Maurice Schmidt

Maurice  Schmidt - Koffee Kup

Koffee Kup, 1980

Painting oil on linen  
60 x 72 in

"Koffee Kup was a cozy little restaurant square in the center of downtown Kingsville, a door or two down from the JC Penny store, now the Bryant Gallery. Look closely at the window and you can still see the name, Koffee Kup, etched in the glass like a translucent fingerprint. I think the courthouse lawyers favored this place. They liked to meet here with their colleagues and clients, I remember hearing laments once at the courthouse when this little coffee shop closed down. Something about its long narrow space and dim light gave it a quiet atmosphere where people talked in low tones. Sad to confess, I never once went in. My interest was strictly painterly. The dark space inside gave the large glass window a dark blue tinge when the sunlight struck it at mid-morning, coffee-break time. Koffee Kup was painted in bright red letters forming an arch across this glass. The effect was like giant rubies set in sapphire. Looking close through the glass, you saw the people sitting in a graded perspective of colors. Often a patch of bright-colored clothing or part of a face shone back at me through the glass. But always, that pane of glass dominated all the colors shining through it from the inside. It was an invisible wall between two worlds. One was encased in the hot brass-colored light outside, the elements of concrete street, sidewalk, and parking meters and some elderly old-time Kingsville guys chatting away under the circle of shade provided by their old straw hats. The second space was marked by that vertical pane of glass which, like the surface of a clear pond, one could look through to the coolness of another world, to strange creatures floating and feeding and every now and then catching a piece of sunlight. This wonderment when different kinds of spaces meet and interact is a fascination that goes very far back in my lie, to childhood. I have long thought that the mirror, the reflective surface was the first painter and perhaps the ultimate painter, reproducing not just color and shape, but space itself. What is the thickness of a reflection? How deep into the surface of a pond does a reflection go? What is the weight of a shadow? The philosophic ruminations of a painter are of no practical value whatever, but they can transform the mundane into all kinds of mental excitement. I never met these old men. I just saw them talking there, their straw hats transforming sunlight into raindrops of light dancing on their cheeks and shoulders. Two worlds here, the outdoor and the man-made indoor, hopefully brought to a single unity." excerpt from the book "Maurice Schmidt, A Life in Art"



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