Holy Cap Gun!

Photography by Zach Bauman.

It’s fitting that an oversized cap gun is hanging off the side of a dusty old brick building in the heart of the West Bottoms. The metallic gray pop art-style sculpture just adds to the historic area’s outlaw aura.

Looking as if it had just been pulled from a holster, the Wild West-ish toy cap gun juts from the building’s facade. The faux firearm is mounted above the building’s entry and hovers over the sidewalk and pedestrians’ heads. 

The gun has been aimed at the street for nearly twenty years. In 2005, creative Joe Hammers decided to open a nightclub in the 1920s industrial brick building. It was a music venue, theater space, nightclub and bar all rolled into one called the Pistol Social Club. Hammers commissioned local artist Burak Duvenci to create something that would get noticed. It makes a statement, but what that statement is, no one is quite sure.

“I think it was quite meaningless on purpose and just a straightforward illustration for their club,” Duvenci says of his 3D sign. “Like, ‘Hey, there’s some fun things happening upstairs in the building. Pay the cover fee and come find out.’” Duvenci, who lived in the West Bottoms at the time and was friends with Hammers, modeled the sculpture after a real toy cap gun, right down to the raised “Made in China” letters. Originally, Duvenci made the form out of pink insulation foam and PVC pipes and coated it with fiberglass. The original was starting to deteriorate and has since been restored and reworked, says Duvenci, who now has a creative agency in Los Angeles.

Although the night club at 1219 Union St. is no longer, the gun remains. 

“The Pistol was a magical place, something of an anomaly, a haven,” Hammers told The Pitch in 2010, shortly after the club closed. “A beautiful room like that for young artists and otherwise overlooked performers is an oddity locally and nationally.” The loft space now holds various art-related businesses, including art studio spaces and art classes.

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