Seeing Ciudad

Order up! Art is the special of the day at Ciudad's exhibit of employee creations.

This is when all struggling artists wish they were on the staff at Monica Greene's Ciudad. Of all the population who has ever been a waiter, a bartender, a busboy or a cook, chances are it's a rarity that any one has ever had the restaurant he works for showcase his art for a special show/benefit. That's basically like saying, "Hey, we heard you paint. Wanna put some of your work up for a benefit that will be seen by hundreds of people, some of whom are big in the art world and some of whom are wealthy and charitable collectors?"

All right, so maybe some of the staff asked chef Joanne Bondy if she'd like to support a show of their art, and she said yes. "Some of the staff" turned to "most of the staff," and the restaurant and chef now have "philanthropist" to add to an already long list of talents. After some nonexistent arm-twisting, the team of industry folk-cum-artists has brought together work ranging from paintings to sculptures to photographs all culminating in From the Kitchen to the Canvas. The creators will discuss the works, and each artist will donate a piece to the silent auction. Maybe they won't see the monetary rewards of their creativity, but the art gets out there and someone does benefit from the bidding. Actually, that's many someones, as the silent auction benefits Genesis Women's Outreach.

The event is an easy win-win-win for participants and for art. Workers who survive mainly on tips get to promote their passion (on canvas not set with flatware) and benefit a great charity. Bidders get original art and help abused women. Genesis gets serious support and can help women regain their lives and confidence. And there's sure to be some serious artistic inspiration resulting. Lest we forget, there's that other win for Ciudad, providing an outstanding display of art and camaraderie.


From the Kitchen to the Canvas, the personal artwork of the Ciudad staff, will be on display from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. The restaurant is located at 3888 Oak Lawn Ave. Call 214-219-3141.

Another interesting aspect to all of this has to do with restaurant and customer relationships. Restaurants have regulars, and those regulars become familiar to and with servers and restaurant staff. Sure, there's small talk like the occasional movie recommendation or vacation story, but there is always a strict customer-server dynamic. With an event like this one, customers can see the artist behind the server, see a person who is more than someone who spouts specials or refills the chips. And it works both ways. Even after months of knowing that Mr. Jeffries likes a martini with two olives before his almohadas, few servers know he's also a pinhole photograph fan and his wife loves modern sculpture. It's a very cool blurring of the lines of status.

Ciudad not only gets our approving nod for supporting the artistic goals of its staff and an important charity, but also for rewarding those attending with happy-hour drink prices and those dandy bocaditos (flavor-laden appetizer bites) by chef Bondy. Just one last thing, though: 10 bucks says they run out of job applications in less than a week. Twenty more says those who apply will have "art" or "artist" listed under special talents/interests. And if we had 50 big ones, we'd bet this shindig ends up a successful and recurring event.

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