By Lisa Kava
Mathieu Palombino, the chef and owner of Motorino Pizza on West 85th Street and Columbus Avenue, wanted to display the work of a local artist in his restaurant.
Palombino grew up in Belgium, where his father was an artist who specialized in still-life paintings. “There were canvases all over my house with paint splattered in different colors,” he told West Side Rag in a phone interview. “Art has always been a part of my life.”
Palombino had decorated the walls of Motorino’s other locations (in Brooklyn and the East Village) with art created by his waiters and other staff members, as he felt this promoted a sense of community. “Art is food for the eyes and has an important place in a restaurant,” he believes.
But he never got around to purchasing art for his newest location on the Upper West Side, which he opened in 2014, because he wanted to try something different in that space. “I thought it would be nice to feature an artist who lives and works in the neighborhood.”
Palombino did not know any Upper West Side artists personally, so he ran a google search hoping to find one he liked. He came across the website of Stephen Galiczynski, a resident of West 83rd Street who paints from his apartment, and whose work was featured this fall at the “Cylindrical Art Gallery,” an outdoor kiosk on the southwest corner of 83rd Street and Broadway.
The art on Galiczynski’s website caught Palombino’s eye immediately. “I was drawn to a painting with a view of a stairway at a time of day when there was a shadow on the wall. It was beautiful and geometrical,” Palombino said. He contacted Galiczynski and arranged a visit to his studio.
“Out of the blue restaurant owner Mathieu Palombino emailed me,” Galiczyski said. “He let me know he wanted to showcase a local artists’ work in his restaurant, so I invited him for a visit.”
The chef felt an immediate connection to the artist and his work. “Steve’s art is a perfect fit for a pizzeria. He is a modest artist; approachable, affordable, and friendly. He is a regular guy who likes to paint, just like my dad.”
Palombino purchased one of Galiczyski’s paintings, called “Celestial: The Hand of God.” The painting is displayed at Motorino along with four other pieces from a series called “Morning Light.”
“I often see customers looking at the paintings. I like to explain that they are all painted by a local artist just a few blocks away,” Palombino said.
Galiczyski, who installed the paintings at Motorino Pizza, hopes that customers will enjoy viewing his work while enjoying their pizza. He is represented by the Peg Alston Fine Arts on Central Park West at 100th Street, and his sketches were recently featured on the Frick Collection’s Instagram account, a major honor for an artist.