Monday, October 14, 2013

Interview with Jon Nelson, Artistic Director of Pausa Art House

How did Pausa Art House come into being?

My wife Lázara and I opened PAUSA last March. For a long time, we had been looking for a place where we could hear really great music of all genres – classical, contemporary, jazz, ethnic, original – played at a high level, not at a loud volume. We couldn't find that place, so we opened our own.

What is PAUSA's mission?

Concert Night at PAUSA
Pausa Art House presents chamber music concerts and artistic exhibitions focusing on artists indigenous to Buffalo and its surrounding area. As a complement to the already vibrant nightlife on Allen Street, PAUSA adds a "boutique" entertainment element to the neighborhood with pre-concert and post-concert receptions that encourage intermingling among performers and audience members.

PAUSA is a gathering place for creative musicians, artists and writers, where a free exchange of ideas can take place. We believe PAUSA will support and enhance the cultural revival of both the Allentown district and Buffalo in general. We also seek to make PAUSA a destination for performers and audience members from outside Buffalo as well, in our effort to promote the creative activity that occurs here.

We set our programs conceptually and independent of outside commercial forces. We also collaborate with The Center for 21st Century Music in the UB Music Department, Hallwalls, and Allentown First Fridays, building on an already strong local art movement.

The relaxed atmosphere of the venue attracts patrons who wish to attend an intimate concert or art exhibit while enjoying a glass of wine. Arts are the primary attraction at PAUSA: audiences are intentionally small, to more easily return to the intimate origins of live musical experience.

Within the focus of our artistic mission, we seek to achieve diversity through the presentation of artists who blur the traditional lines of categorization.

What is the nature of your and Lázara's relationship with PAUSA?

PAUSA Art Exhibit
PAUSA is truly a mom-and-pop business. Lázara takes care of all of the licenses and permits, accounting, purchasing, budgeting, Facebook, booking the visual artists, and updating the website. She bought the furniture on craigslist – working hard to beat out the antique dealers – and did all the painting in the club. I book the musicians, write and send press releases to the papers every week, and do other odds and ends as they come up. I painted the outside of the building (on a 28-foot ladder!), and did carpentry work, hung doors, and installed the floors. We both do all the cleaning.

Is PAUSA a livelihood for you two, a part-time job, a non-profit-making labor of love ... ?

It's a labor of love that requires full-time attention. We survive by selling drinks and food at the bar. All door proceeds and ticket sales go to the musicians. We hope it will turn a profit down the road.

What new and exciting things do we have to look forward to this year at PAUSA?

We are starting a monthly Silent Film / Lively Music series, in which composers and performers will create scores to silent films. We're also bringing in out-of-town acts to do master classes at UB, then play at the club. We'll have the Cuban composer and percussionist Dafnis Prieto in September, and the Peter Evans / Sam Pluta Duo in November. Combining forces – composers and performers – is a great way to bring in folks who would not normally play in Buffalo. UB Composition students have a strong presence at PAUSA. Esin Gunduz and Zane Merritt are regular performers, and we present the music of student composers at the end of each semester, often in collaboration with our local new-music ensemble Wooden Cities.

How long do you envision PAUSA going on? Do you have plans for eventual expansion or moving?

PAUSA will go on as long as we can keep it going. No plans to expand or move. We are in for the long haul.

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