We had the good fortune of connecting with Zoé Arkfeld and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Zoé, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I grew up in Atascadero, where I live now and run my family business, The ARTery. My parents met in an art class in Pasadena, a serigraphy class in particular, and my mom has continued her art career as an oil painter throughout my life. She worked at an incredible art store in downtown San Luis Obispo called Law’s Hobby Center where I have many fond memories learning, creating, and causing a little bit of trouble. She decided to open her own shop in 2002. I turned eleven just a few days before we opened the shop. My family doesn’t know how to do anything with less than 100 percent of ourselves, and we ended up heavily involved in our community. I did independent studies throughout high school so I was able to work at the shop with my mom. This means I spent much of my teenage years attending city council meetings, coordinating community events, hosting art openings, and seeing the ins and outs of our business as well as our neighbors’.
I’ve grown up in a small business and a tight community. No matter how far away I’ve always remained involved in my hometown. When my husband and I were deciding where to settle, coming back to Atascadero and The ARTery wasn’t a difficult decision. Everything about who I am is intertwined with the identity of my home and business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My mom decided to open her own shop in Atascadero to be closer to the community she lived in and service the many artists she knew that would drive a long distance to Law’s Hobby to buy supplies. After a year, my parents purchased the building we are in today and more than doubled the store’s footprint. Even so, we still have a pretty small shop especially for the art supply business.
While I attended university in Santa Cruz I worked for another family run art supply and frame shop. Lenz Arts inspired me to expand our custom framing services and I learned countless invaluable lessons from my peers there.
After completing my degree, I spent a couple years travelling. My exploration took me all over both of the Americas as well as a few jaunts even further away. I met a variety of people; I saw the differences and similarities in cultures and homes. This education has influenced the way that I approach my business and what we have to offer. I recognize that not everyone is interested in the same things as me, and I’m enthusiastic about learning new ways to use the supplies I sell. For a small store, I can’t carry everything on the market, and so my selection is carefully curated and adjusted by demand. There are so many different styles of art supply stores! Our space is very hands on, explorative, and can be quite playful. If I’m not sure how something works, I’ll open it up and figure it out. The ARTery is an enthusiastically curious place, and I love it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow, well I’ll be extremely honest here. If my best friend was visiting, we’d end up doing what I already do most weeks! I live right in downtown Atascadero, only a street away from my shop, so I do most everything within just a few blocks (I don’t even have to drive, I bike anywhere that’s too far to walk). My mornings take me to my friend’s coffee shop – Dark Nectar. Tyler roasts his own coffee, and the community there is super tight. I used to help out and work some mornings, so I know the regulars too well. It’s a funny place with great conversation. I’d con everyone into helping me fill out a crossword. After coffee, I’d have to go open the shop. Having a friend hang around the shop would be fun, we’d probably do some art project I’d been meaning to explore. I spent last weekend playing with alcohol inks, and just recently did a bunch of screen printing, to give you an idea of what I like to do. My regulars that come and go are always entertaining, so hopefully some of my gems come visit while my friend is around. This place is like an artist therapy zone, so people often just visit to hang out and talk.
Maybe we’d pick up lunch from Colony Market down the street. They make a fried chicken sandwich I really like, plus their duck fat fries are delicious.
If this is Tuesday, we could walk down to the movie theatre. Tuesdays are the local discount night so I almost always go see a movie with my family. We grab a margarita or two and some tacos at Que Pasa next door before the film.
Most mornings start the same, although I’ve been helping out with a local group to bring ten murals into our downtown. This means, my time before work is filled with painting occasionally. Wednesday and Thursday I’m likely found painting a wall with a bunch of other volunteers. It feels great to get some big painting done before work. I’d con my friend into helping with that too, which getting to go up on a scissor lift is usually a strong selling point.
For lunch, Wednesdays are allocated to Sylvester’s Burgers. We always eat there on Wednesdays because it’s half price kid’s meal and half price wine; I order both and find that hilarious.
After lunch, I’d take advantage of being out and about and walk over to the farmer’s market. Every Wednesday our farmer’s market sets up around the main downtown park – The Sunken Gardens. Since Sylvester’s is just across the way, this is especially convenient. I’d check in on what’s fresh and in season. Right now peaches are great and cherry tomatoes are like candy.
After work we’d find a drink nearby, there are a lot of options. A popular spot just opened recently called Ancient Owl, it’s in a new container park and the outdoor space is very inviting. It’s a social hub so I’m sure I’d run into some more friends.
Thursday morning, we’ll need coffee. Then a downtown walk about and probably some more painting. I like walking around downtown, my brother describes it as the opening scene in Beauty and the Beast, where everyone waves out their windows and sings bonjour. Well, the singing is limited, but the greetings are abundant.
