BOYSTOWN — A new bar in Boystown that will take over the space once occupied by the storied bar Cocktail is taking change seriously.
Not only is the bar named Progress Bar, to embody the human desire to move forward in life, the physical space at 3359 N. Halsted St. at Roscoe will reflect constant change, too — including a sculpture of a cloud that will react to the sound of human voices, said bar employee David Sikora.
The installation will include 19,000 light bulbs that will dim or brighten based on factors like how loudly people speak and where people are standing in the room, Sikora said. It will not react to other sounds, such as shoe scuffling or the clinking of ice.
The effect will be a ceiling that lights up "like twinkling stars," he said.
"The idea is that the ceiling will never be the same twice," Sikora said. "It's completely reactive to humans in the room."
Canadian artists Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett will be building the installation. Sikora saw their first cloud project the artists did for a Canadian art festival, Nuit Blanche Calgary, online and reached out, asking them to mimic it for the bar.
The Progress Bar installation will be larger than the artists' previous project, which included just 6,000 light bulbs and did not feature the technology to react to human voice. At Progress, the cloud's flat bottom will hug the ceiling, and the fluffy, curved part of the cloud will face the floor, Sikora said.
The previous tenant, Cocktail, was embroiled in lawsuits and allegations of conspiracy before it shuttered this winter, including a suit from owners John "Geno" Zaharakis and Dustin Hoffman against building owner Robert Brumbaugh alleging that Brumbaugh and Sikora were trying to ruin the bar.
Brumbaugh then seized the bar in January after a year of eviction battles and unpaid rent issues, the Windy City Times reported. Brumbaugh told the newspaper Cocktail's owners owed him more than $85,000.
Sikora declined to discuss the drama and history attached to the space — and is looking forward.
Brumbaugh applied for a liquor license last month, and Sikora projects the bar will open in mid-June, he said. It will feature 16 beers on tap, more than two-thirds of which will be craft, and three seasonal cocktails.
Sikora, 30, has worked in the Boystown nightlife industry for 11 years and said the concept of progress is something he thought everybody could relate to.
"It's about always moving toward a goal," he said. "You're not trying to digress."