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Performing Art
Phallen Coyne and Matt Foley with one of several shellfish paintings Coyne created for her family's new Sarasota restaurant.
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2012 8 years ago


by: Heidi Kurpiela Contributing Writer

You’ll probably want to go to Coyne’s Pier 28 for the fresh fish and oysters. I’m here to tell you that you should also go for the art and décor.


Because I didn’t think it was possible for a 60-by-70-foot painting of a crab to look so pretty.

Responsible for the ambience inside this new Sarasota eatery is artist Phallen Coyne, a 28-year-old Baltimore native, who in one whirlwind week created all the art for the inside of her family’s seafood restaurant, which opened June 1 next to the Westfield Sarasota Square Mall.

“It probably should have taken me more than three weeks to do,” Coyne says. “I don’t usually work 20-hour days. We were there from the break of dawn until midnight. It was crazy.”

A graphic designer by trade, Coyne is meticulously detailed and accustomed to meeting tight deadlines, but nothing as high-pressured as churning out colossal paintings and wall typography for a warehouse-sized restaurant.

“When you work like that, you tend to hit a wall after a certain point,” Coyne says. “You do whatever it takes it get it done.”

Coyne apparently works well under stress. Coyne’s Pier 28 has all the charm of a waterfront establishment, minus the view.

She and her husband, 34-year-old graphic artist Matt Foley, spent long days sorting through junk at local salvage yards, in pursuit of discarded materials that suited the restaurant’s rustic/modern maritime theme.
As new Sarasota residents, this proved especially vexing. Thrift-store shopping is an art best left to locals who know where to look for buried treasures.

Coyne and Foley were resourceful.

They started in downtown Sarasota, at Sarasota Architectural Salvage, where they unearthed their best loot, including canoe paddles that they turned into bathroom door handles and weathered wood reclaimed from a 1920s beach cottage.

We like to mix vintage stuff with clean modern stuff,” Coyne says. “We also wanted to bring a sense of humor to the place.”

Some of the pieces were transplanted, like Coyne, from Maryland, including the Eastern Avenue and Broadway Street signs that once marked the location of the family’s first business: an auto-repair shop in Baltimore.

“It’s a reminder of where we came from,” Coyne says.

The couple recently left their jobs at Under Armour, where they helped launch a new line of graphic T-shirts for the sportswear company.

Coyne says after “going non-stop” for 10 years, she was ready for a change of pace.

A graduate of the Art Institute of Washington, she was hired straight out of college to work as a designer for Zoo York, a skateboarding clothing line in New York City.

“I was designing for 15-year-old skater boys,” she says. “I learned everything I could about apparel. I forced myself to sink or swim.”

And swim, she did.

Four years later, she was hired to work as a senior graphic designer and junior art director for Selena Gomez’s line of clothes.

In the middle of this, she met Foley while vacationing in Florida. At the time, Foley, a Boston native, was working as a producer for several advertising agencies in Miami.

The two maintained a long-distance relationship until Under Armour hired them both in 2010. “Working together in a corporate environment was good training for getting married,” says Coyne, who married Foley on Siesta Key. “It taught us to be professional and not take our disagreements too personally.”

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