First look: Iain Chisholm's DADA Art Bar opens next Friday
All photos by Lori Midson.
"The whole point of this is to be the neighborhood tree-house -- the go-to spot to hang out and have fun in a comfortable and entertaining environment," says Iain Chisholm. "This" refers to DADA Art Bar, the art gallery-coffeehouse-bar that Chisholm, the owner-chef of Amerigo, will open next Friday directly behind his neighborhood Italian restaurant.
"We may get open sooner if we get our liquor license, but next Friday is definitely the grand opening, which happens to be the same day as my birthday; it's my birthday gift to myself, says Chisholm, who has spent the last several months turning the ninety-seat, 2,600-square-foot emporium, its exterior a mix of multi-colored brick, eye-catching murals and glass, into an artist's showroom, complete with a full bar, which Chisholm built by hand, using two-by-four blocks of plywood. Garage doors open to the open air; two patios, which will add another sixty seats, are in the works; and the high-ceilinged rooms, of which there are two, are furnished with handcrafted tables and banquettes surrounded by modern, bright-hued plastic chairs. And art. Everywhere.
The initial exhibit, which will feature around forty pieces of art, all of which were either created by -- or collected from -- High Fructose Porn Syrup, a group of Colorado-based artists who create and sell artwork, is themed "Infinite Illusions," and all of the art, both reproductions and originals, is for sale, the prices of which range from $40 to $600. And with the sale of each piece, all of them curated by Chisholm's sister, Coco, an artist in Brooklyn, the artist gets to keep 90 percent. "We're definitely all about making sure that the artists we feature get to keep most of what they make from a sale," says Chisholm, adding that the exhibits will change monthly -- as will the space. "The ambiance will largely be determined by the art on the wall -- the art paints the atmosphere, so we'll rearrange the space with every show to keep it interesting," he adds.
But DADA is more than just a gallery of wall art: "We'll host performance artists of all kinds, and we want to defer censorship as much as possible, so they can do pretty much whatever they want, just as long as they don't take their clothes off," quips Chisholm. Art battles, which will pit two artists against one another in a live painting showdown, are on the horizon, as are Thursday night DJs, jazz trios and a weekly Wednesday talent show that will essentially be an open mic forum. "There's really no limit to what people can do; we'll have everything from poetry readings and comedy to singers and storytellers," says Chisholm.
The gallery, which will be open at 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, will be a coffeehouse by day (Chisholm is pouring Novo and Commonwealth coffee), while cocktails, wine and beer, along with "globally influenced" charcuterie plates and cheeseboards, will be featured at night. "We've put together an awesome bar team that's created a great specialty cocktail program with all the classics, like the old-fashioned, Manhattan and sidecar -- and then we're going to have cocktail infusions that will change on a daily basis," notes Chisholm.
Five local beers will be available on draft, and Chisholm has also incorporated a "midshelf" liquor program that highlights all local spirits procured from Mile High Spirits, a close neighbor of DADA. And while the wine list is short -- three or four reds and the same number of whites -- Chisholm stresses that they're all "interesting and food-friendly." And within the next year, he adds, the charcuterie program will be brought in-house. "We're already doing our own pickled vegetables and housemade mustards, and we'll eventually do all of our own charcuterie, but that's still a work in progress," he says. In the meantime, the menu also includes desserts and panini. And if you want to host a private party, Amerigo will cater it.
DADA will open early on Sundays, at 11 a.m, and pour Bloody Marys and mimosas, and Chisholm will have a DJ spinning tunes until 8 p.m. "It'll be a great place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon," he says.
And along with a DJ at next Friday's grand opening, you can also expect a performance artist and a powwow with the artists whose works are currently displayed on the walls -- and if you want a first look of the art that's being showcased, flip the page for a gallery of sneak peek photos.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.