The Endurance of Art
"The Endurance of Art." Off the Easel Magazine. Summer 2012: 28-29.
1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.
2. good fortune; luck.
“The story seemed very apropos to the chef’s personality; garrulous and charming, he’s a born storyteller.”
It is not always easy to explain art or its purpose in the world. It is illogical, emotional, and intuitive. Its popularity often relies on personal taste, public opinion, or, in the case of one particular painting, an unexpected second chance. Somehow, art finds a way. A local art collector, John, first became familiar with the art of Christopher M. at Exclusive Collections Gallery in the Historic Gaslamp District. Upon seeing the classic Savor the Moment by the “Painter of Chefs”, John knew that the painting would make the perfect gift for a good friend. John explained, “It’s a picture of the chef just leaning back, you could tell it was a hard day’s work, and he’s smelling the wine... Just by the expression on his face he is saying essentially, ‘I got the job done.’ And that painting just really hit me...” With this introduction to the artist’s work, John purchased the painting and became a fan of Christopher M.
One day much later, John decided to visit Croce’s in the Gaslamp. He set the scene, “I’m watching my favorite jazz pianist, it’s a Thursday night, and I get done eating dinner and having a couple beers. I walk out on the sidewalk to […] walk home and there’s a guy walking down the sidewalk holding up this - with what looks like a potato sack.” Having collected original works of art for many years, this bundle, about 50 feet away, began to peak his interest. He recalled how he received paintings from Peru unstretched and rolled up and he began to suspect, “That could be an original oil painting.” As he drew closer to the street vendor, he found that his suspicions were true.
He inspected the work in front of him. Surely, this must be a fake? However, with a strong composition, heavy brushstrokes, and skilled use of color, John knew that it was real. After looking at the painting, depicting a chef at leisure, he immediately knew that this was a Christopher M.
“You know this is stolen, don’t you?” he confronted the vendor.
Of course, no one would admit to selling stolen goods. John, afraid of spooking the man and losing the painting, paid him the desired $20 and took possession of the Christopher M. He was incredulous: “In my head I’m saying ‘I can’t believe this!’ I’m going to help somebody out here because it has been stolen. It needs to go back to the rightful owner. $20 is a small price to pay to really give somebody back something that is their property.”
John headed over to the gallery to meet with Tony, the Gallery Director at Exclusive Collections. He greeted him saying, “Hey Tony, I have something else I need to have you get framed for me...”
“Oh really, what do you have this time?”
“Oh, just take a look...” he said as he handed it to him. Not even a third of the way unrolled, John received the reaction from Tony that he was looking for when he came in to surprise him. After explaining the situation, both of them were convinced that it had been stolen, so Tony went to work to investigate the painting’s provenance. In order to do so, he went to the source: artist Christopher M.
Christopher recalled the painting exactly. It was an original oil painting created from a visit to Atlanta for a very successful art show, portraying Kevin Rathbun, proprietor of Kevin Rathbun Steak, Rathbun’s, Krog Bar, and the new KR Steakbar in Atlanta. Christopher affirmed, “This particular painting depicted Kevin Rathbun at the bar with a patron who was also a good friend. The story seemed very apropos to the chef’s personality; garrulous and charming, he’s a born storyteller. But some paintings suffer some birthing pains... There were elements of the painting that stubbornly resisted my efforts to realize the piece as I envisioned it. Most particularly, it simply didn’t conjure the feeling that I wanted it to. This is a very indefinable quality, but every painting must have it.”
Christopher took the painting back to his home to try to give it that life that he felt it needed. Despite his greatest efforts, it failed to meet his rigorous and abstract requirements. With a little frustration, he decided to put the matter to rest: “I did what artists have always done to pieces which fail to take life. I sanded it down, ripped it from the stretcher bars and threw it in the dumpster. After that I didn’t give it another thought. I assumed it had been returned to mother earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Right?”
Wrong. Though Christopher may not have foreseen this future, someone else found merit in this discarded struggle, and decided to resurrect it.
This fared well for John, however. As luck may have it, he purchased an original work of art that happened not to be stolen after all. John decided to keep the painting in his collection, one day to be passed down to the next generation. It fit in well with his philosophy on collecting art. He believed, “If it doesn’t connect with me, if there’s not a story behind it, I won’t buy it. It’s got to really hit me. It should be you hanging on the walls.” John’s careful eye, collecting experience, and strong relationship with the gallery helped him to take home a painting with an unbelievable story. Perhaps the work of art did not have that “indefinable quality” that the artist was looking for, but it had something that carried it on to a collector’s home. Somehow, art endures.
