Artists on display at Donkey Coffee

Photos by Autumn Crouse

As you walk through the red-framed door of Donkey Coffee and Espresso, you see two square canvases spattered with gold and copper paint accentuating an otherwise ordinary white wall. Upon a closer look, you realize in the center of the canvases are coyote skulls.

The artwork are a few pieces from Andrew Rehs’ collection, Beautiful Maladies. The title is a reference to musician Tom Waits’ Greatest Hits album, one of Rehs’ favorites, and Chris Pyle, the owner of the purple coffee house on West Washington Street.

To the right of Rehs’ artwork hangs two abstract pieces by his partner, Rachel Lechocki. “Untitled 1” is an acrylic and oil painting on canvas. Lechocki references her second piece, created using oil on wood, as a “color bomb.” After you pass the counter and the glass case of muffins and cookies, you enter the middle room where Caitlin Rack has a collection on display hanging above the couch. Rack incorporates complementary colors in her collection, including the piece of a golden jellyfish painted behind an amethyst triangle. Continuing into the back room, you see Andrea Stern’s colorful aquatic collection. One of the first paintings you see on your left is of a pea green puffer fish with a gaping mouth, accurately titled, “Fish Vase with Wide Open Mouth”.

Donkey Coffee, the Best Coffee House in Ohio according to Ohio Magazine, is a community-driven environment and one of the few places on campus that features the work of local artists and Ohio University students.

“[Donkey] set a precedence for local art being shown,” Rehs says. “I have my art up all over Chicago; I do furniture stores, fine art galleries [and] I have my own fine art gallery in a giant art space. But I would literally drive eight hours to drop that off again because for me personally, it means so much to have my art up there.”

Typically, artwork is on display for four to six weeks. Artwork is featured until the end of the exhibit unless special arrangements have been made by a buyer, according to Donkey’s booking policy. The prices of the artwork are set by the artists. For every piece sold, the artist keeps 80 percent of the profit and Donkey keeps 20 percent. The exhibits from Rehs, Rack and Stern will be on display until the middle of February.

Allison DeWitt, Donkey’s booking manager, is looking forward to booking the upcoming exhibits. She hopes to have more students and local artists involved.

“I’m also going to start an outreach to the art students at [Ohio] and I’m also going to talk to Passion Works [Studio] because they have had stuff hung up,” she says.

Information about being featured in an exhibit can be found on the coffee house’s website. For any further questions regarding the booking process or to express interest in being featured, send an email to