Local artist Marcus Zotter works on a mural of Anthony Bourdain at 7th Avenue Social Naples Daily News
An easy smile. Tattoo-covered arms. And an intensity in those silvery eyes that many fans of the late food icon will always remember.
Marcus Zotter, a local graffiti artist, had the tall task this week of capturing Anthony Bourdain’s likeness (7 feet tall, to be exact).
New owners at 7th Avenue Social in Naples commissioned Zotter to paint a mural of Bourdain on the restaurant’s blackened chalkboard wall as a memorial to the larger-than-life celebrity chef who died earlier this month. Bourdain, who hosted CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” died June 8 from an apparent suicide. He was 61.
Like many people, Jerry Alajajian, who has spent decades in the food industry, was shocked by Bourdain’s death.
“My first introduction was the book ‘Kitchen Confidential,’ which seemed to be must-reading for people in the restaurant industry,” he said. “I found it to be really authentic and clever and honest.”
Alajajian and his sweetheart, Dayle Westover, took over 7th Avenue Social as new owners in May. Alajajian, who also owns Island Gypsy Cafe in the Isles of Capri, said he plans to keep the restaurant’s name and local, neighborhood feel, but with some new interior work and reimagined menu.
But Alajajian said he had always followed Bourdain’s career and his passion for food.
“I just always had an appreciation for his story, his attributions, his talents, his skills, even some of his demons, quite frankly,” he said.
After news broke of Bourdain’s death, Alajajian said he began talking with the restaurant’s chef, Everette Fromm, about ways to honor the late food icon. Alajajian realized he had been meaning to update the restaurant’s chalkboard wall when he got the idea for a mural.
“We want to have people thinking about the food and people like him that bring it to people’s tables,” he said. “It just doesn’t magically appear.”
And Alajajian knew just the guy to do it.
Zotter had been creating chalk art at 7th Avenue Social for years, so he jumped at the opportunity to pay tribute to Bourdain.
“He touched so many lives,” Zotter said.
Although he’s a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Zotter said he was influenced by the street art of inner-city Philadelphia, his hometown.
“Even though I was learning classic art, I was very influenced by the street art, the urban style of graffiti,” he said.
Zotter moved to Naples after graduation and started creating art for fundraisers and charities and participating in “live art” shows, in which he’d paint in front of an audience.
You’ll find Zotter’s murals at tattoo parlors in Fort Myers, at the Naples Pier and up and down Bayshore Drive in East Naples (the mermaid with long-flowing hair, for example). He also contributed to the splashy art-covered wall that hides construction along Fifth Avenue South in downtown Naples. Zotter has spent the past few weeks working on a pizza-eating bear on the floors of the new LowBrow Pizza & Beer.
“My objective is to put artwork in local areas — bars, restaurants,” he said. “My artwork is dispersed all over the place. That’s what I did with 7th Avenue Social. Those places become my galleries.”
Zotter used mostly acrylics to paint Bourdain’s face on the walls of 7th Avenue Social. There’s depth in those eyes and in the darkened cheekbones. But it’s playful, too.
Around Bourdain’s face, Zotter painted bell peppers, peas and thick-cut steaks, and a few of Bourdain’s most recognizable quotes:
“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together,” Bourdain once said.
Zotter encourages diners at the restaurant to touch the mural. Bourdain’s black T-shirt is made with an oil-based paint, so it’s glossy and smooth, while his face is rough and course from the acrylics.
Bourdain won’t be there forever, Zotter said. He’ll eventually paint over it, but not anytime soon.
“It will stay there until I’m inspired to replace it with something else,” Alajajian said. “It can stay there for a long time.”
Read more here: https://www.naplesnews.com/story/entertainment/dining/2018/06/22/naples-restaurant-honoring-food-icon-anthony-bourdain-mural-7th-avenue-social-hours-menu/717271002/ or https://www.naplesnews.com/story/life/books/2018/06/08/anthony-bourdains-kitchen-confidential-our-2000-review/684195002/