Making a new start in a bar with art

Work in Progress

May 11, 2008|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun reporter

For years, Russell deOcampo wanted a way to combine his passions for art, live music, bartending and film.

With his new club, the Windup Space, he thinks he's finally found it.

Later this month, deOcampo, a 31-year-old who lives in Waverly, is putting the finishing touches on his new bar in the Station North Arts and Entertainment District. He hopes to showcase local art, films and music for free in an unpretentious setting.

DeOcampo painted the walls of the space at 10 W. North Ave. (which was formerly a clothing store) steel and burnt orange, hung up paintings by local artists and built a bar. He recently married, stopped shaving and quit his other jobs to work on opening the Windup Space - all signs, he says, of a happier new chapter starting in his life.

IN HIS OWN WORDS --The idea of bringing all these elements together - art, music and film, plus alcohol, which brings the pretense down. I like to go see art, and I like to go see music, and I like to see film, but there's a lot of galleries in places people don't go because that's not their scene. By having a place that is a bar primarily that features art, you have a reason for people who aren't involved in the art scene to come here and check it out.

People who aren't part of the scene or people who want to know about the scene can experience it without being turned off by it or feeling nervous about it. I think that's important. I think it builds a strong community for Baltimore, and it also strengthens the art community.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD --I didn't necessarily target this area. It just so happened that this space was available. There's so much potential here. It's the center of the city. Why is the center of the city a place where nobody wants to be? ... This place should be booming. ... It should be common ground.

THE NAME'S ORIGIN --It's a song by John Frusciante. The song is about something a little deeper than selling booze and art to people. It's just a name, really. But I think it's catchy, and you can have all the cliches you want. `Oooh, I'm going to get wound up at the Windup,' or, `I'm going to wind up at the Windup.' There's so much cheesiness. I can talk at length about it.

FLEXIBILITY IS KEY --I want it all to be very flexible and it all to flow very well. I think the way I have it set up allows you to walk around.

I'd rather have people in here comfortably and spaciously and have it look minimal than it to be a bunch of stuff where you can't get close or take a look at the artwork. I want it to be very modular. I want things to be able to move. If I want to throw a dance party or something like that, I can.

THE FIRST ART SHOW --I'm really happy with the kind of work I got for the show, and this was just an impromptu thing. Hopefully, I can really have a high-quality thing going on without scaring people away.

THE BUSINESS STRATEGY --For me, as an artist and as a musician, I want people to be exposed to what I'm doing. I want people to change the way they think about how they sell themselves and their art. In order to make money here, I want them to promote heavily. They're going to be getting a return out of doing their job.

ON HIS NEW BEARD --I'm molting toward something I really want to be and where I want to be in life. It's silly talking about facial hair, but that's why I did it.

WILL HE SHAVE IT WHEN THE SPACE OPENS? --Nah. That's gimmicky.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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