Erdmann Contemporary Gallery and The Blah Blah Bar in Cape Town

Renowned city centre gallery relocates and launches the Mother City’s first art bar

Galleries are so much more than just places for pretty pieces; they’re establishments that strive to build and support creative communities, and Erdmann Contemporary, a celebrated city centre institution, is taking its commitment to this goal one step further by both expanding and launching Cape Town’s very first art bar.

Having operated out of a small venue on Shortmarket Street for over a decade, the exhibition space is officially moving its fine art division to a beautiful double-storey Victorian building on Kloof Street in mid-March 2014 – the photography arm will remain at the original premises – and will be opening the pioneering Blah Blah Bar in the spacious downstairs part of the house soon after this.

And while the grand new upstairs gallery will continue to back a string of local and international artists (think the likes of Manfred Zylla, Jan Neethling and Diana Hyslop), the artsy watering hole below, which goes by the tagline ‘where talk is cheap’, is set to function as a base that brings together like-minded imaginative types to converse and connect.

“It’s meant to be a place where creatives and people in the art world can come to drink together,” explains Junior Curator Anthea Taylor. “We want them to make it their home.”

The inspiration for the pub grew out of owner and art guru Heidi Erdmann’s frustration at not being able to find an after-dark Cape Town hangout to her liking. And thus, the bar is designed around her concept of the perfect night-time lair: a sophisticated spot that’s ideal for older crowds but lacks pretension.

“The idea is to create a cultural venue where all sorts of things happen, from light shows and poetry readings to stand-up comedy and music gigs by well-known DJs,” says Carsten Rasch, Heidi’s husband and the man responsible for bringing The Blah Blah Bar to life.

Of course, there will be plenty of booze too, especially an assortment of good wine, as there’s no type of tipple that’s more loved by the creative community, and every drink will be named after a specific local artist. Plus, because the striking heritage building – it boasts big bay windows, a vintage fireplace, white shutters and old chandeliers – is meant to be a gallery first and foremost, even the downstairs bar will feature a number of works on its walls. More specifically, the pub will serve as a platform for younger, rising stars and will predominantly showcase pieces done on paper.

In essence, the new gallery is set to be a little buzzing hub of creativity in the heart of the city and a pulsing light on the radar of anyone enthusiastic about art.

Note:  The gallery will only officially launch on Wednesday, 12 March 2014, and the bar will start up permanently on Thursday, 10 April 2014.

Tip:  Erdmann Contemporary’s original premises in Shortmarket Street will now be dedicated exclusively to photography, so be sure to still visit this venue to take in striking snapshots captured by local camera geniuses.

The Bill: Entry to the gallery is free, and because the owners don’t want The Blah Blah Bar to be considered pretentious, drinks prices will be kept reasonable.

Opening Hours: Erdmann Contemporary: Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 5pm; Saturday: 11am – 2pm; The Blah Blah Bar: Wednesday – Saturday: 4pm – late

84 Kloof Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0) 72 356 7056

Photos courtesy of Erdmann Contemporary


Into the creative scene in Cape Town? Read more about First Thursdays, a free monthly art walk through the city centre streets.


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