In Tending Bar, we like to take a moment and get to know those folks behind the counter at your favorite bar, coffee shop, juice bar, or other beverage-making establishment. Afterall, you probably see these friendly faces more often than you'd like to admit and there's a lot more to them than just the way that craft their drinks. Roy Robertson is a barista at Cultivar Coffee. One could easily make the argument that the little shop on Hickory St. inside of a doughnut store serves some of the best coffee in town (definitely top three). Robertson is also a musician (you probably know him best from the recently defunct Denton band Pageantry) and just an all around solid dude. We stopped by Cultivar last week to talk with Robertson and grab a few photos of him at work to document his process. Read on for more...

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I first heard the song “Chasing a Bee” from Mercury Rev’s debut album, Yerself Is Steam, in the early '90s. The song finds symphonic grandeur in a droning, looping psychedelic wash of noise that intermittently envelopes instruments such as acoustic guitar and flute creating a seven-minute capsule of blissed-out experimental rock. Two and a half decades later, Mercury Rev continues to release albums that veer stylistically from the dense, sonic explorations found on Yerself Is Steam and Boces to the often stunning, orchestral statements found on Deserter’s Songs and their recent, The Light in You. In preparation for their upcoming show with Josh T. Pearson at Dan’s Silverleaf on Sunday, March 20th, I had a chance to talk with one of the band’s founding members, guitarist/clarinetist, Sean “Grasshopper” Mackowiak. Read on to hear what he had to say.

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As we kick off a new year, DIME met up with the ever-inspirational Ari Jones of Project 4.30. Not only will this gal’s impressive line of bags motivate you to travel more in 2014, but she’s got a pretty unique story to boot. How many people do you know have moved back to Denton FROM Austin because our creative community is a better fit for them? Yeah, that’s what we thought.

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Ever since Denton opened up to food trucks with much excitement in 2012, we've been a little disappointed in our lack of options. Of course, we love what we do have; The Pickled Carrot, Shiitake Swerve, Lean Machine and a few others have all been great mainstays in the Denton culinary scene, but we're always hoping for more. With Austin St. Truck Stop opening sometime within the next month or so and The Waffle Wagon entering the scene, we're thinking 2014 may be a banner year for food trucks in Denton. Are we a little behind the times on this trend? Maybe, but we're still diggin' it. 

Below is an interview from Denton Food Trucks with Rachel Black of the newly opened food truck, The Waffle Wagon

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Two local colleges makes Denton the home to quite a few artists. Our hope, is that the many of them, good or bad, figure out a way to stay here and weave their talent into Denton culture. Enter Jon Vogt, an incredible print-maker from Iowa who earned his BFA in Printmaking from Iowa State University and his Professional Printer's Certification from the Tamarind Institute for Lithography in Albuquerque. He recently moved to Denton on the suggestion of a few friends (thanks Pan Ector dudes!) and has quickly made himself an invaluable part of the Denton arts community in his short time here. In addition, he's been simultaneously pursuing his masters at the University of North Texas. Read on to learn about his work, what influences him most, and his mad print skills.

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 Article by Harlin Anderson, Photos by Will Milne 

We recently ventured out on a school night to catch the hardest working entertainer in Denton, Chris “AV the Great” Avant, doing his thing. It had been too long since we checked out the thriving, local hip hop scene, and the raucous energy radiating throughout the venue made us feel like fools for staying away so long. Avant’s undeniable talents, and the passion he brings to his trade, are sure to keep us coming back again and again and again to see what AV the Great has in store for Denton – not to mention the world. 

AV, how would you describe your flow? 

AV: I wrote this the other day, and I think it best describes my style: "Is he Gangsta rap, street rap, trap rap, or concious?? Why I gotta choose one? I like having options!"

What's the current state of hip hop in Denton? 

