A unique art exhibit is now on display inside Bean’s Cafe. “Unseen-Seen” features a combination of large and small, hand-painted portraits of homeless men and women who frequent Bean’s. Artist James Temte said he wanted to put faces to the people who’s lives are rarely celebrated and mount the exhibit for them to see.

“Art is for everybody not just the people with a lot of money that go to the galleries,” said Temte. “So that’s why we really wanted to do a show here, and I think doing a show of portraits is very fitting.”

Temte organized the exhibit and the work was done by half a dozen artists, including himself, who met regularly at the University of Alaska. Temte said they visited the cafe in the fall and got to know some of the people who frequented there. They took portraits of a few people, then went back to the University to create their artwork.

On Friday, people at Bean’s Cafe saw the work for the first time.

Woman poses in front of her portrait Friday at Bean's

Woman poses in front of her portrait Friday at Bean’s – James Temte

Katie Alley, one of the artists, said she was nervous at the thought of presenting her finished portrait to a woman everyone knows as Mama Rose, “because showing a portrait to someone is always like, I hope you like it.”

But, she needn’t have worried, the portrait featuring a mature face against the background of a rose was an instant hit.

“ I love it! I want to cry but I’m holding it in,” said Mama Rose.

The portraits are made up of oil paintings and block prints and take up the rear of the cafe.

Temte said the artists plan to donate the portraits to Bean’s but would like to find an outdoor space for the largest piece. He said that might remind the public that real people live outdoors every day.

Artists pose for a photo in front of the murals - James Temte

Artists pose for a photo in front of the murals – James Temte

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