and drawings of the community and all of the different people in it, the walls portray pieces of life in Minnesota the way only art can. At Blue Ox, even the lattes themselves can be considered art, with foamy flair that will no doubt put a smile on your face. Blue Ox is worth the trip for both the visual and drinkable art.
Related: Best Permanent Exhibits In Minnesota
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.