Hell’s Kitchen bar owner Suzy Darling is famous for having big ideas — but when she reached out to world-renowned artist fnnch, she didn’t hold out much hope of getting him to create a mural at the Back Pocket Bar.
“I’m in heaven. Two years ago I reached out to this amazing artist, fnnch, from San Francisco to create a mural for our tiny bar. He creates murals all over the world. I never thought he would say yes,” said Suzy as she celebrated the unveiling of the new mural with (appropriately!) a bottle of champagne. “When he created the artwork, I got to tell him in person how much joy he would bring to Hell’s Kitchen.”
While the mural was at the concept stage, the idea was extended by the building’s landlord — who suggested it went further than the bottle of champagne featuring fnnch’s distinctive honey bear design.
“I literally was scouting the wall three weeks ago and the guy just drove up and said ‘hey, do you want to paint more?’ I was like, I guess so,” said fnnch. He got his friend Jenna Morello, an artist from Brooklyn, to create more of the “bottle springing something”. With the additional vine and grapes, she has created an extension to the original artwork that is “positive and aesthetically cool” to complement his champagne bottle, fnnch added.
Although the design looks simple, it takes careful preparation to create. “The bottle made sense in this context, It’s a weird space because it’s big. And then it’s got the trash cans and it’s got this little arching thing and then it’s got the bricked-up window,” said fnnch as he put the finishing touches to the artwork. “I went home to San Francisco and designed it all on the computer. It’s all laid out to the inch pretty much because I have to fly out here with everything already ready to go.” Once he was on site, the bottle took fnnch six hours to complete.
Rather than using a familiar champagne label, the bottle is distinguished by its honey bear design. “I reached out to him because we serve our legendary frozé in a honey bear jar,” explained Darling.
The honey bear has become fnnch’s iconic signature design. “I have two goals for my art practice. One is to bring art to the 95% of people that don’t go to art museums. And the other is to change people’s perceptions of public space. I’ve put honey bears onto mailboxes and sidewalks; in windows, on light posts and on the outside of ride-sharing cars. For me, it’s trying to get art to the public,” he said.
Go take a look — the mural is on W49th Street just east of 10th Avenue.