Christopher M.'s Finest Vintage
"Christopher M.'s Finest Vintage." Off the Easel Magazine. Summer 2012: 21.
Christopher M., renowned “Painter of Chefs” and winemakers, has traveled the world, capturing the culture of viticulture on canvas. Over the years, he has discovered many parallels between fine art and the wine and culinary arts, and one quality in particular stands out more than most: both are highly collectible.
People often feel an intimate connection with the wine they drink. Taste and smell are closely related to memory and wine, with its unique and complex character, can transport a person in both time and place. It is common to save a bottle from a special occasion such as a wedding or anniversary. Wine can also commemorate a visit with close friends and the pleasure of each other’s company. Like anything worth collecting, it elicits a joy and emotional value beyond its monetary worth.
Every wine label tells a story. Like a signature on a work of art, the label is the identifier. It is the winemaker taking ownership of his product, and just as artists take a variety approaches when it comes to inscribing their mark, winemakers do the same when it comes to their bottles and brands. Serious and elegant, sarcastic and bold, subtle and refined — as with art, it is the vision of the creator that defines the work.
Christopher M.’s oil paintings pay homage to the collector, the historian, and the student in all those who drink and enjoy fine wine. Unending variety, constant reinvention, meticulous attention to detail — these are the things that connect the artist to the wine lover. While anyone can enjoy a bottle of wine or a beautiful painting, the passion for these crafts is something that develops and grows over a lifetime.
Christopher M.: Refining His Palette
"Christopher M.: Refining His Palette." Off the Easel Magazine. Winter 2012: 8-9.
February 4 & 5, 2012
Not many emerging artists are given the opportunity to complete their day of work by enjoying one of the best meals of their entire life. Yet for contemporary artist Christopher M., this practice has become a familiar reality – and more of the rule than an exception.
“I recently had the honor of visiting Chef Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago. As one of our most celebrated chefs who has won numerous awards, including a James Beard Award and being named America’s Greatest Chef by Wine Spectator magazine, I was amazed at his energy, enthusiasm, charm and zest for life. He seated me at the chef’s kitchen table and proceeded to send a seven-course lunch menu, each dish with an accompanying wine pairing. Truthfully, it’s difficult to single out one course as my favorite, as there were so many amazing flavor profiles and contrasts. What really struck me was that each course alternated between sweet and savory, each meat and pasta course being off-set by ice cream, fresh fruits and chocolates in a dizzying progression of culinary opulence that challenged the entire concept of what a luncheon can be.”
In just a few short years, Christopher M. has embarked on a whirlwind culinary adventure – playing paparazzo to some of today’s most celebrated chefs in their refined kitchens and restaurants across the country. From observing chefs as they tend to their bubbling-over copper pots, to the precise procedural routine of prep work on chopping blocks, to the final touch of sauce on a plate that makes an ordinary dish extraordinary – the “Painter of Chefs” has perhaps completed a crash course in the fine art of cooking, while mastering his own fine art skills on canvas.
“One of my greatest accomplishments so far, that I also find very humbling, is that I’ve been able to translate a modern and contemporary aspect of life into a medium that can join the continuity of art history.”
Known for his expressive, charming and celebratory paintings that depict some of the most prolific chefs of our time, Christopher’s art is grounded in a traditional Realist style with a contemporary twist, which reveals hints of Impressionism and other subtleties that make the pieces truly his own. The artist pulls inspiration from life itself, as he participates in the overall sensory experience of what occurs inside a professional kitchen. The sights, sounds, movement, and of course smells and tastes become the colors and textures he expresses on each canvas – depicting an original culinary masterpiece, forever preserved in time.
Throughout his career, Christopher M. has collected endless references from his time in kitchens. From sketching to photography, the moments of great craftsmanship are captured by his eyes and hands as a silent observer – from which he later uses to bring his remarkable paintings to life. While many Christopher’s works depict the specific chefs themselves, many more of his paintings reflect the craftsmanship of cooking itself. In fact, many of his chefs remain nameless – and the emphasis lies in their dedication, intensity, skill and the overall creative process taking place. Exploring the possibilities from serious moments to whimsical gestures, the artist has experimented with portraying the complexities of the culinary world to the more light-hearted, jovial moments that are also often experienced by masters of the kitchen.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to see the progression of your own style, but I feel that my recent work has gained a higher degree of sophistication in color, a more natural and personal brush stroke, and a deeper appreciation for the craft and the stories of my subjects, our cultural treasure, the great chefs of our time,” says the artist.
