The collaboration started how many do: with a simple conversation between two people with a respect for each other's work.
“I went to a show at [ZYNKA owner, Jeffrey Jarzynka's] place and was floored. I must have spent an hour just looking at the same two to three pieces from different angles and in different light,” says Don Mahaney, owner of Scratch & Co. “Intrigued at the potential and toying with the idea of transforming our dining room to something more meaningful for our guests, I asked Jeff if he thought the notion had any merit.”
The current ZYNKA-curated art showing in Scratch & Co. is by Stephanie Armbruster, an artist from Cleveland who moved to Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University. The ZYNKA website describes Armbruster's paintings as "luminous," and are composed of "dozens of layers of translucent wax, fused with a flame torch, and smoothed by hand."
Armbruster’s work has also been shown at The Mattress Factory and Carnegie Museum of Art.
Currently, Scratch & Co. is undergoing minor renovations in order to expand its art program, offering a unique dining experience for future patrons. The expansions will include a lounge with custom furniture along with the space for art to be showcased.
“For the gallery, it’s a nice extension to our exhibition program — it offers us another outlet to showcase our artists and their work," says Jarzynka.
In addition to its proximity to the North Side, where Mattress Factory and the Warhol Museum are both located, Jarzynka points out how Troy Hill is already a destination to experience art with Evan Mirapaul’s Art Houses and the recent addition of Gallery Closed, an artist-run project space by Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis.
Jarzynka believes the collaboration will help build awareness for both the restaurant and gallery, as well as the artists, as the restaurant and gallery "cross-promote and drive traffic to one another’s businesses," thereby "increasing revenue opportunities for both establishments." In a press release, Jarzynka adds that he’s been sending customers to the new space at Scratch & Co. They have plans to rotate the art seasonally, so patrons can get a fresh experience whenever they come in.
Mahaney says it's an honor to showcase Armbruster’s work in a way that brings it out of the traditional art sphere and into a more accessible realm. He says traditionally, the work would only be seen in a gallery space and purchased into a private collection, limiting its public exposure. Showing the work at a restaurant means that people unfamiliar with the city's local art galleries still have access to the work.
Mahaney says they are remodeling the dining area to include soft seating where the art is hung, so people can enjoy viewing it as they eat and drink.
“I’m hoping that high-quality local art, like our region’s beautiful and nutritious local food, can become more and more accessible to more and more people,” adds Mahaney.