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San Chez Bistro unveils new mural by local artist

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Sunday Sept 16, the community is invited to celebrate a new mural at San Chez Bistro.
Underwriting support from:

San Chez Bistro presents A Lot of Art

Sunday Sept. 16 from 4-9pm the parking lot behind San Chez Bistro will be filled with art, music and food. The evening will feature an art market, live performances throughout the evening, cash bar, appetizers provided by San Chez and the unveiling of new mural by Phanie Mills-Behning. Entrance to the event is 10$ and all proceeds will benefit the Avenue for the Arts. Call 774-TAPA to reserve tickets in advance.

/Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

The artist at work

The artist at work /Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

The mural in progress

The mural in progress /Courtesy of Avenue for the Arts

As part of an Artprize entry, Grand Rapids based artist Phanie Mills- Behning has been working day and night to complete an outdoor mural. The mural was commissioned by San Chez Bistro and is located on the wall of the restaurant’s patio at 38 W Fulton. The piece is her largest work to date.

Gearing up for the restaurant’s 20th anniversary, San Chez decided it was time to revamp the previous mural that had resided on the wall for the past seven years. The previous mural was painted by Phanie’s sister in law, Stephanie Behning. Phanie is happy to keep the wall in the family stating, “We hope that this mural will celebrate our past and bring inspiration to our future.” 

Artistically inclined since childhood, this artist has been painting professionally since 2008 and graduated from Grand Valley in 2010. This fall, Phanie will be launching her business titled Ochre Hand, offering custom interior painting. 

Since the location of the mural is in a public setting, guests of the restaurant have been able watch the artist work over the past few months. Working on her first mural in an outdoor setting did present some challenges, “This is my first time ever using acrylic, I usually paint with oils but oil paint is too brittle for an outdoor mural. One surprise of painting on an old building are the spiders that jump out of the wall at me. The heat waves of the summer have been a challenge as well but at least I’m getting a tan and that’s nice!”

Measuring 18’ by 20’, the mural depicts in exqusite detail a scene of forest and city with a female figure in the foreground. Phanie explains, “The title is La Diosa, the Goddess. The figure is sort of a mythical idea of a mediator between the natural world and the human-made world. Her layered skirt is reminiscent of a Flamenco dancer. Her pendant and shirt are inspired by gothic architecture of Spanish Catholic Cathedrals. Her general body position, flowing hair, and the cathedral outline of trees above her are Botticelli-esk. (Though Botticelli is Italian rather than Spanish, Spain has a huge collection of Botticelli’s work.) The pig is sort of a funny nod to the love of pork belly here at San Chez. One of Spain's largest exports is citrus fruits, thus the oranges. The floating orange hangs in the balance above her hand, just as we need to find balance in cultivating and preserving the natural world. So all this basically means that I wanted to incorporate as many Spanish attributes as I could.”

Sept. 16 from 4-9pm, the work of 11 Artprize artists will be celebrated, including the unveiling of the finished mural. In addition, there will be food, live performances and an outdoor art market featuring over 20 local artists. Smaller paintings and prints by Phanie Mills-Behning will be available for purchase as part of the market. Entrance to the event is 10$ and all proceeds will benefit the Avenue for the Arts. This will be a fantastical celebration of art and community.



sunmitted by Jessica Hacker

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