The undeniable connection between the kitchen, food and relationships has created an additional avenue for Christopher to further explore his talents, through personal commissions at the request of his collectors. From painting a family member who is also a chef by trade, to capturing the joy of a wife preparing her husband’s favorite meal, to a couple enjoying a rare bottle of wine together – the artist is preserving some of the most familiar and beautiful moments of our lives through his work.
In San Diego alone, Christopher is regarded and respected within the culinary community – having worked closely with local Chefs including Chef William Bradley of Addison at The Grand Del Mar, Chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room, Chef Christian Graves of Jsix Restaurant, Chef Paul McCabe of Delicias Restaurant, and many others.
Of his subjects, Christopher reflects, “The reputations of the chefs I’m working with are truly staggering, and that feels amazing knowing that such a lofty goal of mine has become a reality. One of my greatest accomplishments so far, that I also find very humbling, is that I’ve been able to translate a modern and contemporary aspect of life into a medium that can join the continuity of art history. But to me it’s only the beginning... I know that the future will reveal so much more.” In fact, this year Christopher M. has been invited to paint two iconic and critically-acclaimed chefs in their own kitchens: Chef Emeril Lagasse and Chef Mario Batali.
Christopher’s wish list of future subjects? “This list is extensive – but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Anthony Bourdain, who seems like a very interesting person above and beyond his many accomplishments, Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef), Wolfgang Puck, and Ferran Adria, a very exciting chef I’ve read about recently in Barcelona, who is famous for his playful deconstructions of known dishes.”
How’s that for tempting your appetite for art? At EC Galleries, we hope you’ll join us as we continue to follow this artist’s exciting career.
Christopher’s talents have also allowed him the opportunity to study, sketch and paint a broad range of exceptional, world-renowned chefs, including:
• Chef Thomas Keller, of The French Laundry in the Napa Valley
• Pop-up Pioneer, Chef Ludo Lefebvre of LudoBites Los Angeles
• Culinary and Philanthropic Legend, Chef Charlie Trotter in Chicago
• Chef Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud in New York City
• “Iron Chef” Kevin Rathbun of Blue Plate Kitchen in Atlanta
• Finalists from the popular Bravo TV series, Top Chef: Kevin Gillespie and Brian Malarkey
Christopher M.: The Painter of Chefs
"Christopher M.: The Painter of Chefs." Off the Easel Magazine. Winter 2011: 8-9.
There was a point in time in which discerning gourmands reserved themselves to historically renowned restaurants of France and Italy to satisfy their elegant tastes, but today, everything is changing.
The culinary arts have taken center stage in today’s movies, television and on the Internet, but it is more than just a fad. American patrons are informed about artful food preparation and presentation, and with that knowledge, they have set out to incorporate it into their lifestyle. Extending from the celebrity chefs of our favorite reality shows to Executive Chefs in the nation’s critically-acclaimed restaurants, a myriad of new personalities are ready to hone their skills and refine our palates.
California artist Christopher M. has made this profession the subject of his own work. His dynamic and colorful oil masterpieces revere the iconic white hat and coat of the culinary arts, draw parallels between the worlds of cooking and painting, and honor that which tantalizes our senses of sight, smell and taste. His works, such as “Savor the Moment” and “Mise en Place” have garnered the respect of chefs and art collectors alike, earning him Poster Artist for the Las Vegas Art Expo 2008 and a presence at the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival in 2009 and 2010. He also works one-on-one with various chefs to deliver a unique collaboration between art and food. His next series of paintings is inspired by Executive Chef William Bradley of Addison Restaurant at The Grand Del Mar. A special one night event, February 17th, will allow guests to experience a truly unique art show celebrating the craft of Chef Bradley, within an unforgettable fine dining experience, complete with wine pairings.
Lauded for his contemporary French cuisine, Addison has enjoyed the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond awards for 2009 and 2010, the first and only venue to do so in San Diego. Chef Bradley’s talent speaks for itself, but Christopher M. is thrilled with the opportunity to illustrate it on canvas. The paintings are not portraits in the conventional sense of the word, but as the painter explains, “It is inspired by the chef, but the viewers can put themselves into that situation — it has a universal element. For Chef William Bradley, I want to show elements of him, so it is kind of a balancing act.”
