Monthly Archives: May 2011

Pastel Dust and a good cup of Jo


On my first trip to Miles City, my son reminded me there wasn’t a Starbucks around, BUT there were a couple of good coffee shops I should try.  So, I agreed to meet him at Cafe Utza, a coffee shop on Nineth just off Main.  Well, it wasn’t good coffee, it was GREAT coffee…and homemade pastries that I was warned disappeared often before the first wave of morning coffee breaks were over.  And there is art in the shop!  And great music playing…. last year they hung a series of my small works and we agreed to bring some more work this year.  I brought 8 of the 6×6 pieces all framed in plein air mahogany frames.  Three artists will hang work throughout the next week; then it will be two of us. 

We came to visit family and to participate in the Quick Draw event that annually is held during the renowned annual Miles City Bucking Horse Sale…events that draw people from far and near to watch match bronc rides, horse races, horse sales, bucking bull sales, concert and more over 4 days in mid May.  This is a major happening here and the town is brimming with spectators and participants…Come to this event sometime or just come to Miles City and experience the heritage of the west that this town is proud of…and stop and enjoy a good cup of coffee.

So now about Cafe Utza….which means “Black Coffee”…

When I first went to the cafe, I was reminded of the coffee houses that sprang up in Chicago (where I lived) in the ’70’s.  There is always good music playing, good strong, tasty coffee, eclectic furnishings, etc.  That’s Utza.  When you walk into the shop, you are met with red walls of a long narrow area that is graced with comfy seating from sofa and overstuffed chairs to the kitchen tables of the 50’s that we sat at as kids.   There are some great photos and art that are permanent to the place; a collection of logo items for purchase and a case filled with some of the best pastries I have ever had.  And from experience, if you  want to have a good selection, you get to Cafe Utza before the first wave of coffee breakers hit the door! 

This art blog is really about another art…the art of food and drink.  Kara Stewart who owns Cafe Utza had a vision of having  her own shop.  She  followed her dream and opened Cafe Utza in 2005.    Daily there are wonderful fresh pastries such as scones cut into large wedges and a variety of fruits toppings.  The menu isn’t “set”, so it is a surprise to see what graces the pastry case each day.  She also roasts her coffee – daily – so you always get that fresh roasted, robust coffee.  I am a black coffee drinker and I love that full-bodied, strong coffee.  This is where you go to get that.  My son loves mochas – and Kara does these right as well.  That’s her art….making something from the heart, for others to enjoy…she is an artist of her trade.  

Kara told us a little about her dream and her heritage.  Her great-grandmother who was Basque came to the US and settled in eastern Montana – basically a mail order bride.  Kara’s grandmother (now 87) met her husband when he and his brother came from Texas on cattle drives north that came to eastern Montana.  Her roots run deep in history of eastern Montana and told me that some of her grandfather’s memorabilia is part of the collection at the Range Riders Museum.  Kara knew she wanted to do something with food and decided upon the coffee shop.  She honors heritage with the fabulous pastries and with the name Cafe Utza.  And as a savvy business person, she supports and promotes her local events and art.  I feel privileged to hang work there – I’m not local – but I am native to central Montana and  I appreciate what someone like Kara does for their hometown…they share their talents; their art and they give to the community by showcasing other artists and their art.  May 2011 May 2011 108


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