Gallery or Restaurant? The Hole Swirls Both Together

DIOR BEAUTY Celebrates 50 Years of Dior Vernis with Artist Holton RowerDavid X Prutting/ The Hole’s dinner for Dior Vernis.

After blurring the line between art and landscaping, The Hole is now bending the boundaries between art and food. Last night, the Bowery gallery held a dinner party that introduced attendees to the medium of “pour painting,” and this summer, The Local has learned, it will open a pop-up “artist cafe,” cheekily dubbed Hole Foods.

The pop-up cafe is in part the vision of The Hole’s founder, Kathy Grayson, who described herself as an arm-chair restaurant critic and food blogger. “I had never seen an artist-designed restaurant, only restaurants with a few sad paintings on the walls,” she told The Local. “I thought that the artists I represent are all interdisciplinary and are capable of doing not just painting and drawing but sculpture, video, design, installation, furniture, you name it.”

On Wednesday, the Meatball Factory temporarily closed on 14th Street and Second Avenue so that Brooklyn-based artist Joe Grillo could install a mural on its walls, ceilings, and floors. By the time Hole Foods opens – likely in the next week or so – for a three-month run, the 32-year-old Brooklyn-based artist will have revamped everything from the awning to the tablecloths, and will have affixed some of his signature recycled-trash sculptures to the walls and the bar.

“I’ve always wanted to do a restaurant,” said Mr. Grillo. “Even though this isn’t my place that I own, it’s nice to mess up someone else’s property.”

hole2Courtesy of The Hole Hole Foods in progress.

Mr. Grillo, who will have a proper solo show at the Hole in October, is even creating a hat for the chef, Rob Rubba, who is planning a menu of seafood-oriented “American market” food, including raw bar.

The announcement of the pop-up (which will be operated in part by Ray LeMoine, a contributor to The Local, and Mike Herman, his partner in Bowery Beef) follows closely on the heels of a private dinner promoting the work of Holton Rower, whose first solo show opened at the gallery’s home base on the Bowery last week. The artist’s “pour paintings,” consisting of paint swirled over flat wood bases, are reminiscent of the Giant Sequoia cross-section in the Natural History Museum, but with 1960s psychedelic colors.

During a private dinner last night, a caterer created hors d’oeuvres inspired by some of those colors: candy-apple red meant lobster caprese, lime green meant Roquefort-stuffed chicken wings. Throughout the meal, a florist, Gavin Baura, followed the artist’s lead by pouring black magic roses, orange tulips, blue hydrangeas, and other blooms on the white table cloth. After the cheesecake was polished off, a boisterous flower fight broke out at Julian Schnabel’s end of the table.

DIOR BEAUTY Celebrates 50 Years of Dior Vernis with Artist Holton RowerDavid X Prutting/ Holton Rower at work.

And then there was Mr. Rower’s first performance pour. Partygoers watched in rapt silence as a black-clad assistant handed the artist a coffee cup filled with paint. He emptied the cup onto a plywood form. Another assistant carefully placed the cup into a large empty paint bucket, and the first assistant handed over another. And on it went. The performance was sponsored by Dior, and five of the colors used matched that brand’s nail lacquers: Red Royalty, Gris Montaigne, Psychedelic Orange, Flapper Pink and Nirvana. The end result – met with applause – was something resembling a large psychedelic flower.

It all went to prove something Mary Boone was quoted as saying in The Times’s preview of the Frieze Art Fair. “The art world is very event-driven now,” said the art dealer. “Viewing art has become a spectator sport.”

When Hole Foods opens in the summer, diners will likely be treated to still more spectacles. At a private preview tomorrow, artist Matthew Stone will offer what’s being described as a “sound and music contribution”; and at some point during the pop-up’s run, waitresses will dress as East Village performance artist Kembra Pfahler’s horror-rock character, Karen Black.

Ms. Grayson hopes she can turn the Meatball Factory into something closer to Andy Warhol’s Factory. “I love the history New York has of restaurants that are taken over by the downtown art scene, where artists can congregate late at night and eat food and drink free and hatch plans together,” she said. “I envision Hole Foods being just that kind of artist den this summer.”