Lofty's Idea is a charming little spot, on a corner across from a park, in the historic Lowell School neighborhood just south of downtown. There's a great feel to the place: a little rustic, a little classy, and a lot casual and welcoming.
Open seven days a week, Lofty's is a coffee shop, café and Wi-Fi hotspot, but owner Josh Kennard has even bigger plans for it.
An artist who dabbles in music, poetry and philosophy, Kennard was one of the owners of the Rubbish Gallery when it opened in 2006. Although he eventually moved on, when Rubbish closed near the end of last year, Kennard felt a pull to fill the gap. So he opened Lofty's.
"I want to facilitate a place and create a community for the growth of ideas," says the 30-year-old. "People have good ideas, and think about lots of great things. But it's not just about ideas. I want a place where people that do things can come together. Rubbish started as an idea, and we made it a reality.
"Lofty's is just the beginning of a grander scheme."
To kick things off, the first show at Lofty's will be an exposition of 40 photographs that local photographer Brad Flora took at Rubbish events in 2009 and 2010.
"The message of the show is about the community of Rubbish — what we had and what we still have," says Flora, 28. "It's about the hundreds of people who were involved in the gallery, and the community spirit that surrounded it."
Although it usually opened only on Friday and Saturday nights, Rubbish survived through multiple ownerships, partnerships and philosophical changes. (Jon Lindstrom was the only original owner there at the end.) The End of the Beginning aims to capture details of what made the place endure, and remain special.
One shot features an abandoned cello standing in a corner, up against Rubbish's white, painted brick walls, between two of Stan Hennigh's large, colorful oil paintings. A crude, black electrical cord dangles in front of the wall on the left side, casting an interesting shadow.
"It was literally as I found it," Flora says of the scene. "I just came around the corner and saw it there, and recorded the moment."
"One of the things I like best about that photo is the dilapidated floor of the gallery," Kennard adds. "It just makes the cello that much more beautiful."
Kennard's only employee at Lofty's is Caitlin Goebel, who was one of Rubbish's owners when the gallery closed.
"One of my favorite Rubbish memories is when new people would come in, and they were so surprised by this great little place in the alley," she says. "These photos are just a little peek into lots of things that happened there, and there were so many: from a punk-rock band to a classical cellist, all the different art and artists, people dancing, just everything that went on.
"It was a whirlwind of all these different things, happening all at once, like a piñata breaking open."
So if some of the photos seem unremarkable by themselves, it'll help to think of them as pieces from within that piñata. And this show, as a whole, as perhaps the start of something just as colorful.
"I try to live by Josh's Law," Kennard says, "which is: Anything that can go right, will go right."