Bars doubling as art galleries: A great coexistence

31 Mar

Here is an article I wrote, published in the Independent Alligator (3/31). Enjoy!

Downtown Gainesville Bars Doubling as Art Galleries

Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, thousands of people flock to downtown Gainesville’s bar scene. Students and locals alike cram into watering holes for many reasons – to socialize with friends, to look for romance, to dance and let’s face it – to drink. A few of downtown Gainesville’s bars are offering patrons something that they may not have expected – a view of local art.

If you walk into Alcove, a small bar nestled in between Rockey’s Dueling Piano Bar and Main Street Billiards, the atmosphere takes you into a translucent euphoria. As the indie music and low chatter pumps in your ears, your eyes adjust to the glow of the low lights, and the craft beer entices your taste buds, your eyes are drawn to one of the many unique works of art that line the walls and you can not help but ponder these pieces. This setup is not by accident. Alcove’s second purpose, after being a bar, is to display local art.

Evan Yavelberg, owner of Alcove, said art is a big part of his life and has shaped the way he runs the bar.

“It’s an experience when you come to Alcove,” said Yavelberg. “You feel like you are walking into a piece of art.”

Yavelberg said his stylistic vision of the bar comes from his art background. His mother and brother are both artists.

“Art is a way to stimulate the mind and emotions,” said Yavelberg. “It is important for social interactions.”

If you happened to be standing outside of 110 S Main St. at night, you can see through the windows to the Alcove sign, which is a piece of art work in itself.  Yavelberg commissioned a friend to make this piece that incorporates different colored shapes of stained glass placed asymmetrically and illuminated to give off a vibrant feel. It draws patrons, like moths to a bright light, into Alcove for a cocktail.

Yavelberg said that he admires professional artists and wants to help them in any way he can. He said he is often approached by local artists or will seek them out to display his or her work. He has displayed abstract paintings, figurative works and photography pieces. He is open to displaying any type of art, with the exception of sculptures, which Alcove cannot accommodate due to its small size.

Similar to changing the art, Yavelberg only features craft beer, which he rotates frequently. His appreciation of beer and wine has led him to diverge from mainstream brands and showcase brews by smaller, less-known breweries.

“Our beers are always changing. Like the art highlighting the artist, the beers highlight the brewery,” Yavelberg said.

He tries to support local brews, particularly Swamphead beers, by featuring them on draft. He rotates an array of different types of beers and wines. Beers currently on draft are Hofbräu – Hefe Weizen, High & Mighty – Two Headed Beast, Cigar City – Double Cream Ale, Fort Collins – Retro Red Ale, Atlanta – Red Brick Porter Hitachino – Nest Red Rice Ale, Fox Barrel – Black Currant Cider, Great Divide – Old Ruffin Barley Wine Ale and Swamphead – Wild Night Honey Cream Ale. His approach to featuring wines is the same as his approach to beers.

Yavelberg said everyone has had your standard Cabernet or Merlot, so he features different types of wine to enlighten people and expose them to new options.

Yavelberg has one piece displayed behind the bar that he created, which doesn’t get rotated and also a piece by Gainesville artist Ted Lincoln that is a permanent fixture.

Other recently opened bars around downtown Gainesville have followed suit and are incorporating a strategy similar to Yavelberg’s. The Bull, bakery/coffee house by day, craft beer bar/gallery by night, rotates unique local art through their establishment. Recently opened Tall Paul’s Brew House, located at 10 SE 2nd Ave., intends to adopt a similar approach to displaying art.

“We plan on showcasing many pieces of local art at Paul’s,” said Tall Paul’s co-owner Jeff Hickey. “It’s important to us, as a member of the downtown bar community, to expose people to Gainesville’s artists.”

Paul’s is 4,500 square-feet and has a lot of wall space available, which the owners hope to display unique art that will be enjoyable for customers to look at.

“People want something to look at other than blank walls or beer ads, said Hickey. “Having the art gives customers something to discuss as well as adding to the atmosphere and we definitely think it will be a good thing for us and for the artists.”




2 Responses to “Bars doubling as art galleries: A great coexistence”

  1. Nifty Thrifty Decorator April 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Yay! Congrats on getting published!

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