I made my second trip to Santa Monica’s Milo & Olive this past Saturday evening to meet up with a friend, enjoy some delicious food, and celebrate the beginning of what I believe will be an absolutely incredible summer. We went, of course, to indulge in the offerings of the ingredient-focused menu, but as we were savoring every morsel of our roasted corn with chili butter, arugula and radicchio salad with fried capers, and a garlic knot that was pure, baked heaven, I noticed that the focal wall of the restaurant was covered in a neat grid of 60 framed pieces of art.
Surprised that this had not caught my attention on my first visit, I spent some time examining the framed ink and watercolor images and found myself intrigued and amused by their distinctively quirky charm. Each piece is an original page torn from the sketchbook of Gabirel Gigliotti, a Santa Monica-based artist and friend of Milo & Olive owners Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan. Gigliotti, who is an LA-native and studied at Parsons in New York before returning to the West coast, makes his living selling prints and original drawings just like the ones featured in the restaurant.
Gigliotti’s work has a style that perfectly complements the cuisine of Loeb and Nathan’s most recent culinary venture (they are also the owners of Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry Café and Bakery, and Sweet Rose Creamery) as it is simple and almost understated in form, but still sophisticated in perspective. Ink sketches of people, animals, and various objects are sparingly painted in washes of watercolor and accented with thought-provoking words, written in print or in cursive. Gigliotti compares the pieces in Milo & Olive to pages taken from personal journals that are “heavy on drawing and light on writing” and the collection does indeed convey the feeling of being given a peek into someone’s uniquely fascinating inner world. The juxtaposition of illustration-style drawings and written words create the aesthetic effect of a storybook, albeit one with a tone that ranges from slightly snarky and tongue-in-cheek to playful and, at points, simply sincere.
Gigiliotti shared a few pieces of his work, displayed here, but the pieces I saw at Milo & Olive are originals that can only be viewed by making a trip into the restaurant. If you find yourself munching on some freshly baked garlicky goodness and admiring Gigliotti’s work, as I did, and wish to purchase a piece for yourself, feel free to email him directly at email@example.com. Prints cost about $100 (originals are more expensive), and given the fact that Gigliotti is most certainly an artist on the rise, I’d recommend snagging at least one or two sooner rather than later.