The Art of Drinking


The time is always now.

That’s just one of the not-so-subtle messages plastered on the walls of
(120 Orchard Street), courtesy of Peter Tunney, the biotech investor-turned-pop artist who memorably took up residence in Crobar’s V.I.P. room for nearly a year back in 2003. His latest solo exhibition, Tunney Munney: Not for Sale, is a collection of sizable text-heavy photo collages—and the second show to date at this space, the Lower East Side’s answer to the question of what to do when an opening is over. The inspired solution? Do nothing; stick around as long as you want. This bar serves as the show and the after-party.

Owned by Mercadito’s Darin Rubell, cousin of legendary Steve Rubell; Joshua Boyd of Plan B; and Derrek Vernon, GalleryBar unfolds as a bi-level space: the art hangs upstairs next to a huge bar, large leather banquettes and the popular photo booth; a low-ceilinged lounge inhabits the basement. The atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed and unpretentious—throughout the night there were smiling patrons smoking downstairs (us), dancing upstairs (also us, unfortunately), and making out on both floors (please, like you’ve never). There was one girl who was so relaxed that she passed out near the bottom of the stairs. She obviously chose the third option outlined by the bar’s suggested list of behaviors near coat check: “Be profound, be funny or be quiet.”

The 32-year-old Rubell, whose family is well known for a remarkable contemporary art collection, says he’s only recently become interested in art, which partly explains the bar’s concept. In addition to the openings, GalleryBar hosts a weekly event on Wednesdays called the Collective, which is co-sponsored by Art for Progress, and intended as an opportunity to exchange ideas about the Lower East Side’s artistic resources against a backdrop of guest DJs and cocktail specials—”THE event for art lovers to mix and mingle,” according to Art for Progress’ website. More drinking, more dancing, and—if “mingle,” means what it should— more making out. The time is always now.