Unit E survives liquor bust and will be open, but dry, on Denver's First Friday
Arts promoters Gregg Ziemba (left) and Thadeaous Mighell before the bust.
The folks behind Unit E, the art space at 1201 Santa Fe Drive that won our Best DIY Gallery in the Best of Denver 2012, are used to big parties on First Friday. But on November 2, they got more action than they'd bargained for: Co-founder Gregg Ziemba was busted for the "unlawful sale of alcohol." Specifically, for giving out free beer and booze -- with a donation jar by the makeshift bar.
Ziemba, a member of the band Rubedo, was in court this morning on that charge, and wound up with a deferred judgment. "I have to behave for a year," he says, "and then it's wiped off my record."
The court also cut him a break on costs, waiving all fines and just charging court costs of about $150.
But the city kept the donation jar, which had been seized by Denver cops who baked up the two two liquor-enforcement agents who busted Unit E that night. Those donations were supposed to help cover the gallery's rent for December.
After we published a story on Ziemba's plight, supporters donated $350, which helped with expenses; the founders dipped into their savings to cover the rest, keeping the venue open.
And so Unit E will be open on this First Friday, with DJ Burton spinning; the walls will be covered with art by Victor Escabado . The party starts at 8 p.m.
But don't look for Ziemba to be there; he has a gig that night. And don't look for any alcohol, either. Unit E is investigating applying for a permit that allows an art gallerie to offer liquor at openings fifteen times a year (legislators approved a change to the state's liquor law in 2008, after galleries across the metro area complained that they weren't being allowed to serve wine, a feature often as important as the art on the walls).
But in the meantime, Ziemba says the space will definitely be dry in December. Fortunately, Santa Fe Boulevard has no shortage of bars. In fact, the Arts District on Santa Fe discourages galleries from serving liquor at their openings, just so the neighborhood restaurants and bars get to enjoy First Friday business, too.
Get the Arts and Theater Newsletter
Weekly information keeping you in the know when it comes to the art and theater scene. Find out about upcoming performances, exhibitions, openings and special events.
More ARTS News
- Bob Topp and his Hermitage Bookshop Keep Turning Pages — and Heads — in Cherry Creek
- Art Shows on Display in the Denver Area Right Now
- 88 Drive-In Theatre Kicks Off Another Season With a New Digital Projection System
- InFauxmation's Brent Gill on Denver Comedy and Why So Many Weird Stories Come Out of...