Located at 523 S. Elm St. -- a part of downtown Greensboro's arts and antiques district -- the Artistika's decor is a far cry from the concrete floors of Go! Rehearsal Studios or Cat's Cradle, making smokers a little self-conscious to light up in a building that exudes class.
The wooden ceilings and grainy pale brick walls are juxtaposed with colorful tapestries hanging from the walls. The 20-by-30 stage was built so that all the wiring is under the performance space and reaches the $25,000 sound system tucked away in the far corner.
An iMac and a statue of Cupid sit on the L-shaped bar close to the door. It's a mix of the old and new -- of technology and antiques -- and it gives the venue an unpretentious but dignified atmosphere. And smoking is permitted at the Artistika.
The relatively empty streets are a sharp contrast to the Artistika's interior. The owner, former advertising executive Hugo Pascale, and house manager, film industry veteran Audra Angela, have converted an old hardware store into a 5,000-square-foot concert venue.
Pascale said the Artistika was built in a location without much competition on the street or in the city.
"We are aiming for the live music fans that are going to other cities instead of staying in Greensboro," he said.
Pascale and Angela -- neither of whom had run a club before -- began researching revitalization in the state and realized their plans for the Artistika were in sync with their findings. "We found the most crucial element of any downtown (revitalization project) has to be that it reflects the arts and cultures of its residents," Angela said.
The foundation of the Artistika began in 1997, when Pascale bought the property and slowly began construction. Since its Christmas 2000 opening, Pascale and Angela have focused on bringing more live music to Greensboro.
Pascale creates a compilation CD each month highlighting several tracks from bands with forthcoming performances. In addition to providing live music Wednesday through Saturday, Pascale plans to include a latin music showcase and informal jam sessions to the weekly roster.