Hanging Out in Rockford: Things to do after you cook

July 1, 1993

Hanging Out in Rockford: Things to do after you cook

By Mike Leifheit, Columnist

I am wandering through the Irish Rose. I am in a haze (alcohol induced) when suddenly I am confronted by Molly Fleming. It’s about another show at Raw Art Studio. The last time she did this, it was about phalli (the show), which induced me to show up at the event. This time it’s about verbal art or poetry being juxtaposed with a show of regular hang on the wall, set on the floor art. I promise I will attend. It is really easy for me to stop at Raw on the way back from Irish Rose Norte, on a Friday or Saturday night.

A few days later, I realize I have forgotten all the pertinent information, and I spot Molly in the Irish Rose again. I walk up to her. She is with her boyfriend Matt and some other people. They are all patient while Molly fills me in again on the show. Molly is one of those people whom other people use to identify the people around them. Matt will always (as long as he remains really lucky) be identified as Molly’s boyfriend. I’m sure Matt doesn’t mind this at all. After all, he is the guy who is with Molly.

The first night of the show, I am too tired to stop, but Saturday night I ask my friend Jon Agustsson if he would like to go after I get done cooking up north, and he immediately says yes. We make plans to get in touch with each other about 9 o’clock. I go off to cook. On the way back from Rockton, I give Jon a call. He is busy with another phone call and asks if he can call me back. I use the extra time to go back to the Irish Rose and write my Rock River Times article. Frank has imposed new deadlines, and I am trying to get a column ahead to comply.

Then about 10:30, my phone beeps. There is a message “Hi Mike, this is Jon. I am next door at Bacchus. I am going to finish this drink and then head over to the Irish Rose.” I go downstairs and he is already there. We drive to Raw Art Studio.

When we get to Raw, I am immediately struck (so is Jon) by what appears to be a huge ceramic pot in the middle of the room. Turns out that it is some part of the combustion system of a jet plane. Russ Blahnick, who owns the studio and works in metal, has acquired it and cleaned it up a little but has not yet decided what he is going to do with it.

We wander around and look at the artwork. Molly’s boyfriend Matt’s band (The Narnia Quartet) plays in the other room. I spy two paintings, obviously by the same artist, that I would personally like to own. I stand staring at the two works. I ask someone whom I recognize who did the work. He says, “Jessi, your waitress.” I’m knocked out. I go to find Jessi (Grose). She accompanies me and shows me another piece. I ask her how much she wants for the two paintings, but she doesn’t know. I tell her not to sell them until I can talk to some of my friends. I want to see her in some other shows.

As we leave, we see Molly with a friend. They are going to get more beer. Jon and I head downtown. We want to go to Paragon to have a drink. We walk up to the door, and some wait people who are working tell us that it is a private wedding party tonight. Disappointed, we walk over to Octane. They have already stopped serving. Double disappointment. We head for Kryptonite.

Inside Kryptonite, I am accosted by Chris, the owner. We talk about business and wind up talking about a past project that has gone unfulfilled, a plan for downtown establishments to advertise Thursday nights together. We agree to meet the following Wednesday at the Irish Rose for lunch to see if we can’t get it going again.

I’m tired and want to get going, and I get up and start for the door. Chris catches me and tells me that I cannot go until I see the band that has not yet started. He pushes me back onto a barstool and orders me another club soda and another cranberry for Jon. We obligingly sit and wait. Reed Jutras is bartending, and I get a chance to say hi when he slows a bit. Chad and Michelle from Bacchus show up. That means the music will be good.

The band, Model One, is worth the wait. Now I understand why Chris was so insistent that I see them. I would call them college alternative, some of my favorite music. We listen to a few songs, then Jon says that he has to go. We head back to the Rose. The little flag atop the Faust is blowing the wrong direction. Will it ever be spring?

There will be another show of verbal art in the series at the new Minglewood on Jefferson Street. It will be advertised in The Rock River Times. Don’t miss it.

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on the Chris Bowman Show, WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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