Brewhouse Gallery Opens in Lake Park: It's a Bar, It's a Coffee House, It's an Art Gallery...

The quirkly little town of Lake Park's unusual history left the original character of its downtown corridor untouched by over-development, its charm preserved. Arts-friendly and idiosyncratic, it hosts an art house cinema, a vintage record shop, and dining a la Vietnam.

Tonight in town, there'll be the soft opening of Brewhouse Gallery, an enterprise equally idiosyncratic. The dream project of artist AJ Brockman, he describes it as "serving coffee by day and craft beer/wine by night... Part eclectic hipster lounge, part modern New York art gallery."

Brockman's life path is a testimony to true grit. Saddled with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) a progressive neuromuscular disease, he's been wheelchair-bound since age two. His flair for visual arts was steered by this fate. In his late teens, he put down the painter's brush and turned to the keyboard.

As he explains: "Aided by computer software that replicates traditional painting/typesetting/layout, and fueled by my unwavering passion for all things artistic, I found I was once again able to create. I didn't have complete use of my hands, but I learned to effectively manipulate the mouse using two fingers on my left hand. That's all it took!"

With a BFA from Boca Raton's Digital Media Arts College, Brockman now works as a graphic designer and, in his free time, pursues his personal vision through Single Handed Studio.

A self-described "huge music fan" ("as any sane person should be"), he's a night owl who "absolutely must have [his] morning coffee." Also, he says, he's "convinced there's nothing better than a nice glass of sake after a long design session." Brewhouse is Brockman's effort to marry all his interests and share them with the public.

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"Having my own gallery has always been a dream," he told New Times. "The number one problem in most galleries is lack of exposure and foot traffic, so we decided to pair a coffee house/craft beer, hangout to fill that gap. Everything just seemed to fit into place after that. We're hoping this is a spark to a new arts district and a revitalization of the town of Lake Park."

Brewhouse Gallery Soft Opening with live music, art, food and drinks, 6 p.m., Friday, May 16, at 720 Park Ave., Lake Park. Visit the Facebook page.

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

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