GOSHEN — Customers of Goshen’s The Electric Brew want two things when they come in the door — good coffee and the comfort of familiar artwork.
The Electric Brew owner Myron Bontrager said that the giant earth and moon paintings on the wall at the coffee shop are “kind of an anchor” for the store. He didn’t realize how popular they were until he took them down a few years ago to display other artwork.
“It was immediately that people asked if we were getting rid of them,” said Bontrager. “There were a number of people who said the paintings really belonged here. I thought, wow, we better not touch those.”
The giant three dimensional paintings were created by Goshen resident Jim Buller in 1994 and 1996. Buller — not the same one who coached basketball at Bethany Christian High School — dropped the artwork off at the Brew about 10 years ago with intentions of displaying the paintings there for a while and eventually selling them.
Bontrager decided to purchase the paintings a few years ago.
“I thought, ‘I have to make a choice whether to buy them or risk losing them,’” said Bontrager. “It was during the recession and I really bit the bullet to buy them.”
Buller said he wanted the paintings to live at the Brew because they went along with the art and music-friendly environment of the coffee shop. He thinks people like the size of the paintings.
“I paint big because I want to draw people in,” said Buller. “I tried to paint a small moon once and it didn’t seem right.”
It took Buller just eight hours over a three-week period to paint the earth, and about the same time over a week to paint the moon. The earth is realistic, but Buller said the moon was created from his imagination.
Buller started painting in second grade. He said he spent about 10 years of his childhood in Africa because his parents were missionaries. He also lived in New Jersey, Minnesota and parts of Indiana before graduating from high school.
Buller decided to settle in Goshen because his parents lived in the area and he was able to find a job. He’s lived in Goshen for 30 years.
“Goshen is a nice quiet town,” said Buller. “It’s not too big, it’s not too little, and there’s jobs.”
Buller has always juggled his love of painting with a day job. Now, he said his job is so demanding that he hasn’t painted in a few years.
“I want to eventually get back to painting,” said Buller. “My work schedule demands a lot of energy from me and I don’t have any left for painting at the end of the day.”
He said when he does have extended time off work he needs to decompress and relax before his natural desire to paint returns.
“When I retire, I’m going to be doing a lot of painting,” said Buller jokingly.
Buller is still collecting ideas for future paintings. He’s mostly interested in creating “skyscapes” and fantastical planetary scenes. Most recently he’s been thinking about creating a planet that’s clear, like a bubble.
“My granddaughter was blowing bubbles the other day,” explained Buller. “One floated by and it looked like a planet to me.”
He added, “I’m inspired by phenomenons of nature.”
When The Electric Brew moves across the street to the former Better World Books location, the paintings will definitely be coming along.
“The paintings will be one of the first things we hang,” said Bontrager. “We will sort of build everything else (at the new location) around them.”