Photography by Jen Woo

Artists with Double Lives: Michael McConnell, Painter and Owner of Fayes Cafe, Makes Sense of the World Around Him Through Art

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7x7 is a proud and longtime supporter of ArtSpan and San Francisco Open Studios, the five-week annual event during which hundreds of local artists open their doors to show their latest work to art lovers and new potential clients.

In celebration of this year's festival (October 14 through November 12), we stopped by the offices and studios of five artists with, gasp, day jobs! In this series, we'll highlight artists with double lives, including a surrealist who sells insurance and a motorcycle mechanic who more than dabbles in mixed-media art.

Meet painter Michael McConnell. As an introvert, making art is a refuge, a place where he can make sense of the world around him. As the owner of Fayes Cafe, a coffee shop on Guerrero street, he's learned to be more social and in turn is inspired by his customers' stories.


Name: Michael McConnell

Occupation: Owner of Fayes Cafe

Medium: Before becoming an artist, McConnell wanted to be a veterinarian. When he discovered that he was allergic to anything with fur, he conveyed his passion for animals through art. His figurative paintings feature anthropomorphic characters—humans with animal heads. McConnell is keen to explore the duality of his subjects. In one of his paintings, for instance, a woman with a jaguar head highlights the fierce aspect of the animal, but also its sweet and tender side. If at first glance all his artwork recalls a playful fairytale, upon closer inspection, you can perceive the tension between the innocence of childhood and the experience of being an adult. In his art statement he writes that he creates "visual narratives that examine loneliness, responsibility and choice" and his stories "unfold in the space between memory, nostalgia and focus on the tension between youth and maturity."

His words: Fayes Cafe is as much a part of my life as my art is. I have been working at the cafe for so long as a barista, then as a manager, and now as the owner, that I cannot think about my life without it. Talking to customers is a source of inspiration for me. They tell me their stories and I express their memories and the feelings in my artwork. I bring my creativity and my artistic gaze to the cafe. I am also the art curator there and I feel blessed to have the chance to support the local art community.

Meet him: November 11–12 at Art Farm, 1890 Bryant St., michaelmcconnellart.com

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