Following your muse 

Art Monday at Apache Café

It's 6:52 p.m. and an eclectic yet pushy queue snakes out the entrance to Apache Café for a 7 p.m. "Art Monday" opening. At 6:57 p.m., an eager photographer asserting his status among the restless herd breaches the double doors. They mob in behind him to the dismay of the staff. "Close the damn door!" a sassy woman's voice shouts from the darkness, and an assertive female performs the task, adorned in black with white mesh fairy wings and a glitter-painted face.

Since opening in 2001, this eatery/gallery/mellow nightclub has grown into an artistic think tank for Atlanta's encompassing urban community. Aspiring talents of all likes including painters, poets, musicians and DJs, as well as some of the city's hip-hop virtuosos (Ludacris is a rumored fan), take advantage of Apache Café's chill ambience to bounce their latest magnum opus off an eclectic pack of nightly revelers. Built in 1929, this freestanding structure offers a vibe best summed up in a fictional marquee – Erykah Badu LIVE in Warhol's Garage. Around midnight each night, the space seamlessly transforms from an arty, intellectual cocktail hour into an amoeba of beat-loving partiers.

"Art Mondays" (deemed by owner Karen Fain, mastermind behind the concept) serve as a chance for the highly acclaimed and the novice artist to interact. Hedonism VII is the current theme, and a mere $8 gives you access to a gallery of visual pleasures ranging from erotic metal workings to pin-up-girl photography (a free drink and possible conversation with a famous artist also serve as perks).

At the center of the room, two large wooden pedestals supporting live models serve as muse for sketch artists and photographers perched in chairs squared off around them. Farther out, tables (reserved ahead of time for $20) seat a few sophisticatedly hip onlookers who sip cocktails (the "Peeping Tom" is a Monday night special) and swap furtive glances. More unobtrusive patrons thaw out to the velvety beats of the DJ on a sexy leather couch near the bar. No one looks out of place.

The winged nymphet from earlier (a skilled cocktail waitress) delivers a PBR to an older man parked at eye level to one of the female models. Wearing only a patch of blue marabou in an obvious place, the model shifts positions while a skilled body painter adorns her with colorful latex. Bobbing awkwardly to the beat of the music, the man dribbles beer-foam on the red nylon of his Lands End jacket. "Shoot!" he exclaims, and paws at it with his rough bare hand. The night is saved as his adoring wife reaches into her lemon-cream cardigan pocket to produce a crinkled-up tissue with which she dutifully blots the stain.

music@creativeloafing.com

Apache Café Art Mondays. $8 admission, $5 w/ art-supply donation. Doors open 7 p.m. 18 and up. 64 Third St. 404-876-5436. www.apachecafe.info.

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