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Backroom hosts 'Buy or Burn' auction in newly acquired Cache Studios

Karen Leibowitz and Sam Solano, the founders of Backroom, said they created the pop-up because they were looking for a place where DJs don’t take requests, and play into the early hours of the morning. 

"We were used to going out checking out nice music as late as we wanted, and there's some really cool places out here. But we kept getting last call at 10:30pm or 11:30pm. And we noticed sometimes when we would go out, there'd be really talented DJs in terms of their skill set, but we could tell they were they were catering to the audience a lot," Karen said. "So we wanted to start Backroom to bring a little bit of nightlife to the Bentonville, Rogers area, and allow DJs and musicians to play what they want to play."

Karen and Sam have hosted several events that cater to the minds of artists and musicians in Northwest Arkansas. This Friday evening at Cache Studios, they are hosting an art auction with Bentonville-based multimedia artist Ben Edwards. Edwards said Backroom caters to his eclectic style.  

"As an artist, I don't have a consistent media that I use or style that I adhere to. And my work oftentimes can be very contradictory in some opinion, because it doesn't have that level of consistency that oftentimes you associate with artists that have been at it as long as I have," Edwards said. "I try to stay changing it up. And recently, I have had more opportunity to use my body as an art medium, and perform art live. And that is something that is very exciting to me, those opportunities are not vast in our area. And that's what makes an organization like Backroom so essential, because artists like myself, that do perform visual art live using the body as medium, there's not an arena for that."

The event will include an auction, where attendees will have the opportunity to bid on his specially curated artwork. But, here's the twist: items not purchased by the end of the night will be incinerated, on site, during a live performance by Ben himself. But why burn art? 

"Burning works of art is something that you several artists have have done in in in history, and in the present day," Edwards said. "Agnes Martin, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Baldessari have all edited their -oove by destroying works of art in some way, oftentimes with fire. Myself, yes I've done that. I've had bonfires of my art, here in Fayetteville, in Bella Vista, different places over the years."

"Here's the thing. When you make things when you are an object maker, which I primarily am, even though I do perform art live. So when you make objects, they oftentimes don't find their place into the world. But these are little bits of your soul that you have extracted and materialized in some form," Edwards said. "And these works of art, I mean, they've been exhibited, been offered for sale. Some of them have never seen the light of day though. But, that little piece of my soul can return to me, then the object can go away. And so you know, if you have the power to destroy a thing, you sort of have the power to control the thing. And so I'd like to always stay very much in control of my studio practice, and the work I exhibit."

Backroom Arkansas will be taking over Cache Studios in Bentonville by the end of the year. The pop-up will move permanently into the warehouse location, and henceforth be known as the Backroom Social Club. Cache Studios said they are excited to see Backroom take the reins of the building, and see growth within the organization. Cache Studios will remain active at the Medium in Bentonville and at their Springdale location, according to representative Brittany Johnson. Backroom founder Karen Leibowitz said while the original goal was in temporary and pop-up locations, that has evolved over Backroom’s lifetime.

"We were looking for a more permanent space, we were looking at some warehouses in the area, and weren't quite finding what we were looking for. You know, as soon as we heard about Cache Studio letting go of the building, the first thing we thought about were the artists and residents, the artists studios, you know, what's going to happen to them? A lot of them have become our friends, and we wanted to make sure that they had a space sale to create," Leibowitz said. "There really wasn't any other space in the Bentonville, Rogers area for that. So yeah, we decided to go ahead and pursue taking over the building ourselves, keeping the artists studios intact, you know, making improvements, little things and hearing out what the artists are needing. And then the rest of the building will be Backroom Social Club."

Karen and Sam said they’re hoping to expand the use of the warehouse, making it a hub for all forms of creatives in the area. 

"We'll be able to have permanent, regular programming, incorporate arts much more, just have a space to be able to do that," Leibowitz said. "We have a lot of ideas for the space, besides just the nightclub too. So we're really excited about it."

Backroom’s Buy or Burn is taking place on Friday at 1004 SE 5th St. in Bentonville, starting at 5 p.m. In addition to the auction, there will be live music from artist Yuni Wa and beverages available for purchase. A portion of all bidding and concession proceeds go towards benefiting Best Friends Animal Society Northwest Arkansas. 

For more information on Backroom, visit their website or Instagram. To find Ben Edwards and his artwork, you can find him on instagram, as well.

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Sophia Nourani is a KUAF producer and reporter.
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