By Bridget Shirvell
››Restaurants are about so much more than simply food. Not that the chocolate chip pancakes at Wooster Hollow Dinner aren’t divine, because they are, but the best restaurants are full of sensory experiences, leaving you with a feeling that stays with you long after you’ve finished your meal and stepped out the doors. For many restaurants in the area, helping to create that feeling is art from local artists.
“The art has really turned Wooster Hollow from a grungy diner into a cute art cafe,” says Wooster Hollow Diner owner Ron Herman. “It’s a big help for the local artists to be able to have a venue to show their paintings, their photos, or their sculptures. It gives them a chance to show everything they’ve done to their families and friends. Sometimes they sell a lot, sometimes they sell a little, but rarely do they sell nothing at all.”
For the past six years, local artist Joan Kendall has served as curator to the diner, hanging a total of works from about 25 different artists over the years in the space. Fitting, since putting the art there was her idea.
“I had been going to the restaurant for several years on Sunday mornings and when Ron took over, I remember looking around at those old Greek posters on the wall thinking ‘hmmm I wonder what could happen with these walls,” Kendall recalls. “I asked Ron if he ever thought of using it for local art, and he looked at me and said ‘it’s yours.’ I panicked and thought what have I gotten myself into. I was the first artist that showed at the place. It’s just been so much fun.”
From Wooster Hollow to Tusk & Cup in Wilton to Sarah’s Wine Bar and The Barn Door, several Ridgefield and Wilton restaurants feature art as awe-worthy as their food and drink.
Sarah’s Wine Bar is an elegant location with a beautiful interior and delicious food renowned throughout town. They have a rotating art display, recently featuring a group of female artists that call themselves the Abstract 11. The Barn Door on Route 7 focuses on nature as a large part of its charm, utilizing stone and woodworking with a stunning painting of a horse by Andrea Rowan on the fireplace mantel, along with several figurines and decorations.
“We see our cafe as part of the vibrancy of this town,” says Laura Freed Ancona of Tusk & Cup. “We want to collaborate with as many local businesses as possible, whether it’s selling Deborah Ann’s chocolate or featuring local artists. This way people feel like they are really in a unique local space, rather than a chain. That’s very important to us, and we hope to
Laura and her husband, Joe Ancona, have owned Tusk & Cup, which their son Josh now runs, for the past ten years. They’ve been showcasing local artists since they opened, starting with Redding artist Erin Nazarro.
“Her art became so much a fabric of our space, that we ultimately purchased several pieces so that the front of our store is a permanent tribute to Erin. We saved two spaces in the back to showcase local talent,” says Laura.
-Sarah’s Wine Bar: Catch up with friends over a glass of wine and view the current work on display.
-Wooster Hollow Diner: Go for breakfast, order a chocolate-chip pancake and take in the art, which changes every 8 weeks.
-The Barn Door: Bite into a buffalo pizza and view the local art, which changes every couple of months.
-Tusk & Cup Wilton: Pop in for a cold brew or a gelato and look at Erin’s art and the other local talent, which rotates as artists wish.