It's as strong as it's ever been. Gold mine if you're looking into investing in entertainment. The artists are together. We just have to get the public to stop feeling like if I listen to this DFW artist, then I can't listen to this DFW Artist. That’s the dumbest shit ever. Like, you listen to all of these other musicians from New York, Miami, Cali, ATL, Louisiana, but you act as though you can't listen to more than one rapper from your own city. That is dumb as hell. 

How have you honed your craft over the years? 

The premise is the same, but the confidence has grown and made my delivery better. At some point in time, I just said IDGAF what nobody says or thinks about my music. I’m talking about my life and the things that affect me – not what is politically correct or the trend in pop culture.

What comes first - the rhymes or the music?

Both. There is no preferred method. With “9th Grade”, I found the beat first, then I wrote the 1st verse, free-styled the hook, the 2nd verse then came out, and then I wrote the third verse.

You mention “Brenda’s baby” at the end of “9th Grade.” Is that a Tupac reference?


...putting this city on the map permanently in the Hip Hop world, and becoming The Greatest artist to ever come out of this area
— AV on his plans for the future

Who are your musical influences? 

Erykah Badu, Tupac, Jay Z, Nas, Temptations, Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Scarface, Jimi Hendrix, Bill Withers, Billy Joel, Al Green, Luther Vandross, Jodeci, UGK...a lot, I guess.

“9th Grade” is a cautionary tale spiked with anger and passion. Why is it so important for a song like this to be heard? 

“9th Grade” is all facts. People relate to facts, and everybody relates to High School. It puts the older listener in a reminiscent state, a deep emotional drift to the past, and it puts the current student in either a trance of "I feel what he is saying, this is happening now at my school" – or "I know what to look out for.” A song like this allows me to connect with the audience because when you hear it, you know I'm not lying. It's not really angry it's just emotion. 

Would you call yourself an entertainer or an educator?

I’d call myself a hip hop ARTIST.

Tell us some artists that we might not have heard of - but should definitely check out? 

My whole Trunk Pop Team is coming, and Shaheed Flow is a kid at Denton High School who has a lot of drive and ambition. 

What's next for AV? 

New album in 2014, bringing bigger and better shows to Denton, more videos, more money, and a nationwide presence. Helping as many people as I can, putting this city on the map permanently in the Hip Hop world, and becoming The Greatest artist to ever come out of this area – that’s that's the overall goal.

AV the Great is a man with a plan. His recent track record of success – he was one of the highlights of this year’s Rock Lottery, and his video for “9th Grade” racked up over 20,000 views in the first week – suggests his master plan has a damn good shot at becoming reality. Don’t  sleep on this one, Dentonites. Get out to the club, and watch AV the Great blow the doors off the joint. You’re next chance isn't far off. AV is playing all the time - keep an eye on the Den10 for his next local show. Be there or regret it for the next 365 days. 

9th Grade by AV the Great

Who woulda thought. 

Back in 9th grade. 

