Posted on June 11, 2019

New art takes Le Manhattan Bistro diners to Paris, New York

As it appeared in the Times Leader

By Roger DuPuis –

WILKES-BARRE — The next time you are at Le Manhattan Bistro, be sure to look up.

The downtown eatery, which re-opened earlier this year under new ownership, has added something new to the dining room of the historic bank building it calls home: locally produced art celebrating its French and American theme.

On either side of the main wall, massive paintings now adorn the large alcoves: Paris’ Arc de triomphe, bathed in golden sunlight, on the left, and New York’s Empire State Building on the right.

Between the two hangs a copper and glass sculpture in which an umbrella-shaded bistro table sits beneath the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, as if ready to welcome a guest.

The paintings were created by Cynthia Trudgen, of Dallas. The sculpture was created by Yael G. Kahnov, whose studio is in Harvey’s Lake.

“I’m honored to have their pieces here, that I can tell you,” restaurant owner Rob Friedman said Tuesday.

Friedman re-opened the business in March, boosting a restaurant and hospitality portfolio that already includes Kevin’s Bar & Restaurant in Kingston, the Beaumont Inn in Dallas, Cork Bar and Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, Grico’s Restaurant in Exeter, Back Mountain wedding venue Friedman Farms and the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Township.

It now has its liquor license, he said, and with a main dining room and adjacent rooms can accommodate private parties of up to 40 people with its menu of classic French and American cuisine.

Friedman said he reached out to the artists to add some Parisian and Manhattan flair to complement the menu.

Trudgen, whose realist paintings adorn the Beaumont Inn, worked in the impressionist style for this commission.

Her paintings were done on 2-by-3-foot pieces of paper ripped and torn, crinkled up, put on a wall and painted over.

“And then to bring it here, they had to be torn apart and then redone again,” she said, adding that she spent about 50 hours working on the pair.

“This was a lot of fun. I enjoyed doing this,” she said. “It’s pretty cool seeing them up on the wall like this.”

Kahnov, who works in numerous media, has a large studio with a furnace where she can fuse elements such as the copper and glass that compose her sculpture for Le Manhattan.

“Rob called me and said, ‘I have a job for you,’” Kahnov recalled. “I came over and looked at the place. He said to come with a concept, which I did, in construction paper, and he liked the concept.”

From there, Kahnov spent the next three-and-a-half weeks molding the metal and applying the glass.

“These are probably the two most talented artists in the area,” Friedman said with a smile as the pair looked on.