This isn't the first time that Ira has changed things up at the space, which is located in the same building as Five15 Gallery and has served as a studio and gallery in various capacities since 1983 (long before there ever was a First Friday).
It was originally known as Art Transfer before later becoming the IL Hayden Art & Design Studio. For the last decade, however, it's been known as Gallery Celtica (owing to Ira's Irish heritage) and offered a curious mishmash of works that included paper mache biplanes and medieval-themed sculptures to gnome dolls and outsider art.
"I was one of the first artists to ever open a studio on Roosevlt, and I've been down here for going on three decades," Ira says. "And it's evolved, little by little, over the years."
As reported on our sister blog Chow Bella, the space's latest evolution into a combination gallery/beer and wine parlor is due to a desire to provide an alternative for drinkers when The Lost Leaf is crammed, to create new revenue, and to ultimately sell more art.
"We'll be serving beer and wine, but the art will always be a major part of things," Ira says. "I'm a working artist myself, and the economy's still down so people aren't buying as much art as [they] once did. So we also got to looking at the fact, maybe if people got to stand their longer with a drink in hand and take a little longer to look at things, maybe they'll be more inclined to buy something." (More info on the beer and wine aspect of the new-and-improved gallery can be found over on Chow Bella.)
They also would like to create more of a convivial and communal atmosphere, Patricia Hayden says, which is why they will begin featuring more live entertainment. As such, they're freeing up more space inside.