Dec 26 2012
I’m always amazed at the surprises Bangkok pulls out of its hat when I least expect it. For instance, who would have thought that a unique Thai artist influenced by Native American art would have tucked a funky gallery/cafe on a sidestreet behind the major tourist attraction of Wat Arun? A recent stroll proved this area is teeming with culture, and Dream Keeper coffee & art studio, a vision recently realised by 28 year-old artist, Kasalong, contributes to the neighbourhood’s rich cultural mix.
Set in an old shopfront on a quiet lane that’s literally a stone’s throw from Wat Arun, Dream Keeper is a small open fronted cafe and gallery, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. The cafe’s old western American style signs would fit in seamlessly somewhere like Santa Fe, New Mexico or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Inside, rustic wood panelled walls provide the perfect backdrop for the cafe’s collection of faded Native American portraits.
The cafe’s small selection of coffee and tea drinks happen to be excellent, and I took my Americano strong and black. It might have been late morning, but after a sip I fell into a fantasy of rising from a rocky bed next to the smoulders of a campfire, into a quick cup of joe and then off before sunrise on the back of my trusty horse to heard the cattle on an open range. It wasn’t until a street cart vendor passed by selling som tam that I remembered I was still some 8,000 kilometres away from the dusty planes of Oklahoma.
Although Kasalong’s work is heavily influenced by Native American art, he’s not limited to the genre. I fell for a couple dreamy depictions of grassy fields that use soft greens and blues and seem to be captured from the perspective of an insect whose entire universe is one grassy grove. To capture such depth and beauty in something as simple as a field of grass is the mark of not only a talented aesthetic artist, but also one who experiences the world in the most poignant of ways.
Kasalong also produces a good number of portraits, and whether they’re of a Native American or Bangkokian, the level of feeling and expression he captures is both impressive and evocative.
Dream Keeper is a relatively new development and, like Kasalong’s art, it’s an ongoing work in progress. Whether it’s a side trip after a visit to Wat Arun or as part of a longer journey through Thonburi, a stop here is sure to be a pleasant one for art (and coffee) enthusiasts.
To reach Dream Keeper, walk straight down the small lane that runs adjacent to the Wat Arun ferry crossing pier (the temple wall will be on your left if heading away from the river), and take a right at the end. Dream Keeper is a short walk down on the left.
Afterwards, you might head to nearby Ree Ree Khaosan Restaurant for a bite, or up to Phran Nok Market to explore Thai ingredients, after which a detour to sample candied bael fruit at Soi Trok Mathum should be compulsory.
Dream Keeper Coffee & Art Studio
Wang Doem Rd, Bangkok Yai, Thonburi
(080) 619 0596
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