Bar Angeles To Open November 1st At Elliott Smith’s Memorial Wall
This mural on Sunset boulevard has been a memorial wall for Elliott Smith’s fans since the day the beloved singer songwriter died, October 21st 2003. However, a lot of fans got suddenly worried at the news of the opening of a restaurant-café at this same address. ‘If anyone wants to see the wall one last time, then go now, I believe they are about to start the renovations for the new café opening up in the building,’ wrote someone on Reddit… ‘Fans in the area should contact the owners about how important the wall is and maybe they will keep the art up,’ answered someone else. It is very easy to get all panicky on the internet, without even knowing any real information, but the reality is anything but this.
I had the pleasure to chat with Wade McElroy, who is opening the restaurant with his partner Russell Malixi, next to the electronic repair shop Solutions! and Dinosaur Coffee, and he couldn’t have been more reassuring. Wade, who is from Austin, Texas but is now living in the neighborhood, is also a big Elliott Smith fan and fully aware of the importance of the mural for fans: ‘I know how meaningful this wall is for all the fans and it’s a neat landmark,’ he told me.
They are leasing the space from Solutions! and Wade obviously talked to the owner, Stephon Lew, who painted the mural long ago before Elliott chose it for a photo shoot, and Lew approved this new project, saying that Elliott would be okay with it. As a matter of fact, Lew had explained his design in an old interview: ‘The original art of the Solutions wall represents the Figure S, not an 8… Essentially, I intended the “S”olutions logo as an energetic splay of the five music lines typical of music song paper, so the S encompasses the whole building. It expands and flops downward into a colorful swirl to splatter onto the concrete sidewalk-to embrace all musicians and to invite them to let me solve some of their problems with their broken instruments, drums, guitar, amplifiers, stereos, and speakers – even some of Elliott’s equipment. In the original form, the Wall somehow allowed anyone to take in its energy-giving-ness and become inspired – and only someone as artistic as Elliott could think of it being related to an 8, I guess. The other Chinese- lucky number is 6. That’s in Solutions’ phone number of almost 70 years! In any case, I am happy that Elliott, who had lived in the neighborhood, embraced the design and its energy. I intended the art on the wall for all musicians and all their fans,.. for everyone.”
Stephon has been very tolerant and gentle with the fans over the years, and ‘very conscientious at preserving the wall for 13 years’, said Wade. As we all know, the wall has been repainted many times after many episodes of tagging and bad graffiti. I remember talking to Stephon years ago, and he already had some projects in mind regarding the place. At the time, about a year or two after Elliott’s death, he was talking about erecting some sort of statue that would represent Elliott, to make sure he is remembered, and Stephon once told me he wanted to open a cafe close to the wall, a cafe where everyone would be able to listen to Elliott’s music,… he was also very attached to the idea of preserving the original design of the wall, the way Elliott had loved it.
Wade said that Stephon has been trying to find a good project that would fit with the spirit of the building. He finally picked Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi, but you also have to know that Starbucks wanted to be there!
The name they picked for the new eatery, Bar Angeles, is also a nice nod to the late songwriter, and their intention is to leave the mural intact, the way it is, ready for any photo op. ‘We just want to open a small window on the other side to bring up some light’, he said, ‘to make a connection with the outside’
So Elliott’s fans have nothing to worry about it seems, the restaurant will be a casual place, serving inexpensive but great food and beers, with an exposed-brick wall and a skate shop/art studio feel. Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi are hoping to open Bar Angeles on November 1st.