“I just did two linoleum cuts,” Jeffrey Fournier tells me over a slug of coffee in the tranquil morning moments of his restaurant, 51 Lincoln. Somehow, between keeping this Newton Highlands spot running smoothly while simultaneously opening Citrio, his catering company across the street, and taking over Vintage restaurant in West Roxbury, he manages to dedicate time to his art, “a serious endeavor” for a guy who’s been showing and selling works since he was 15. 51 Lincoln (designed and constructed closely by Fournier) works on both gastronomic and gallery levels, his displayed artwork an integral part of the experience. “Overall, when I talk about creativity, it’s about expression in whatever medium of the moment — food, art, writing — and just to be true to my creative impulse.”
Fournier’s works, spanning a decade between 1997 and 2007, stake out their rightful spaces along the walls of this double-leveled eatery. One bright painting holds down the fort behind a pair of wine fridges, woodblock prints framed in weathered window panes dot the upstairs and downstairs and a huge 5×5-foot work mounted on exposed brick unabashedly says hello in the bathroom. A 28-foot paneled piece anchors the main dining area with brilliant oranges, yellows and whites conjuring an abstract aerial map; the lines are echoed by broad black brushstrokes between plexiglass panels dividing the room. “All the artwork is for sale — I have a price list,” explains Fournier, “but I try not to make it too commercial. If they’re moved enough, they’ll ask about a piece. It’s not a hard-sell kind of a place.”
Though it’s otherwise obscure that the art in the restaurant is (a) for sale and (b) by the chef, Fournier — whose influences include Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat — opened 51 Lincoln’s doors for a viewing and reception of his works last month. “It was fun, got drunk,” Fournier recalls with a sleepy, wistful grin.