The boozy painting hipster art club in Williamsburg achieved the sort of vintage coolness that so many hipsters try (and fail) to achieve: on Thursday night, the NYPD shut down the popular art-and-wine class, calling it an “illegal speakeasy.”
These things happen, even to the most well-meaning of illegal speakeasies — state law in New York prohibits businesses with an occupancy of more than 20 people from giving out drinks or allowing people to bring their own booze without a liquor license. Painting Lounge, a popular Williamsburg spot for aspiring painters who want to numb their crushing sense of inevitable artistic failure by drinking as they paint portraits, didn’t have such a license. According to the Daily News, however, a lot of shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn forgo the appropriate paperwork and encourage their patrons to bring their own booze when they come in to paint, say, or get a pedicure. Painting Lounge was just the hapless victim of an unevenly enforced law, at least according to owner Kevin Tarasuk, who claimed his business was operating in “a little bit of a gray area.”
Not so, said State Liquor Authority spokesman William Crowley, who added that there is no “gray area” in state law. On the bright side, think about how many mediocre artists this shutdown will discourage from pursuing the dreams of artistic greatness they’ve been nursing ever since a series of art history survey classes in college.
Update: Speaking on behalf of Painting Lounge owner Kevin Tarasuk, Jason Feifer, a senior editor at Fast Company, has disputed the Daily News' story, and writes that Tarasuk is still offering classes at the Painting Lounge while he sorts through the business's BYOB issues. Although students can't bring booze to class at the moment, they can still paint with all the colors of the wind.
In an email, Feifer further explains:
The Daily News knows this. The reporter who created this story—she called the cops on Kevin, waited for the officers to arrive, and then wrote her story—knew it before she published. But the paper isn't interested in accuracy, so they ran the story saying he's shut down. The incorrect information has since been repeated on a few sites, including Jezebel. Please consider that this is Kevin's livelihood; this is his business. It's really harmful to have sites broadcasting that he's out of business, when he is, in fact, busily still teaching painting classes to students while trying to rectify this BYOB situation.
Also, the NYPD apparently didn't call Painting Lounge an "illegal speakeasy" — that little flourish was, Feifer contends, invented by the Daily News. In other words, the Daily News is apparently trolling hipsters really, really hard, way harder than any ordinary news outlet.
Image via Getty, Matias Nieto