Art Burn: Carly's Bistro is the Middle of the Road

Drive past Carly's Bistro on Roosevelt St. in downtown Phoenix and you might think the place is a total dive; the kind of shady bar & grill where smokers huddle in clusters, puffing under the counter, ready to snuff out their illegal-in-public cancer sticks should the PoPo arrive. If that's what you're expecting, you'll be sorely disappointed. 

Inside, Carly's is bright and welcoming, with orange and turquoise walls, artsy bistro tables plastered with cartoon sketches and a rotating selection of local art on the walls. There's a nice size bar, natch, but really this is a neighborhood joint which caters mostly to the downtown business and First Friday crowds. That being said, since First Friday has grown into such an art destination, I wondered where does Carly's rank? 


Jones' abstract tiles were just background. The colors were bold, but the randomness of his abstract works left no place for the eye to rest. Instead, I found myself glancing around the room once, never interested enough in the tiles to stop and look for more than a few seconds.  

 His line of thrown pottery plates was more intruguing, partly because you don't normally see dinnerware as art, and also because the designs translated better to the medium. Perhaps it was the round "canvases" or the stark white of some of the backgrounds, but the colored glazes here (which were less bold than the tiles) seemed to pop off the platters. Even the food was served on Jones' functional "Green Line" of dishes, wherin the artist recycles used dinnerware by re-glazing and refiring them. What a fun, environmentally responsible idea!  

Unfortunately, the plates might have been the highlight of my meal here. The panini-style Prosciutto sandwich, with its sweet fig spread, dual cheeses and accompanying crisp root veggie chips sounded delicious. But the combo turned out to be really salty, and heavy on the cheese. The fig spread melted with the heat, lessening the one sweet item that would have balanced out the flavor.