From the creator of Tuxedo Cat, Cass Tombs, and contemporary artist Kaspar Schmidt Mumm comes SALA's first art pub-hub with immersive art experiences, a 3D holographic gaming machine and a good amount of beer.
A two-storey arthouse and bar called Arthur opens for SALA
A few steps west of the Leigh Street, Currie Street intersection is the old Avant Garde Furnishings store – a store that featured products priced to clear and had a sign saying closing down in its window for at least two years.
The building had always attracted our attention, a beautiful example of art deco architecture with wonderful curved edges, solid double brick walls, steel window frames and ornate flourishes across the façade. Now we are inside and marvelling at its great expanse and generous staircase as we ascend to the second storey, following our tour guides – the building’s current custodians.
66 Currie Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Thursday – Tuesday
Midday until (potentially) midnight
Follow Arthur on Instagram
Avant Garde Furnishings will open tonight 25 July as the new home of avant garde art.
Our tour guides are two stalwarts of the immersive and experiential art scene in Adelaide.
Cassandra Tombs is the co-creator of Tuxedo Cat, the revolutionary Fringe hub that first established itself on a rooftop down Synagogue Place in the city’s east end over a decade-or-so ago.
Kaspar Schmidt Mumm is the artrepreneur of our generation who collaborated on Barrio’s Neon Lobster taqueria, launched his own art gallery in a Renew Adelaide space and continues to surprise and delight Adelaideans by inhabiting various alien-like costumes and disrupting their regular patterns of life with his unique public art performances all over town.
Their venue is named Arthur and it’s comprised of a large, almost ballroom style, area on the ground floor and a second story consisting of a long line of small rooms which Cass and Kaspar have dubbed, ‘galleries’.
“There’s a book by a really great writer called ‘Relational Aesthetics’ that talks about art that is immersive,” says Kaspar. “Art that is about you, you come see it and you go, ‘holy shit, this is about me’.”
The row of rooms will each have their own, individual art experiences inviting the public to step inside and experience.
Cass and Kaspar have a singular mission with their art and activation project – connect people to creativity in the broadest and most immersive way possible.
“People can come in and instead of going – with hands behind their back – and looking at things on the walls, they can actually pick something up and touch the art,” explains Kaspar. He was moved by an experience he had in the National Gallery of Australia late last year where he was able to pick up a giant crayon and colour-in a wall.
“My art has always lived at the intersection of entrepreneurialism and experience,” says Cass.
“I always saw Tuexedo Cat as my art project and me as an artist. I kept being put in the box of being a business person, but I kept saying, ‘no – I’m an artist and Tuxedo Cat is my art project’. I never got any funding as an artist because they deemed me as not being an artist, which really shitted me because surely I could define myself, not Peter Louca.”
And it’s not just Cass that feels this way about art and entrepreneurialism. One of Arthur’s exhibits is by Gavin Smith and Will Tamblyn of Voxon Photonics who are installing their 3D, 4-player arcade game at Arthur most recently exhibited at the Tokyo Game Show. “The 3d display is the technology part,” but everything else Gavin and Will have done with that game is art.
Arthur will act as a demonstration project for Cass, a way for her to show Adelaide the connection she’s discovered – after ten years experience facilitating creativity – that exists between innovation, creative people and eureka moments.
“I went to all these conferences with titles like, ‘Jobs in the Space Sector‘ and all the dudes there told me, ‘all we do is talk to ourselves, and it’s boring’.” says Cass. “They want to come and meet and have a discussion with a burlesque dancer, or an artist, or a writer. I know myself I’ve had some conversations with neuroscientists and afterwards I was like, ‘holy fuck my brain’s exploding.’
“I love that fact about being human,” says Cass, “that we have the capacity to continually be inspired and learn.”
Arthur will work to forge new connections and new pathways in a way that a bar alone cannot. Indeed alcohol can relax people’s inhibitions, but bars alone don’t foster new relationships and discoveries. In Cass’ experience it’s the moment after art or during that brings strangers together. Kaspar agrees and draws on his own experience as a performer.
“Art wiggles in-between people and makes individuals into an audience – they come together,” says Kaspar.
Arthur’s conceit is that shared experiences – particularly if the experiences are out of the ordinary – can help strangers talk to each other about what’s just happened. Art can and should divide opinion, but creating the opinion is the important part to spark conversation and interaction.
“There’s all this money out there for tech and start-ups and innovation hubs,” says Cass. “But how are you going to have innovation and cross-pollination if we don’t first have a stimulating conversation.”