Over the past seven years, I’ve been fortunate enough as an artist to spend my days doing what I love. I have made a name for myself in the art world, having painted the iconic W at the W Minneapolis hotel, sold a line of limited-edition prints for Sundance Film Festival and more. Today, I’m honored to have my work globally represented through the Singulart digital platform.
Recently, I completed my third restaurant project with renowned chef David Fhima, crafting the artwork for the stunning interior of hot spot Maison Margaux in the North Loop. Our collaboration began five years ago, when he opened his freshly renovated eatery Fhima’s in downtown Minneapolis. From the very beginning, we combined pop culture themes and bold expressionism to engage customers in a multi-sensory dialogue of food, community, family and joy.
Restaurateurs have long been known to put significant thought and effort into the ambiance of their establishments. From the lighting and music to the furniture and table settings, every element is carefully curated to create a memorable meal. But in recent years, a growing number of restaurateurs have taken this concept to the next level by incorporating works of art into their decor, turning their walls into mini galleries and creating an immersive experience that tantalizes all the senses.
Such is the case with chef David Fhima and his son/collaborator, Eli, who together are enriching the Twin Cities dining scene by bringing their walls to life. Their latest venture, Maison Margaux, has helped put Minneapolis on the map alongside other innovative foodie cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. David is a well-known culinary figure who has worked in renowned restaurants across the country. Locally, his establishments have long been considered some of the city’s top dining destinations.
My partnership with David began in 2017, soon after I started painting and after an unexpected breast cancer diagnosis. We were introduced to each other while he was preparing to open Fhima’s since he was looking for some art. What began with a simple inquiry has turned into an enduring friendship and inspiring collaboration that has resulted in my artwork adorning the walls in not only all of his restaurants but also in the home he shares with his wife, Lori.
For Maison Margaux, the creative process began by walking through the space with David, hearing firsthand the memories that inspired him, and understanding the vision and emotional environment he wanted to create. The art was to be a spice for the space that would enhance not only the interior design but also the food and the buzz of the crowd. Once I had gathered these initial impressions, color palettes and David’s contagious excitement, the ideas began to burst out of my imagination. Riding that wave of inspiration, I worked with my digital collaborator, Linnea Maas, to create piece after piece in rapid succession. After we had the works rendered, we sent them off for David and his team to critique. Upon hearing that they loved the art, we finalized the pieces, sized and printed the canvases, then framed and installed them in the space to complete the sensorial experience.
The notion of an art-forward eatery is gaining traction nationally. Another notable example of this trend is the Modern in New York City. Designed by famed architect Peter Bentel, this Michelin-starred restaurant features a stunning collection of contemporary art that is seamlessly integrated into the space. From large-scale sculptures to smaller drawings and paintings, these works add color, texture and visual interest to the eatery’s already impressive design. And because the art is constantly rotated and updated, guests are treated to a fresh and exciting experience every time they visit.
But it’s not just high-end restaurants that are embracing this trend. In cities across the country, restaurateurs are partnering with local talents to create unique and engaging spaces that showcase both the food and the art. In San Francisco’s Mission District, Foreign Cinema has turned its outdoor dining area into a makeshift gallery displaying a rotating selection of contemporary art that keeps diners coming back for more. Galleries and museums with in-house eateries, like the Whitney in New York City and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, are also getting on board.
What all of these examples have in common — and what David and Eli Fhima have brought to Minneapolis — is a commitment to creativity and a deep appreciation for the intersection of food and art. With each restaurant they open, they continue to affirm their support of the local artist community while staying ahead of the curve to keep the Minneapolis dining scene relevant and interesting.
As diners enter Maison Margaux, they are enveloped in an environment brimming with creativity that stimulates their senses, making for a fully immersive destination experience. Chef David Fhima remains dedicated to constantly improving his craft and creating unforgettable culinary memories for his guests. And now, by turning his walls into galleries, he is proving that good food and good art are the perfect pairing to be savored together.