At 10 o'clock on a Thursday night, the patrons at Bukowski's Tavern look like they've been sifted from a dumpster outside a Limp Bizkit concert. They're bearded and boozy, and many of them have that Newbury Comics chic that comes from the strained concept of safety pin as accessory. Thirty-year-old Russell Moore cuts a conservative, polo-shirted figure here. He's a visual artist and he follows the local music scene, but he's also a Web-site designer. His only nod to the odd is a Luke Skywalker haircut, but even that wouldn't be out of place on a Mormon.
"I like places where there aren't too many college kids," he says. "Buke's, Brendan Behan's in Jamaica Plain. I love the Cantab. Sometimes my fiancée and I go to the newer clubs downtown, but I'm more comfortable in a place like this."
Comfortable as it is, it's as noisy as a Kandinsky painting, and after a beer Moore crosses Boylston and heads down Hereford to a little gallery called New Art on Newbury.
"I go to a lot of parties at art galleries," he says. "You know, works on the wall, cheese and crackers. Boston is small, so you always run into the same people. Like in the band scene, where everyone plays together, a lot of the way the art world works is somebody knows somebody. The parties get to like a bizarre networking thing."
The door of the gallery is open, even though it's late. Inside, there's a small circle of men who are doggedly killing a bottle of California chardonnay. This is opening night, and it's been raining.
The gallery sports Gloucester watercolors, photographs of flags, oils of Paris cafes, and rearing horses. Some of them are striking. Others would disgrace a Holiday Inn. The only unifying theme is their appeal to owner Tom McCarthy, an advertising executive reborn as an artist after the post-September 11 downturn. "The works are from people just starting out, so they're affordable," he says. He's not kidding. There's a children's corner at the back where you can get a deal in crayon for $10.
"I like this place because it's community oriented," says Moore, sipping a glass of sparkling water. Though several crackers occupy a plastic plate, the cheese is but a memory, and while the mood may not be somber, it's resigned. "I had 150 people come in tonight, and they didn't buy a goddamn thing," McCarthy says, laughing stoically. "It's called retail."
Boston Magazine - November 2002.