Christopher M.’s observations of chefs reveal the interior dynamic of their occupation. He explores the technical and the tedious, the theatrical and dramatic, as well as the personal and emotional contributions that are married in the creation of formal cuisine. This new epicurean accessibility poignantly addresses American cultural maturity. Christopher, as an American artist, recognizes that, “I’m documenting a change in history, in perception… great artistry and craft, such as that of chefs like William Bradley, commands respect.”
Fine art stands apart not only for its technical expertise, but because it is socially relevant, commenting on humanity. Christopher M. strives to capture a “timeless kind of statement” in his work. He expounds upon this idea, saying, “It is not so much about a fleeting moment, but about the entire process—human things we can all relate to. When you collect a painting, you live with it for a long time. It’s a lifestyle.” It only makes sense to combine within one’s lifestyle those ingredients which enrich one’s palate and elicit the most delicious results.
Call the gallery to reserve your tickets for the art, culinary and wine event with Chef Bradley of Addison on February 17th.
And be sure to join us at Fashion Valley Gallery for an unveiling of new paintings by “The Painter of Chefs” Christopher M., February 18–20.
For more information about Addison Restaurant, see our Dine section on page 27.
Christopher M. Takes the Cake!
"Christopher M. Takes the Cake!" Off the Easel Magazine. Summer 2011: 21.
Any true foodie knows that great cuisine is an art form, and nowhere is the term “culinary arts” more ap- propriate, than when it is applied to the grand finale of the meal – the dessert course. Christopher M. “The Painter of Chefs” has expanded his repertoire this season to include yet another member of the classic brigade de cuisine in a professional kitchen by masterfully rendering “the pastry chef.” Without ques- tion, a professional pastry chef must know how to bake, but more importantly it is their artistic ability that is critical in order to produce pastries and desserts that look just as good as they taste. From observing the exquisite pastry-making process through the windows of Bouchon Bakery in the Napa Val- ley, to watching the popular television series “Cake Boss” on TLC, the artist set out to capture and depict the experience of a pastry chef at work. In the process, Christopher became fascinated by the many similarities that exist be- tween chef and painter – from the blank canvas and cake itself, to the tools and techniques used to create color, texture, and of course taste.
As part of his research, Christopher M. also visited many local bakeries in San Diego and had the pleasure of observing the mastery that commemorates perhaps the greatest of all celebrations – the wedding cake! “I was so impressed by the level of skill and attention to detail that pastry chefs possess,” he said. “They clearly have the most artistic role of all, because people judge the look of their food first and taste after.”
In his newest creation on canvas, Christopher M. carefully combines his ingredients of composition, color, texture and a mastery of realism to inspire us to appreciate the splendor of “cake couture.” Hints of blue permeate his canvas with monochromatic shades of creamy and shimmering whites. The artist’s vertical composition reveals the chef’s prolific and unbounded creativity as he is surrounded by the towering masterpieces that fill his patisserie, creating a wedding cake that is as unique as the couple celebrating their new life together.
Christopher’s own impasto technique is applied to the canvas, like perfectly-blended frosting and his engaging rendering pays tribute to all of the extraordinary things in life that are born of hard work and dedication to a craft. “Labor of Love”
Christopher M. Celebrates Legendary Winemakers
"Christopher M. Celebrates Legendary Winemakers." Off the Easel Magazine. Fall 2010: 8-9.
Contemporary Artist Christopher M. has steadily gained admirers as “The Painter of Chefs” with his expressive, celebratory paintings that go beyond literal depiction to honor the most prolific chefs of our time. Featured as the “Celebrity Artist” at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival this November, Christopher M. is sought after among fine art and culinary circles for his unique ability to capture the intensity, dedication, creativity and talent that is executed daily behind-the-scenes in a fine food kitchen. His knack for investigating and exposing the unique character traits that separate a “well-trained Cook” from a “Master Chef” is perhaps his greatest talent, and Christopher M. finds joy in uncovering the secrets that make a Chef a true craftsman, a creative visionary and ultimately, an artist.
