Popular Aggieville coffeehouse displays local artists’ talent

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At Radina’s Coffeehouse and Roastery, the java shop in Aggieville thats faithful clientele calls comfortable and cool, the draw is more than great coffees and breads.

Radina’s features different artists each month, displaying their work prominently on the walls. Pieces can be admired and purchased by customers.

Artist Fred Rohs, a native of Manhattan, is showcasing his art at Radina’s. Rohs graduated from K-State in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and now lives in Maryville, Mo., with his wife.

Rohs said art has been a lifelong passion for him. He said he has been drawing and sketching since he was old enough to hold a pencil. He said the art of the 2-D surface always has been his main interest, and paint became his favorite medium. Through the years, he said his art has been shown in a variety of unorthodox venues.

“My work has also been shown at other coffee shops, an optometry office and galleries in Kansas City and Maryville,” he said. “I operated my own gallery here in Maryville for about three years.”

Stepping into Radina’s, it is hard not to notice his paintings. The pieces, some several feet in height, stand out with striking colors and unusual images. Rohs is hesitant to categorize his art, but says he sometimes calls his works “nonrepresentational optical art.”

“People want to call it abstract art, but abstract art actually starts with realism, something tangible, and in my art I really don’t start with any main object,” Rohs said. “I think you can see that in my paintings and their titles. They’re very unrevealing.”

Most of his works on display at Radina’s are acrylics painted on canvas. A few pieces on paper and one oil painting also can be seen. With such visual complexity in his work, it is no surprise how much time and energy Rohs invests.

“I do each painting by hand – it can be pretty meticulous. One of the larger paintings took me about 200 hours,” he said. “I try to make [my art]visually striking. I try to take the shapes and images I layer and use color and composition to make it visually interesting. There is an initial impact of colors that jump at you, but then you notice other things about it you didn’t initially.”

Rohs cited painters Josef Albers, Larry Poons, and Wassily Kandinsky as artistic inspiration. In addition, certain styles have played a role in his development as an artist, he said.

“I’ve always been drawn to graphic art, comic books, graphic advertising and pop art and that comes through in my paintings,” he said.

Annette Radina, wife of the coffeeshop’s owner Wade Radina, said the artists chosen to display their work each month are a mix of alumni, students and community members.

“We just want to give people a chance to show their work,” she said. “There are a lot of artists out there who would like to show it but don’t know where to go. We try to be accessible to as many people as possible.”

The artists might appreciate the opportunity to show their work in public, but it is there for the customers to enjoy as well.

“This particular show is interesting,” said Len McDonald, a Radina’s regular. “It has a wonderful complexity and movement. The craftsmanship of these particular pieces is better than the norm.”

The paintings of K-State alumnus Fred Rohs will be on display at Radina’s through January.

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