When you see the princess’s mural at Conrad and Bowman, look up! Another East Falls icon defines Mackenzie Day’s new spin on the former “Epicure Café” building, and reflects her ever-evolving aesthetic.
True Story: The Artist Haus salon on Conrad Street wouldn’t be here if owner Mackenzie Day hadn’t entered a National stylist contest for KMS California in 2010. They flew her to LA, she swept the competition, and with her Grand Prize winnings she opened her own studio across the street from where she is now.
She nurtured an incredible team of multi-ethnic stylists, and helped them cultivate her knack for creating fresh, modern looks for all types of hair: straight, curly, black, white, mixed, whatever. Color, cuts, weaves, natural hair – The Artist Haus does it all for a diverse and devoted following. When Tom and Arlene Leschak announced they were retiring from the restaurant biz last summer, Mack and her husband snapped up the whole building so she’d have plenty of space to grow.
As she settles into her new location, Mack’s adding lots of personal touches – including the two murals that were painted last month. The artist, Drew Montemayor, lives right up the block on Bowman Street where we often run into him when he’s out walking his dog, Osa. Recently, we had the opportunity to grill him on this new local art he’s created. “The concepts are all Mack,” he told us, “I just did my best to produce the image she commissioned.” According to Drew, then:
The murals bring the history of East Falls back into frame with a realistic yet urban rendering, to highlight the old and the new. Grace Kelly is represented on the Bowman side of the building because, duh, she’s Grace Kelly — she deserves a prominent corner where all eyes will be drawn to her.
The man with the microphone facing Conrad Street is Harry Prime, a Big Band singer who wowed audiences around the world in the 40’s & 50’s — but always remained a Fallser at heart. Fun Fact: growing up, he lived with his mother in the Artist Haus building, which was a market back then. They occupied a 2nd floor apartment, pretty much right where his image is now painted.
Both Grace and Harry’s portraits were drawn intentionally raw, with some details left undefined. “I kept the hands kinda sketchy,” Drew explained, “Although the faces are realistic, moving down toward their bodies I broke up the outlines with street art elements for a contemporary vibe.” This style expresses how Life is a transformative process: we’re never finished as individuals, and nothing ever stays the same. These two local legends from our past continue to mean different things to different people, and forever will.
Drew’s not just working outside the building – he’s also created unique art to complement The Artist Haus’ warm, hip interior design. A diptych shows two black & white figures aiming to color each other’s world across a divide: “Sometimes we imprison ourselves and build our own walls, “ he explained, “But all we really want to do is connect.” Beauty and art are ways we humans express ourselves, and relate with each other. Drew and Mack’s thematic collaboration underscores this nicely at The Artist Haus.