Christopher M.’s travels have allowed him the opportunity to explore his passion of documenting today’s best chefs by sketching and then painting them historically on canvas. He has worked with a broad range of chefs nationwide, from Chef Gavin Kaysen of Café Boulud in New York City to Chef Ludo Lefebvre of LudoBites in Los Angeles, to several of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” finalists. The artist also has great affinity for San Diego’s culinary scene and has painted local favorites including Chef Christian Graves of Jsix and Chef Paul McCabe of Kitchen 1540, among many others. Earlier this year, Christopher M. took his sketchbook and camera on the road—venturing beyond the shiny copper pots and stainless steel countertops of professional kitchens which he had become so accustomed to—and into the rugged and enchanting vineyards of California’s beloved wine country. Setting out to meet some of Napa Valley’s legendary winemakers and document their stories on canvas, Christopher also discovered an immense appreciation for the artistry involved in the winemaking process itself. The wine country tour encompassed a variety of intriguing locales: a backyard vegetable garden which formerly supplied organic produce to Napa’s landmark French Laundry; an antique store—turned-tasting room; a historic estate and vineyards owned by one of California’s most influential families; the windy roads and rocky hills of Mt. Veeder; a secret wine cave and private cellar; and a dozen other gems along the way. In fact, a quick stop at Bouchon Bakery in Yountville one morning led to a serendipitous meeting with legendary Chef Thomas Keller! Winemakers featured in Christopher M.’s new series include: Doug Hill and Alison Doran of Hill Family Estate, Jeff Fontanella of Fontanella Family Winery, Pam Starr of Crocker & Starr Wines, Heidi Barrett of La Sirena, Chris Dearden of Chanticleer and Randle Johnson of Calafia Cellars. This special wine series will also include paintings featuring chefs, patrons and sommeliers enjoying wine in various settings. Just as food and wine go hand in hand when enjoying a fine dining experience—Christopher M. has created a brilliant pairing of the two with the addition of these new paintings, to create an unforgettable fine art experience.
We look forward to sharing these new original works with you this fall at a variety of special events and appearances featuring the artist. Take a look at what’s coming up this season!
The Gourmet Experience
When: October 9–10, 2010
Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds Booth #127
Stop by for a painting demonstration and unveiling of new works.
The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival
When: November 17–21, 2010
Where: Embarcadero Marina Park North 500 Kettner Blvd. San Diego, CA 92101
Christopher M. will be featured at this event as the Celebrity Artist!
Sommelier and Artist Reception
When: November 18, 2010
Where: EC Gallery, Seaport Village
Eddie Osterland, America’s first Master Sommelier, joins Christopher M. for wine tasting and a painting demonstration.
What's Cooking for Christopher M.?
"What's Cooking for Christopher M.?" Off the Easel Magazine. Spring 2010:.
The last couple of years have included some incredible milestones for “The Painter of Chefs” Christopher M. Attracting a broad audience and a rapidly-growing col- lector base, Christopher M. continues to gain momentum as one of today’s most exciting artists through a variety of art openings, extensive collaborations with culinary masters and top chefs across the country, special recognition including being selected as the featured artist for ArtExpo New York and the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, and participation in a number of culinary and wine events nationwide. His work continues to be admired by anyone and everyone with an appreciation for fine dining, fine cuisine, fine wine and fine art.
In 2010, Christopher M. has already embarked on several culinary journeys and will continue to serve up a number of exciting events that blend the culinary arts with fine art. In February, he hosted “The Art & Soul of Food” with Chef Paul McCabe at L’Auberge Del Mar’s Kitchen 1540 restaurant, which offered guests the rare opportunity to experience a four-course dinner, wine pairing and art show, all inspired by the four emotions: Nostalgia, Blue, Amorous and Euphoria.
Other events throughout the year include a series of cooking classes and wine tasting events at EC Galleries and other select venues, featuring live painting from Christopher M. and demonstrations from some of San Diego’s favorite chefs.
For wine lovers: Be prepared to be mesmerized by Christopher M.’s next series of work, set to debut in late summer or early autumn. After an intimate three-day culinary and fine wine adventure in Napa Valley, the artist will feature the legendary winemakers of California’s most famous region, including Heidi Barrett, Pam Starr, Doug Hill, Chris Dearden, and many others. Details coming soon!
And don’t forget to visit our website for more information about Christopher M.’s upcoming events and special appearances! In the meantime, he can often be spotted at many of San Diego’s finest restaurants, wine bars, and even the local farmers markets—capturing the unique textures, colors and action in each of these unique settings.