City eateries encourage budding artistsNews — By The Desk on June 1, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Indian Express: Some eateries in the city seek to close the gap between budding artists and art lovers by transforming their walls into grand easels and exhibition spaces.
At Patio’s, a popular patisserie in Aundh, the aroma of freshly baked bread mixes with lilting soft music and the warm smiles of the Patel couple who run the place. For a long time, a multi-coloured graffiti used to adorn the wall beside the narrow stairs of the eatery. Now a line-drawing on the same wall promises to re-visit an era of vintage cars. In the three-and-a-half-years since it opened, Patio’s has given out wall space to upcoming artists in the city to help them express and spread the word. Gautam Kaushik, who stays in the neighbourhood and is a common friend of the couple, is in the midst of re-creating the New York of the 1930s and 40s on the pale wall. “It fits well with our current jazz theme,” says Chaitra Patel of the work-in-progress. “We have structured Patio’s on the idea of American delis, so New York of that period goes with our concept. The painting will evolve with time; we don’t have a time frame in mind,” she says.
‘Affordable art’ may seem like an oxymoron in an age when millions ride on artists’ reputations and PR overdrives. But some eateries in the city have taken up the cause in aid of budding artists seeking inexpensive platforms to display their creative acumen, and also of aspirational art lovers. As Patio’s has discovered, the gesture adds a splash of creative beauty to the ambience and also provides an essential dose of encouragement to local artists. “The wall paintings from Samovar cafe in Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery had a big influence on me. It helps open avenues for artists as they get an inexpensive display space and professionals like architects often walk in and enquire about them,” says Chaitra.
A restaurant that has transformed this idea into an everyday celebration of art is Bohemian on NDA road. The proprietor of the place, Ketaki Pimpalkhare, is an artist herself and understands well the struggle to find creative acceptance. So she has helped build a place where people can “come, eat and enjoy art. Where all’s about being Bohemian!” And she is a staunch purist when it comes to selecting what goes up the wall here. “I do not encourage copies or take-offs; it is one thing to be inspired and quite another to copy. We display art that is original and honest,” says Pimpalkhare. The philosophy has inspired events like book readings, hosting of play groups, documentary screenings and exhibition of art works by special children whom Pimpalkhare teaches.
These restaurants sell the art they display at subsidised rates, as no rental costs or other overheads are involved. Malaka Spice, a South-East Asian food haunt in Koregaon Park, hosts events called ‘Easels and Grills’ where artists, art lovers and guests gather for live art demos and interaction. The in-house store here sells mini-canvases of local artists as well as of masters like Monet, and stocks bags and tee-shirts with motifs of artists’ works. “It’s an important mode of exposure for the artists. Our media outreach benefits them and the 15-day display they get helps them reach out and connect to the consumers better,” says Preeti, the art co-ordinator at Malaka Spice, where art carries price tags ranging from R 5,000- R 1,00,000.
Grub Shup on Law College road got inspired by the idea set in motion by Malaka Spice and has spawned a socially and environmentally-conscious relationship with Black Swan, a travel agency that promotes off-beat holiday locations. June 3 will witness the formal launch of a collaborative art gallery at this eatery, with volunteers curating events. “We want to make art more affordable, acceptable and accessible,” owner Anil Paranjape declares. “And it’s a no-profit arrangement, so that struggling artists can exhibit in places with a good footfall and potential customers.”