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Zonis On Madison

from the New York Times

Artist of Rich Shoppers Has Madison Ave. as a Storefront

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Peter Zonis with potential customers outside Barneys New York on Madison near 61st Street, where Mr. Zonis sells his oil pastels.

Along a stretch of Madison Avenue filled with stores specializing in items with hefty price tags, Peter Zonis is a familiar face. For the last seven years, Mr. Zonis, an artist who works in oil pastel, has sold whimsical, vibrantly colored New York City street scenes outside Barneys. His subjects are familiar to his Chanel- and Prada-clad clientele: scenes of Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Harry Winston, Hermès and Tiffany.

Inspired by certain Manhattan precincts where money and shopping are paramount, Mr. Zonis depicts men in tailored Italian suits cradling cellphones, and curvaceous women teetering on high heels and toting shopping bags while walking their lap dogs. He renders restaurants where people go not only to eat but also to be seen, like Nello, La Goulue and Balthazar.

In one canvas, a lone blond woman clutching a designer handbag stares forlornly into a Christmas window display at Barneys. In another, the spires of the Plaza Hotel appear as if in a fairy tale.

Though Mr. Zonis sees his work as high art, likening his style to the Fauvist movement, he is not represented by a gallery. Instead, Madison Avenue is his storefront, where art, fashion and commerce collide as they do in his artwork. The boldface names that he says have bought his work are printed on a postcard he hands out: Robert De NiroJoe Namath and Harvey Weinstein, among others.

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Posted on October 20, 2008 by Editor

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