The cultural term “Bohemian” is an integration of ethnic and artistic references. During the late 1800’s there was an influx of Eastern European immigrants from Bohemia that sought employment in Paris. They settled in low rent neighborhoods. Poets, painters and other creatives also took up residence in the same low rent districts of Paris. This cultural amalgam was simply referred to as “The Bohemian District”. A contemporary expression of this is now in evidence in the New Bohemia District of Cedar Rapids; our neighborhood has historic Czech/Bohemian ethnic roots and over the last two decades it has become a focal point of artistic and entrepreneurial creativity. This is thus an authentic Bohemian District. New ideas thrive in old buildings in urban centers.
The most “bohemian” urban center in the USA is the French Quarter of New Orleans. The Richards family, proprietors of The Bohemian in Cedar Rapids, Iowa have had a long term relationship with New Orleans. We first experienced this lively and unique city over the years attending fragrance industry trade shows as we developed the soy wax industry. We fell in love with the exceptional music and the bohemian esthetic of this singular city. On one of our trips to New Orleans, we became acquainted with the Bevolo family. Several generations of this creative family have been hand crafting beautiful copper gas lights for French Quarter hotels and cafes during the last century and into the present. Four Bevolo gas lights now grace the exterior entryways here at The Bohemian in Cedar Rapids. Our mutual friendship with the folks of New Orleans deepened as Richards family members organized Metro High School youth to make several trips to the New Orleans region to serve as volunteers with rebuilding efforts during post-Katrina disaster recovery projects. When the massive floods of 2008 put the Historic Matyk Building that houses The Bohemian under 11 feet of flood water, helpful friends from New Orleans arrived to return the favor and assist with our disaster recovery. The Times Picayune, the iconic newspaper that has been printed in New Orleans since 1837 published a feature article on the post flood restoration of The Matyk Building in Cedar Rapids. The music of New Orleans captured our heart and soul, so now the joyful sounds and rhythms of The Crescent City has been integrated into our family culture. We are pleased to share that experience here at The Bohemian.
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll.
The music, art and food of New Orleans will influence our creative life here at The Bohemian, but it will not define it. We draw on many experiences that define the bohemian esthetic as we choose to live it and express it here in New Bohemia. The Richards family have traveled extensively for decades. We have also absorbed and experienced the bohemian esthetic during our years of travel to artistic and bohemian enclaves around the world. For almost a decade, our family was immersed in the art, theatre, music, food and architecture of New York. Several years of living in the East Village of New York City are also distilled into our presentation of The Bohemian esthetic here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The bohemian esthetic is expressed through a heady gumbo of music, food, coffee, wine, good beer, aromatic cocktails, theatre, spoken word, lively conversation, active interaction with our friends and neighbors and the visual arts. Visual arts contribute to the ambiance of The Bohemian. We recently discovered one solitary painting by Ed Keiffer at an obscure rural auction. The purchase of this one painting sparked a quest to learn more about Kieffer’s life and work.
We had the pleasure of getting to know the proprietors of art galleries in Santa Fe, Los Angeles and New York City who expanded our knowledge of the life work of Ed Kieffer. Pappillon Gallery of Los Angeles traced down their records that confirmed that they had sold this one particular painting that we now own to an art collector in New York City 30 years ago. We now have the original art show brochure documenting this previous transfer of ownership of this particular Kieffer painting. At the beginning of 2017, we were invited to a beautiful location that has been the Kieffer home and painting studio for 52 years. This historic architectural gem is situated on a wooded hillside close to the Atlantic Ocean near Narragansett, Rhode Island. Kieffer’s son Joseph (a very talented artist in his own right), and his daughter Katy (an author and radio commentator in New York) shared fond stories of their artist father as we shared a bottle of wine in front of a massive stone fireplace in Kieffer’s classic Arts and Crafts style home and studio. We returned to Iowa with 8 more of the very best Kieffer paintings to bring the interior of The Bohemian to life with jazz history, vivid color and lively imagery.
Ⓒ2017 Prometheus, Inc.