Zerry be back in jail

He caught a double fault

Niggas that I grew up with is smoking wet

Kinda sad they used to be college prospects

Yeah, my Cousin Zerry almost got killed

In the pen this is real saying how it is

Over skrill and some bullshit

Niggas really dying and this game is bullshit

Yeah, they treat us like projects

Throw em in the hole and see if they make it out

That’s why they call it projects

That’s why niggas scream when he make it out


Bitch I come from a good family

We did dirty deeds but still we a good family

Granny raised me right

I know what’s wrong

But still I had to make mistakes to become my own

Man, no hating in this mufucker

I pray for everybody in this mufucker

No telling when he gonna judge us in the mufucker

Who woulda thought I’d have a family in this mufucker


Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade 

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade

Who would a thought

Back in 9th grade

Back in 9th grade

Back in 9th grade


People getting money

People getting locked

Homies smoking rocks

Hoes on the clock

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade


Who woulda thought

Back in 7th grade

Uncle Kev when to the pen

Back again

I was nineteen when he seat me

Going in the wrong direction so he tried to reach me

I told him, hey I got kicked out of college

Cops wilding on me cuz I was speaking knowledge

Much later

I got them pills

I got that dro

I got skills


Then the nigga got on probation

And he was standing there with that look just waiting

The look said enough

Ever since I been eating instrumentals

Good stuff

Good luck

It’s a war zone

DFW, yeah it’s a warzone 

Who woulda thought 

Back in 9th grade

I’d lose my Aunt Jean and my Uncle James


Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade 

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade

Who would a thought

Back in 9th grade

Back in 9th grade

Back in 9th grade


People getting money

People getting locked

Homies smoking rocks

Hoes on the clock

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade

Who woulda thought

Back in 9th grade


Who woulda thought

Black president

2011 and the rich still getting rich

Politician is a politician

Real niggas stand up and stay out of prison

Give my dawg a gang/game

When he come home

Stay away from him

This block more than lukewarm

Hug your girl

Kiss your kids

Look at a map

And lets plan how we gonna take this bitch

Smoke in the chest 

Screaming fuck stress

Look around the club

We all want success

9th grade 

This shit’s crazy

Who would thought we still ain't found Brenda’s baby



AV The Great on Facebook


Interview by DIME, Photography by Matt McElligot and Anna Tovar 


This month, DIME sat down with Anna Tovar to chat about her playful, whimsical, and 
oh-so-sweet line of prints. Not only are her calligraphy prints totally adorable, she is too!  Read on to to learn more about this talented gal.

First of all, we love that you work under the moniker “Anna Tovar | Fine Artist”. It gives you the option to continually learn and work with new mediums. What is your all time favorite medium?

Oh, man! That’s really hard for me to pin point. My gut instinct is to say that oil paint is my all-time favorite, even though I don’t use it very often anymore. It’s my first love, and the real reason I gathered the courage to pursue art as a career. I went to UNT to study art, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in. It wasn’t until I took my first Drawing and Painting class that I fell in love with oils. I later took a couple of watercolor classes that also had my heart skipping beats, which makes it very hard for me to declare a favorite. 



Your Etsy shop was originally heavy on the watercolor illustrations, but is now 
largely filled with sweet and quirky calligraphy prints. How did you go about 
making this change in your line? 

I really enjoy change! I like to challenge myself by learning new mediums/crafts on a pretty regular basis. Some I just dabble in for a bit and some stick. Calligraphy stuck. I think it’s because I am still naturally coming up with new ideas, and inspiration is readily available and applicable. It’s not something that I have to force, so as long as I am coming up with fresh and new ideas, I will be creating new calligraphy pieces!

How do you decide what phrases you want to use on new calligraphy prints?
I keep a sketchbook that I write down all of the ideas and inspirations that float into my brain. The list gets pretty long, so every 2-3 months I’ll look over my design ideas as well as all of the quotes that I’ve collected, and see which ones match up the best. 

Anyone who’s seen your work or your Etsy shop can immediately tell you have a great eye for design. In fact, we heard from a little birdy that a room in your house was recently featured on Apartment Therapy. What was that like?

Great! I am really into interior design, so having my son’s room featured was pretty fantastic (and validating)!




As you have a lot of your own art in your home, several pieces were highlighted in 
Apartment Therapy’s feature. What has that done for your brand?

From what I can tell, not only did it give me greater exposure to a wider range of audience, but it also gave me more credibility. I think my brand instantly became more trustworthy in terms of quality, which has been a tremendous blessing. I wasn’t really anticipating any effects on my business, so that was just an added bonus!


What kind of work are you hoping to add to your line in the new year? 

I have more ideas than I can realistically produce! I’m going to start experimenting with 
combining calligraphy and watercolor. I love both mediums, so it only seems natural to combine the two. I also just came out with a new style of calligraphy with my “grow where you’re planted” piece. I don’t feel like I’m done with that yet, so I will be working on some more variations of that, as well!

