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Apr 14, 2005 09:40 AM

Restaurants showing Art Galleries

  • k

Just got a notice this morning of a realist painter currently exhibiting at a nearby restaurant, and wondered,

(1) (a) Is this very common [other than in hotels] and (b) where?

(2) Does one seem to find great chow at these places?

I know of three in my area of Orange County, CA, so far. And, all three places have superior chow, IMO,(though not necessarily high prices). There may even be a small semblance of dish price to art quality, but art quality IS in the eye of the beholder.

(3) Do you enjoy seeing art for sale in a restaurant? OR . . . not?

(4) Do you see some quality correlation to art show and chef quality or to chef lifestyle?

I'd post one of the currently noticed pictures to give an idea of quality, but their website does not allow copying. It is fine art in the genre of realism (almost photorealism). One picture was of a bunchload of green and turning purple grapes, another a flower, another a portrait of nomads, another a portrait of family time, and one called "paradise" that was realism looking, but on the verge of fantasy (like "jabberwocky" and "brillig" are not words, but some seem to be able to equate them to real words in the dictionary > when used with other real words.)

Other places have Op Art and even some that seem to be beginning Art 101 at times, however, they also rotate their stock as they show one particular artist's goods.

Would you eat at a restaurant that had an "art gallery" inside (meant to show for sale)?

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  1. One of my favorite local restaurants is Zeus Gallery Cafe and they rotate the art work they show that is for sale. I have two prints in the living room that we bought from a showing there. The food is great. It's a tiny restaurant and it works.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet

      Restaurants that show art provide an important exhibition space for local artists. I wouldn't want a Rembrandt show while I was dining at a 4-star restaurant (at the risk of losing my chowhound credentials, I probably would never get to the food), but in more casual settings, and with good though not first-class art, it's quite nice and helpful to artists.

    2. I am not certain I would call them "art galleries," but I have found many restaurants that have art for sale. Many of them serve great food. In Dallas, where I currently live, there is Kathleen's Art Cafe which has two restaurants. Both sell the rather eccentric (naive, with a great sense of humor) art on the walls.

      Among other restaurants in Dallas, one stands out as unique from an art standpoint. The walls of Lola display the portraits and landscapes of the owner, Van Roberts. His style is remarkably like the Flemish school. I have never asked him, but I don't believe they are for sale, however. Lola is generally considered one of the top five restaurants in town, btw.

      The now-defunct Torrefazione Italia cafe outlets here also sold the photography on their walls. They also sold unframed matted prints of many photographers' works

      In fact, if you look closely enough, I would venture a guess that the art on the walls of most restaurants (here and elsewhere) have the artists' names and price tags on them.

      1. I find that having to look at art - especially very colorful art that really commands attention - detracts from my enjoyment of a meal. Also, I don't want to discuss what's on the wall when I'm eating - I want to enjoy my dining partner's company and the meal itself.

        Worst-case scenario: colorful, folk-ish loud pieces or art with a message ("celebrating life") with ridiculously high prices plus patrons inspecting it enthusiastically. But I'd never, ever set foot in such a place.

        OTOH, an elegant but somewhat subdued decor, good lighting, and tableware that lets the food do the talking can really enhance a meal for me. White plates, always, but the forms can be original so long as they're functional. Keller's plates are beautiful (not that I ever ate there). I also like spare but striking floral arrangements that don't overwhelm the room but bring in a touch of the season. (Not those six-foot-tall behemoth centerpieces you find in so many hotel lobbies.)

        One exception I can think of, where I don't mind the art, is the stuff at Wallsé in New York (Julian Schnabel's work.) I don't mind it, but I wouldn't mind if it weren't there either.

        As everything, it's a matter of personal taste...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sir Gawain

          God that was pompous. Sorry everyone.

          Procrastinating at work...

          1. re: Sir Gawain

            Oh, I don’t know. I rather liked it.

            There is a restaurant near my home that has six or eight large, sepia-toned paintings of a naked, blonde woman. I’m sure there is a story here, but I don’t particularly want to hear it. I find it off-putting to try to enjoy my meal with, say, sixteen nipples staring me down.

            The fact that this restaurant has had very good food but seems to be headed steadily downhill over the last three visits has nothing to do with all those aureolae, I am sure. And for what it’s worth, my dining companion declares that the artwork there does not bother him one jot.

            In contrast, the artwork in the restaurant Danube in New York, while in no way a gallery, is an integral part of the whole and entirely lovely experience of dining there for me.