At Khon’s Wine Darts Coffee Art
By STACEY HOLZER
Growing up in Chicago – the home of Al Capone, after all – I’ve been told few tall Mafia stories of my own. However, a visit to Khon’s Wine Darts Coffee Art, inspired a renewed intrigue in Francis Ford Coppola’s film The Godfather. The walls of the small but hip coffee and wine bar in Midtown are lined with interesting segmented images of artist Tierney Malone. Color palettes similar to sun faded signs depict collage imagery familiar yet fragmented. Varied typographic fonts and smooth surfaces blend perfectly with the sounds of jazz that play here every Friday night.
Based on an affinity to the story of The Godfather, Malone has created work for this series entitled La Cosa Nostra inviting the viewer to see things with a fresh perspective. Adopting the romanticized idea of a family with a strong father from the film, Malone has adopted many fathers in his own life who have given him a sense of identity and strength over time. It’s that same sense of community and family that makes Khon’s a great place to hang out.
Malone’s painting “The Hit” is rich with meaning alluding to the assignation scene of Luca Brasi and the first hit of Don Corleone. Luca Brasi walks into a bar, two fishes are etched on the glass, we see the image of the fishes twice once as he enters and again after he was killed, and the scene transitions. Coppola’s use of cinematography is brilliant, fishes are an allegorical reference to Sicilian Mafia lore meaning “to sleep with fishes” Fish wrapped up in an article of clothing of the person who has been hit, whacked, killed, was then wrapped in newspaper and delivered to the boss of all bosses, signifying that the member was dead, and at the bottom of the sea.
Don Corleone and his son stop by a fruit stand and above the fruit a boxing sign appears with an announcement for a fight between Jake Lamotta and Tommy Bell. Malone has chosen this sign image as a connecting link between Corleone’s first hit and the idea that he was hit over and again without dying, similar to a boxer in the ring. The Genco sign at the bottom of the painting represents the olive oil company front for the family business.
Malone’s works are simple improvisations with an eclectic American sensibility. His love of history and jazz inspire his art. Certain songs hold an emotional gravity he is trying to achieve with the surfaces he creates. Historical influences convey a culture that has grown up with typography. Malone communicates with the viewer through typography and articulates that there is no need to reinvent the wheel preferring instead to draw inspiration from the heroes of cinema and music.
He uses the familiar language of typography to convey emotion in his art. Each viewer brings his or her own involvement to the work and Malone is happy to partake in the dialogues generated by unique experiences. Left to its own devices, the audience is asked to trust what they see and explore and consider it make it their own. La Cosa Nostra will be on view through August 30.
Khon’s Wine Darts Coffee Art is a midtown mecca for all things fun. This neighborhood bar serves great coffee, Chinese tea cakes made by the owners grandmother and is a place where locals love to congregate for an evening of darts, art or catching up with friends old and new. Kohn’s is located at 2808 Milam Street, Suite H. Read more about contemporary art in the all new summer edition of VisualSeen at www.visualseen.net