A mural entitled Paraiso Azul by nationally known artist Adrian Martinez will be unveiled at the Blue Cafe in the Mill Town Market in Downingtown on Friday, July 18, 2008.The opening will also serve as a fundraiser for The Lord's Pantry of Downingtown. The cafe will be open from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. for the grand showing. Admission is free but donations will be encouraged for The Lord's Pantry. Hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served by the Blue Cafe owners, Patti and Paul Frank.

Downingtown-based artist Martinez needed a public outlet for his expansive creative energy and found an opportunity for a "performance piece" at the Blue Cafe. "I usually work in my studio and it is solitary work," Martinez said. "I had just finished two years working on a highly successful show at Sunset Hill Gallery in West Chester. Last year I also painted two large murals for a holiday display in the White House. I needed a project that would be physically and emotionally extravagant. I needed to paint but I needed to have fun. I had a lot of pent up emotion."

Martinez found such a project at the Blue Cafe. He worked in the restaurant's dining room to complete the large Caribbean-themed mural. He invited people to come and observe, an unusual opportunity for the public to watch a nationally-known artist

The fundraising portion of the project was extremely important to Martinez and the Franks. "Patti has been involved with help feeding the poor here in Downing-town and with Philabundance," Paul Frank said. He added that the Blue Cafe catered the cocktail party for the organization's recent fundraising event.

Martinez, a member of the Downingtown Friends' Meeting, said he talked with the Franks before the project again about using the venue for a fundraiser. "They suggested The Lord's Pantry. I've always thought highly of the organization."

Jan Leaf, director of the Lord's Pantry, said she has seen a 30 percent increase in patrons since the beginning of the year. She said the increased costs of food and gas are some of the reasons. Last year the organization helped 504 families and this year Leaf expects 600 to 700 families will seek aid.

Martinez's relationship with the Blue Cafe began as a customer. Paul Frank, a native of Waco, Texas, said once they found out Leah Martinez, Adrian's wife, was from Texas an immediate connection was made. Conversations drifted to art and the mural project was spawned. The idea was inspired by a mural in a Fort Worth, Texas, restaurant that was familiar to the Franks and Martinez.

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