Artist to see his works at Bleu for first time

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 | 12:36 p.m. CDT
After seeing his work at an art show in Des Moines, IA, Barbara McCormick and Liz Tucker, owners of Poppy, knew Chris Vance's work was just what Bleu needed. Bleu's owners were looking for artwork to display in the restaurant when it opened earlier this year. Vance was sent blueprints and fabric samplings to create custom art for the restaurant.

COLUMBIA — Before construction began on Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar last year, owners Travis Tucker and Tina Patel knew they wanted artwork in the restaurant. They talked about installing revolving art — art that is changed periodically — "but so many places do," Tucker said.

"We decided it would be better to stick with a theme and color palette and use (the artist's) creativity," he said.

If you go to Poppy art reception

WHAT: Art reception in conjunction with Artrageous Friday

WHERE: Poppy, 920 E. Broadway

WHEN: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday


MORE INFORMATION: Artrageous Friday, an evening with art events at 17 downtown locations, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at the following galleries: Alley A Artists' Studios, Allen's Flowers, Alleyway Art, Bluestem Missouri Crafts, Calhoun's, Cherry Street Artisan, Columbia Art League, George Caleb Bingham Gallery, Greenway Massage, KOPN/89.5 FM, Makes Scents, Missouri Art Gallery, Orr Street Studios, Poppy, Perlow-Stevens Gallery, Sven's Kafe and Gallery and The Tiger hotel.

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His wife, Liz Tucker, is the manager of Poppy gallery and shop and connected him to Chris Vance, an artist from Bondurant, Iowa, who works out of Des Moines. She and Poppy owner Barbara McCormick met Vance while looking for new artists at the 2007 Des Moines Arts Festival.

"My wife knew his work, so obviously I trusted her opinion," Travis Tucker said.

Vance and other artists whose works are sold at Poppy will be at an artist reception at the store Friday. The reception is part of Artrageous Friday in downtown Columbia.

Between October 2007 and March 2008, Vance created five acrylic pieces for Bleu having never seen the restaurant. Vance is "looking forward to coming down and seeing it" for the first time this week, he said.

"His art seemed to scream what (Bleu's) owners wanted," McCormick said.

The owners wanted the artwork to reflect the restaurant's theme, "upscale but not too out there," she said.

"We wanted it to have a very organic feel with nothing over the top, color-wise or graphically," said Travis Tucker, who wanted the works to focus more on landscapes and less on people.

Vance's style varies from street art to upscale. Some of his work resembles graffiti, but for his work at Bleu, he stuck with a nonobjective style that he finds classier, he said.

The pieces are mostly tan, cream, green and blue tones, similar to the walls' colors. To best reflect Bleu's theme, Vance was given photographs, blueprints of the architecture, wall colors and dimensions, fabric samples and descriptions of the restaurant's atmosphere.

"There's a trust that the artist is going to do their own interpretation about the conversation that happens between (him and the person commissioning the work)," Vance said, describing the process of completing commissioned work. "Luckily, it was everything they wanted."

McCormick presented Vance's work at Bleu. "This one fits so perfectly," she said, referring to a five-panel work that hangs on a curved wall above a polka-dotted booth. "It fits the wall and goes with the booth fabric so well."

The paintings are not the only things that stand out in the restaurant.

The owners collaborated with Sticks, a company in Des Moines, to create a unique table for larger dining parties. It is wood-burned and has fish, strawberries, champagne bottles, grapes and other foods and meal-related phrases painted on it.

The women's restroom has decorative plates, a wicker chair and a standing stick partition.

Travis Tucker said people dining at the restaurant constantly comment on the art and love it. "It just fits the mood," he said.

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Valeria Turturro October 27, 2008 | 3:55 p.m.

Bleu is located at Eighth Street and Cherry Street.
Its hours are:
M-F 11 a.m.-midnight
Saturday 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch) -1 a.m.

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