Attention all artists in need of making a buck off their work: There’s a steakhouse and power-lunch spot known for its iconic wall art that would like to have a word with you.
Or rather, with your ability to produce caricatures for the Palm, a family-owned restaurant chain of hearty chicken parm and booths stuffed with politicos, local and national celebrities, and Joe everymen regulars alike. The team over there, led by General Manager Brian Brosnihan, are throwing an art competition to search for the next in-house resident caricature artist to be their go-to for the backlogged and constantly growing list of faces scheduled for immortality upon the available real estate on the walls throughout the 8,300-square-foot space.
The high ceilings and opulent marble columns tower over the room at the 1 International Place location downtown along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the space is as rife with the clinking glassware and general din of business meetings and special occasion meals as it is with the smiling mugs and vintage cartoon reproductions from the original Second Avenue location in New York City.
The history of the wall art in every Palm goes back 90 years, when the original 25-seat hole-in-the-wall Manhattan location became the local hangout for cartoonists from the daily papers. When artists were hungry and short on cash, owners Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi would sort them out on the condition they throw an original piece of work on the wall. The reproductions of some of those line the Boston Palm (think: Family Circus and Beetle Bailey strips from the 1920s and 1930s), including some inspired work by drunk artists paying off their bar tab with now-memorable murals (read: light nudity).
Here’s how the competition works: Starting Sept 16, artists of every stripe looking for steady work and monthly dinners on the house (try the veal) have until Sept 30 to submit a headshot that would represent their style of wall caricatures for the Palm. Your subject: Governor Charlie Baker. Work should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org, where Tak Toyoshima, DigBoston creative director and mad genius behind the beloved Secret Asian Man comic, will be reviewing the work and selecting five finalists.
Those chosen will then compete in a draw-off at the Palm downtown on a date TBD, with the winner landing the resident artist gig. One runner-up will be chosen to fill in in the case that the resident artist is unavailable to handle any of the 6-12 faces per month the Palm will be assigning at $65/face. Do the math.
“I’m looking for something in between a caricature and a formal portrait,” Brosnihan says when speaking about what makes a good caricature for the Palm. “So that you can recognize the person immediately, but not be too cartoony with accented noses and the like. We’re the only restaurant that [still] paints the caricatures on the wall, with hours spent doing stencil work and painting right on the wall. It looks beautiful, really great quality of work.”
Brosnihan says the winner or runner-up will work right on the Palm’s walls Saturdays or Sundays, before the restaurant opens in the morning or during lunch services, with crowds watching the work as it happens.
Possibly to thunderous applause, if you’re really good.
THE PALM FACE-OFF RESIDENT ARTIST COMPETITION. 9.16-9.30. FINALIST FACE-OFF DATE TBD. EMAIL ALL SUBMISSIONS TO FACEOFF@THEPALM.COM
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.