Inside the Artivist in Braamfontein

Artivist: Braamfontein’s Must-Visit Art Bar

In Braamfontein there is a tiny, tree-lined street called Reserve Street. It’s more of an alley really, in a block created by Jorissen and De Korte Streets to the north/south and Melle and Biccard Streets to the east/west. Beams cross over the street, draped in vegetation, creating the illusion of a mini-forest in the middle of this noisy city neighborhood.

On this alley/street is a place called Artivist.

Outside Artivist in Braamfontein
Outside Artivist, on Reserve Street.

Happy Hour at Artivist

I call Artivist an “art bar”, but it’s really a restaurant/bar/art gallery/music venue. I went early on a Thursday evening and found a nice smattering of guests, a friendly and talented bartender, tasty African snacks, and a thought-provoking exhibition by Zimbabwean artist Kudzani Chiurai.

There’s a balcony above the bar with space for more art, and a secret music venue below — called the “Untitled Basement” — hosting regular jazz performances and other hip musical events. (Artivist’s owners, DJ Kenzhero and Bradley Williams, are current and former DJs.)

Since the legendary Orbit Jazz Club is now closed (sob), I’m so happy there is another Braamfontein music venue to fill that void.

Inside the Artivist in Braamfontein
Inside Artivist.
Artivist bar
The bar has great light.
Art by Kudzani Chiurai in Artivist bar
Art by Kudzani Chiurai. Artivist hosts a different solo art exhibition each month.
Bar snacks at Artivist
Cheap but delicious bar snacks: dombolo (dumpling, or sweet boiled bread), and roasted butternut. I didn’t eat a full meal but judging from the drinks and snacks I’m guessing all the food is great.
Artivist cocktail by bartender William Maphoso
Marie-Lais’ delicious coffee-based cocktail by bartender William Maphoso.
The "Untitled Basement" below Artivist bar.
The swanky Untitled Basement, open only for musical performances and other events.

Braamfontein is inhabited by thousands of university students, but William the bartender says Artivist is geared toward the “working class” — i.e., older people who actually work.

In my view, Artivist is just plain classy.

Looking down from the Artivist balcony.
Looking down from the Artivist balcony.

Artivist is at 7 Reserve Street, Braamfontein. It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. Follow Artivist on Instagram.

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  • Reply Wεทchy ¸.¸. ҉¨ February 28, 2019 at 12:41 pm

    This looks like a stunning venue! Must check it out.

    • Reply 2summers February 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm

      It’s awesome 😊

  • Reply eremophila February 28, 2019 at 12:45 pm

    Oooh, yes my kind of place😎

    • Reply 2summers February 28, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Ahhhh, you’d love it!

  • Reply Chance April 11, 2019 at 10:52 am

    This a nice looking venue but unfortunately the service is EXTREMELY POOR! I attended a Birthday party here last Saturday and we struggled to get service despite the venue being quite empty, apart from our group booking of approx. 20 people. We had to ask repeatedly for service and had to follow up with staff the status of our order. When queried why the service was so poor, we were told that there was only one person assigned to work the entire floor, this despite there being other members of staff hanging around and chatting at the bar and not paying us any attention. The service was so poor I even observed staff eating plates of food at the bar instead of in the staff area. I will never return here and my advice to other potential visitors is to not be fooled by the attractive looking venue because the staff here could not care less about delivering great customer service and a memorable experience 🙁

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