Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Neighborhood news: Irvine Contemporary to close, Azi's gets a new owner

Here's a couple of news items to pass along:

Azi's Cafe in Shaw is getting a new owner. (Initial reports that it was closing ended up not being correct.) Azi, the owner, sold the business--but the coffee shop/cafe concept will remain. It's unclear whether the name will remain the same, since Azi will no longer be involved--although for now that seems to be the case.

Those of you who have been in tne neighborhood longer than a couple of years will remember Azi's as one of the businesses that contributed towards changing perceptions of Shaw. While the always-smiling Azi will be missed, it's great that the coffee shop will remain.

In other not-so-good news, 14th Street is losing another one of its galleries. From Borderstan, Irvine Contemporary gallery owner Martin Irvine has announced that he will be relocating his gallery from 14th Street to an as-yet-undisclosed location. The gallery will close following the closing of the Artist Tribute Exhibition show, which is set to open on July 23.

The closing of Irvine represents yet another blow to the 14th Street arts scene, which in the past couple of years has also seen the loss of the Randall Scott Gallery and G Fine Arts. Other arts-related businesses--such as jazz club HR-57--have also left the neighborhood in search of cheaper rents elsewhere. And while the ANC2F arts overlay committee made recommendations two years ago for steps the city could take to help retain arts-related businesses in the neighborhood, few tangible results have come out of it aside from last year's controversial banner campaign.


Lance said...

Yeah, I was afraid that the ascendancy of furniture stores would mean the loss of our true art venues. I know ... when I publically expressed that sentiment some years back I was reminded that the Arts Overlay District includes furniture stores as part of the encouraged uses. Now how a good furniture store contributes to the arts scene is beyond. And how a run-of-the mill chain furniture store does that is even less comprehensible.

And you gotta love the 'displays' Room and Board is putting gratis on our public space on the T Street side of their store ... I guess that's 'art'. Maybe they don't know that's public space there?

Anonymous said...

I am sure there are many furniture designers who would disagree with Lance, and all the furniture stores on 14th incorporate art into their spaces. I know it's not the same thing but Muleh, Vastu, Room and Board and Mitchell Prominently display artists and photographers. Still, it is a loss.

Anonymous said...


It's really pretty simple. People are buying furniture, not art. And, with conditions compounded by an increase in rent, Irvine Contemporary must relocate.

It's about the market and business' bottom line.

Since you're so interested in maintaining neighborhood galleries, I'm curious if you've recently purchased artwork from one or more of them?

I happened to visit Room and Board last week and found that it's not at all 'run of the mill.' In fact, Room and Board's furniture is crafted by U.S. designers and artisans.

I think it's great that the furniture stores along 14th mix it up with original artwork and fashion.

Anonymous said...

The two things have nothing to do with each other. Many of the furniture stores, at least the local ones, have been here longer than Irvine has at their current location. And yes, the local ones all have art exhibitions. Muleh has art openings regularly and I think Vastu even gives studio space to local artists.
It sounds like Irvine should have negotiated a longer lease.

Anonymous said...

unless they own the buildings eventually all small businesses and or businesses that do not generate sufficient income will move out - the landlords have every right to charge market rates for their spaces. we will just have to live with what business come in ... although they are much better than the drugs and prostitution of the old days.