Freak of the Week ~ Alan Hayes

Some of you may know that my husband and I bought a former Roman Catholic cathedral in Pittsfield, Ma and have been renovating it for over 8 years. (Come see our fledgling site at Our current push is to complete our commercial kitchen where we plan to accommodate artisanal food producers, including Hayes Home Roast.images 07.02.14 Alan Hayes Portrait

Each week - usually on Wednesdays, we feature a FREAK who speaks to our theme. This week's theme is Coffee and Alan Hayes is worthy of our Freak of the Week title - and he is a Coffee Roaster, proprietor of Hayes Home Roast.

1. Tell our readers about you, My most recent worldly manifestation is as a coffee roaster and coffee entrepreneur. This a development of my experience roasting my own coffee, for my own use, for the last 13 or 14 years.  Stop on over and get a one-time-only free sample of our coffee of the week!

But I am most seriously a photographer. My photography, which I pursue for its own sake, in significant ways fairly aimlessly, is the best expression I have in the world, my deepest exploration, the deepest impression I make on the world. I began taking pictures seriously about fifteen years ago.This is a link to a representative sample of some of my photographic work:

Prior to that I had various careers in craft of different sorts, from carpentry and woodworking, to graphic design, to most recently, a foray into acoustic metal sculpture:

None of this activity has ended up particularly associated with getting money, which is why I’ve started putting together a extremely small scale coffee roasting business. This is a manifestation of craft, though at the heart of it is a process analogous to making popcorn. What I am finding is that it is a very good way of being in the world, interacting with people, and making sufficient money to pursue my deep heart pursuits. I feel extremely fortunate to have found a money gig that is so profoundly satisfying on so many levels. Coffee is something that a lot of people really like, and I am in a position to provide them with a kind and quality of coffee that not all that many people have ever experienced. It’s very nice to be able to so simply give so many people such a basic pleasure.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 32. Have we met? When? Where? Who introduced us? I first met you at one of your holiday open houses, where I  became aware of your remarkable work and purchased a blanket, which is one of my prized possessions to this day. Then some years later we became facebook friends, partly I think because I was always ready to encourage you to keep your girls home from school, the way my mother did me. Then when we met up again, we knew each other a bit. One of the great things about the internet is that it provides a means of finding the other nuts like yourself!

3. If you had the power to make one change in the world what would it be? I would arrange it so that everything for which it was feasible would be kept in Ball jars. I understand that this would probably make very little difference in the world, but that doesn’t keep me from thinking it should be done.

4. What are you passionate about and why? I am passionate about art, my own, and others. I am deeply concerned with social justice, in the simplest sense of treating all people equally. I am very committed to doing whatever I do, photograph, sculpture, book design or coffee, at a high level of accomplishment.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 25. Who/What has been most influential in your work? My former wife, Rosemary Starace was extremely important in my development as an artist.  My identity as an artist is the most important thing in the world to me.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 46. Where do you find your inspiration/motivation? Don’t know the answer to this one. I guess I would say I spend a fairly large amount of time moping, and then it just comes. A lot of stuff originates for me at a totally preverbal level, as body feelings, and vague sensations of motion, and a feeling of being in space.

7. Aside from working, how do you spend your time? Work has always been pretty central for me. I tend to be happiest when I have some work to do. Outside of working I spend a fair amount of time just thinking, and being with a few friends. Never got the whole vacation/entertainment thing particularly. I like to cook, though I cook simply, to eat; and read voluminously. And then there is the internet!

8. Tell about a transforming memory or magical moment that proved life-changing. This is going to be a weird one! But you did ask! I once had a dream which featured an aquarium. The aquarium was fairly large, filled with water, colored gravel, the whole bit. Floating somewhat beneath the surface of the water was an old style half gallon ice cream carton, which was leaking small magenta/pink plastic nuns from one corner. That’s basically all of the dream that I remember. It convinced me of the utter meaninglessness of dreams, while at the same time becoming a lifelong obsession. I’ve considered various way of actualizing it. Carving nuns out of styrene (they were definitely styrene!), getting them injection molded, sending to China and getting a container load made, finding out where the local moldmakers drink their beer and making friends, but part of me just wants to leave the whole business in the unactualized realm…

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 59. Do you have a prized possession? What is it? Well, there’s my Crispina blanket! Tools are very important to me. I have a few that I have had most of my life, and even some that came to me from my parents. I have reached a point in life where I’ve become the keeper of heirlooms. It’s more the meaning and associations of things than the things themselves, though the things can hold the magic.

10. If you were able to spend an afternoon with any one person – dead or alive, who would it be? Why and what would you plan for your time together? I always have trouble with this sort of question, but what came to mind is that I would like to have been able to spend some time with the photographer Milton Rogovin, just talking, showing each other pictures.

11. What is your favorite place and/or way to spend time? I like to be making things or working on photographic or graphic projects, things I can lose myself in. These days a lot of this is just sitting in front of a computer, of course.

07.02.14 Alan Hayes 712. What is your goal or main focus for your next 12 months? Getting my new business, Hayes Home Roast to the point where it is supporting me and letting me have sufficient time for my artistic pursuits.

13. Do you have an upcoming event or significant happening that you would like to promote with your blog posting? When? Where? Details and contact information please. The biggest thing I have coming is the official roll out of my coffee roasting business. This has been awaiting the securing of a proper commercial space to do the roasting, which looks, finally, to be imminent. Please take a look at my new website,