How did you become involved with DIME?

I’ve been participating in the DIME shows for several years now. I started out selling oil 
paintings and hand-made journals, and with each show I would introduce a new product. I benefited greatly from being in those first few shows since I was able to get immediate feedback from customers in that face-to-face environment. That is a big part of what helped shape where I am today. Rachel and Shelley were able to witness first-hand the evolution of my brand, so when it came time to open the shop, I was one of the vendors that they contacted. I am so incredibly grateful for their encouragement and support!

Do you have any advice for aspiring Etsy sellers or other local makers?

Done is better than perfect. If you are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect photos, the perfect anything, you will never get started. I believe that it’s better to just get started and get your name out there, and tweak things as you go. There is a lot to learn, and it can become overwhelming if you feel like you have to learn all of it before you open your shop. You can learn as you go!


You can shop Anna's beautiful work here, here and here


The DIME Store is a shop and artist collective in downtown Denton that features art, craft, and vintage from 40+ local makers. Rachel Aughtry and Shelley Christner act as the "curators and purveyors" of the shop. When they're not at DIME, you'll find them behind their sewing machines or enjoying a margarita at The Greenhouse.


Wedding and portrait photographer Shaina Sheaff 

Wedding and portrait photographer Shaina Sheaff 

Y'all know those 'grams of jazz and tacos we include on our Monday mornin' What We Did posts? Most of those belong to photographer Shaina Sheaff. Sheaff actually has a whole bunch of awesomeness on her plate at the moment. In addition to her wedding photography and portraiture, Sheaff is working on bringing Denton its first ever Help-Portrait event (which you can read more about in the interview). Read on to find out why she thinks Denton is a black hole and why she has a barbie shoe and tiny plastic lizard in her camera bag!

WDDI: Hey Shaina! Tell us a little about yourself and your history with Denton.

Shaina Sheaff: I'm a bit of a townie. My parents moved back to Denton when I was six months old, and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say that I was raised here. I spent the majority of my childhood doing things like playing hide-and-seek all over UNT's campus, being afraid of the people who wore all black and hung out in Kharma Cafe, and watching my dad play chess with some of the Brave Combo guys at The Flying Tomato late at night. My mom and I moved to Muenster, TX for my high school years, but I came right back to Denton after a couple of years of college. This city is a black hole. You can leave, but you always end up coming back for more if you really love it.

Like most of us who have been here a while, I've had a love/hate relationship with Denton for years. Right now, I'm in the middle of being head-over-heels for this town. The creative community is thriving, people are collaborating together...it reminds me a lot of the Denton of my childhood because the art seems to have become more organic over the last few years. I keep saying that it's a great time to be a Dentonite, and it truly is - I'm excited about where our city is headed and I can't imagine ever wanting to move and raise my daughter anywhere else.

What is Help-Portrait?

Help-Portrait is a non-profit organization started by Jeremy Cowart five years ago this December. The idea is that groups of photographers, hairstylists, makeup artists, and volunteers all over the world join together to take and deliver professional portraits to people in their communities who might not otherwise have the opportunity to have that experience. As of last year, 20,371 photographers and 32,299 volunteers have given more than 282,295 portraits in 62 different countries. Pretty inspiring, to say the least.

Just over a month ago, a group of Denton photographers started talking about trying to organize a Help-Portrait event here in Denton. We didn't have much time, but we've been really overwhelmed by the positive response and the number of people who signed up to volunteer their time and are thrilled to see it coming to life!


What can Help-Portrait do for the Denton community?

This is our first year, and we're really excited to be working with the United Way (along with several other local organizations and groups) to find the families and individuals we'll be photographing. Denton Christian Preschool graciously offered their space to us to use on December 7th. An amazing group of hairstylists and makeup artists have signed up to volunteer their services and Sally Beauty Supply has donated all of our hair and makeup supplies. I think it's more than just providing hair and makeup, photographing them, and delivering prints, though. We want to really get to know these people and who they are. We want to invest in their lives and share a really great day with them.

