July 20, 2017
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Down on the Corner

Bokeh Lounge and its diverse crowd help revitalize the Haynie’s Corner arts district
Bokeh Lounge is nestled on Haynie’s Corner in the Evansville Arts District.Bokeh Lounge is nestled on Haynie’s Corner in the Evansville Arts District.
Bokeh Lounge is nestled on Haynie’s Corner in the Evansville Arts District.

Half a mile from Main Street, Bokeh Lounge is nestled on Haynie’s Corner in the Evansville Arts District. Corey Christy, house bassist and bartender, says the bar, which opened last summer, fits perfectly into Downtown’s historic neighborhood. “Bokeh Lounge plays a large role in helping to revitalize the arts district,” he says. “We not only support artists, but more importantly we are helping to change the city’s perception of what Haynie’s Corner has been over the past 20 years. It’s becoming a vibrant location for both artists and art lovers.”

Co-owners Mike Millard, a photographer, and Dustin Barrows, a videographer, wanted the lounge to reflect the art found behind a camera. The word “bokeh” is Japanese for the aesthetic nature of the blur in the background of a photograph. The bar’s walls pay tribute to this theme, displaying rotating exhibits of photographs, paintings, and other artwork from local and regional artists, such as Keith Boyd and Cynthia Watson. “A collaboration of talents and energies,” says Millard, “Bokeh Lounge embraces all forms of art, both the usual and unusual, and all that is in between.”

At the bar’s front entrance is a small, welcoming outdoor patio. The front door, surrounded by large windows, stays propped open, connecting the two spaces and opening up the inside of the lounge. The interior fuses simple decor and mixed lighting with its various art displays to create a modern, eclectic vibe. Across from the long bar are high- and low-top tables lining the wall to the back of the building, leading to one of Bokeh Lounge’s best attributes: an enormous, outdoor back patio. Surrounded by a black, steel, ornamental fence, the patio has an abundance of comfortable seating and a stage for local artists and entertainers.

Stephanie Barker, a University of Southern Indiana student who occasionally performs at Bokeh, says the outdoor space is her favorite part of the bar. “On nights there aren’t any events, it’s a nice place to have a drink and relax,” Barker says. “You don’t have to yell to have a conversation, and there’s usually a good crowd. They have good service, too. It’s just an all-around nice Downtown bar option for a quiet night.”

Still, when quiet nights call for some noise, Bokeh delivers with live music from local musicians, including its house band Opal Fly and the Swatters, as well as Monte Skelton and Corey Christy and the Funk.

The bar also welcomes alternative performances such as fire throwers, dancers, and live statues that bring delightful mayhem to the bar, often serving as benefits for various Downtown charities. The latest event — a toga party to benefit The Alhambra Theatre — featured Michelle Crosbie, owner of Shannon’s School of Dance, and a team of belly and burlesque dancers, live statues, Evansville vendors, musicians, and more. Barker also was a part of the event. “What I really like about Bokeh,” she says, “is that they offer a space where local artists and performers can hold events and create something different for people in Evansville to come enjoy and be part of.”

On Aug. 25, Bokeh Lounge hosts its Second Annual Summer Swagger Fashion Show, featuring the high-fashion Gemini Collection clothing line by Patrecea Hendrix. Opal Fly and the Swatters will be performing, as well as Foxfire Magic and Thy Faery Pranksters, a show that combines music, dance, and fire performers.

When you go, try the tasty Bokeh Breeze beverage (featured on page 122 in this issue). It’s fruity, delicious, and best sipped outdoors on a hot summer night.

For more information on events at Bokeh Lounge (1007 Parrett St.),
call 812-909-0388 or visit www.bokehlounge.com.

— Claire is a night show host for Hot 96, where she’s entertained listeners since January 2010. She is 24 years old and was born and raised in Evansville.

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