After Brendan McElroy, the founder and previous owner of Dr. Brendan, reopened the beloved East Village bar St. Dymphna’s in November of last year, one thing led to another. Now he’s opening a non-profit gallery, JUICE, in the space right next to his old iPhone repair shop on St. Marks Place.
For years, McElroy said, he and his brother, Daniel McElroy, had been toying with the idea of opening a gallery in the empty space, which isn’t zoned for retail use, but they lacked the proper connections. The popularity of St. Dymphna’s among artists and musicians happened to fill the vacuum, according to McElroy. After meeting local photographer Chad Moore at the bar, McElroy quickly put the idea into action by exhibiting Moore’s photographs at the gallery’s pre-opening on January 30. Over 100 guests showed up to the party, McElroy said. Among the multi hyphenate attendees: Actor/DJ/gallerist Leo Fitzpatrick, model/rocker Matt Hitt, model/writer/designer Alexa Chung, and model/artist Sarah Hiromi.
The exhibition, “Archive 001,” featured portraits of young people sleeping, spitting, or lying shirtless a la Ryan McGinley, along with skyscapes with colors resembling magnified northern lights. According to Dazed, Moore is a Florida-born, New York-based photographer whose work has been exhibited in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and New York.
McElroy’s vision for JUICE gallery is highly local. In the next month, he plans to feature mostly artists from the East Village and Lower East Side on a monthly basis. For the group opening show on Feb. 27, from 7pm to 10pm, the gallery will exhibit the works of Spencer Sweeney, Jim Power, Maggie Lee, Lucien Smith, Harif Guzman, Perry Khalil, and Eric Smith. Their work will be featured in upcoming solo shows, with Brion Starr curating this year along with the McElorys.
Jim Power, the “Mosaic Man” whose colorful tile work can be seen around the East Village, is a long-time customer of Dr. Brendan and created a mosaic for the tech repair store on the pole in front of Ray’s Pizza on St. Marks and 3rd Avenue. “It’s kind of like old meets new,” McElroy said.
St. Dymphna’s is also undergoing changes. The 25-year-old tavern formerly located at 118 St. Marks Place closed in October 2019. McElroy took over the bar and reopened it around the corner, at 117 Avenue A, because it was “like an extension of my living room where me, my brother, and my close friends all hung out for 11 or so years.” In the next couple of months, a slightly more upscale bar will open inside the existing space, separated by a door at the back end of the hallway.
“There’s a lot of synergy to be explored between the bar and the gallery,” McElroy said. “It’s tough to isolate the story without bringing in the other part, because they’re all intertwined.”
JUICE is located at 8 St. Marks Place, bet. 2nd and 3rd Avenues.