A couple months ago, I walked into Fayes Coffee, across the street from the Market, to grab my morning joe before starting the work day, and found myself staring into the face of the big boss a little earlier than expected! I’d come face to face with their “Sam Mogannam” trading card, resting on a ledge alongside a handful of other familiar faces that I see every day on our 18th St. block. I picked up the card and flipped it over–on the back I found Sam’s answers to questions like which Fayes coffee drink he orders most (go flip it over yourself if you want to find out!)…plus I learned that he used to live directly above Fayes!
I couldn’t believe how neat these were–granted I don’t know a thing about baseball, but how much cooler than a baseball card is a “neighbor card”, a collection of personalities that when held in your hand, give you a chance to get to know the people you pass every day. I knew right away that these were the masterwork of Michael McConnell, who creates dream-like paintings and drawings under the name Pooping Rabbit. Michael’s one of the long-time owners of Fayes Coffee, and I’ve gotten to know him over my years at Bi-Rite through collaborating on our 18th Street Block Party that we put on every other year, not to mention kicking off my mornings with their coffee served with love and usually a bit of his quirky humor.
I asked Michael to tell me a bit more about what he’s doing with these cards, and this is what he said:
“For me it was the idea of people seeing each other every day in the neighborhood, but maybe not knowing their name. There is something nostalgic about baseball trading cards to me, maybe a simpler time where people knew who their neighbors were, rather then being nose down in an electronic device. We thought of it as a way for people to let others know something about themselves, while it also being a cool art/collector’s piece.
We launched the project March 1st, and we plan to do 52 of them, one for each week of the year. There will also be four bonus cards if you buy the whole set–a certain favorite man dressed in brown is slated to be one of those!
I have to say Jennifer Proctor was probably the most fun to draw–she was very playful about getting her picture taken. She is also usually the very first Fayes customer of the day, and she and I just make each laugh in hysterics. Each card takes anywhere from 6-8 hours at the moment, but as I keep doing them I am hoping that I can cut that time down.”
(Anyone know who the “certain favorite man dressed in brown” is? I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes…)
When I asked Michael how he decides who gets a shot at celebrity on one of his cards, he told me he’s accepting applications!
“We’ve handed out over 50 forms for people to fill out, but people are sometimes shy, so we’ve collected about 20. It’s still in the early stages so I hope that they gain momentum and people start collecting them. I mean, for 3 bucks, you’re getting an archival print of original artwork in a protective sleeve, so I think that’s pretty cool. It’s also been fun seeing how happy the people are when they get them. Like Henry (who just turned 3) got his just in time for his birthday and his parents were stoked!”
I can’t imagine a more fun way for an artist (and local business owner) to shout out what makes a neighborhood tick–its neighbors! Michael’s still accepting applications–pick one up next time you’re caffeinating!