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Art Tasting: Blair Nidds and Canapé serve up abstract exhibit

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After opening its doors in March, Canapé quickly ensnared the curiosity of Wilmington foodies. Three months in and they have wooed patrons with their edible and potable masterpieces, crafted from local and farm-fresh ingredients. Now, they are expanding the menu to include art—a pairing that’s sure to broaden all palates and palettes.

“From the very beginning of conceptualizing Canapé as a brick-and-mortar, I always had community in mind—specifically our neighborhood in the Brooklyn Arts District (BAD),” Chef Matthew Gould says. “With ACME Art Studio right around the corner on 5th, and so many creative people within a stone’s throw to Canapé, it just makes sense to try and come together to maximize our artistic reach across the area.”=

Slating new shows every six-to-eight weeks, the restaurant’s pilot exhibit, “Enigmatic,” launches Wednesday, June 11th, and explores the abstract works of 15 artists, all wading through a host of mediums. Each will present two pieces that have been hand-plucked by the show’s curator and newest BAD resident, Blair Nidds.

“‘Enigmatic’ means experimentation,” Nidds explains. “Like [the viewer is] imagining an experiment in their brain—or the artist is experimenting with paper and pen, and this is what they came up with.”

Named one of encore’s emerging talents of 2013, Nidds is currently focusing a lot of her time and energy toward curating shows. “Making art and producing artwork is awesome, and I love it,” she says, “but, ultimately, I just want to support other artists. I love hanging other people’s work. If it’s something I like, I want to support it.”

Still vibrating with excitement after her first Pop-up Art Show, Nidds describes how artwork  bombarded her vacant house on 16th Street just three weeks ago. Being able to please the artists and exercising full say in the exhibit was fundamental to her learning process. The setup, however, was a head-scratcher at times, thanks to the random vents, switches and a fireplace to work around—all obstacles prepping her for the restaurant’s exhibit.

“I feel like her taste in art is organically top-notch,” Gould says of Nidds. The chef contacted Nidds to hang a few of her topographical paintings as part of the restaurant’s opening. “It received interesting and positive feedback from guests,” he says. “Blair has a really good eye for choosing riveting work that adds to the creative dynamic of the restaurant, and can be talking points for the customers as much as the food.”

Once the word got out about her curating “Enigmatic,” submissions flowed in from around town. Neighborhood artists, like Michelle Connelly and Fritzi Huber, got onboard, as did some of Nidds’ friends like Dallas Thomas.

ANIMAL + VEGETABLE: Dallas Thomas' oil and graphite on canvas, 39 x 39 inches, will hang as part of 'Enigmatic.' Courtesy of artist

ANIMAL + VEGETABLE: Dallas Thomas’ oil and graphite on canvas, 39 x 39 inches, will hang as part of ‘Enigmatic.’ Courtesy of artistEnigmatic

“I will be showing some small works on paper and a couple of canvases,” Thomas notes. “They are always a bit figurative, with hints of humanity living somewhere in my mark-making.”

Thomas received his BFA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte but always has been a creator of art in some way. He dabbles in wet and dry media, including paper, canvas, wood, oils, acrylics, graphite, and charcoal. His pieces are brilliantly hued, with a focus on specific areas of the human body that leaves the subject obscure and suspended from its base.  “Dallas knows line and how to use oil paint,” Nidds says. “Watching him work … he just goes at it and expresses what he’s feeling.”

Nidds will display two of her own works from her “Head Piece” series—visual memory renderings in oil on luan board. Yet, she also quickly notes they’ll be the first to come down if there’s not enough space.

“There’s a lot of looseness to [the show],” she says. “It’s not strict. I would like to continue [the theme] throughout the year.”

Matt Gossett of Horse Computer has contributed one of the most experimental pieces in “Enigmatic”: a video installation that loops images and sound, something Gould says he’s wanted in the eatery since day one.

“I’d like to see other large installations constantly a part of the restaurant, too,” the chef expands. “I’ve always envisioned light installations hanging from the ceiling. So, if anyone out there wants to give that a shot, contact Blair. The more abstract and forward-thinking, the better. Fabric wall, anyone?”

“Enigmatic” opens this Wednesday, June 11th, with live music from the folks at Squidco (Canapé’s neighbor). Food and drink specials will be offered, but more importantly locals can mix and mingle with area talent.



Opening June 11th, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Art work by: Fritzi Huber, Michelle Connolly, Nicolle X Nicolle, Elizabeth Oglesby, Dallas Thomas, Elizabeth Darrow, Ryan Lewis, Jonathan Guggenheim, Eric Hine, Niki Hildebrand, Kinga Baransky, Toni Sunseri, Blair Nidds, James Martin, Will Frasca, Matt Gossett, John Tyhacz
Hanging through July 28th
Canapé • 1001 N. 4th Street
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