Dean Merlo - More than Coffee
About the artwork
For Brisbanites the name “Merlo” is synonymous with the word “coffee”. Of her painting, Anne-Marie Zanetti says, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to witness Dean’s unmistakable passion and appreciation for his craft.” Being introduced to Merlo’s original artisanal roaster and observing Dean savouring the aroma of a handful of green coffee beans created the perfect ingredients for this portrait.
About the sitter
Inspired by his international travels after university, Dean Merlo wanted to bring the true espresso bar experience home to Brisbane. The Merlo Coffee you know today began as a small CBD espresso bar in 1992. Struggling to source the best quality beans for his cafe, Dean opened the first Merlo Coffee Torrefazione (Italian roasting house) in 1996. Here he was able to begin crafting the quality coffee blends and roasting profiles his brand is known for.
About the artist
Brisbane artist Anne-Marie Zanetti aims to illuminate the beauty she experiences in moments that may seem otherwise insignificant or ordinary. Her portrait and still life pieces are eye catching and full of intricate detail. Zanetti exhibits both within Australia and internationally. Her work has won numerous awards and been accepted in many Art Prizes including the Doug Moran Portrait Prize 2018. She is currently represented by the Lethbridge Gallery in Brisbane and The Sugarman Peterson Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“My aim was to capture a sense of timelessness in the work (hospitality being generational in the Merlo family) and to imbue the painting with the relaxed and confident familiarity that seems to exude from Dean.”
Behind the scenes
My husband, a discerning and avid coffee drinker, suggested I approach Dean for a sitting. Due to covid19 I tried to limit the time spent for the sitting as much as possible. Fortunately, I realised very quickly the site of his very first Torrefazione (roasting house) was a great location. This site also houses his original artisanal roaster.
My aim was to capture a sense of timelessness in the work (hospitality being generational in the Merlo family) and to imbue the painting with the relaxed and confident familiarity that seems to exude from Dean. Observing him savour the aroma of a handful of green coffee beans combined with the rustic texture of the well-used roaster seemed to bring to life the narrative in my mind.