eronel: Thelonius Monk Inspires Again

Eronel Grand Opening postponed
Because of challenges in completing updates necessary to opening the underground performance and exhibition space known as eronel, the grand opening, scheduled for Friday, February 1 will be postponed. Because of that, Grand Opening act Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts will postpone their next appearance in Dubuque until March 1st. Likewise, the planned opening for the art exhibit by Michael Garside will also be postponed, with a target date on the following Saturday, February
9. Sorry folks. Stay tuned to 365 for further updates.

by Paula Neuhaus

After nearly three years of standing empty, the lower level of the historic Cooper Wagon Works building on Third and Main Streets is experiencing new life. eronel, 285 Main Street, opens its doors on February 1 bringing with it a little arts and culture from Cable Car Square. Artist/musician Drew Bissell and musician/business owner Rick Eagle have joined forces to create eronel, a new home for the arts including exhibition space, theatre and performance space, and a serious home for original live music. Based on the art incubator model that Eagle created at Monk’s Kaffee Pub in Cable Car Square, eronel will focus on cultivating a space for working artists to have opportunities to exhibit and perform at no cost to them. While the venue will offer a nightclub atmosphere, too, the owners are focusing on an all-arts space. “We’re coming at this from the standpoint of musicians and artists, we want to offer a place where creativity is supported,” Eagle says, “We can make a place in Dubuque where bands are supported and have the freedom to influence the music culture here by bringing in musicians that they like too. We just want a positive reception for artists here.”

With 6400 square feet of limestone and brick with a sprawling layout, winding tunnels, and open rafters, the space inspires creativity at every turn. “The natural beauty of the space is amazing,” Bissell says, “It calls out to have original art work on the walls.” The four-story brick building is on the National Register of Historic Places and was originally constructed in 1895 as the Cooper Wagon Works manufacturing company. Developers spent two million dollars on the historic renovation and preservation of the building in 2001 creating Bricktown Brewery and restaurant. In 2010, new owners completed the upper floor rehabilitation creating loft-style apartments. Later in 2010. Crust Italian Kitchen + Bar opened on the street level. With the addition of eronel in the lower level, the mixed-use vision of the entire property will be fully realized again after laying dormant for a few years.

With an eclectic mix of new and long-time businesses thriving in the Historic Old Main Street District, the timing seems perfect for eronel to open. “We’re bringing something new to Old Main,” Bissell says, “In developing the idea for eronel we know that it’s part of an arts community. We want to facilitate opportunities for arts groups to hold fundraisers, use the performance space, and cultivate the growth of the art in Dubuque.” 

Eagle and Bissell are no strangers to the local music and art scene. Rick Eagle opened Monks Kaffee Pub in 2008 and it quickly built a reputation as an arts incubator. During the last four years Monks has hosted spoken word, jazz, theatre, art exhibitions, film  a variety of live music performances, and has served as an arts think-tank and meeting space for several creative groups. Last fall, Monks launched the Salon Des Refuses (French for Salon of The Refused) art exhibit in homage to a famous art exhibition held in 1863 in Paris by command of Napoleon III for those artists whose works had been refused by the jury of the official Salon. Bissell and local artist painter Ivonne Simmonds-Fals worked with the Monks crew to launch the exhibition. Simmonds-Fals and Bissell both exhibited in the show. Bissell serves on the board of Dubuque County Fine Arts Society, the DubuqueFest Fine Arts Festival committee, and is active with Nash Gallery. Together Eagle and Bissell have been exploring music through their own musical projects and through booking live music, along with Counterproductions’ Aaron Hefel, at Eagle’s live music venue OFF Minor.

With OFF Minor closing it’s doors in the Washington Neighborhood later this month, the partners are turning their focus to eronel and what they can do to both enhance, and stand out, on Historic Old Main. “We’re putting it all together,” Eagle says, “We’re making it a venue for art and music, even though in my mind they’re both an art. We are a full bar, but we’ll offer more than that,” Eagle smiles,  “Basically we’re recreating a 6400 square feet version of Monks.”

Bissell agrees, “Cable Car Square has some great things going. The arts and culture and small business efforts of that neighborhood are cool and we’d like to spread that energy around the corner a little bit. Bring some of Cable Car Square to Old Main.”

They’ve got a some exciting things planned for eronel’s opening weekend. Friday, February 1 kicks off with a live musical performance by Midwestern musician Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts. Painter Michael Garside’s solo exhibit opens on Saturday, February 2 with a reception from 7-10 p.m. [See article on page 34  for more information on these two events.] The spring calendar includes a musical performance by Charlie Parr, a hair and style show, a group art exhibit, and a cabaret performance. So stop in to eronel to ingest some art, some rotating specialty tap beers, made-from-scratch bloody marys, and the “best Irish coffee” in town. 

eronel welcomes inquiries from visual artists who are interested  in exhibiting and from creative groups who are searching for performance space. Artists interested in exhibition or to arrange for partnership performance space should contact Drew Bissell via email: eronel ART+MUSIC VENUE, 285 Main Street (below Crust), will be open Wednesday through Saturday, 7 p.m. until close. The venue is 21+.  Their website should go live in March so be sure to stay tuned.

Miles Nielsen & The Rusted Hearts

Grand Opening Night Performance

285 Main Street
Friday, February 1, 10 p.m., $5 / 21+

by Ryan Werner

Miles Nielsen and his band The Rusted Hearts rest comfortably between AM radio stations, taking their power from one side of the dial and their movements from another. Their harmonies are tight and focused, often floating over a 60’s jangle or big 70’s chords. The band itself is truly regional. There’s a rust belt sense of isolation and hope to their sound, the big pleasant rush of familiarity and new, eternal possibilities. Having developed from a solo act in years past, Miles has learned to work with the musicians he’s surrounded himself with, and, in turn, the songs have progressed into the sort of solid work that has felt the touch of many hands. Hear the roots of this rock at eronel, 285 Main Street’s newest art + music venue. Doors at 7 p.m. for the grand opening of the venue. Miles takes the stage at 10 p.m. $5 cover and, as always, the show is 21+.

Artist Michael Garside Exhibit Opening
Friday, February 2, 7-10 p.m.
285 Main Street, Lower Level

Dubuque’s newest art space, eronel, will host an opening reception for artist Michael Garside’s solo exhibition on Friday, February 2 from 7-10 p.m. in the lower level of the Cooper Wagon Works building, 285 Main Street in downtown Dubuque. The exhibit features abstract acrylic works and explorations in color and circular cellular construction. “I’m attracted to circles, they represent the universal, like the circle of life. When you break things down to their most basic form they become cells,” Garside says about his work. “There is a perceived randomness about circles, there are no right angles, circles suggest a certain chaos and fragility, yet, they purposefully fit together.”

Garside is a Dubuque native who has lived in New York City and in the Pacific Northwest. His recent exhibitions include the Pepper Sprout restaurant and Carnegie Stout’s Art @ Your Library series. His upcoming exhibit boasts exceptional color. “I was diagnosed with color blindness as a small child so painting for me is about experimenting with color and contrast and feeling free to explore that,” Garside says “A lot of times painting is just about experimenting and enjoying the end result.”

eronel brings a new artful presence to downtown Dubuque’s Historic Old Main Street District by hosting music, performance art, and offering a new home for exhibiting artists in Dubuque’s cultural district. The new venue opens on February 1 with a musical performance by Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts.

Michael Garside’s paintings will be on exhibition through March 2, 2013 with evening gallery hours Wednesday through Saturday, 7 - 11 p.m. and by appointment. Learn more about Garside’s work by visiting

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