In a city with more watering holes than venues, APK Live is more of an indie music temple than hipster bar. Located on the south side of the city, far past Richmond Row, the APK is one of few bars actually interested in combining pub fare with quality music and art. It’s what owner Marc Gammal calls “beats and eats.”
When Gammal moved into the spacious basement venue beneath Yuk Yuk’s, he took an “art-first” approach and asked four local artists to decorate the space to make it look “shabby-chic.” The result is a ceiling you won’t likely miss — a tapestry of art with demented figures and strange shapes looming above as you imbibe. Art on the wall rotates regularly and Gammal has aspirations for outdoor art installations too. The result is a very Toronto-like bar, fit for Ossington Avenue, steeped in good tmusic and rich with amicable clientele, very dissimilar from your Richmond Row fare. It’s a welcome respite from that crowded scene — an oasis where Pabst Blue Ribbon flows like water.
Forest City Gallery
Few Western students will cross the train tracks to find themselves at the Forest City Gallery, a hole-in-the-wall art space just south of the Via Rail station. But for those who make it that far, they’ll be rewarded with a white-walled multi-purpose space where art and music are commonplace.
The gallery is currently showing “Nobody Cares About Art But You,” a cheekily-named display by overlooked Winnipeg artists Jake Koscuik and Ray Peterson. At other times, the space is used for small performances, usually local bands but sometimes touring acts. As a bonus, the gallery regularly secures a liquour license and with the Labatt brewery just across the street, they never run out of booze.
The ARTS Project
Surely one of the nicest galleries in London, this downtown space is unusually large, with two and a half floors of art-filled wall space. There’s also a theatre in the back where small plays are regularly showcased, including three performance per season by the acclaimed Passionfool Theatre Company.
It’s a good idea to pop by the next time you walk down Dundas Street or stop by Central Library since there’s always something to see and admission is free. As a bonus, London’s own independent café the Little Red Roaster is located steps away just outside the Library. Grab some joe and try feeling a little more artsy.