Artists and Eateries Make Good Match in Tribeca's Curbside Canvas Project

A detail from Susie Carter's mural on Bubby's pop-up patio. Carter is one of 22 participating artists in the Neighborhood Curbside Canvas Project in Tribeca. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Oct. 12, 2020

The outdoor patios of 13 Tribeca restaurants are now festooned with the work of nearly two dozen artists, brightening up the streetscape and, hopefully, the future for those local eateries.

It’s all part of the Neighborhood Curbside Canvas Project, the idea of Tribeca resident Bill Tsapalas, who saw the pop-up patio structures as canvases awaiting a creative touch that could help attract much-needed customers during the pandemic. Through an arrangement with One Art Space, 23 Warren St., eight of the Curbside Canvas Project artists are included in the gallery’s large group show, Art Is the Cure. 

Tsapalas said the results have far exceeded his expectations, and he’s bolstered even more by Mayor de Blasio’s order to make the outdoor seating permanent. I only thought I was going to have six or so restaurants, and I also thought it was going to have to be done by the [Oct. 31] closing,” he said. “Lifting the closing has been awesome.”

The “show” runs the gamut, from the whimsy of Sean Slaney’s stenciled robots and muscle men at American Whiskey to the bold colors and shapes that Kati Vilim painted at the Dark Horse bar-restaurant, to Mary Jaeger’s fabric weaving through the latticework at Marc Forgione’s pop up.

“What I loved about doing this is having an outside studio,” said Jaeger, a fabric artist who spoke about her work during a recent art crawl led by Tsapalas. “It was really great to set up a studio right here and work outside.”

The long patio structure on North Moore Street outside Bubby’s presented a challenge for figurative painter Susie Carter, who had never confronted a canvas of such size. 

“I do a lot of portrait painting so it was really interesting to try to find a way to translate that onto something large scale, something that close to the ground,” she said, “and still give the people who are being painted a sense of power and presence. That was really important to me.”

The barrier outside Square Diner long enough to be shared by four artists. One of them, Emily Dyrek, said she wanted her work to be ”abstract and fun and bright and bold, with a variety of line work with different thicknesses and movement to help attract people to the restaurant.”

“While we were painting, people were driving by and asking what kind of food they have, and about the space,” she recalled, “so I think the overall project has worked.”

Square Diner owner Ted Karounos said he hopes the art will remain “for years,” and he’s already worried about the painting being hit with salt from snow removal. “I just love the change in the atmosphere and the feel of life and color that they brought,” he said.

With the success of his project in Tribeca, Tsapalas sees it as a model for other neighborhoods, and there is talk of a similar effort in Park Slope. 

“My goal is to have this happen all over New York City, in every neighborhood,” he said. “Restaurants all over the city are hurting, and artists all over the city need places to express themselves.”