by Maureen Mugerwa
The brick walled building located on 11th Avenue gives you a warm feeling when you walk in. You feel as though you just want to stay and this is what founder Carol Cairns wants people to feel. “I wanted to create a space where you could linger. I want people to stay,” she said.
Cairns is the executive director of Windhover Artists and Events. She oversees the operations of the Artful Dodger Café and Music Emporium, the TAE Contemporary Art Gallery and gallery store.
The design took her 10 years and she wanted a building that was large enough to incorporate all different forms of art, including music, dance and visual arts. Her vision for the Artful Dodger was “to have this space where a synergy happens so it’s not just my vision, but mine and everyone else’s,” she said.
The Artful Dodger is a “cultural place where people can connect the arts and artistic experiences on a daily level,” she said. “Everyone has their own vision for the place they start.” There is a restaurant and performance space on the main floor; the art gallery, gallery store and library are also on the main floor. The upstairs is dedicated to arts-related businesses, including two recording studios, a ceramics studio and a photography studio.
Cairns said her inspiration came from the movie version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist; she liked the character the Artful Dodger. “The movie was about orphans in a bad situation living in squalor but the Artful Dodger makes the most of the situation,” she said. “He saw himself as a survivor and not a victim.”
She wants the Artful Dodger to be all inclusive and about a community, quoting the first song in the movie: “consider yourself one of the family.”
The Artful Dodger hosts a variety of nights including Salsa night, one of the more popular nights. Other nights hosted by the Artful Dodger are open mic nights, hangover Sundays and performance nights for musicians, to name a few.
In the future, the café will be getting a clay oven and will start serving wood-fired pizzas, Cairns said. A full dinner menu is also in store for everyone to enjoy. Cairns said that they are looking into developing the basement, which will be another performance venue that will be membership driven.
She hopes to expand to another building that will compliment this one. For the summer they will have a sidewalk café that customers can look forward to.
For more information on the Artful Dodger you can go to www.artfuldodgerarts.com