O'Connell's Pub Revamps Upstairs For New Art And Music Space

The area is dedicated to local artists and musicians


click to enlarge The art gallery has paintings from a local artist.
Jenna Jones
The art gallery has paintings from a local artist.

The late Jack Parker loved antiques — he collected and sold mainly arts-and-craft furniture with a special interest in Navajo rugs, Stickley furniture and work from Missouri painters from the second floor of his restaurant, O’Connell’s Pub (4652 Shaw Avenue, www.oconnells-pub.com). The shop was known as Second Floor Secondhand.

Fast forward some 50 years and Jack Parker’s son, John Parker, has taken over both the pub and its second floor, morphing Jack Parker’s antique shop into an art gallery and live-music venue aptly called Jack’s Joint.
Jack’s Joint embodies the passion Parker feels for art and music, a parallel to how his dad felt about antiques. The space has musical instruments near the windows; a microphone, some guitars, and eventually a baby grand piano. Parker describes himself as a maintenance man of Jack’s Joint. He wants to set the stage, literally, for the artists and let them shine.

On the walls hang bright, colorful paintings crafted by local artist Dana Smith. Each painting is of different musicians playing in the St. Louis area; for example, a painting of St. Louis musician Anne Tkach tuning her bass hangs on the wall, the canvas filled with blues, greens and hints of yellow.

click to enlarge A painting of Anne Tkach tuning her bass.
Jenna Jones
A painting of Anne Tkach tuning her bass by Dana Smith.

Smith was a natural first choice to be on display in Jack’s Joint. Parker and Smith met about 10 years ago at CBGB. Maximum Effort and Shaved Women were playing a show that night, Parker recounts, and the energy was palpable, a “real punk-rock show,” he says. Everyone was buzzing afterward, and that’s when Parker met up with artist and painter Smith.

He asked Smith if he had taken a picture of the show — and Smith had snapped a picture peering in from a window, looking in on the band and the audience. Parker commissioned him to paint it, and it still hangs right at the back of Jack’s Joint, next to the desk that was once Jack Parker’s.

“Dana just made a hell of a lot of sense,” Parker says. “He was always on the list as I was trying to figure out this business and how I was gonna do Jack's Joint.”

Smith’s paintings are for sale, some for hundreds of dollars, some for thousands. Parker is mulling setting a rule that paintings in Jack’s Joint cannot exceed a $2,000 price point. He’s working to make the gallery affordable for the working person, a place where people can come take in music and find a painting they like to take home.

Although, he’s open to feedback from artists on price range to make sure he’s not “messing anything up.” He wants Jack’s Joint to flow together, where someone can walk up to the area to enjoy the music because they love rock 'n’ roll, see the paintings inspired by musicians and want one. While $700 is a lot of money, Parker says, the paintings are worth it.

Overall, though, he wants it to be a space where people can get lost in the art.

“The art takes you to a different place, you know, different part of your brain perhaps,” Parker says. “…That's what I want this place to be, just some place that takes you to a different place.”

click to enlarge Some more paintings in the space.
Jenna Jones
Jack's Joint will host Musique Nights in the fall.

The art is what is most important to him. So whether he’s hanging more paintings at Jack’s Joint or setting the stage for upcoming "Musique Nights" – Parker says there will be an exciting lineup in the fall — Parker will always be focused on the art.

“At the end of the day, everybody just wants to be cool,” Parker says. “It's really a big part of life. I think if you want to be cool, you just got to focus on something beautiful. So if that's what you want, just stay focused on beauty and everything else will take care of itself. And in the art world, there's a lot of beauty. It's just overwhelming.”

Jack’s Joint puts on music shows mainly on Friday and Saturday nights. Visit O’Connell’s Pub’s Facebook page for event details.

About The Author

Jenna Jones

Jenna Jones is one of the digital content editors at the Riverfront Times. She would love to talk to you about Harry Styles.
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