From the outside of the historic brick building which houses Motor Supply Co. Bistro, you might not expect to walk in and see a cozy, contemporary restaurant – finished off with works of bright, modern art showcased on the walls of the interior. Hand-selected and rotated regularly, these art exhibitions are the pride and joy of local art curator Anastasia Chernoff, whose Eat With Art project aims to combine the joys of exploring an art gallery and leisurely enjoying a great meal.
Chernoff says the idea for Eat with Art originated from a conversation she had with Motor Supply Owner Eddie Wales, when he expressed interest in hosting art shows in the restaurant with pieces from Chernoff’s gallery, Anastasia & Friends, located on Columbia’s Main Street.
From there, the project took flight. Chernoff constantly adapts the way she selects Motor Supply’s art exhibitions – which are installed for up to three months in the restaurant – always staying conscious of the emotions stimulated by the art she selects.
“It’s empowering to be able to take a space and shift the entire energy of the room by installing a new show on the walls,” Chernoff says. “Art is powerful! It has the potential to elicit so many dynamics as it transforms a space.”
Among the collections that have been featured at Motor Supply through Eat With Art are well-known artists like Blue Sky, Paul Kauffman, Morey Weinstein, Whitney LeJeune and even some of Chernoff’s own work. Each time, Chernoff says, she selects only work about which she is particularly excited.
“There’s no way I could ever name a favorite. It would be like saying which one of your children you like the best,” Anastasia says. “Each artist brings their own unique perspective to their medium, like a fingerprint—no one is the same.”
At her own gallery on Main Street, Chernoff says the average person spends only a brief amount of time actually looking at a piece of art, often due to crowded space or because viewers will get distracted by socializing with others. Because of this, sales she makes at the gallery are “based on instant connections or from a later vision from a patron when the gallery is empty.” Thus, Eat With Art has allowed more people the time needed to bond with, contemplate and eventually choose a work of art.
“In order for the viewer to completely understand a piece of work, there must be a connection. Sometimes it takes longer than a couple of minutes to establish that connection,” explains Stephanie Heikila, General Manager at Motor Supply. “In a restaurant environment like Motor Supply, you have more of a captive audience.”
“We’ve had pieces that are just mind-blowing,” Heikila says, noting that the art is always a great conversation starter for Motor Supply customers. “The colors featured in the art here now are just beautiful.”
The current installation at Motor Supply is by local abstract figurative artist Bonnie Goldberg. She is self-taught and has worked with several notable painters; her studio is located in downtown Columbia’s historic Arcade Building at 1332 Main Street, Suites 27 and 72.
Chernoff’s love affair with Motor Supply Co. Bistro has been strong since its opening in 1989, and she considers the restaurant to be “a home away from home” for her. The atmosphere of Motor Supply, she says, makes it particularly conducive to showcasing art, not only because the space is well lit, but also because of the care and creativity that go into the food and beverages the restaurant produces.
“Motor Supply is an artistic, culinary experience. I couldn’t ask for a better place to show art.”
Anastasia Chernoff’s curated “Eat with Art” exhibitions at Motor Supply rotate once every 2-3 months and feature acclaimed local artists. The Anastasia & Friends art gallery is located in the lobby of the Free Times building at 1534 Main St., Columbia, S.C., 29201. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed for the month of July, the gallery’s monthly exhibitions will reopen next month. To connect on Facebook, visit https://www.facebook.com/Anastasia.and.Friends.