Love of coffee and art yields creative exhibit in Freeport

Written by Publishing Team

Two friends from Freeport use their complementary knowledge and talents to open a coffee shop. Two Sarver friends push each other to develop their individual artistic talents.

An artist and a shopkeeper are friends too, and that’s the story.

Freeport Virginia residents Lindsey and Karen Hellman opened 1833 Coffee and Tea Co at 300 Fifth Street in August.

Hellmann learned about coffee, having worked as a manager for Crazy Mocha Coffee Co. Based in Pittsburgh, her management experience helped her when it came time to hire store employees.

Lindsay has been responsible for the store’s decor and promotion on social media.

“We still have our feet under our feet, and it’s been a little crazy so far,” Hillman said, but he’s crazy in a good way.

“My strengths are her weaknesses and vice versa,” Hellman said. “We quarrel like an old couple, but I don’t want to do that to anyone else.”

Artist Zara Blair took an interest in seeing the shop succeed, being an old friend of the Lindsey family. I thought an art gallery might be a way to attract more clients, especially if the works depict Freeport scenes.


Shirley McMarlin | Tribune review

From left: Artists Susie Schwartz and Zara Blair with owners Virginia Lindsey and Karen Hellman at 1833 Coffee and Tea Co. in Freeport.

Beginning last summer, Blair and her friend, Susie Schwartz, would visit town once a week to find topics for their work. They will stop at 1833 for a drink and then walk around to find a potential spot.

Now retired, both Blair and Schwartz have been making art since childhood. They are mostly self-taught, although they did take lessons with famous Pittsburgh artist Elizabeth Myers Castongway.

About five years ago, they had a joint show in Pennsylvania, New Kensington.


• Video: 1833 Coffee and Tea Co.
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About 20 years ago, the couple met in each other’s home studios to work and to criticize directing. Blair’s main mediums are print and drawing, while Schwartz works mostly in watercolor and pastel.

“It’s always nice to have an art buddy to keep each other going,” Schwartz said. “We encourage each other. Sometimes we say we don’t know what to do, but we have to keep trying.”

However, the criticisms can be a bit harsh.

“We are ruthless,” Blair said.

“Our other friends ask how we can be good friends when we’re so competitive,” Schwartz added.

amazing place

Freeport provided an attractive setting, as it is located between Buffalo Creek and the Allegheny River, with hills rising all around. It’s also a town working to come back from tough times, Blair said.

“New businesses are growing here, and most of them are started by women,” Blair said. “We would like to make some contribution to this growth. We don’t want to lose Freeport.”

Lindsay asked if she and Schwartz could display some artwork in the shop—and got instant approval.

“I knew Zara would make something beautiful and elegant, and we are honored to have her art here,” said Lindsey.

There are two cork panels near the back of the shop Artist Studies of Freeport Homes, Commercial Buildings, and Street Scenes. It’ll go up at least through February, and while it’s not priced, it’s on sale if anyone is interested.

“Everyone stops here every once in a while, so people who saw us on the street would see (the artwork) and say, ‘Oh, that’s what these girls were doing,'” Schwartz said.


Shirley McMarlin | Tribune review

Customers order drinks at 1833 Coffee and Tea Co. in Freeport.

When spring comes, artists may make a more focused study of Freeport’s entrances or windows. If they did, Blair said, her brother also suggested they develop a scavenger hunt project to get people out and locate them.

Although it’s a small art show, it could be the start of something bigger. Lindsay and Heilman said they are open to having other artists show their work as well.

Hellman said that a small coffee shop in a small town could get a huge amount of exposure for these artists.

“We are a destination,” she said. “We don’t know a lot of people who come in. They come from everywhere.”

The shop gets its coffee from 19 Coffee Co. , a Pittsburgh-based roaster, and teas from Cleveland-based Storehouse Tea. Hot chocolate and baked goods are also available.

Hours of operation are 6:30 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 3 PM on Saturdays and 8 AM to 1 PM on Sundays. For more details, call 295-8133 or visit 1833 Coffee and Tea Co.

Shirley McMarlin is a writer for the Tribune Review. You can contact Shirley at 5750-836-724, or via Twitter .

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