Walk in for lunch, leave with art: Markus Sebastiano at Pure Cold Press, Brookline

“I don’t typically hang my work in cafes,” says the cutting-edge Boston-based artist Markus Sebastiano, whose work was selected for an MFA Summer Party auction and can be found all over Boston, and who has worked with the W Hotel and the Lot F Gallery.  “But the interior space at Pure Cold Press is ideal.”


Cold-pressed juice – the core concept behind Brookline’s new Pure Cold Press cafe in Coolidge Corner – is about delivering the best of what nature has to offer in a state that’s just short of raw. In fact, the entire menu is about offering an authentic, unadulterated experience.

It’s no surprise, then, that the works of art adorning the cafe’s wood-clad, rustic-chic interior have a distinctly raw expression that’s nothing if not authentic and unadulterated. Or that their creator, Markus Sebastiano, was selected Boston’s RAW Artist of 2014.

Pure Cold Press’ founder, Haim Cohen, whose father owns the popular Rami’s next door, stumbled upon Markus’ work on Facebook, where the bold, dynamic mixed media pieces – brought to life in arresting hues and striking contrasts – instantly caught his eye. Four of Markus’ works, all of them for sale, were soon up for Haim’s customers to enjoy.

For Pure Cold Press, which sees itself as a community where people can connect and discover more about themselves through food, art, music and various events, Markus is a perfect match.

“Markus’ three works depicting different landscapes of land, sea, and sky echo what we are trying to achieve with this space,” says Haim. “Each piece exhibits a slightly different color palette and technique, but the three still complement each other and come together beautifully. Similarly, we want Pure Cold Press to facilitate the coming together of a varied yet cohesive community of people with the shared interest of pursuing a wholesome and healthy life.”


Markus – who, incredibly, launched his full time career as an artist just two years ago – reciprocates the sentiment. “I don’t typically hang my work in cafes, but the interior space at Pure Cold Press is ideal. It’s beautiful, the lighting is great, and I felt that the work would complement the cafe concept and vice versa.”


But how does a hot new artist choose to display his work at a local cafe? 

It’s not, after all, as though he’s lacking in exposure or demand. In 2014, one of Markus’ works was selected for the MFA Summer Party black-tie auction. He’s live-painted at the W Hotel for an organization called The Good Ones. He’s done a project in association with the popular Lot F Gallery at the Good Life bar in the financial district. Before coming to Pure Cold Press, he’d just wrapped up a show at the trendy downtown art and design concept restaurant, Liquid Art House, finished a 35-foot mural at Local 149, and begun a new one at Article 24. (Fortunately, the murals are indoors, or it wouldn’t be surprising if the guys who chipped street art off New York’s building walls to sell in galleries found their way to Markus’ work.)

If Pure Cold Press’s irresistibly fresh, cool interior played an important role in Markus’ decision to bring his pieces there, it was ultimately the human factor that sealed the deal. “Haim is such a high energy, good guy, and he is so genuinely excited about this concept that I wanted to work with him,” says Markus.

“I’ve also been getting to know Brookline, really like the town, and could see that Pure Cold Press has an interesting, diverse clientele that would be a good match for my work.” The feeling has proven mutual. Step into Pure Cold Press, and you’re bound to hear a guest (young, old, knowledgeable about art and less so – there seems to be no set definition of the Sebastiano fan) commenting on the beauty and impact of his pieces.

Markus’ pieces fuse a street-art authenticity with more polished appeal. He grew up in a metal shop, making sculptures, and later worked as a graphic designer. “All those experiences came together in my current work,” he says. “I tend to gravitate towards texture and rusted walls, peeling apart, old painted sides of buildings.” Rich sensory experiences that he deftly captures in his work.


Markus’ creative process is centered on pushing conceptual and material boundaries and bringing together distinct elements to create a multidimensional whole that takes on a life of its own. He pairs industrial hardware with vintage paper, acrylic painting with torn and water technique, ultimately creating a perfect union of art and handcrafted metal frames.

Markus’ commissions come from both private clients and public spaces. Far from fearing that the different directions could dilute his concept, the artist thrives on the new creative possibilities. “A family will say, ‘Would you like to do some customs for us and come to our house? I like fishing she loves the ocean we love our kids,’ and I’ll ask them, ‘What kind of poets and styles do you like?’ It begins as a sort of mediation, then I send a sketch, and then I build it.” The branding experience from his previous life is a clear asset in the process.

The three White Series landscapes for sale at Pure Cold Press offer up nature in its purest form. “I had a vision of the elements and the soft colors creating a very serene feeling. I wanted it to be calming,” says Markus of the series.

The fourth, larger piece features Japanese newsprint – which appears to depict characters meaning “today” or “this day” in the lower right corner: a reminder to stay in the present.

And the present seems the best place to be, with many of Markus’ fans hurrying to acquire his works before his popularity drives up prices – and while he can somewhat keep up with demand.

He’s hit on that rare creative concept that resonates with a diverse crowd and engages even the unaccustomed art buyer. It’s not unusual for Markus to hear a client say, “I haven’t been into art before but am now becoming interested in it because of your work.”

This is, in other words, the time to get a Sebastiano – and Pure Cold Press is a perfect place to start. Just don’t be surprised when your custom salad makes it feel imperative that you get a custom work of art for your living room, too.

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