Back in ’89/’90 we had many a delicious brunch and late night snacks at the Empire Diner in West Chelsea .. so it was with heavy heart that I discovered its demise during a Sunday Stroll in the old neighbourhood.
The iconic Diner was part of a trend for upscale retro diners, and it’s exterior became an iconic image in many a film and TV show, including Men in Black and Home Alone .. and more than a few Law and Order episodes.
After a little digging I discovered that the last day of business for the Empire Diner at this location was May 15, 2010 – so only a couple of months after we fled the city and relocated to Phoenix.
An article in The New Yorker in 1998, “Every art scene gets the hangout it deserves. In the ’50s, there was the Cedar Tavern … And in the ’90s? The new spot is the Empire Diner, a glitz-free, gemutlich place tucked among the warehouses of West Chelsea
I wasn’t the only one that hung out there, but I never crossed paths with Julia Roberts and her then-beau Benjamin Bratt, Minnie Driver or Madonna – who were reported to have frequented the Empire Diner on 10th Avenue.
It was not only a fixture of the New York Art scene, but it played a supporting role during my time in Chelsea. Back when Chelsea was grimy, and the hookers trawled around the Meat Packing District for business.
Now that area has been gentrified, and The Chelsea Market now adds an extra layer of respectability to the area, with is shopping and food court.
So many memories on this trip – surprisingly, many of them centre around food.
Whilst wandering the neighbourhood streets I stumbled across this piece of street art:
I find it’s simplicity intriguing.
Intriguing enough to dig around a little to find out more about the artist.
Despite his abilities as a realist painter in the gallery setting, Paul Richard’s street portraits possess a playful sense of spontaneity and quickness as he manages to capture the facial features of his subjects with nothing more than a few drips of paint. Rather than applying his portraiture on the surface of a building, allowing for the work to be more easily seen by pedestrians, Richard plays with the public’s general inattentiveness to their urban surroundings by painting on the city’s sidewalks.
This Brooklyn-based realist painter definitely has a way with a brush, but I’m more drawn to his simple sketches, which on his website he files under “Drips”