Ben Daniels, a barista and store manager at Café Steam, doesn’t just make beautiful latte art — and he’ll prove it Friday.

Daniels, 24, is a self-taught artist who creates on stretched canvas and cold-pressed paper with oil and gouache paints. His latest exhibit, “Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life,” goes up in the Broadway location Friday, June 11, with an artist talk. The pieces feature bold lines in a gestural style (and even a few coffee and tea stains).

He took time to answer questions for 507 Magazine readers.

How did you first get interested in creating art?

I think I have always had creative drive. My interest in art and particularly abstraction grew the older I got, and I can only hope it continues. My introduction into abstraction started as early as 2011, studying and admiring works by (Wassily) Kandinsky.

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From "Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life" (photographed by William Forsman)
From "Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life" (photographed by William Forsman)

What inspires you as an artist?

I think the driving force for inspiration lies in my necessity to create. I am specifically encouraged by conscious and unconscious content, using action painting in tandem with automatic drawing as a foundation in my work. The creative process itself inspires and awes me with every novel experience.

What mediums do you work with?

I have worked with numerous mediums over my career. These past three years, I have been focusing on acrylic, chalk, graphite, charcoal, ink, gouache and oil. Working with multiple mediums encourages different techniques, variation and dynamism in my work.

How does the "Metamorphosen" exhibit represent the three categories of landscapes, abstractions and life?

The work in this exhibition could be seen as an amalgamation of all three. Landscapes, abstractions and life represent a theme that I see in the work, as well as an analogue to the creative process that each piece undergoes.

From "Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life" (photographed by William Forsman)
From "Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life" (photographed by William Forsman)

Which artists have you most recently discovered?

I recently did some research and studies on Clyfford Still. He was a driving force of abstract expressionism, though his name is much less known. The vast amount of works he did throughout his lifetime is truly astonishing. I hope to get to visit his museum in Denver this coming year.

Do you think your work as a barista and as an artist have any connections?

My time as a barista has definitely affected the works — a selection of my new pieces have coffee and coffee grounds in them. Used for staining, the natural brown tones help highlight both paper and paint. Along with coffee, I have been playing with wine and tea stains, as well.

If you go

What: Artist talk for "Metamorphosen: Landscapes, Abstractions, and Life"

When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 11 (art will be up for viewing through Sept. 23)

Where: Café Steam, 315 S. Broadway, Rochester

Cost: Free