Now open! The Art House Café is the newest establishment on Somerset Street West in Centretown. It opened its doors on February 10.
The building lies kitty corner to the northwest of Dundonald Park at Bay and Somerset. Decorating the east side of the building is a huge, impressive mural of an immense multicoloured bird, its chicks, and an urban landscape.
This venture comes out of the vision of Geneviève Bétourney and Joe Beaton to set up a community-oriented hub for creative people–“a hub for artists and creators to meet, to learn, to imagine, to collaborate”; one offering “resources and services for the creation, sharing, and selling of all things art.”
What was once a very large brick house has been converted into a coffee bar with a series of rooms rambling off in different directions. An eclectic collection of tables, chairs and couches fills the rooms. Most can easily be moved to facilitate changing events. Art supplies are found in each room so that people can create visual art as they chat and sip their coffees. Upstairs will be used for party nights. Friday evenings are slotted for live music, local and perhaps beyond. The programs are still evolving. In time, the owner plans to have life drawing and other art sessions and workshops using the different café rooms.
On entering the building, there is a large notice board posted with event flyers. To the right of the front door is the bar for ordering coffee, muffins, pastries, cannolis, empanadas and other treats. They serve Happy Goat coffee: I had a latté made from freshly ground beans. It was excellent.
The walls of the central hallway are covered with a variety of artworks (drawings, painting, prints and multimedia). At the time of opening, various local artists were represented, including Daniel Martelock, Katureh Johnson, Emilie Darlington and Emil Mateja. These pictures are part of the owner’s personal collection.
On March 23, the first vernissage was held, with a host of new artwork from local artists gracing the walls.
A large and lively crowd, mostly mid-twentyish to thirtyish with a smattering of seniors, attended. Some engaged in doing art, the rest conversed together and took in the art works. On walking by the café fairly regularly, I notice people of all ages going there, including young children.
With the arrival of Bar Robo in Chinatown over a year ago and now the Art House Café, this makes up for the loss of the Daily Grind Café and Raw Sugar in late 2015 and the complete closing of Umi Café a few months ago.
Music and coffee have returned full force to Somerset Street West, but the scene has a new face and style. Art House seems to have taken the art theme a few steps further than Daily Grind was able to: perhaps the extra, more open space has permitted this.
Make sure you check out Art House and keep an eye on, and perhaps contribute to, how its vision unfolds.