Both Denton and photography mean a lot to me...So, to be able to give back to my community with something that I’ve been blessed with and by is a really humbling and beautiful thing.

Why are you excited about it?

I first heard about Help-Portrait a few years ago when I met Jeremy Cowart. I was really blown away by his work, but what really stood out was the heart he has for people. He's used his gifts to serve so many different people all over the world, and it was really inspiring to see such powerful images and stories. Both Denton and photography mean a lot to me, for reasons I can't even begin to describe. So, to be able to give back to my community with something that I've been blessed with and by is a really humbling and beautiful thing for me. And to see a group of people work so hard to make this happen in such a short amount of time is really inspiring. It's good to be reminded that the heart of Denton is truly built around our community and loving our neighbors.

A couple of us have already started making plans next year's Help-Portrait: Denton event. While we're keeping our numbers small this year, we hope to be able to rent a larger space in Denton and open the event up to the community. We'll be able to better plan for next year after this initial event, but we hope to be able to do things like provide clothing and food. Definitely some big dreams, but I have no doubt that we can make it happen.

What can we do to help?
We have around 30 people who have signed up to volunteer, but we still need sponsors to donate things like coffee, bottled water, and lunch for the people being photographed. We also desperately need photo paper, ink, and a sponsor to donate printing services for all of the forms we'll need to have beforehand. If you'd like to help sponsor the event, you can send a message to Sara ButtonOutside of that, the best thing you can do is stay tuned to the Help-Portrait: Denton Facebook page for updates regarding our event next year.


How would you describe your own, personal, style of photography?

I could answer this in several different ways. My work has really changed over the years and leans towards being more artistic, emotional, and non-traditional - with a bit of editorial, fashion photography, and photojournalism mixed in. I feel like my style, at it's core, has more to do with the way that I interact with and get to know the people I work with and less to do with things like post-processing and composition, although that plays an important part as well. I want the people I photograph to feel like I've given them a true and honest image that accurately communicates who they are in a creative and flattering way. Being able to capture emotion and romance is a big part of the job description when you're a wedding photographer, and it took me a few years to recognize how important it was to really learn how to direct and communicate when you're shooting. I'm definitely still learning, so I hope that my style will continue to evolve and that my work will continue to improve as a result.

What’s your favorite non-human subject to shoot in Denton?

As strange as it sounds, I'm really in love with the buildings, particularly the older ones. (Well, it's a toss-up between that and my cat, Zelda. Or the tacos that I'm constantly craving.) In all seriousness, the architecture and character of the city stayed the same here for a long time, and I'm sad that I wasn't camera-happy back when the Fry Street and downtown areas were still intact. There's an old stone house that was built in the early 1940s in my neighborhood. I grew up going over there after school when I was a kid, so it's a bit of a landmark for me. If you follow me on Instagram, it shows up in my feed on a regular basis because I love the way the light reflects off it when the sun is setting throughout the year. The city is getting ready to tear it down soon and I've gone into a mild depression over it. I love all of the change that has come to Denton over the past few years, but I'm a sentimental person and I hate that a lot of the places that have made Denton "home" for me are slowly disappearing. That's why I'm trying to photograph as many of them as I possibly can before they're all gone.

Tell us one of your top-secret Denton shooting locations!

Never! Just kidding... We all know that places like the square have been photographed 20 million times. That part of Denton holds a special place in my heart and a large number of my clients request that we shoot there, so I just look for the spots that I don't see used in the work of other local photographers. I grew up visiting the old post office just off the square on an almost-daily basis. About a year ago, I was shooting an anniversary session for a couple who were in town from NYC and decided, on a whim, to pose them standing in the big windows there. I've had several couples request it since, and it's kind of become one of my favorite little spots to shoot.

