If you’re planning on going to eat at a Queens restaurant, be prepared to experience some artistic enculturation.
Several Latino restaurants in Queens have begun featuring creative art paintings within their venues in an effort to foster artistic creation while promoting their establishments.
Felix Flores, manager of El Sol Azteca in Jackson Heights, feels proud of displaying artwork in his restaurant.
“I like having these paintings inside of the restaurant because they show the indigenous roots of our people and our culture in a very unique and distinct way,” said Flores. “Supporting artwork in my restaurant is definitely important because it creates a unique way for customers to have something great to look at while allowing artists to be creative.”
The Mexican Restaurant, located on Roosevelt Avenue, also displayed various intricate pieces of Aztec mythology on its side walls, with various indigenous murals throughout the borders of the main seating area.
Los Arrieros is a Colombian restaurant on the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 76th Street in Jackson Heights. The venue featured murals of a folkloric figure known as El Paisa Verdadero that has served as the icon for Colombians of the Medellin region.
Luz Dary, a worker at Los Arrieros, noted that the artwork plays a major role in the culture of the restaurant.
“It’s essential for us to have the paintings outside of the restaurant because it tells a story about the traditions of the establishment,” Dary said. “I can’t imagine how the restaurant would be without the artistic contributions of the creative souls who helped fashion the restaurant.”
“I think it’s great that a lot of Latino restaurants in Queens are allowing local artists to utilize their businesses to express different art forms,” said Miguel Quezada, an art painter from Corona.
“A few years ago, you really wouldn’t see things like this in restaurants,” Quezada said. “Now, a lot of restaurants are joining the bandwagon and promoting art, something invaluable to the Latino community.”
Quezada has worked as an art teacher in various charter schools in New York State while having volunteered in numerous art programs throughout Queens. He has also spearheaded the production of many Latino-based murals in Jackson Heights and Corona.
“Someday, I hope to see more Latino restaurants featuring unique artwork,” Quezada said. “For now, I want to inspire artists to keep painting and more restaurants to allow artists to continue painting.”