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The Daily Wildcat

Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Art in Restaurants; Creating an Aesthetic

    Restaurants and cafés that choose to have original artwork for decoration create a certain atmosphere for customers – the kind that cannot be bought.

    “”I think it adds a really cool atmosphere to the place,”” said Kristen Homstad, a psychology graduate. “”It makes it unique. I would prefer those places because it just gives it a cooler feeling than a chain or someplace boring. If I were to own my own restaurant I would buy original artwork and hang it on the walls.””

    Downtown Tucson is filled with these restaurants that foster an inherent sense of community by showing their support for local artists.

    “”The art not only enhances the environment of where you’re eating but also promotes awareness of how talented our community is,”” said Vila Jarrell, owner and manager of Vila Thai Cuisine, 972 E. University Blvd. Jarrell has been incorporating art into her restaurant atmosphere since its grand opening almost two years ago. Every month a new artist’s work is featured in her restaurant.

    The kick-off event for every artist is the First Thursday Artist Reception, where one main artist’s work is featured in the restaurant and other artists display their work on the patio.

    “”It’s a beautiful evening, a social, intellectual and visual engagement that we celebrate once a month,”” said Jarrell. “”It is an opportunity for the public, friends and patrons of the arts to meet these young artists and chat with them and talk with them about their passion and their art.””

    Vila is also the founder of the Vila Art Foundation, which was started in Seattle and continues to be active through the restaurant.

    “”The Vila Art Foundation is all about nurturing aspiring artists,”” said Jarrell. “”There are so many beautiful and inspiring artists here in Tucson and we thought that using the restaurant venue to promote these young artists was a perfect way to expose people to original artwork.””

    Epic Café, 745 N. Fourth Ave, is also a popular downtown hangout where people go to see and be seen. The ever-changing artwork on the walls continues into the bathroom, where stencil artist Cricket has created a unique lavatory experience for customers.

    “”Whenever he’s in town he comes in and adds more or does touch-ups, and he’s also the one who did the mural on the front wall of the café,”” said Heather Cossette, who has worked at the café since January.

    Epic Café dedicates its walls to a slew of new artists, with exhibits changing every month.

    “”It’s one of the things that people like to do – people look forward to coming in every month and seeing what local artists have to present,”” said Cossette. “”We also have some artwork in here that remains in the same place that people also enjoy looking at.””

    Oftentimes patrons and exhibitors overlap.

    “”A lot of our regulars are people who have posted stuff,”” said Cossette. “”Right now we have a Sculpture Resource Center exhibit and those guys come in here every day. So you can talk to the people and say, ‘Oh what are you working on?’ and you get to see what you’ve been talking to them about.””

    Prominent locally owned businesses choose to exhibit art by struggling artists as a way to give back to the community that supports them. This sense of community creates a strong bond and sense of loyalty between business owners and patrons. The alliance between artists and locally owned businesses is one of the things that gives Tucson with such a strong downtown scene.

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