A new favorite is Rasoi, the Indian food restaurant on Avenue C. I just shot an awesome portrait session with Horace Bray, a member of the One O'Clock Lab Band, there a couple of weeks ago! Such a random location - it's not a place you'd normally think of as an ideal spot to shoot portraits after dark, but we met up there around 9:00 PM one night and it was perfect! Bonus: we got to eat delicious samosas after shooting. Again, I try to find places that are unique to Denton, but that aren't over-used. My locations are typically right in front of all of us, so there's not really a "secret" one - I just try to push myself to view and capture Denton with a voice that is unique to the area in order to keep my job interesting, fun, and fresh. It's kind of like a scavenger hunt.


What’s the weirdest thing in your camera bag right now?

I just cleaned it out two days ago, but I pulled out a handful of small rocks and a fishing lure from a recent camping trip, a Barbie shoe and a plastic lizard, a tiny jade owl that a friend brought me from Alaska, and some Halloween candy. My camera bag goes pretty much everywhere with me (and I'm a mom), so I'm always finding random things in the side pocket.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you while shooting a wedding?

I recently shot this awesome circus-themed wedding in Boyd, Texas. The couple actually paid for a live monkey to hang out and pose for photographs with guests during the reception and I got to hold him towards the end of the night! He definitely took a second to paw through my hair, found something, and turned it into a snack. So, I've been groomed by a monkey while working and I have a photo to prove it! Not many people get to experience something like that in their workplace. Best job ever.


To whom do you look for inspiration as far as art or photography goes?

As far as wedding photographers go, Andria Lindquist is my favorite. Hands down. She captures love and emotion in such a beautifully artistic and creative way and I'm really looking forward to the day when I get to meet her and hopefully hire her. Annie Leibovitz, Noa Azoulay, Tara Whitney, Jeremy Cowart, and Sue Bryce are all favorite photographers of mine and they all create really unique and interesting art - you'll rarely see anything boring or "safe" in their portfolios.

There are a lot of local artists and photographers whose work I really admire, as well. I have quite a few large paintings by Rachael Steinberg hanging in my home, and I am blown away every time I see something new that she's created. Her use of color has been a huge inspiration to me in the way I shoot for several years now.

I really love the way both Thorpe Griner and Stephen Masker approach shooting landscape and travel photography - it's not really my niche, so my jaw drops regularly when either of them posts something new from a recent trip. I go to both of them regularly for advice or opinions on my photos before anyone else sees them because I have so much respect for the way they both shoot. Jessica Hume  shoots portraits in the studio and does some really awesome live music stuff, but she does it in a really fresh way - I often notice new things when I go back and look at her photographs more than once. I also recently met a new media major from UNT who is doing some really interesting things with video and sound - Olivia Brown. I'd love to have the chance to collaborate with her on a project of some sort in the future. I'm looking forward to meeting more artists like Olivia because I'm constantly inspired by what the people around me in this town are doing - whether it's an artist or a jazz musician or a photographer.

P.S. I really love seeing the photography on WDDI every week! I get hungry every time you guys review a restaurant.

What’s your dream photo-shoot?

Two things tie for the number one spot on my photography bucket list. One: I would love to shoot a destination wedding in Ireland. I want to see the world. Someone make it happen and I'll hook you up! Two: I would like to take Jay-Z's portrait in front of the place where he lived as a child in Brooklyn. It's a little random, I know... but I'm fascinated by the fact that our environments shape us as people early on - which becomes evident in every artist's work, and I think that would make for a really powerful portrait. Also, I'm kind of a superfan.

Thanks, Shaina!


Help-Portrait: Denton will be held on December 7, 2013 at Denton Christian Preschool at Erwin Hall, which is attached to First Presbyterian Church of Denton located at 1114 W. University Drive in Denton, Texas from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. If you can help or need more info, please contact Sara Button

You can check out more of Shaina Sheaff's photography on her website or Facebook page