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Artist Cafe Utica | Owner Jess Szabo opens up about her website for and about Utica artists


Artist Cafe Utica is a website for and about Utica artists. The idea behind the site is to duplicate, as best as an online space can, the experience of sitting around a little cafe tucked inside a tiny local book and music store. There are dedicated pages for local artists’ novels, albums, and other works of art, just as an offline place would offer bookshelves and racks of CDs, records, and DVDs. Every Friday morning, a new piece in the section Articles for Artists offers something for local artists to read, discuss, and maybe use to generate ideas for future artwork or for managing their career in the Arts. Topics may include anything you might discuss while hanging out in a physical cafe surrounded by books, music, and other art… which is pretty much anything. 

Artist Cafe Utica launched in November of 2019. There have been a few bumps along the way, but fifteen months after it began, the site met its expected follower and reader numbers and began to grow, with Articles for Artists drawing views the fastest. Current article series include What Really Happens When…, a series devoted to social challenges, Prompts, meant to generate ideas for settings, themes, characters or anything else related to a reader’s career, and Weird Work, a place to share all those just plain odd things that happen during the course of an arts career. The online arts cafe is even pet-friendly, with a special column hosted by the official Artist Cafe Utica mascot, Callie’s Corner, devoted to artists and our pets. 

Plans to expand each series are in progress and topic requests are always appreciated. Readers are invited to participate in the site by visiting the corresponding Facebook page and joining the Facebook group. Comments and posts discussing the topic of the latest article, requesting a topic, or just sharing an observation about life as an artist in Utica are more than welcome. It’s especially enjoyable when local performing artists take to the “online stage” by posting videos to the Facebook page and group. 

Artist Cafe Utica is also the online home for my own career in the Arts. I teach writing to adults online as a university faculty member. The school is never named on the site, and nothing that happens to any of my students is ever discussed, even in general. This is done to ensure that student confidentiality is never breached, and there is no confusion as to whether or not the university agrees with any opinions I may express. The larger issues of adult education and arts education are a part of the site. 

My novels are for sale through the Novels section. Artist Cafe Utica is not set up for commerce. Clicking on the links will take readers to a secure Amazon page where they can choose an ebook or paperback copy of each of my self-published works. The stories center around a group of forties to fifties and older artists from Utica, New York. The books are designed to read like a cross between literature and a TV series, with each novel focusing on one or more members of the crowd facing issues local artists might face in everyday life. Readers will recognize a few of the places around Utica in the settings, including the Tramontane Cafe and Boulevard Diner, but much of each story takes place in fictional businesses. 

The third part of my career is as an independent writer for other Utica-based artists. I am available to write profiles of bands for their own professional websites or social media pages, articles promoting new albums to local media, blog-style articles about artwork or the issues it addresses for your page, press releases, news-style articles on the same topics, and any other written material an artist might need. Local artists with day jobs, side jobs, side hustles, or any other work outside the arts may also hire me to write for them to promote those projects or causes. 

While there is a charge to have me write original content for you, promote your organization or band in one of my articles, or allow you to copy an article to be used as content on your own site, there is never a subscription fee or any charge to be included and promoted outside of the Articles for Artists section. 

Detailed information, including prices and policies, can be found on Artist Cafe Utica at www.artistcafeutica.com. I can also be reached at artistcafeutica@gmail.com or via text at 315.507.9136.


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