By Kristy Locklin
If you feel a rush of artistic inspiration while drinking beer at Caliente Pizza & Draft House, chalk it up to alcohol … and Morgan Christman.
Each month, the 40-year-old creates beautiful, albeit temporary, masterpieces on blackboards listing the local chain’s latest brew line-ups. Her medium is chalk; from professional pastels and Crayola sticks to the calcium sulfite she whips up at her Tarentum home.
Christman, a self-taught artist, lover of puns and animal fanatic (she went to school to be a zookeeper), starts by sketching her ideas on paper then replicates the designs on a chalkboard. The process takes about three hours, usually on a Saturday morning before the bar gets too crowded.
One of her latest works pays tribute to the return of those noisy, red-eyed insects. “Intox-cicada” graced the Aspinwall draft list for 30 days and won’t return for another 17 years.
“Put Your Tulips Here” celebrated the arrival of Spring with a robin perched upon a beer bottle surrounded by flowers. “Beers of a Clown,” depicted a sad bozo juggling pint glasses.
One of Christman’s personal favorites, “Light or Dark?”, features a Thanksgiving turkey holding a stout and pale ale.
Caliente owners Nick and Angie Bogacz hired Christman when they first opened their restaurant in Bloomfield. Seven years and four new locations later, she’s still putting her personal touch on the walls.
“We fell in love with her work,” Nick Bogacz says. “It’s always something different. She has free-range to do whatever she wants.”
When a new month arrives and she has to wipe the slate clean, she never feels sad. All of her art ends up on her Instagram page, ChalkedNLoaded https://www.instagram.com/chalkednloaded/. Some of her earliest Caliente creations – drawn on plywood boards covered in chalkboard paint – permanently hang at the Mt. Lebanon store.
Although she considers chalk-art a hobby, her talent is being recognized by other businesses, who call on her to add a dusting of color to their decor. You can often see Christman’s handiwork at Mad Mex, Bar Louie, Route 8 BBQ, Alexions and Doce Taqueria.
When she’s not poised in front of a chalkboard, she’s busy illustrating a children’s book and dabbling in other crafty projects.
No matter what the future holds, Christman will continue promoting Caliente beer specials throughout Pittsburgh … and beyond.
“They’re really great people. They let me go crazy,” she says. “I just wish they would open a location in Hawaii.”