A group of young Jacksonians on a similar trajectory are opening a new venue in Fondren, dubbed The Flamingo.
Bradley Adair, Ian Hanson, Garrad Lee, Michael Milnick, Ahmad Thompson and Saddi Thompson made the announcement today with the launch of their website, flamingojxn.com.
Housed in a nondescript storefront in the Fondren strip (once occupied by design firm Land Vs Ocean), The Flamingo will host art and music shows for the most part.
“The goal is to have the doors open at least a couple times a week,” said Hanson, a designer and illustrator. “We want to host a wide range of events, not just art or music. Maybe live podcast recordings, small comedy shows or a Thursday happy hour.”
The space came available after a decision by Adair and his LvO partners (Jonathan Shull, who moved to another office, and Sanders Bohlke who lives out of town) were faced with whether or not to give up the prime real estate.
“It was a great space that looked pretty but the doors were never open,” Adair said, who launched the original Land Vs Ocean idea as branding and event aesthetics-based. “We wanted this new idea, a new vibe and this new group to be committed to keeping this space open and accessible to the community. There are six of us; [we knew we’d] figure it out.”
The venue takes its name from a signature architectural feature: a pink back room whose ceiling long ago left and created an open-air courtyard. “It’s the best courtyard in Fondren,” Hanson offers. “Maybe the only one.”
Lee and Milnick’s strengths in the venture include live music production and their music-based podcast. Ahmad and Saddi Thompson, twin brothers who are rappers, are also carpenters; additionally, Saddi is a digital marketer. Hanson and Adair are the visual artists.
“There are zero degrees of separation for all of us,” Hanson said of their tight circles and mutual respect for the others’ crafts.
Hanson posted to his personal Facebook months ago, hinting at the plan for The Flamingo. At the time, he asked if a space that exhibited more diversity was needed. The overwhelming response said yes.
“I asked if people felt there was a need for a space more inclusive or more progressive,” he explained. “No one is actively working against that, but it’s also – you don’t see a lot of live hip-hop here.”
Lee, known for his work managing and promoting hip-hop shows in Jackson agreed. “You can do what you want if you know the right people [in Fondren],” he said. “Shows we hosted here before (when the venue was Land Vs Ocean) – diversity reigned. With the Flamingo, we thought, maybe we can keep providing that space, a space where you can have a queer woman of color doing an art show or daniel johnson, who does these things outside of what’s expected.”
Ahmad Thompson said he sees the need for what this new venue will provide. “There’s the potential this area could [be seen as] more homogenous. I always felt Fondren was inclusive, but [for me] not always inviting. We want to let it be known it’s more than okay for you to be here.” Adair interjected, “You are invited.”
There are broader ideas for The Flamingo. The team plans to offer the space for other events, “as long as it fits some modicum of what we are doing,” Lee told. And, the venue will be available for rentals.
“We want people to know they can rent it for parties or small wedding receptions,” Hanson said.
“We have a book club and a church art group that comes in already,” Adair added. “We want to be open and available.”
Collaboration will be key, too, with businesses outside the area utilizing The Flamingo for pop-up shops or cross-town events, gaining them broader exposure in the Fondren area.
“They say it’s all about location,” Lee said, pointing to the downtown Fonden historic district outside. “I mean, look out that window – see where we are; We had to give The Flamingo a shot.”
The Flamingo opens October 5 during Fondren After 5 for music and an open house. The official kickoff is Friday, October 6, with music from Clouds & Crayons, James Crow and The Jackson Jackals. On Saturday, shop a pop-up retro boutique, featuring vintage furniture, art and decor curated by the Flamingo brain trust.
Update: Lee and Milnick have since stepped awaye to pursue other creative avenues but say they very much remain fans and supporters of all things Flamingo.