Art Burn: Lisa G Supports the Arts, and Her Staff

We've discussed just about every way a restaurant owner can source local art, short of personally heading out to galleries and art fairs and soliciting artists to exhibit in their space. But there's one possibility we hadn't even considered -- exhibiting artwork made by your own staff.

Sure, this could go tragically wrong. While Duff Goldman and his talented Ace of Cakes Crew certainly can sculpt in fondant, and many so called "starving artist" types moonlight as waiters, we can only imagine the grade school crap that might come out of handing our favorite chefs a canvas, some paint and a brush (hmm... do we smell a challenge cooking?) But some restaurants are lucky enough to have an artist on staff. Several months ago, the childhood photos on the walls of Phoenix's Lisa G Cafe & Wine Bar were replaced by the contemporary paintings of employee Susan Burgos.

Did the switch pay off? More after the jump...     


Spheres by Susan Burgos

These gritty-textured, retro pieces could easily have been designed with their current home in mind, as the '70s pea green coordinates effortlessly with the nearby patterned banquettes. It's a nice compliment to the clean lines and exposed brick of Lisa G, though the paired pieces lack the warmth and coziness that owner Lisa Giungo's family photos brought to the space.

In contrast, Suna looks like it belongs in an eclectic, artsy coffee house or an exotic boutique. The colors are vibrant, the texture (which looks as if it was built-up by the use of underlying strips of paper or fabric) eliciting that visceral "I want to touch it, but probably shouldn't" response. 

Sea hovers somewhere between novice painting experiment and Color 101 school project. The cool ocean blue color palette provides an unexpected burst of energy, aided by Burgos' heavy layering and the slightly metallic, luminous tinge to the paint. The artist's prices clearly reflect her amateur status, and though her work isn't as well-orchestrated as the food at Lisa G, it's nice to see a restaurant owner supporting her employees' artistic endeavors.

At a recent lunch, we sampled a delicious trio of mini-sandwiches: peppered turkey and bacon, shaved beef tenderloin with roasted red pepper-artichoke relish, and chicken salad with hazelnuts and cranberries. The latter was a crisp, refreshing summer treat, and the pungent relish added a nice zest to the thin-sliced beef.   

If you're not so keen on the art, you'll soon have something else to look at. Beginning this Saturday evening at 10 p.m., Lisa G will be hosting a weekly movie night on the lovely outdoor patio. This week's flick is Raising Arizona. Conveniently, movie night occurs during reverse happy hour -- which means all drinks are only six bucks each!

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Wynter Holden
Contact: Wynter Holden