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Where the arts are on tap

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 12, 2012 - Fine arts? In a tavern? Yes, that’s exactly what you’ll find at 313 Belt Ave., just north of Pershing and around the corner from Atlas Restaurant.

The Tavern of Fine Arts combines the laid back vibe of a bar with well-chosen selections of beer and wine, paired with an interesting and eclectic food menu that ranges from cheese and charcuterie plates, soup, salad, hummus and a variety of sandwiches as well as desserts.

Add a small art gallery along the side walls and a separate room that plays host to everything from poetry readings and one act plays to chamber music and avant-garde jam sessions, and somehow … Tavern of Fine Arts just seems to fit the space.

Owners and cousins Aaron Johnson  and Matt Daniels – who both happen to teach at Saint Louis University, opened the venue on Aug. 1, 2011; and the Tavern of Fine Arts has quickly established itself as home base for a variety of interesting artistic endeavors.

In addition to the gallery, which just opened a new show on March 9, the Tavern will host a Very Open Rehearsal by the Chamber Project on Wednesday, March 14.

“We’ve also played host to theater pieces with minimal staging requirements,” states Johnson as we sit at the bar. “And on the last Tuesday of every month, we host a musical improvisation that edges into avant-garde. And often we’ll have artists there as well, creating art while the music is playing.”

In addition to teaching, Johnson is also a composer, and has written several pieces that have been performed by the Chamber Project.

“What we’re trying to do with the Tavern of Fine Arts is to create a place that can bring together many varieties of art into one space,” Johnson says. “Working with Chamber Project is a great example of that – especially the Very Open Rehearsals that they’ve started here. It’s all about collaboration between artists. and getting audiences involved as well.”

Terry Perkins is a freelance writer based in St. Louis. He has written for the St. Louis Beacon since 2009. Terry's other writing credits in St. Louis include: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the St. Louis American, the Riverfront Times, and St. Louis magazine. Nationally, Terry writes for DownBeat magazine, OxfordAmerican.org and RollingStone.com, among others.

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