Consider your favorite restaurant or retail shop: when you’re there, how do you feel? Are the surroundings austere or lush? What colors are used in the space? Are there artworks on display? What message do they convey about the business? The right surroundings, including the art, create a mood that speaks oceans about the character of your business.
Experienced business owners Reggie and Sharlene Fouser know the importance of creating the right mood in their business’s location. When they decided to open a new restaurant, they wanted to include unique, local art in the design of the new space. The artworks inside Jitters Lunchbox, located at 2118 N. Fourth Street, are all that and more, thanks to the Fousers’ vision and a creative team that helped to bring the project to successful completion.
The bright, open eatery features a series of three artworks created via a collaborative partnership between photographer Michael Bielecki, The Framing Department at Hidden Light and Sharlene Fouser.
Fouser has been involved in the redevelopment of Flagstaff’s Fourth Street district since 1998. This work has convinced her of the value of community-building. Buying from other local businesses creates a tangible connection within the community. Local purchasing ties the success of the business to the success of the place. In particular, buying local art grounds the business even further, by making a very clear statement that the owner values the way a community’s character is defined by culture.
The project developed very organically: Fouser had worked with photographer Michael Bielecki at NACET. Stephen Saunders, co-owner of The Framing Department at Hidden Light is a neighbor and friend. The three of them met at The Framing Department, so they could discuss her idea for art in the new Jitters Lunchbox.
Swirly conversation ensued during a collaborative brainstorming session. The eventual outcome was a series of photo collages using iconic local buildings combined with images of vintage lunchboxes: the Coconino County Courthouse is flanked by a baseball-themed lunchbox; Old Two Spot, the steam locomotive engine in downtown Flagstaff, pulls a Mickey Mouse lunchbox; a Pluto thermos tops the Clark Telescope Dome at Lowell Observatory. Bielecki shot the photos and created the photomontages, which were mounted by the team at The Framing Department.
The Framing Department also designed the integrated lighting for the pieces, which took some pretty extensive engineering. To accommodate Fouser’s desire for the look of neon, The Framing Department mounted the artworks on substrate, and then devised an inexpensive – but durable – lighting system that approximates neon for much less cost.
“The art hangs on a cement block wall, so we had to plan exactly where the artworks would go so the electrical wouldn’t show,” says Saunders. The Framing Department also had to ensure the lights would be bright enough and the electrical infrastructure would support the power requirements of the pieces.
And, in an “above and beyond” moment, Fouser says Saunders suggested that they professionally mount the menu boards. While that wasn’t accounted for in the budget, Fouser said, “They made it work.”
Fouser is enthusiastic about the project: “From my original vision to the finished pieces, the process and the outcome were 100 percent better than I anticipated!” She credits Bielecki, Saunders and his team at The Framing Department with solving many of the challenges of installing the work in the space, staying within the budget, and helping create an interesting and unique look to their new restaurant. FBN
Written by Darcy Falk
Jitters Lunchbox is open 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. They plan to expand to catering and delivery soon.
Michael Bielecki’s website is www.missingframephotography.com.
Learn more about The Framing Department at Hidden Light at www.theframingdepartment.com.