“Welcome To The Jungle”

“College” and “coffee;” I have it on good authority that soon these words will officially be considered one-in-the-same. At least for me, pulling 4 a.m. study nights rushing to class at 9:30 the next day, coffee is sort of a ritual. I am by no means what I would consider a coffee snob, and do not place myself above a watered-down cup from a nameless diner, or a slightly burnt one from the gas station near my house; for the nocturnals, anything with caffeine basically qualifies.

Every once in a while though, when I feel like a real treat, I’ll take myself somewhere nice and indulge. Generally this constitutes something as simple as an Americano from Starbucks, but sometimes I actually venture out and get creative, and find myself somewhere like the heart of the jungle!: the Java Jungle, that is.

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Most locals know Java Jungle for its eclectic crowd, Open Mic Night, and gourmet menu of homemade food and drinks, many made with locally bought ingredients. Personally I’ve always though of Java Jungle and its engagement to the arts. It is a place for artists to hangout, yes, and in that sense it encourages creativity, but that seems to be somewhat of a coffeehouse standard. What’s great about Java Jungle to me is the fact that on top of promoting local artists, the building itself is a work of art.

jungle2Just walking up outside you can already see this place is literally covered in art. The mural that blankets the building shows a half-nature, half-industrial scene–likely just a simple inspired idea, but I like to interpret it as a reflection on the marriage between the natural world and that of our own. There’s a fluid structure that challenges the general dichotomy of the two, almost implying a sense of codependency or intense sense of war; either that or someone just thought it looked cool, I tend to be over-fanciful.

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Inside looks like a, well, like a jungle, but it’s charming and great. The mosaic floor creates a pseudo-red-carpet path leading to the counter, which is covered in random fliers about local art shows, and bands, and the next Drag-party put on by ladies with names like Ambrosia Salad. 

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Trees; fitting in a jungle scene. The walls are covered in art, each piece different, each done by a different unknown artist (although apparently this street-artist is now somewhat big in LA).

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There is no distinguished theme, but it makes the place fluid, sort of avant garde; it’s a promotion of the creative, an encouragement of the imagination. Being surrounded by art, listening to and talking with artists, inspires a desire for creative action. After being in the Jungle for five minutes, I was ready to run home, grab my paintbrush and canvas, and slap together some artsy self-portrait or general nude–seriously though, it makes you want to get out and do something. 

There is a small gallery of sorts on the left wall, where small, no-name (not yet, at least) local artists are given a chance to sell and display their works. Each month is a new show, changing every first Thursday, with the artists just coming in a submitting since there’s no formal director. It’s not that simple for an artist though; there are a lot of people looking for the chance–so many in fact that generally they are booked out for a year in advanced. Right now it’s only a few months–(maybe you do have a chance!)

Right now and until April 4, artist Nicole Oshan has a few acrylic paintings up.

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Most of her pieces have sold, which goes to show that Java Jungle is an awesome place for exposure and artistic success.

Matt Buccambuso, who has worked at Java Jungle for roughly two years, talks about what goes into picking work for the wall. “It’s usually amateur, never big name artists, which I think is cool.”

Even during Art Town, which Java Jungle is a part of every year, the idea of local art is the main theme. Last year, every single empty space on the wall was covered by local tattoo artists’ work, and this year, the workers themselves will be contributing, since many of them are artists as well (no big surprise there though).

I like the funky-style, the fun people, and overall creative air that makes up the well-known Jungle place on the river in downtown Reno.

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All of the photos in this post are done by Russell Eck of Recked Photography. He can be accessed for sale and inquiry here (support local artists!):

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