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From the Dining Critic's Notebook

Deciphering the Frieze at Sixty Vines in Plano

There’s a big-name artist behind the loops and squiggles that tell the story of wine.
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Photo by Kevin Marple.

If you’ve been to Sixty Vines, the new restaurant in Plano that shares a parking lot with sister restaurant Whiskey Cake, you’ve noticed it. No matter your position, whether at the bar or the high four-tops or the farm-style tables, your eye has been drawn to the semi-abstract frieze that runs the length of the back wall, crowning the restaurant’s signature line of wine taps.

At first glance, it appears to be indecipherable, this series of loops and squiggles like a Picasso. Look closer; you’re seeing the pictorial attempt to tell the story of wine.

The artist is a local boy. You may not know his name, but in all likelihood you’ve seen his work, perhaps on your Facebook page or iPhone. Felix Sockwell grew up in Richardson before going on to open a New York-based design studio and taking on clients like Facebook, Herman Miller, Amex, The New York Times, and Apple. Go to his website and you see the breadth and caliber of his clientele. Click here for a glimpse of the sketches that eventually birthed his iTunes logo work for Apple.

In the mural he executed for Sixty Vines (while standing on the bar and drawing left-handed), you can begin to decode a world of references. The idea, says manager Justin Beam, was to “tie the story of wine into [Sockwell’s] style of art.” In the abstract whorls, find shapes: a foot stomping grapes, a depiction of Bacchus, god of wine. “Read it right to left or left to right and you’re seeing the science behind [wine-making], the mythology behind it,” says Beam.

The Front Burner group considered including more of Sockwell’s work into the restaurant design, incorporating it for example into the physical menu, which is lovely, with a leather cover and light marbling on the interior pages. But they decided against it. They would, they decided, just stick to the one signature piece. Go and ogle over a glass of wine. We see you, Facebook. We see you, Apple. We have our very own Sockwell.

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