The Art Bar

For anyone who grew up outside of New York – and spent their youth idealizing its culture – likely spent a good amount of time idealizing the bars, restaurants and coffee shops where this culture was born. Places where artists and musicians met to seek refuge from the hardships of the glamorous, unforgiving city, forming the breeding ground for its enchanting cultural mythology.

For anyone who grew up outside of New York – and spent their youth idealizing its culture – likely spent a good amount of time idealizing the bars, restaurants and coffee shops where this culture was born. Places where artists and musicians met to seek refuge from the hardships of the glamorous, unforgiving city, forming the breeding ground for its enchanting cultural mythology.

In a city like New York, restaurants and bars exist as sort-of public living rooms. Most of us are cooped up in tiny apartments, desperate for some kind of release against the rather competitive and feisty little backdrop of the city. In the art world, much of the work comes in the form of communication; you make connections, you talk to people, you meet people, you exchange ideas, and—hopefully—you gain knowledge and fuel for your own work and creativity. Of course, a bar becomes an art bar when the artists frequent it, but often, like in the case of original 60s art bar Max’s Kansas City, that bar is specifically created as a refuge for its artists.

Mickey Ruskin, owner of Max’s, would even present free food for artists who didn’t have the money for it as well as offer open tabs in exchange for artwork, turning away anyone who seemed to be from “out-of-town” or out of the community in which art and creating art was the central focus.

Source: Max’s Kansas City

In the West Village, the aptly named Art Bar offers a celebration of the artist culture so intrinsic to experiencing the downtown New York scene. While not an exclusive members-only place of the past, Art Bar is a bar that promotes art and artist culture as its main purpose, paying tribute to the role art has been playing in New York’s history and also opens its doors to out-of-towners looking to experience its cozy, aesthetically-minded hideaway.

Source: Merchants Hospitality

For over 20 years, residents and tourists alike have frequented the spot that—in addition to offering a rather lively front bar—boasts a particularly seductive backroom complete with a working fireplace, and rotating gallery exhibits from strictly local artists. Art Bar offers a daily happy hour alongside impressive seasonal specialty cocktails and a menu with significant vegetarian options. A digital jukebox with a wide selection and a late-night kitchen only boosts the appeal of this bar that successfully lives up to its name.