“Tom’s” by Ed Natan. This painting will be on display for Natan’s popup art exhibit called “Feel the City” on Nov. 9 at Tom’s Starlight restaurant. Credit: Ed Natan

Many people have seen artist Ed Natan live-painting on Denver’s sidewalks and street corners. For instance, his abstract painting of downtown Denver’s skyline. Or his painting of the Bluebird Theater on bustling Colfax Avenue.

Locals will sometimes approach him as he works. They’ll chat and reminisce about the city. Or, tourists will sometimes stop to ask him how to get to a popular attraction like the capitol building.

“I focus on what I see, and in certain locations, what I feel from my memories,” Natan said. “When you’ve spent such a long time living in a city, you relate to it.”

Natan, now in his ‘70s, has lived in Denver since childhood. He loves to paint, with his forte being plein-air watercolor paintings of his hometown’s urban scenes.

“They’re in real-time and real place,” Natan said of his paintings. “I paint as things happen.”

Local artist Ed Natan live-paints on Denver’s 16th Street Mall. Credit: Ed Natan

A collection of about 30 pieces of Natan’s work from the past few years will be featured in a popup show called “Feel the City.” The debut is 4-7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Tom’s Starlight, 601 E. Colfax Ave.

All of Natan’s works on display will also be for sale. Or, people can order signed high-quality prints at the event. The popup will give guests an opportunity to meet Natan, if they haven’t bumped into him already. And, if they miss the event, Natan’s work will be on display at the restaurant for an indeterminate amount of time. Tom’s Starlight is open for dinner Wednesdays through Sundays, with brunch hours on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Under the Bridge,” which was painted in north Denver in plein-air, is one of about 30 of Ed Natan’s works that will be on exhibit for the “Feel the City” show on Nov. 9. Credit: Ed Natan

“Feel the City” will allow people to travel through Denver’s recent years by viewing Natan’s paintings. Just a couple of examples of scenes that will be on display are the hopping intersection of 1st Avenue and Broadway, and Civic Center Park.

“There’s many locations I find interesting to paint,” Natan said. “I like locations that still have some of the history preserved.”

This is one reason Natan gravitated to Tom’s Starlight as an appropriate venue for the show. It is a staple in Denver, originally opening in 1967 as a White Spot Restaurant. The current owner, Tom Messina, took it over in 1999 and ran it as one of Denver’s beloved 24/7 greasy spoons – Tom’s Diner – for 20 years. Then, it survived the wrecking ball. The building was recently slated for demolition, but the community rallied together and convinced Messina to save it and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2019. Messina reopened as Tom’s Starlight in 2022, and the remodeled restaurant today boasts an elevated menu that includes various dishes such as shrimp salad, penne alla vodka and the Park Avenue sandwich made with a New York strip steak, as well as a full bar that offers a variety of signature cocktails.

Denver has changed quite a bit through the years, Natan said. And what Messina was able to capture with a hammer, nails, spatula and cocktail glasses with his restaurant is what Natan captures with a paintbrush, he said.

People will recognize most – if not all – of the scenes in Natan’s “Feel the City.”

“Those who have been in Denver a long time will appreciate it (the art in the show),” Natan said. “And people newer to Denver will be able to see how they can relate to Denver in a fun and meaningful way.”

Christy Steadman is the editor of the Washington Park Profile, Life on Capitol Hill and Denver Herald newspapers. She started with Colorado Community Media in 2014, and as a reporter, covered Highlands...

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