How Arlene’s Grocery is Changing its Tune to Embrace Street Art

Posted on: July 30th, 2015 at 9:27 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

Arlene’s Grocery celebrates two decades on Stanton Street this year. Considered one of the first modern live music clubs in the neighborhood, the establishment came to prominence in 1995 when the former bodega and butcher shop at 95 Stanton were combined to create the venue.

It’s an establishment known more for its stage and musical attraction than anything else. An elclectic mix of punk, hardcore, funk, and rock acts have passed through since the joint opened twenty years ago (e.g. The Strokes, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, The Bravery, and Jim Carey). Heavy Metal Karaoke still reigns supreme on Monday nights, too.

But, for Arlene’s Grocery, music isn’t the only creative draw. There is also a budding art program taking shape. It began in 2012 when street artist Joseph Meloy (aka Vandal Expressionism) was approached by talent booker Eric Berrebbi for a mural. The empty wall space in the lounge half of the establishment was also catalyst. A relationship developed, and more artists began to participate. Three years and a brief hiatus later, “A Group Show” was the result – a weekly roundup of local upstarts spanning the scene from the streets to photography, sculpture, and illustration. So, Meloy has essentially become the de facto curator of its visual programming.

This image has been archived or removed.

Thus far, the response to “A Group Show” has been fairly positive. So we’re told. Each go-round (i.e. Tuesday nights) boasts about a dozen artists, and facilitates a non-pretentious art atmosphere for folks who might not otherwise visit a gallery. Berrabbi says those people “seeing, appreciating, and purchasing the art that’s displayed here.”

Both Meloy and Berrabbi are quick to note how the art scene here is approachable. “There are a lot of stuffy, uninviting art events in this world, and this is certainly not one of them,” Meloy quips.

And, on a tangent, we asked the Arlene’s Grocery talent booker what he thought of the current Lower East Side Music scene…

I think that this is still (and will continue to be) a great neighborhood for live music, even with the emergence of Williamsburg and Bushwick as important scenes. In addition to us, there’s Rockwood, Pianos, Cake Shop, Mercury Lounge, and Bowery Ballroom – all amazing rooms that book great talent within a few blocks of each other. The neighborhood has definitely changed over the years, but you’re still getting a great mix of established and emerging bands of every genre passing through.

Recent Stories

Doyers Street ‘Asphalt Art’ Ahead of Chinatown Seasonal Streets Closure

The third annual “Chinatown Seasonal Streets” initiative is upon us. As part of the program, select streets are closed to traffic to create public pedestrian space. The temporary plazas are also decorated with so-called Asphalt Art. Doyers Street had been the pilot, but this year sees the inclusionof a 5,370 square-foot area of Mott Street […]

Actor Justin Theroux is Opening a Bar Called ‘Ray’s’ on Chrystie Street

Actor Justin Theroux is opening a new bar on the Lower East Side. Ray’s – not to be confused with Famous Ray’s Pizza or Ray’s Candy Store – is the name of the Chrystie Street bar. It takes the space previously occupied by Le Turtle, which closed back in January. Theroux, who was married to […]

Demolition of 1909 LaGuardia Bathhouse is Underway

It’s been standing on the Lower East Side for 110 years. And now it’s coming down. Brick by antique brick. The long-dormant LaGuardia Bathhouse, situated just off Madison Street near the Little Flower Playground, is currently undergoing demolition. All because the city decided to change up its coastal resiliency plan that results in the closure […]

Hulu’s ‘High Fidelity’ TV Reboot is Filming on the LES Tonight

They just couldn’t leave well enough alone. The television reboot of cult classic High Fidelity – based on the 1995 book by Nick Hornby – is taking over parts of the Lower East Side today. The requisite “no parking” signs currently dot the eastern terminus of Canal Street near Rutgers. Film shoot is tonight. It’s indeed […]

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot Celebrates 25th Season with ‘Romeo and Juliet’

On fair Norfolk Street, where we lay our scene… Last weekend, the 25th season of the ever-so-popular “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot” commenced at La Plaza @ the Clemente. This season, the bard’s tale of woe is none other than Romeo and Juliet. Director Lukas Raphael will set the play in New York in the […]