Business Venture

Phagans to open art studio,
cafe on Madison's Main Street

Eric Phagan is an
accomplished local artist, sculptor

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

(March 2012) – Drive down Madison, Ind.’s Main Street and it can be easy to glaze over the buildings. But take a walk down Main Street and everything becomes more apparent – especially the new businesses. For the new owners of a coffee and art gallery collaboration, this is their goal. Not only do they encourage people to stop by their business, they also hope to bring in more tourists to Madison.
This is the Phagan family – a tight-knit group of people combining what they love to do with a common goal to attract more visitors to the downtown.
Eric Phagan, along with his parents, Jeff and Peggy Phagan, have been working at 115 E Main St. to open their new business. This is not just a coffee shop and art gallery but a place for people to socialize, have meetings and even stay overnight if needed.

Phagan Family

Photo by Don Ward

Madison area artist Eric Phagan
(left) poses with wife Jessica,
their 1-year-old son, Vinson, Eric’s
mom, Peggy, and her daughter,
Sarah. All contribute to the business.

“Everything just fell into place,” said Eric, a local artist. “We want it to become like a gathering place for residents and tourists.”
Eric, 32, will be showcasing his sculptures and paintings along with “W” of Madison furniture store. The coffee shop, run by Peggy, will be tucked away in the back.
Eric’s parents bought the building late last year. It may seem inconspicuous from the outside, but it holds many possibilities inside, the Phagans say.
The idea of having this merge came from Eric’s growing art career, a need for more space and Peggy’s ambition to one day open a restaurant.
Though Eric’s art is now showcased in various venues, his career began as a child when he would come up with his own stories and add drawings to go along with them. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis and even went on to study in Paris.
After graduation, he came back to his home town of Madison, where making art became his full-time job. In 2007 he married and now has one son, Vinson, age 1. He soon realized the enormous task of helping to support a family while making art.
As he continued to work from his garage, opportunities began happening and his art became more popular. He began doing national shows and eventually set up exhibitions in Illinois, Kentucky and New York.
He recently entered two shows in California and Texas and was published in Direct Art Magazine in 2010. But even with his art traveling the nation his main focus is once again local. When he started receiving calls and emails asking where his studio was located, he knew it was time to find a permanent home for his work.
Jeff and Peggy Phagan found the perfect place – the former location of Dusty Miller Antiques. When it was finalized that Eric and his parents would share a building, the family began work on their “new” old building.
“I always wanted to do a cafe,” said Peggy. “It was the right time and it all just fell into place at a good location.”
Eric does not plan to showcase his art in a typical modern gallery setting with white walls and art pieces are placed sparingly. For one, he will be sharing the first floor with “W” furniture store and the cafe. Therefore the plan is to give the area a 1920’s to 1930’s theme. There will be a small sitting area and plenty of walk-around space to enjoy the art and the laid back wholesome American feel. Of course there’s also the food. This is where Peggy comes in.
Even though the original plan was to open a restaurant she had decided on a cafe so that any cooking wouldn’t harm the art. She doesn’t plan on a set menu but rather on the fly recipes, such as pies and cookies, that she has collected from family members.
Visitors entering the building have the chance to check out the cafe and art on the first floor or walk up to the mezzanine level, where the sculptures and figurative works will be housed.
When creating his paintings or sculptures, Eric pulls from everyday life, history and even dreams. He says it encompasses what he does. Those interested may also be given the chance to see him at work in his studio in the basement.
Even with the art and cafe, the Phagans didn’t stop. They have added a guest house that overlooks Main Street and carries the feel of a historical bed and breakfast.
There are also plans for a meeting room guests can rent and during the warmer months there will be access to the outdoor patio.
While working on the building, the family has done its best to reveal much of the original structure. From the exposed brick to the original wooden floors, the finished building will be a must-see for locals and tourists, alike.
“I wanted to do it right and have a certain feel,” said Eric. “I really hope that as my art grows, and I grow that I can get people to come to Madison and enjoy the experience.”
The Phagans are planning a soft opening in early March and a grand opening in late April or early May.
Even with this busy schedule, these family ties have stayed strong. Eric’s wife, Jessica, has been involved coming and going with their son. Eric’s sister, Sarah, has helped whenever there is a gap.
The family has also started thinking about future plans once everything is settled. Eric would eventually like to hold art workshops, while Peggy has ideas for expanding into a separate restaurant.
With plans for the present and the future, this family embodies what it means to do what you love and love what you do.

Back to March 2012 Articles.



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