I’m staring at my face, but this sure isn’t a mirror. Michael Keen, the creator of the portrait that sits in the foamy, goodness of my latte, is a man of many talents. Outside of the Denver art community, Keen is known for his special latte art at Studio 6 Coffee House. However for the artistic crowd, he is a known and respected fixture that has his hands in various creative projects across the city.
Keen has received national attention for his latte art, which has led to appearances on the Today Show, a national spot for Burger King and local features with Denver’s Fox 31 and 9News Denver. That attention has also led to the creation of a whimsical coffee table style art book, filled with vivid photos of his special coffee creations. He uses the steamed milk itself as well as periodic dips into the deeper brown layer of coffee with his thermometer as his paintbrush to create these detailed portraits.
It is Keen’s latte art that is the focus for a wide range of visitors on any given day, but this afternoon’s patrons have included a group of Iowans and myself, all waiting patiently to see our latte’s come to life. His artistic talents get to work as the conversation leads us from quantum physics (of all things) to lucid dreaming and spiritual ideas on what connects us all in the different realms of existence. However, as I sip further into my latte and glance around the walls of his coffeehouse, I am immersed in the mind and world of Michael Keen. On one of his accent walls is a display of 15 varying sized, graphite illustrations with differing shapes and forms seeming to move off the paper, giving my mind plenty to mull over. When I ask him about them, he explains,
“They are inspired by meditation and what you see behind closed eyes in the sunlight.”
Tell me he’s not a deep Jedi-master soul, just try to.
Among Keen’s other talents is an extraordinarily bright gift for painting. It’s interesting that his works at www.newvoiceart.com are inspired by his lucid dreams. Keen clearly wants and pushes himself to connect with his artistic gifts and a universe beyond himself and what we see here in this physical realm, even reaching for them in his sleep. His paintings are ruminative and feel like an entrance into his fantasy world that you are observing.
He is also a co-host of a weekly web based radio show called “The Untitled Art Show” and is the host of a new cooking show called “The Eco-Kitchen.” The web-based cooking show focuses on sustainability or as Keen describes it, “how to be a foodie but do it more conscientiously.” Keen grew up in a family of foodies and was an executive chef by the time he was 18, so getting creative with food comes naturally. The meticulous artist truly thinks-through his daily impacts with the world. A wealth of knowledge and passion spews out of him regarding eco-friendly food, ecosystems and responsible treatment of our earth in producing our fare.
Whether it’s the airwaves or the kitchen, Keen’s charisma seems to ease him through each and every new adventure he takes on. As a barista, chef, host and artist, he slips right into the roles and gives an eloquent and engaging presentation leaving me feeling just a bit more enlightened.