Nov 01, 2011 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Creative artwork allows its viewers to look at something they see every day but in an entirely new way.
That’s precisely the effect when you gaze at the dining room mural at the Limp Lizard BBQ whimsically depicting the village business district as a desert-bound Southwestern outpost.
The 5-by-20-foot acrylic painting by Elliott Mattice and Kathy Maio aptly complements the Tex-Mex ambiance of the restaurant owned by Chuck Orlando, Scott Schimpff and Liverpool native Mike Rotella.
As the team readied the restaurant for its opening in April, Orlando suggested that the artists include several Liverpool landmarks and businesses in the mural.
“We thought that wasn’t the most exciting theme for a mural,” Mattice said. “But we thought that by twisting reality a bit, it would make it more amusing.”
Mattice and Maio titled their finished work “Lizardpool.”
The painting’s perspective draws the eye inexorably into its center, down Lower First Street past Washington Park to Heid’s standing at the end of the road.
A violet-blue sky feathered with crimson cirrus clouds fills the mural’s p half while the bottom features yellow sand dotted with green cacti and brownish buttes surrounding Nichols Supermarket, The Retreat, the Washington Park gazebo and of course, the Limp Lizard.
“To us, it was important to give the place a cowboy vibe,” Mattice said, “more of what you might find on Route 66, not down South. So the color schemes, decor, props were chosen to push that western feel.”
Kathy Maio, who graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University majoring in design and illustration, has partnered with Mattice for eight years.
“She’s good with details and color and overall atmosphere of commercial interior jobs,” Mattice said. “I like to bang things out and she adds the fine tuning. Since she’s joined me, we’ve got the combined abilities to tackle larger, more complex work.”
The duo used artistic license to blend the village’s two main streets – Second and Oswego – into one road, toward the left-center of the mural. A Liverpool Police Department cruiser heads south on that street past a tiny post office and a miniature gas station. A Limp Lizard catering truck rolls west on Tulip as a green lizard dances atop it, and a couple reptiles lounge atop the Village Mall grilling dinner. Harleys and a hot rod are pictured parked on First Street, and out past Heid’s and the railroad tracks you can see Ste. Marie among the Iroquois perched on a mesa overlooking the lake.
Since he was raised in nearby Pennellville, the 41-year-old Mattice is plenty familiar with Liverpool. “Nichols had to be in there [in the mural],” the artist said. “Nichols actually has a better selection of food than the mega-markets around here. I’m totally serious, they have the best meat anywhere. And I’ve always been a Heid’s fan, with the retro thing going on there.”
Mattice’s colorful work has enlivened the looks of places such as the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Doug’s Fish Fry and the other two Limp Lizard locations in Westhill and North Syracuse.
He praised Liverpool Lizard co-owner Scott Schimpff for using weathered barn wood for the inner décor. “Scott is so good with carpentry, the new place came together more cohesively than the other two,” Mattice said.
While Mattice and Maio specialize in restaurant interiors, they’ve also designed murals for places such as Onondaga Free Library and Lowville Hospital.
His childhood years in rural Pennellville helped shape his approach to art, Mattice said.
“I loved growing up in Pennellville, because we had the woods as a huge playground and it was a great place to be a kid,” he remembered. “We had to use our imaginations back then, and that still influences me to this day.”
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