Billiards, Bands and Art

SUNY New Paltz student Katie Berka with her paintings.

Music and art are integral parts of New Paltz but finding a venue to successfully display these two mediums together isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Every month since February, Bacchus Restaurant & Bar have been showcasing the local talent of the many musicians and artists harboring in our small, mountain town.

Bacchus bar manager and New Paltz alumnus Jason Synan had the resources to make the  space one of the newest hotspots for the ever-rising art community. With 60 feet of wall space in the pool room and the right lighting and equipment, the legitimacy of a bar/gallery was created.

“Artists need to be encouraged to show their work,” said Synan. “Sometimes they’re either unaware of the opportunities around them or don’t pursue them.”

Having so much gallery space makes it possible to showcase multiple artists, something Synan said they really

“At this point, we have more submissions than we know what to do with,” said Synan. “But we try to incorporate as many people as we can.”

Each month, Bacchus calls for submissions through Facebook. Artists can also put their work up for sale, and have been successful at selling at past shows.

“After receiving submissions, we pick the work we like the best, trying to represent a broad variety of genres and styles,” said New Paltz alumna and Bacchus waitress Valerie Werder. “We would like to start doing themed shows but it’s difficult to reject good work based on thematic restrictions. Most of the shows have been multi-dimensional group shows.”

The most recent show on Saturday, Sept. 10 was put together by Route 32 Presents, a local, collective organization working to help promote local bands. PORCHES, Year on a Mountain, Nelsonvillains and Tom Christie performed throughout the night while viewers went in and out of the pool room, checking out work by artists including Katie Berka, Ian Gallagher and Claire DellaRocco.

This particular show was 18 and over. Although it’s not a usual thing for the bar scene because it presents difficulties, Route 32 Presents requested the age drop in order to not limit their fan base.

“Route 32 Presents is about bringing good music to New Paltz and to eliminate jazz quartets and jam bands,” said Jake Harms, member of Nelsonvillains and Route 32 Presents. “We want to open up the town with New Paltz as a cultural spot.”

Other musicians, like second-year undeclared John Morisi from Year on a Mountain, thought the Sept. 10 show was a great experience.

“The atmosphere and acoustics were screaming for music/art to be displayed for the public. People who aren’t involved in the arts will still go out to the bars to hang out, having music/art involved in such a place lets these people become more easily involved,” said Morisi. “The arts are parts of human nature, if a place like Bacchus could consistently have such events, this small college town could grow to be something much bigger.”

DellaRocco had her prints from her thesis on display at a Bacchus show last spring. Werder asked DellaRocco to contribute them again.

“I was very excited to exhibit this work again and was flattered she [Werder] thought of me when setting up the show,” DellaRocco said. “It makes so much sense to have shows like this off-campus because our peers, who typically don’t attend art events at school, but do enjoy the bar scene and live music can view what local artists have to offer.”

Although they have received submissions from outside New Paltz, Synan wants to focus on more New Paltz-based artists.

“I feel a certain allegiance to people that live in this town because I live in this town and Bacchus is in this town,” said Synan. “We want to be about the community.”

If you are interested in submitting artwork or performing at any upcoming Bacchus shows, e-mail Synan at