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A pink glow washed over the white gallery walls at the Walker Art Center as people of various ages and races wandered and grabbed a seat at a table or on a silver couch, then ordered a mixed drink from the bar. There's a bar inside the Walker Art Center's galleries, and it's the cleanest gay bar anyone's ever seen.

It's part of the art exhibition "The New Eagle Creek Saloon" that transforms into a functional bar on Thursdays from 5-9 p.m. A re-creation of and homage to artist Sadie Barnette's father's Eagle Creek Saloon, the first Black-owned gay bar in San Francisco in 1990, the bar is part of the art exhibition itself. Happy Hour Thursdays are organized in collaboration with Mama San Bar Collective and open to all.

"My dad's bar was going to be lost to history, a treasure to only those who were there, but I knew that I needed to tell this story so I wanted to shout the name of the Eagle Creek as loud as I could," artist Sadie Barnette said. "To do that with a party, with lots of collaboration, with art that is alive ... feels right and right on. Sometimes when there is no archive you have to make your own."

For Barnette, "The New Eagle Creek Saloon" is a "Black gay bar, for everyone."

While it's certainly not a permanent gay bar like local watering holes the Saloon, Eagle MPLS, or the 19 Bar (people are fundraising to bring it back to life after the tragic fire recently) or the soon-to-be collectively owned queer/lesbian bar the Brass Strap (expected to open in 2025), the New Eagle Creek Saloon is bringing a people of color-centered LGBTQ bar to the Twin Cities.

"As a Black queer person, this is a space that I just kind of enjoy being able to see, learn about my history, learn about the culture, and find out more about the people who came before me who allowed for me to be able to be openly out and about as a Black queer person without any fear or shame or anything like that," said Leander Lacy, 41, of Brooklyn Center, who was there last week for the second time.

Yelena Bailey was hanging out there last week with three friends in the atrium area, catching up after the long workday.

"It's a cool re-creation of a safe space that historically existed and we don't have as much of that in the Twin Cities as we should," said Bailey, 37, of the Ericsson neighborhood in south Minneapolis. "I think it's a celebration of the life that we have, and not just all the ways that we're historic and marginalized."

As music blasted from inside, people wandered in and out of the gallery, and the sun started setting through the giant floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked sculptor Nairy Baghramian's squiggly sculptures on the hill. It started to feel like maybe this was a real bar scene and not an art museum.

But then inside the gallery, a video by artist Cameron Downey started playing, projected onto the gallery wall. Even though music was a part of the video, no one danced, which never would've happened at a regular gay bar.

There was a markedly different feeling about the New Eagle Creek Saloon compared with any other gay bar in town. For Lacy, it was about who was centered that evening.

"Here I see lots of BIPOC people, but there aren't really many BIPOC spaces bar-wise or club-wise," Lacy said. "So when I go out as a Black queer person I am never going to go to a Black queer bar.

"It's important for me to see spaces where I can go and let my hair down and not have to worry about explaining myself to white gay men, about all the issues I'm having with the community being racist, etcetera, etcetera, so that I appreciate."

Tor Chavarria, 42, who lives in Loring Park, was at New Eagle Creek Saloon for the third time, and they were excited to be there again. They were wearing bright red glasses and quietly checking their phone inside the gallery.

"The New Eagle Creek Saloon is offering something we don't have," Chavarria said. "Some people are not comfortable at the Saloon or the Gay 90s, because historically they haven't been treated the best in those spaces. With this space, it's new, it's welcoming, and it was specifically created for queer people."

At the same time, there were plenty of folks at the bar that one likely would see only at an art museum.

"The bar is part of the Walker, and the Walker historically caters to a specific demographic which tends to be wealthy and white," they said. "However, even they are welcomed in this case. But the best part is, this is a very rare occasion where wealthy white people are outnumbered by queer people. It's like, 'You're welcome here, but just know that this space is meant for us.'"

Barnette didn't want to make a project about her dad's bar. Rather, she wanted "to make a project that was the bar, that bent space and time and reanimated the bones of the Eagle Creek in an intergenerational revival," she said.

"So, my bar is not quiet as it honors; it is a party. It is all my friends and my dad's people. It is permission to dance and dream, to call the names of those lost, and to see one another as we are in the glow of our own small moments of freedom."

"The New Eagle Creek Saloon" Happy Hours

When: Every Thursday 5-9 p.m. through May 19.

Where: Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Place.

Cost: Free admission, drinks for a fee, 21+ and ID required.

Info: or 612-375-7600.