The moments leading up to the kickoff of Art Bar’s annual “Mini” art show, running through Dec. 31, are fraught with tension more reminiscent of a Black Friday sale than an art sale.
The walls of the Riverwest bar (722 E. Burleigh St., artbarwonderland.com) are covered with artworks, each piece 8-by-8-inches or less and priced under $100. On opening night – in early November this year – potential buyers stake their claims by standing in front of their desired pieces. After a countdown to begin the sale, “it’s a frenzy,” says owner Don Krause.
But don’t worry, there’s plenty of art available, and the sale continues low-key during the bar’s normal operating hours during the rest of its run. When a piece is purchased, it’s replaced the next day from a reserve, creating a whole new experience each day of the event.
Every year since the sale began in 2006, 150 artists are invited to hang their works. This includes the 100 best sellers of the prior year’s show, as well as 50 new artists hand-picked by Krause and a jury. Because there are no restrictions on theme, there’s likely to be a little bit of something for everyone.
If you’re feeling uneasy about being around crowds, Krause suggests trying to make it to the show closer to the bar’s opening at 9 a.m. He also has a warning for curious newcomers. “Once you get hooked, you’re going to want to come more than once.”