Robin Berwick is a co-owner of Double Trouble Caffeine and Cocktails in midtown. Most of her customers probably have no idea that she’s also a professional artist with a degree in studio painting from the University of Houston. At UH she had no idea she would one day own a bar.
“I don’t even know what’s going on six months from now,” Berwick says with a smile. “I’ve applied to graduate school. I got the bachelor’s degree in painting and then totally fell in love with art history—Polynesian and pre-Columbian art.”
One of Berwick’s paintings, “Love Machine,” is on permanent display at Antidote Coffee in the Heights (see below). She created the piece in honor of her brother when he entered the Marines. At first glance, the 4' by 4' paint-on-Masonite piece appears modest and even a bit grungy.
Closer inspection shows an intricate network of symbols and lines that form a heart shape. Painting the piece took Berwick a month. “When I started it, I didn’t realize how big it was going to get,” she says. “I also didn’t realize that the first layer of white ink was going to absorb into the Masonite, so I had to go over the lines again.”
Berwick has recently developed an interest in ancient symbology. When she isn’t reading books on how to decipher Mayan hieroglyphs, she likes to hang out at the Glassell Collection of African, Indonesian, and Pre-Columbian Gold at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “There, I feel like everything old is new again. I’ve probably gone 300 times and every time something shimmers in a different way. I’ll see something I’d swear wasn’t there before. People hundreds of years ago decided how something should look and what it means. Even if we don’t get it today, it matters and makes an impact.
“Love Machine” is owned by Dawn Calloway and Scott Repass, who run Antidote, as well as Poison Girl and Black Hole Coffee House. Many of the works of art hanging at Antidote are for sale, although Berwick’s, sadly, is not. Drop in sometime and take a look while enjoying a latte.