Mixed-media artist Jeff Zischke has recently opened the doors of Zischke Design Gallery and Café, where he sells his blends of coffee and teas and shows off his diverse creations.
Zischke Design Gallery opened at 7164 E. Main Street in late July in a space nestled between two other art galleries, and Zischke feels his space will energize Old Town’s famous gallery scene.
“I’m hoping it kind of transforms Main Street,” Zischke says. “Main Street seems like it’s had the same kind of art for a long time, and a lot of it’s Western-Southwestern art, and I’m hoping that by doing a design gallery I’d like to see more design galleries and maybe we can add some more life to this street.”
Zischke had made a career out of making large sculptures, lighting displays and large works that have lit up the canal at Canal Convergence, but he had never been in a gallery until a friend in April told him there was a space available along Main Street in Old Town.
After a quick inspection of the 1,300-square-foot space, he knew it would be feasible to use it as a gallery for his artwork.
But Zischke didn’t want to just make a gallery.
As an avid coffee drinker and someone who fell in love with the cafés he visited on trips to Portugal, Spain and France, he wanted to incorporate the whimsy of those establishments into his gallery.
So, he divided his gallery into thirds.
The first part would be a café for customers to grab a beverage and a snack, the second would be a gallery showing off Zischke’s various pieces up for sale, and the last sector of his building would be converted into a design area where he could host meetings or brainstorm ideas.
Zischke wanted to offer a unique take on coffee that uses a straining cloth suspended by one of his custom-made sculptures to brew the coffee.
But he also has a unique story he likes to tell with his coffee that involves finding a photo on the street of Spain.
Zischke was walking a street in Barcelona when he looked down and saw a torn-out photo of a young man. He was immediately intrigued by what the story could have been behind the young man in the photograph.
He eventually thought of a name for the man: Alejandro.
From there, Alejandro developed into a fictional character that Zischke used to center his café and products around.
The story is that Alejandro was the son of a famous Madrid matador who was killed by a bull.
After his father’s death, Alejandro was taken under the wing of famed artist Antoni Gaudi, who taught him about arts, architecture and how to make the perfect Cortado — a beverage consisting of espresso mixed with a roughly equal amount of steamed milk to reduce the acidity of the beverage.
Unfortunately, Gaudi was hit by a train and amid his grief, Alejandro set out to honor him and his father by creating the perfect beverage dubbed the “Zortado.” It’s a traditional Cortado with small sword on top of the drink with a treat strewn across the small sword.
The name is a combination of Zischke’s last name and the word Cortado.
All of this can be read about in a little book that Zischke has available at his café, which he named Zolodor Café.
Keeping with the theme of a Spanish cafe, Zischke offers his blends of coffee, which he brands Gaucho Coffee, and teas branded as Gaucha Tea.
Zischke also has pastries and fruits that sold on small swords.
Just a skip from his coffee bar is Zischke’s gallery, where guests can see a plethora of art, from paintings, sculptures and jewelry to desert-themed bonsai trees and 3D-printed objects.
“I’d say 80% of this stuff in here is mine, and it’s just showcasing my work and all a lot of the work that people don’t know what I do,” Zischke says.
“‘I’ve never been a typical artist and I’ve never been in a gallery, because I don’t do the same thing over and over. I’ve always done mixed media, lighting and furniture, and it all revolves around the same kind of core thing of creating something dynamic and interesting.”
In addition to a vast collection of his works, Zischke has art from local painters, jewelers, and 3D models from other creators.
He arranged the gallery in a way that also displays media that have not typically been shown in the galleries along Main Street.
“What I’m trying to do is create something that people going say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen something like this before,’” Zischke says.
Zischke Design Gallery and Café
7164 E. Main Street, Scottsdale