There are a ton of lunch options downtown, and I’m especially excited about a sushi shop that just recently opened. So we’d probably grab some sushi at Nogi on the other end of my block. I always get whatever the weekly special is, and it’s always good.
After work on Thursday I will definitely go to The Raconteur Room. The Turkey Buzzards play music on Thursdays and I love hanging out with those guys. The Raconteur Room (Rac Room) is my regular spot. It’s only a few doors down from the shop, so it’s hard to avoid stopping in for a second after work and getting caught in some goofy conversation. The vibe is super relaxed and playful, and I know too many people that hang out there. I’m almost always there.
Friday morning we’ll mix it up and head up the street to Bru for our morning coffee. I like to stop in and see what art they have hanging on the walls every once in a while and I’ll order a nitro cold brew. I’d take my friend outside to check out a recently completed mural (part of that mural group – The Equality Mural Project) that features local wildlife and says “Nature Is For Everyone.” I really like the message and the artist – Brandy Pippin – did an excellent job. I’ll probably find my brother there reading a book in the back patio and bug him for a minute.
Hmm, lunch for Friday will be at Hush Harbor. It’s a bakery, so the bread for their sandwiches is exceptional. I always order an Italian grinder and side salad. I use the bits of crust on my sandwich and mop up some italian vinaigrette after finishing my salad. I don’t really like bread much, but this rustic bread they make is great.
Another entertaining day at work finishes at 6, and it’s Friday night. Great! This is a good night to hit a few more drinking establishments. I’ll take my friend over to Fossil wine bar and meet up with my brother again. This is a cool spot with an eclectic selection of wines and super knowledgeable staff. Since we are just across the street, I’d suggest grabbing some pho for dinner at a spot called Pho For You. A simple and clever name, like any pho place should have.
It seems like a good night for alternative drinking options, so we’ll head over to The Poisoned Apple. As expected, apple products are available there… We’ll have some delicious hard cider, maybe get one of the local options. I usually go for Bristol’s cider which is made here in town. Great people, great cider.
Saturday mornings I head over to Back Porch Bakery. For breakfast I’ll get a ham and cheese croissant. I’ve put off Back Porch until Saturday so I can also get some beautiful and delicate pastries by a local woman – Azita – who only offers her delicacies on the weekends. Everything she makes is so beautiful I don’t want to destroy them, but they are delicious too so I get over my hesitation pretty fast.
Saturday’s are pretty relaxed at the store, a great day for some kind of distraction like a friend hanging out. Sometimes my neighbors and I set up on the sidewalk and spend the day drinking wine and gossiping. I’ll even set up my hammock in front between a tree and a light post. We’ve started calling it Sidewalk Saturday, and my neighbor Manuel over at Traffic Records will set up a turntable outside. It’s a great scene. Since I close at 4 on Saturdays, we’ll head over and keep hanging out with Manuel. His space is great. I love seeing what’s in his new arrivals and discussing various artists. If we come across an especially good album cover with a person’s face, we all hold it up in front of ourselves and take pictures with the cover as our head. We find it ridiculously entertaining. Since we are in a smaller county, Manuel manages to find some great stuff.
There’s always something to find there.
We’re not feeling like going far so we walk down the block to the distillery. Forager spirits are fresh and always interesting. I like to pick Eric’s (owner) brain about distilling and local plant uses. He’s full of stories so we’ll probably get caught up in some irresponsible tale about his past.
I love that I get to walk home.
Sunday! My day off! I’ll take my friend on a short hike this morning, we bike over to Stadium Park and hike up Pine Mountain. At the top is one of the infamous “Monoliths” that got everyone’s attention last year. In addition to being a funny phenomenon, it’s actually really pretty and at a great lookout point.
Sunday is family dinner day. We’ll head over to my parent’s house where whatever family is around collects weekly for a meal. It’s on the south end of town with a few acres, and an excellent outdoor kitchen and yard for us to hang out in. This is one of those comfortable homes that everyone seems to fall into as if they too had grown up there. Everyone in my family loves to cook, and loves to argue about cooking, and whoever ends up winning the cooking battle will produce a great meal. It’s worth it every time.
Wow, that’s almost a week. I’m exhausted, and this is what I do every week without fail. Sometimes with some community event to intersect my Saturday, sometimes avoiding people and staying distracted by an art project. Truly. It’s been great to have my friend join me…hehe… and nice to have you listen in on a small story of my life (all within a few blocks).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Bobbi Nuñez! How could I not give a shoutout to my mother, she’s my best friend and collaborator. We’ve worked together for far too long and spend too many hours on the phone every day. She and my dad now live in Japan and I run the main operations for the business, but she’s still around to bounce ideas off of or con into a little bit of computer work.