Fremont East’s original visual arts-and-cultural-business complex Emergency Arts is in a transitional phase. Its marquee business, the Beat Coffeehouse, closed in September to make way for an upscale bar and grill, and its remaining galleries and businesses have been relegated to the building’s second floor: Monkey Business, artist Paul Barnes’ gallery and workspace; Sabra Kadabara, a maker of cosplay outfits; and quaintly gothic day spa Feetish, among many others.
Presently, construction walls surround EA on two sides, reducing access to those businesses to an anonymous door off Sixth Street. “If you just look at the building from Fremont, you’d have no idea there’s anything on the second floor,” says Feetish proprietor Andrea Lipomi. (Recently, though, a list of tenants was posted outside the Sixth Street door, which pleased Lipomi: “It doesn’t take much to impress me,” she jokes.)
But this isn’t the end. Former Beat co-proprietor Jennifer Cornthwaite reaffirmed her commitment to EA when the owners of the property, the El Cortez, told her the bottom floor was being repurposed. “They still wanted me to manage the second floor,” Cornthwaite says. “I said that it has to retain the essence of what Emergency Arts is; it can’t become vanilla office space, and we can’t raise people’s rents.”
Cornthwaite says that those white construction walls will be artfully painted, and that the second floor will receive key improvements, including redesigned bathrooms, upgraded lighting and a visual rethink of its hallways and common area. But more importantly, EA’s mission will be refreshed, too.
“If we have a lack of visual art [in here], I hope to pick up that slack and curate something,” Cornthwaite says. “I want to help anyone who wants to do anything visually creative to be able to show it here.”