That’s So Savannah: Abe’s on Lincoln bar draws in patrons with its unique napkin art – Savannah Morning News

Anyone who says they can’t draw just needs a stiff drink, a pen, and a paper napkin to unlock the hidden creative potential they never knew they had. The humble napkin drawing is a great artistic equalizer, with even the most rudimentary scribbles having some charming aspects. For example, even though she wouldn’t consider herself an artist, my wife has been putting delightful napkin drawings into my son’s lunchbox every school day for the last six years.
On the other end of the creative spectrum, artists like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol off-handedly sketched some of the most famous napkin doodles, with one of Warhol’s going for $15,000 at an auction.
Abe’s on Lincoln, a bar located in Savannah’s Historic District, has taken the idea of the napkin drawing and elevated it into a sort of communal art installation.
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Abe’s on Lincoln is the latest name of one of the oldest continuously running bars in the city, which has been around since the late 1700s. The bar has gone through many identities, but Abe’s takes its name from the street it’s located on—Lincoln Street. Lincoln Street was actually named after Benjamin Lincoln, a Revolutionary War hero, rather than the 16th president of the United States.
The interior of Abe’s is covered with napkin drawings on almost every available piece of wall and ceiling. All of the drawings share the same subject—Abraham Lincoln.
The tradition of drawing a portrait of Lincoln began years ago when a drunk man came into the bar, but couldn’t afford a drink. Instead, he asked the bartender for a napkin and pen and proceeded to draw an impressive portrait of Abraham Lincoln that the bartender enjoyed so much he hung it on the wall for posterity. Soon after, other patrons tried their hand at drawing Lincoln and countless representations have adorned the walls ever since.
The depictions of Lincoln vary from surprisingly realistic to simple and silly. There are zombie Lincolns, SpongeBob Lincolns, hipster Lincolns, drag queen Lincolns, and your standard top hat wearing Lincolns. The only rules that apply if you want your drawing hung up are that they can’t have racist, bigoted, or sexist imagery, they should be signed and dated, and they should show some effort—if you do stick figures, they better be pretty good stick figures.
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Over time, the sheer volume of napkins covering every surface of the bar can take on the aspect of kindling. Every once in a while, to avoid a fire hazard, the napkins are carefully taken down and saved, thus making room for the next exhibition of drunken doodles.
If you are interested in creating your own masterpiece, make sure to buy a drink, tip your server, and ask for a napkin and a pen. Don’t worry if you think you can draw or not. Somehow, the bar’s atmosphere, with hundreds of tiny Lincoln’s looking down upon the patrons, brings out the best in artist.