Published on April 12th, 2019

First there was Art Basel. Many Floridians thought it would pass, and we would go back to a normal amount of terrible traffic and that reliable nuisance known as Spring Break. But the art community took notice of our big little art scene, and that showcase went from a street party to an international affair with a section of its own in the New York Times. As Basel fever spread, the Wynwood Arts District emerged in an area near downtown Miami that once was home to carjackings and dive bars. And with Wynwood thriving, Fort Lauderdale caught the art bug next, and FATVillage was hatched off of Sistrunk Boulevard — another neighborhood gentrified by creatives. The question was no longer “Can an arts community stay viable?” It was “Where next?”

The West Palm Beach Arts & Entertainment District has likewise occupied itself touting that city’s art-friendliness, and a neighborhood project, HotBox Art, turned a string of boarded-up shotgun shacks on Douglass Avenue into studio space with help from the Knight Foundation.

But, really, the big plot twist in the artification of South Florida is a sleepy little town called Lake Park becoming the region’s northern brain trust for the arts.

That’s where five years ago AJ Brockman started the Brewhouse Gallery, an amalgamation of art, cocktails and craft brews, and live music. The gallery sold paintings, served drinks and programmed bands, and then expanded into a vacated storefront next door. Not long after that, Brockman took possession of an adjoining performance space that would become The Kelsey Theater. The Kelsey catapulted itself into the big boys’ club by hosting everyone from Every Time I Die and Dead Kennedys to Sister Hazel and, along with screenings of the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

In year three, Brockman became owner outright of the once-fading strip mall that his presence had helped to perk up, and the transformation of this commercial-cultural space continued with new and likeminded tenants, including a tattoo parlor and a belly dancing school. All the while, Brewhouse, with its relaxed and unpretentious vibe, remained an essential draw, fulfilling a need for artists to be able to exhibit and sell their works year-round.

In an interview with PureHoney, Brockman says, “My ultimate goal would be to franchise Brewhouse to revolutionize the way art galleries and bottles work. … The days of the high-end New York style gallery, where you need a hundred grand in the bank just to get inside, those days are over. Now it’s about the community, local talent and supporting the people that are already here”

So here we are, approaching five years in an enclave now officially known as the Lake Park Arts District, which Brockman co-founded. The Brewhouse is a mainstay, with an onsite nano-brewery — craft brewing in even smaller-than-micro batches — coming soon.

Next door at the Kelsey, comedy, drag, burlesque, headliners and tribute bands, and a custom car show on the plaza outside keep people streaming in. All of the other businesses that have taken up residence are art related or art adjacent — essentially making Lake Park the next spot for art lovers and music aficionados to gather and wax poetic while imbibing the best cocktails and great beers.

A self-sustaining arts district has bloomed almost out of nowhere — and the anniversary bashes in May hosted by the anchor tenants, Brewhouse and Kelsey, that made it all possible have become major happenings.


The 5 Year Anniversary Block Party set for May 11 is a combined art, music and craft beer festival, indoors and outside, linking past and present. “It started with a crazy idea supporting the arts and culture of South Florida and blossomed into an entire community reimagined,” says the festival’s announcement page. “We are five years strong and this is only the beginning.”

The performer lineup for the festival’s three stages is taking shape, but one of the initial sign-ups is Boxelder, a popular hometown act from those, you know, halcyon early aughts in West Palm Beach when the bands were buzzing, but the arts were more scarce and the beer was either light or dark. Maybe those were the good old days for some, but for Brockman, his gallery pub, theater and cultural hub, the future is hops, spirits, music and art.

The Lake Park Arts District presents the 5 Year Anniversary Block Party at the Brewhouse Gallery and The Kelsey Theater, 1 p.m. May 11.  EARLY BIRD TICKETS HERE ~ Tim Moffatt

– Brewhouse Stage –
2 PM – Summer Gill
3 PM – Damien Louviere
4 PM – Leafy Greens band
5 PM – Nip & Tuck
7 PM – LooseTight
8 PM – Yardij
9 PM – Rogue Theory
10 PM – KillBillies
11 PM – Zoo Peculiar

– Outside Stage –
2:15 PM – Jon Prestige
3:15 PM – Jakob Takos
4:15 PM – Zack Jones
5:15 PM – Big Lux
6:15 PM – Kronikles

– Kelsey Theater Stage –
6:30 PM – No Name Ska Band
7:30 PM – The String Assassins
8:30 PM – Guavatron
9:30 PM – Boxelder

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