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32Forty Aims to Be an 'Idea Lab' for the Arts

By Casey Cora | October 4, 2013 6:29am

BRIDGEPORT — The group behind 32Forty wants you to walk through their new storefront foyer and into a world full of creative possibilities.

Already, musicians Benn Jordan, Barmey Ung and Adam Kowalczyk have enlisted piano teachers, artists and dance instructors to help lead lessons at the new gallery at 3240 S. Morgan St., and that’s in addition to the music lessons offered by the center's founding trio.

“We feel a more collaborative effort would be more beneficial to the neighborhood rather than a traditional structured music school set-up. It also opens the door to teach people around the neighborhood things other than music,” Jordan said.

Jordan, 33, of Bridgeport, opened the gallery after his nearby nonprofit AlphaBasic Music School folded in May after he said one its former teachers robbed the store of cash and equipment, leaving him and a few music teachers, including Ung and Kowalczyk, stranded.

But Jordan, an experimental musician with a side gig teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and the others stayed optimistic and continued with plans to move AlphaBasic down the street, expand the concept and give it a new name.

But first they had to gut the new building, a shuttered day spa, and renovate two rooms for music lessons and a third for arts classes. They’ve also built a stage in the main room and overhauled the foyer, where guests can relax on couches or play foosball.

“It was a long summer,” said Kowalczyk, 19, of Irving Park.

The group kicked things off Sept. 28 with a packed open house featuring a music student recital, live jazz and classical guitar performance, art instructions and demonstrations of the African-Brazilian martial arts dance called Capoeira.

Now they’re asking artists and musicians of all stripes to contact them if they have classes they’d like to teach or would like to rent their room for rehearsals, performances or any other events.

And it seems 32Forty is just getting started.

Earlier this week, the group hosted an evening performance featuring a solo cellist, a Balkan duo and a jazz quintet.

And there are plans to bring in even more diverse programming — lessons in computer coding, DIY book publishing, sculpture and more have all been batted around.

“We want to be more of an idea lab rather than an uptight school,” Jordan said.