As customers ponder culinary delights at South Perry Pizza, a smorgasbord of visual masterpieces await hungry eyes on the walls.
Talented artists are spicing up the interior of this popular South Hill eatery with creative works for show and sale, thanks to the generosity of owner, John Siok, who is offering two months of free wall space to select area artists in an ongoing effort to connect with the community and beautify his restaurant.
Showcasing local artists is a South Perry Pizza tradition that began with original owners Pat, Sue and Krista Kautzman back in 2010.
Siok, an art enthusiast and collector, has been enhancing this uncommon dining experience with his own local touches since taking over the business nearly nine years ago.
“We consider ourselves an artisan pizza place. Our art is in the food that we create and the experience that we give to our customers,” said Siok, who taps suppliers from Valleyford, Reardan and Green Bluff for ingredients in salads and pizzas.
“We’re really trying to focus on the local connection to our neighborhood … to our community, and the artists are part of that,” said Siok, who displays his own purchases from past wall artists as permanent fixtures in the restaurant.
Exposure is key in the art world, but pricey show fees and sales commissions make Siok’s free space a valuable asset to artists like Karen Case, who discovered the Perry Street location after spying paintings on the walls through open patio doors while test driving a Mustang.
“It’s almost like he has developed his restaurant with space to be able to just have artwork in there, and I think that’s just incredible and we really appreciate it as local artists,” said Case, who is showing her works of fluid art with acrylic paints and embellishments through June.
Gracing the walls at South Perry Pizza was a dream come true for Steph Sammons, who fell in love with the location while dining there with a friend.
“I kind of looked around the walls and I thought, someday if I’m a real artist, I’m gonna show here, because it’s such a cool place,” said Sammons, who recently displayed her Alphabet of Mythological Creatures works.
“Friendly people go in there, and for me, it was a new area of town. I’d never shown on the South Hill before, so it was a whole new audience of people that didn’t know me and didn’t know my work,” said Sammons, who sold several pieces during her run.
While the internet provides artists with continuous exposure, selling artwork in an intimate venue with food and friends comes with bonuses.
“Art never looks the same online as it does in person,” said Case, who enjoys the interaction and feedback a local presence brings.
That sentiment was echoed by Sammons, who hand-delivers many of her sold items to customers.
“It’s just a more personal experience if you see it there and you’re in a place, because you love it already and you’re looking around over conversation,” Sammons said.
Siok will consider any art collection that meets his criteria, but prefers larger pieces with color that inspire thought.
“It’s a big space, so they need to have a reasonable body of work that they can fill the space with,” Siok said.
Selected artists hang, price and sell their works through posted contact information. Siok’s employees are always eager to chat with customers about wall artists as they dish up local favorites, such as the Bleu Salad and House Pizza.
“In the neighborhood, we have a lot of regulars that come into the restaurant, and they all enjoy seeing what’s coming next,” Siok said.
Over the years, a steady stream of oils, acrylics and photography exhibits have adorned the walls of South Perry Pizza, much to the delight of Siok, who graciously acknowledges the local wall artists are important ingredients in the dining experience he is creating.
“I express myself through the pizza and salads that we produce and I like seeing how other people express their creativity through their art,” Siok said.