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Lunch … and All That Jazz

Ribbon cutting at Serendipity Spa and Gallery

Serendipity Salon: Where hair and art are always in style 

What could be better than a sandwich and a song? At Serendipity Salon’s Thursday Jazz Lunch, a midday meal never sounded so good. 

You’ve not been to a salon until you’ve been to Elizabeth Jordheim’s Serendipity Salon. That can mean a couple different things. 

A salon can be a space for renewal. You hop into the stylist’s chair and after a snip here and maybe some balayage there — and, oh yeah, that scalp massage — you’re feeling fresh and gorgeous. 

A salon also can refer to a gathering of intellectuals. Imagine Gertrude Stein and her peers — Pablo Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway — lounging in her Parisian home and discussing the heady matters of the Golden Twenties. 

Pack Matthews and Elizabeth Jordheim at the piano at Serendipity Spa and Gallery.
Pack Matthews and Elizabeth Jordheim at the piano at Serendipity Spa and Gallery.

Serendipity Salon is both things. Well, minus the cigarettes, absinthe, and exclusivity.  

Jordheim, a former art teacher turned hair stylist, has been queen of the coiffe here since 2021.  

And on Thursdays, pianist Pack Matthews comes to play jazz standards and show tunes on the piano in the exhibition gallery for anyone who would like to come listen. 

Jordheim and Matthews are long-time collaborators. The two met about 25 years ago and at one point shared a workspace at Orr Street Studios. Jordheim says she’s proud to have played an indirect role in the invention of the Soul Seat, a yoga-inspired office chair Matthews prototyped there. 

When Jordheim moved her salon to the suite in the North Village Arts District, she found herself with considerably more room than her single-chair studio could occupy. So, with some creative feng shui and some room dividers, she created an exhibition gallery and event space separate from what’s now a small warren of mini salons, which she has opened to other beauty and wellness practitioners such as estheticians, massage therapists, and nail artists. 

Naturally, Serendipity Salon participates in First Friday, an arts district gallery crawl held the first Friday of every month. It was on one of these evenings Matthews played the piano at Serendipity Salon that the idea for Jazz Lunch was born. 

“It’s just amazing. I noticed the acoustics when I played the piano, and it was a nice little instrument,” Matthews says. 

At the time, Matthews hadn’t been playing publicly and was looking for a way to get back in front of audiences — but on his own terms. 

“I’m not interested in playing clubs at night now that I’m a grandfather. I thought, ‘Nobody’s doing music during lunchtime,’” Matthews says. 

So he asked Jordheim about establishing a regular midday music session. She agreed — and Jazz Lunch was born.  

“This is my pattern,” Matthews says. “I create gigs.” 

The two look at Jazz Lunch as a third place — not their homes, not their work — “somewhere else people can come on a regular basis and be comfortable,” Jordheim says.  

In his 2000 book Celebrating the Third Place, sociologist Ray Oldenburg describes how third places “host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work.” A third place might be somewhere a person goes with the intention of creating connections — a coffee shop, park, or pub — or it might be a place one goes and interactions occur by happenstance — think the post office, grocery store or main street.  

And if we learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that these spaces are integral to our sense of community. When we lose access to these spaces, we start to feel unmoored and uneasy. We’re social creatures, after all, and we thrive on seeing and being seen. And where better than Jazz Lunch at Serendipity? 

Jazz Lunch is a brown-bag affair. Visitors are invited to bring in a meal from home or snag some takeout on the way there. The room is set up with tables and chairs — and, of course, one of Matthews’s Soul Seats — for about 35 people, Jordheim says, though the space can comfortably accommodate as many as 60 with the easy addition of more furniture.  

Oh, and there’s free Wi-Fi. 

“She has great Wi-Fi,” Matthews says.  

And then there’s the music. 

“I do take requests every now and then, but I also have a long list of songs,” Matthews says. “Some are my own original tunes. It’s mostly jazz standards and I’m adding to it all the time.” 

Serendipity art gallery

But Matthews isn’t necessarily the star of the show. There are no Elton John theatrics. He plays at a volume and intensity that’s not disruptive to people having meetings or spending time with friends. He plays to the room, matching the energy and vibe. He considers this his “contribution to productivity and the art scene.”  

“I’ve played a lot of party gigs over the years. My specialty is getting a feel for the room and creating the right atmosphere — just fine tuning it as the situation calls for it,” Matthews says. “As a musician, I get to play with my full palette of dynamics. As a performer, it makes for a delightful situation.” 

It’s not just performers who find a delightful situation here. Visual artists also have a home here. Currently, painter Martin Pope is exhibiting works at Serendipity. And on Saturdays, Jordheim hosts what’s called Artful Afternoons.  

“I supply a bunch of materials and art supplies for kids, adults — any age. Sometimes a professional artist will come in with the serious work they’re doing, or sometimes someone will bring a paint-by-number,” Jordheim says. “It’s just a happy vibe.” 

The space also has been used for classes. Marilynne Bradley, a watercolorist from St. Louis who previously displayed work at Serendipity, gave a class earlier this year. There also have been essential oils classes, yoga classes, and tai chi classes.  

Jordheim says it was never her expressed intention to turn her hair salon into a music venue/coworking spot/exhibition gallery/maker space, but what can you do when all the ingredients are just there

“It’s kind of happened accidentally, but people who have known me a long time come in and say ‘Oh yeah, of course you’re doing this.’” 

Serendipity Salon and Gallery marked its three year anniversary at 1020 E. Walnut St. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce on June. The ribbon cutting also officially opened the newly remodeled Serendipity Wellness Studios, a dedicated space for wellness-related small businesses.

“We are incredibly grateful for the support, encouragement, and love we have received over the past three years,” Jordheim noted. “This event is our way of saying thank you to our community and welcoming everyone to experience all that Serendipity Salon and Gallery has to offer.”

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