Atmosphere Evolves at Rugby Grille with New Art to Accompany Lighter Menu

 In Alfred Gockel, Art & Gallery News, Artists & Special Collections, Press Releases, Simon Bull, Tim Yanke

Custom-made pieces enhance new menu and restaurant’s continuing evolution

Townsend HotelBIRMINGHAM, Mich. | March 20, 2009 – As part of Rugby Grille’s continuing evolution, the Townsend Hotel’s award-winning restaurant has partnered with Park West Gallery to add seven contemporary pieces of art from some of metro Detroit’s, and the world’s, finest artists.

“Art is an expression of life and these new pieces in Rugby Grille will greatly enhance our new healthier, lighter menu offerings and welcoming atmosphere,” said Keith Schofield, director of restaurant operations for Rugby Grille. “Much like Executive Chef Jim Bologna layers the unique flavors in each dish, these artists use color and light to immediately grab our patrons’ attention. The artists’ remarkable skill will dazzle the eye and intrigue the mind.”

Rugby GrillThis art includes two hand-blown glass sculptures from April Wagner and Jason Ruff, a Pontiac-based duo whose work is formed by a process known as “fazzoletto,” where the glass is blown in freeform and not from a mold. The two pieces custom made for Rugby Grille — “Lime Swan Nest” and “Solar Flare” — encompass rich, vibrant colors, dominant curves and an energy that complements the restaurant’s enhanced allure. To create these pieces, the glass was heated to 2300°F and then blown and shaped into unique creations that characterize this art form.

Wagner and Ruff are both graduates of the College of Creative Studies in Detroit and have owned their custom-made private studio in Pontiac for the last 11 years. The skill and talent with which they perform their craft is enhanced by a love for Detroit and the local art scene.

“Jason and I loved the space and the artistic opportunities that Rugby Grille offered,” said Wagner. “We also love Detroit and wanted to do something to show that this area is full of life and energy.”

Complementing the two sculptures from Wagner and Ruff are five paintings from three of Park West Gallery’s most revered and respected artists. Tim Yanke, Simon Bull, and Alfred Gockel are each known for their use of color, imagery and ability to stimulate the senses. Their diverse backgrounds are evident in their work, exuding an international flavor that is in tune with The Townsend Hotel’s appeal to discerning travelers from across the globe.

American Palette by Tim YankeYanke is a native Detroiter known for his spontaneous painting nature; he approaches each piece with no preconceptions. His piece for Rugby Grille, titled “American Palette,” draws inspiration from great abstract painters and uses bright colors and compelling imagery to capture the attention of viewers.

“When Mr. Schofield approached me to develop a unique work for the new Rugby Grille, my first thought was to create a high-impact and eye catching work in keeping with the international theme,” said artist Tim Yanke. “The painting uses a multitude of colors to represent the diversity of our community and country. Other subtle references include our nation’s flag revealed from a slight distance as well as the text ‘golden coast of California,’ ‘providing a helping hand from sea to shining sea and to the rest of the world,’ ‘the Great Plains’ and ‘sierra mountains.’ I hope visitors to the new Rugby Grille enjoy the painting as much as I enjoyed creating it.”

Simon Bull’s two pieces, titled “Summer Haze XIII” and “Treasure,” reflect an inner beauty and examination of life that define this well-traveled artist. He learned different painting techniques while living in Hong Kong and throughout his education in England. In 2003, his painting entitled “The Journey Never Ends,” was named Print of the Year by the National Association of Limited Edition Dealers. He resides in California and continues his passion of combining colors and sensory harmonies to touch people’s lives through art.

Alfred Gockel’s two offerings — “Made of Sun” and “On the Rocks” — encompass fluid brush strokes in an “action painting” format that complements the new energy of Rugby Grille. In the last decade, well over two million examples of his imagery in various media forms have been sold in the U.S. art market alone. Gockel resides in his native Germany, where he continues to produce works with universal appeal to art enthusiasts worldwide.

Since The Townsend Hotel opened in 1988, it has received numerous awards and accolades including Mobil Four Star and AAA Four Diamond designations as well as a perennial position on Conde Nast’s “Top 100 Gold List,” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Hotels.” THE TOWNSEND HOTEL, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, is located at 100 Townsend Street in downtown Birmingham, Mich. For more information, contact the hotel at 248-642-7900 or 800-548-4172. Additional information available at
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