Monkey Bar, the not-quite-so-secret spot atop Mi Cocina’s Highland Park Village location, offered a welcome respite for a few lucky Dallasites on Wednesday’s cold, drizzly evening. Whimsical cloud-shaped balloons lined the ceiling, cutouts of Gray Malin’s sunny window shots from his pop culture-inspired “Bon Voyage” series were placed along the windows, and The New York Times best-selling artist was at the center of it all.
Though the ESD graduate has since relocated to Los Angeles (where his cheerful, escapist works are displayed in The Beverly Hills Hotel), Malin still considers Dallas home. So when it came time to add his own self-portrait to the “Bon Voyage” series’ collection of cultural icons (everyone from Princes Diana to Marilyn Monroe gets the Malin treatment), the artist wanted to pay tribute to Dallas— or more specifically, Mi Cocina.
“Over the years, people really wanted me to do something to celebrate Dallas,” Malin told the Monkey Bar crowd on Wednesday night. “Looking back on my authentic self, the Dallas emblem wasn’t a football, it was the Mambo Taxi.”
Of course, the iconic Dallas drink (a mix of Sauza Silver tequila, house-made sangria, and lime juice) was the most requested item from the bar that night. Guests included Malin’s Los Angeles team, Edgar Guevara (CEO at M Crowd Restaurant Group), local influencers such as Krystal Schlegel and Amy Havins, as well as Dallas designer Amy Berry, who recently created a nursery for Malin and his husband, Jeff Richardson. The two welcomed twins in December of 2018.
Six brand new “Bon Voyage” portraits, including Malin’s first self-portrait, “The Dallas Native,” are available starting today on graymalin.com and will eventually make their way into a glossy new book from the artist, which is scheduled to publish this fall.
“It’s just so incredible to stand here today, in a place I call home, and get to release this self-portrait,” Malin said on Wednesday night. “It’s obviously more about Dallas than me, and paying tribute to this great city.”