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Monday, June 24, 2024

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.

But a few of downtown Gainesville’s bars are offering patrons a taste of something they may not have expected: local art.

If you walk into Alcove, a small bar nestled in between Rockeys 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 original works of art that line the walls. It’s impossible not to ponder these pieces, and 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 his business.

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

If you happened to be standing outside of 110 S. Main St. at night, you could see through the windows to the Alcove sign, which is a piece of artwork in itself.  Yavelberg commissioned a friend to make the piece, which incorporates different-colored shapes of stained class 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 he admires professional artists and wants to help them in any way he can. He said he often is approached by local artists or will seek them out to display their work. He has displayed abstract paintings, figurative works and photography.

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

Other recently opened bars around downtown Gainesville have followed suit. The Bull, bakery and coffee house by day, craft beer bar and gallery by night, rotates local art in its establishment.

Recently opened Tall Paul’s Brew House, at 10 SE Second 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 lots of empty wall space, which the owners hope to festoon in local art for their customers’ enjoyment.

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“People want something to look at other than blank walls or beer ads,” Hickey said. “Having the art gives customers something to discuss as well as adding to the atmosphere.”

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