As a Bucktown resident and frequenter of the Gallery Cabaret, 2020 N. Oakley, I was quite startled by Ms. Lehoczky's review (Our Town, April 29, 1994) of what I consider one of the most interesting and enjoyable taverns in the city.
Inasmuch as Ms. Lehoczky admits that her idea of a good time is sitting around her own kitchen with a six-pack, I would like to take the opportunity to give another portrayal of the Gallery for those of us who do enjoy the art of conversation with a stranger, listening to a new musical group, watching improvisers create a scene or viewing a different artist's work every other week.
Kenny Strandberg, the owner, visualizes the establishment as a bastion for creatives who seek a public forum. There are frequent art openings where artists of all calibers are allowed to display their work. On the open-mike nights you can hear everything from blues to bluegrass. A talented improvisational group performs on Wednesday nights and encourages audience participation. On the weekends, you can hear a variety of young bands.
But most meaningful is the truly interesting and intelligent conversations you can have with people of all ages. At the Gallery Cabaret you never know what the topic of conversation will be: sitcoms of the 70s, jazz clubs in the 60s, or maybe politics of the 50s. No matter what the conversation, you are sure to come away, if not enlightened, entertained.
In Ms. Lehoczky's review she mentions that customers spoke to her in racial slur. I personally have never heard racial tones at the Gallery. In fact, one of its most charming qualities is that it is a place where everyone is encouraged to be themselves, no matter what.
I would encourage anyone looking for a proactive environment where they can explore their creative boundaries to go to the Gallery for an evening. Keep an open mind and just listen, watch, and have one of their wide variety of beers. Hope to see you there.
Martha Murray Bucktown
Etelka Lehoczky replies:
I'm not sure how you could construe any of the quotes in the article as racial slurs--nothing that anyone said to me was meant that way. In fact, it was the very hospitality that you cite that led me to see the Gallery as a pleasant alternative to sitting around my kitchen (with or without a six-pack).