Tuesday night, 8/15, downtown Raleigh, and though South Mcdowell street is a main artery running north and south through the city, the traffic flows, which I’m not accustomed to coming from Manhattan where traffic jitters, honkings and crazy taxis weaving an inch from you is every night fare and a sign of the city’s vitality. Next to the frenetic bustling of New York, Raleigh’s sauntering feels like slow death. I look for parking and find it within two blocks, and it’s free. I appreciate this convenience though. In New York, parking would’ve been half of my paycheck.
I take half a flight of stairs down to IMURJ, a coffee shop, slash, bar, slash, gallery, slash, music venue tucked in a half basement of a warehouse. On the street level, a three feet orange banner and a chalked A stand sign on the sidewalk announcing the evening’s Open Jam session hints at activity below the relatively deserted streets. My wife, Suyun, and I, open the door and greet Kenneth, the art manager. He has the look of an artist too busy to care for fashion, light blond hair pony tailed for convenience, which itself is fashionable. We got to know him only a month ago, and we asked him if we, before our imminent relocation out of Raleigh we’ve come to love, can do a last minute exhibition at IMURJ with Suyun’s artworks at Castalia that was finishing its run, hoping for sales, less canvas to transport and little cash for the road. To our surprise, Kenneth said “yes” then planned a whole evening party for her. This is Kenneth, this is IMURJ, this is Raleigh, immediately family welcome for fellow artists, southern hospitality in a bohemian look..