Art Burn: Art Just for the Halibut at District

Malee's Thai in Scottsdale isn't the only eatery in town that partnered up with a local gallery. Prior to opening in the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel at 320 N. 3rd St., District American Kitchen and Wine Bar (with the help of Tele Art Resource's Laurie Post) solicited proposals from local art galleries. Paulina Miller answered the call and created a sort of miniature art show on District's walls that changes every two months.

The upside of such a pairing is the eclectic mix of artwork. Contemporary, traditional, oil, acrylic, graphite -- all are possible given the range of artists represented by any major local gallery. The downside is also the eclectic mix of artwork. With several artists represented in a range of styles and media, you might be seated next to an exotic painting of a native woman. Or, you might get stuck next to this:

This Anton Nowels piece is just too visually jarring for the relaxed, chic atmosphere of District. Between the Crayola colors and the thick impasto texture of the oil paint, it practically smacks you over the head screaming, "Hey look at me, I'm art!" Perfectly appropriate if it's a refrigerator-worthy drawing by your five-year-old or a pop art painting in some contemporary museum, but not quite upscale hotel restaurant material.

Eduardo Cervino's I & The Three Trolls is more in keeping with District's vibe. Here, the primary colors are graded, making for a softer statement than the Nowels piece. The light and shadows, together with the contemporary block figures, make this the kind of painting you'd expect to find in a hip jazz lounge.

Cosmografia Personal by Marcella Harvey

Honestly, this one's got a couple of things lining up against it. Not every patron is comfortable with nude artwork, even if it's more abstract than photorealistic. And some might be bothered by the staring eyes (how rude, even for a painting!). But despite these issues, Harvey's work speaks to the primitive side in each of us. While it may not be as impactful as dancing with an African tribe or digging your hands in the soil beside an Aztec ruin, it does tickle the long forgotten part of man that found spirituality in nature -- and within himself.

District's menu features a mix of salads and upscale pub food like sliders and shrimp po'boys during the lunch hours, with the addition of heartier fare such as Organic Berkshire Pork Tenderloin and Louisiana fried chicken in the evening. District also offers a breakfast bar, plus standards like omelets and breakfast burritos.

On our most recent visit, we sampled the HBLT -- a halibut, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on thick, crusty bread drizzled with creamy lemon sauce, served with crisp fries. It was a feast for the tongue, with perfectly cooked, flaky fish, thick bacon slices and fresh veggies. All around a good visit, if just for the halibut.