Stillwater News Press

Local Columnists

May 3, 2014

AND STILL THE WATERS RUN: New venue celebrates great art, craftsmanship

STILLWATER, Okla. — Where am I?

What is this place?

How did this happen?


These are questions that Russ Teubner wants everyone to ask themselves when they step “Backstage” – a new hospitality venue at the corner of Main Street and Seventh Avenue in downtown Stillwater.

The space was serving as a storage area for his company, HostBridge Technology, but had seen lots of action through the years – from the site of the first post office to a grocery store turned into a vaudeville stage. As the old Aggie Theatre, the building had sunk into disrepair until Teubner rescued it for his first software company’s office space.

“When we took possession in the 1990s, the building had a sloped floor, no seats and a broken popcorn machine,” he said.

 While renovating the location, Teubner has maintained the architectural integrity of one of Stillwater’s oldest buildings. In converting the space, he harnessed the talents of many local and regional craftsmen.

“The electrical work in here is a work of art,” Teubner said.

Usually electricians are called everything but a work of art, said Mike Field. His company, Field Electric, was selected as the contractor to meet Teubner’s electrical specifications for the venue. Electricians, Jack Henderson and Drew Chambers, worked on the building with Teubner signing their names like artists on a special ledge in “Backstage.”

“Part of the work of art is doing it correctly and aesthetically – including hiding some elements – and sometimes there’s a trick to that,” Field said. “This morphed into a great project - there’s certainly a craft to it.”

Teubner appreciates great craftsmanship.

Modern LED lighting has transformed a ceiling, comprised of basic materials like corrugated tin and electrical conduits, into something expressive and dynamic. Teubner said the end result would not have been possible without the craftsmanship of electricians 16 years ago – but it also required new technology, and equally skilled craftsmen, to create something very special.

“It’s a thing of beauty. The buildings on this corner have been a laboratory to experiment with new ideas both virtual and physical. Assembling the creative work of others has been a 20-year multimedia art project,” Teubner said. “In the software business we always integrate something existing with something emerging. Making them work in harmony is our goal – and this integration mindset has guided the design of Backstage.”

He hopes individuals, local businesses and institutions will seek out his new hospitality venue for their gatherings - both serious and fun. The “first look” for Backstage was a Friends of Music evening to benefit the Oklahoma State University Music Department in April.

“The space is not for a typical event . . . but allows hosts to offer a premium experience to their guests unlike anything in the state of Oklahoma,” he said.

To check for the venue’s availability, contact Marsha Forbes at 405-533-2950.

Elizabeth Keys writes for the Stillwater News Press. “And, Still the Waters Run” tells stories about people and events in the area. Share your stories by emailing activities, photos or news tips to ekeys@stwnewspress.com.

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