When you think your customers are angels, you want to let them know.
When you own a landmark restaurant like Spanky’s Speakeasy that’s returning to its full potential for those angelic customers, you want to celebrate it in a unique way.
Those two thoughts were a marriage made in heaven, and its offspring is a west wall mural of oversize wings that allow every customer to become an angel on Earth. Ted and Emily Monty, owners of Spanky’s Speakeasy, 1550 Airport-Pulling Road. N., Naples, hired local artist Marcus Zotter to create the 10-by-8-foot mural of ombréed blue wings.
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There’s no devil in the details, either: Around the wing are Zotter’s bright geometrics: diagonal and zebra stripes, polka dots and chevrons. A lone hummingbird hovers above its fellow flyer.
The winged apparition, changing according to who stands in front of the mural, has its own pet, too. Bubbles, one of the Montys’ five English bulldogs, became a model for Zotter, showing up au naturel. (To celebrate the mural’s completion, she appeared in her own Bubbles wrap, a polka dot dress with frilly jester collar.)
“Everyone knows about our bulldogs. They’re all over the restaurant. In the ladies’ room there are pictures of them from floor to ceiling,” said Emily Monty. So it was only natural to add one to the mural, she said. The hummingbird came from Zotter.
“It’s another sense of nature. I love doing animals or birds because I love nature and I always try incorporate some in my paintings. Plus, birds give a sense of movement,” he said.
Both Zotter and his subject matter are well known in the area. He commands a number of styles from the portrait of Anthony Bordain that graced the former Seventh Avenue Social restaurant to a dusky street scene in AZN at Mercato and a wall devoted to the founder of Mama Mia’s Pizza on U.S. 41 North.
Winged art has become a calling card in many cities, where visitors look for its particular wings mural to picture themselves in. “Nashville has a really famous angel wing mural,” she said. “Big towns, small towns — they all have them.
“I said ‘I love these wings and Naples doesn’t have anything like this,'” Monty recalled of their decision. A mural would also be work for an artist, and the Montys liked the idea of supporting local art after the lean year of pandemic for everyone. She found Zotter’s work on Instagram.
“I called him and an hour later he was at the hostess stand,” she said. “I gave him my vision and he kind of took over. He created this masterpiece.” Zotter offered her two choices: Simply the wings she had requested, or the wings on a background of colorful geometrics aligned with her taste and the memorabilia-rich decor of Spanky’s. The latter was an easy choice.
Zotter is known around the area for his murals. Among them are the portrait of Anthony Bourdain that graced the former Seventh Avenue Social restaurant, a rain-slickened street scene in AZN at Mercato and a wall dedicated to the founder of Mama Mia’s Pizza on U.S. 41 North.
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After Zotter finished the wings mural he would be working on a mural for a favorite cause, The Sunshine Kids, a center for children with cancer, at 1395 Panther Lane in Naples.
“I’ve got to be as thankful as possible to everybody,” he said. “I had two months off like everyone, but after that, as things opened up, I’ve been the most busy I have ever been as an artist. I just want to thank everyone.”
Zotter didn’t do this mural under the most conducive circumstances. Tropical Storm/Hurricane Elsa‘s threat to Southwest Florida delayed his start.
“Then we were battling heat and rain in the afternoon,” Monty recalled. “So he worked early in the morning, which is when we’re not open, unfortunately.”
That dashed the hopes of Spanky’s regulars who planned to pull up a chair, have a drink and watch the art process. Still, Monty is delighted with the result: “He is just so talented.”
Further, she said, the mural adds to Spanky’s Speakeasy as a landmark.
“I enjoyed traveling to the sights of the U.S. as a child with my parents. Those landmarks you see as you’re growing up you remember. I’ve got photos of me with them,” she recalled.
“Ted and I have owned Spanky’s for six years,” Monty said. “Everyone knows our space for its vintage signs and all the little things inside. Our idea was to be able to keep the landmark we have, but incorporate a little bit of ourselves into it. This is our addition to it.”
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.
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