I consider myself pretty lucky to be able to explore the underbelly of this city on a daily basis. From the informative emails that filter in to those who stop me on the street, I am constantly amazed at all of the people (and their projects) that continue to present themselves – each one inspirational and unique, driven by a passion to see this city twist and turn into a place that inspires others to do the same. More often than not I hear that this city actually inspired someone to move forward with bringing a dream to reality – such is the case with PAUSA Art House.
Meet Jon and Lázara Nelson. The husband and wife team first spent time in Boston before heading to Buffalo (Jon’s hometown), and then moved to NYC and finally back to Buffalo. Why Buffalo? Well, that’s an interesting question. The two are chamber musicians who met while on tour in Costa Rica. That’s where Jon, a trumpeter, first fell for Cuban-born Lázara, who happened to be an accomplished violinist.
From there the two set off for Bohemian adventures that took place settings that ranged from coffee houses in Boston and Europe to people’s homes in NYC. Ultimately the topsy turvy life of the musician grew weary, and the two began to consider what it might look like to raise a family and start a business. To plant roots. But where? “Buffalo was the only place where we knew that we could raise a family, purchase a building and pursue our dream of opening an art house/concert venue,” Jon told me – a statement that actually sent shivers up my spine. “We’ve purchased a turn of the century house in Allentown and as of March 1st we’re going to be opening an 99-seat music venue and coffee house. This is something that we’ve been considering for a long time… and Buffalo is the right place at the right time. We could not have done this in other cities, as it wouldn’t have been financially possible let alone sustainable.”
To say that PAUSA Art House is inspirational would be a major understatement. Jon (currently teaching music at UB) and Lázara (a freelance violinist and translator) are building this art house for themselves, but more importantly they are creating an interactive art center that they say doesn’t exist anywhere these days. “These small venues are disappearing in other cities,” Lázara shared with me. “Or they are not affordable for the musicians and the concert-goers. We’re cutting out the middle man and giving “the door” to the hand-picked musicians. We’re also making the concerts affordable for the community.” “That’s right,” Jon chimed in. “And we’re eliminating the barriers between the musicians and the audience. We’re taking a traditional approach to listening to music and we’re turning it upside down. These will be un-amplified concerts featuring duos and trios, in a classical concert format with two sets. Chat, play, chat, play, chat… guests will be able to mingle with the musicians over a beer or a wine in the front room before retiring to the back concert venue for an intimate show.”
PAUSA Art House is being designed for music fans who can appreciate a show that starts at 8pm and goes to 10pm (with one intermission). Jon and Lázara told me that they are creating a music scene for others (like them) who can’t wait to hear music until 11pm. The idea is to be able to grab a bite to eat in Allentown, before catching a show, and then maybe exploring the neighborhood in search of one last nightcap before heading home. PAUSA will be a gathering place for artists and musicians who are looking to exchange ideas. Whether it’s the artists who are curating a gallery show or the musicians who will be playing Thursday through Saturday concerts, the plan is to give creative control to those who have been chosen to display and perform.
For a $5 cover charge on concert nights, guests will be able to enjoy chamber music that is appropriate for the space and the neighborhood. “It’s a loose definition of chamber music,” Jon reassured me. “Think old Caribbean folk tunes or even a Buffalo Percussion Festival… played quietly in an intimate setting. We’re going to play whatever we want, and when and how we want to play it. During the weekdays this will be a coffee house and on Thurs-Sat evenings it’s going to be place to listen to some of the best musicians around. It won’t be long before we open our doors, in order to show what we can pull off in Buffalo.”
PAUSA Art House will sell finger foods, coffee, beer and wine. WiFi will be available during the day, and “actual music” from the musicians will be played and sold at the bar in order to support the musicians. What a great concept! Rarely have I anticipated an opening such as this. I can’t wait to see the evolution of this coffee house venue, in a neighborhood that is already in tune with the concept.
Check out upcoming Concert Schedule
First gallery showing: Priscilla DeVantier Bowen
See PAUSA renovation
19 Wadsworth Street
Buffalo, New York 14201
Definition “PAUSA” – Pause (as in hesitate in order to contemplate) | A continuation of a note or rest beyond its normal length