The intertwining of coffee and art go way back in my experience - back to when Midnight Espresso, DeLuxe, and Insomnia were it in terms of late night espresso destinations. When the entire ceiling of Midnight was adorned with an ever-expanding Debra Bustin universe, and CubaCuba featured sporadic painting attempts by it's wonderfully creative inhabitants.
Cut to present day, and I'm again engaging the art displayed in cafe's and restaurants around wellington - although now because it's just got so bad.
Picture, if you will, a very fine cafe/bar the other night in town - jazz band playing cooly, decor suave, clean and contemporary, food good, wine better, and the walls decorated with a selection of loud and extremely crudely executed Roy Lichenstein rip-offs not only at odds with their environment, but totally at odds with the general realms of taste. So bleak was it that we left after entrees and went elsewher for mains (which sounds really pretentious, but it wasn't).
There's possibly even an opportunity here, for a small company that seeks out lifeless retail situations and complements them with carefully selected works of art, that both add something to the venue and promote the works of good emerging artists. I'll put it on my list of things to do one day...