Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner set to close

Owners keen to focus on music, planning eastern Canada tour

  • Mark Wohlgemuth and Kristel Jax say they decided a few months ago to close Freud’s, an art gallery and live music venue in the Exchange District. – Sierra Sawatsky

Less than a year after opening, an Exchange District art space that left an indelible mark on Winnipeg’s art scene as a place for outsider and alternative art is closing.

The lights at Freud’s Bathhouse and Diner will officially shut off for good on Feb. 12, following a performance by Andrew Milne.

The final shows mark 10 months of hard work and love for owners Kristel Jax and Mark Wohlgemuth, who say they’re moving on to pursue new adventures.

“When we started Freud’s, we didn’t really plan it and didn’t know what it was going to be like – it was just something that happened,” said Jax in a phone interview.

“We thought it would be more of a casual thing. For Mark and I, and both of our personalities, we have to work really hard at things and devote ourselves to what’s going on in our lives. We did that for almost a year with Freud’s, but we’d like to focus on other things we’d like to do now.”

For the couple, that means primarily focusing on their music project, Alpha Couple. The two plan to embark on an eastern Canada tour on Feb. 19.

Jax and Wohlgemuth, who were profiled in The Uniter’s top 30 Manitobans under 30 feature in December, said in a previous interview they planned to keep Freud’s going for two years.

For the amount of energy we were putting into it, it was taking more emotional investment than we ever could imagine getting back from it.

Kristel Jax

But the closure was a long time in the works, as running the space sidetracked them from their other passions in life.

“We had to give six months notice for the lease, so we actually decided quite a while back,” Jax said. “I don’t like to make a plan and not fulfill it, but when we sat down and looked at things, it wasn’t turning out to be what we wanted to be doing.

“For the amount of energy we were putting into it, it was taking more emotional investment than we ever could imagine getting back from it.”

That’s not to say the pair is unappreciative of the artists who hung art on Freud’s walls or musicians who filled the space with sound.

“Each show had its own atmosphere and I really appreciated certain nights that went on here,” said Wohlgemuth. “We got to meet a lot of other artists, and were able to take stuff from them to grow as artists ourselves.”

“I think it’s definitely something that will shape me as a person in the future,” Jax added. “It’s definitely been a year of growing and I know it’s only been a year, but it’s hard to remember a year ago because so much has happened.”

Jax said she plans to resume work on visual arts and writing projects left waiting on the shelf. Wohlgemuth plans to focus on Alpha Couple and his solo project, Kram Ran.

But whether or not Jax and Wohlgemuth plan to take another shot at running a gallery in the future is up in the air.

Whether or not they even return to Winnipeg after their tour remains a mystery.

“The philosophy of Winnipeg is that everything leads you back here,” Wohlgemuth said. “But, we’ll see if that happens.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 27, 2011)

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