The Post-Modern Bohemian

What does it mean to be a post-modern Bohemian? Essentially, a Po-Mo Boho is just a Bohemian with some pocket money, and New York—along with the West Coast—could be said to have invented the sociopolitical type. Whatever it is you are or aren't—we've... more

What does it mean to be a post-modern Bohemian? Essentially, a Po-Mo Boho is just a Bohemian with some pocket money, and New York—along with the West Coast—could be said to have invented the sociopolitical type. Whatever it is you are or aren't—we've got the guide for you. First, you're going to need to know where all of the hot Chelsea galleries are (hint: they're in Chelsea). The Paula Cooper Gallery wouldn't look out of place as a way-station in the unsettled West, but the art on the inside couldn't be more modern. The gallery offers concerts, book and poetry readings, charitable events, and even a specialty bookstore, 192 Books around the corner on 10th Avenue. Around the corner from that (Bohemians enjoy walking in circles) is the fascinating and quirky Printed Matter, which deals in art books of every sort. Barbara Gladstone, aside from running the gallery and being an art dealer, is also a producer of some of Matthew Barney's films, including his collaborative effort with girlfriend Bjork, the most bohemian Icelander alive. The Gagosian, by the way, takes its name from owner Larry Gagosian, who got his start in the art world by selling posters—arguably the most bohemian ... more

What does it mean to be a post-modern Bohemian? Essentially, a Po-Mo Boho is just a Bohemian with some pocket money, and New York—along with the West Coast—could be said to have invented the sociopolitical type. Whatever it is you are or aren't—we've got the guide for you.

First, you're going to need to know where all of the hot Chelsea galleries are (hint: they're in Chelsea). The Paula Cooper Gallery wouldn't look out of place as a way-station in the unsettled West, but the art on the inside couldn't be more modern. The gallery offers concerts, book and poetry readings, charitable events, and even a specialty bookstore, 192 Books around the corner on 10th Avenue. Around the corner from that (Bohemians enjoy walking in circles) is the fascinating and quirky Printed Matter, which deals in art books of every sort. Barbara Gladstone, aside from running the gallery and being an art dealer, is also a producer of some of Matthew Barney's films, including his collaborative effort with girlfriend Bjork, the most bohemian Icelander alive. The Gagosian, by the way, takes its name from owner Larry Gagosian, who got his start in the art world by selling posters—arguably the most bohemian thing we can think of other than the Chelsea Waterside Park a few blocks west of the gallery. These galleries are all great places to start, but wherever you go, you should end up at the Chelsea Art Gallery, which is famous for its bohemian and modernistic overtones, extensive collection, and strong focus on multimedia and artistic diversity. And while you're in the area, update your wardrobe from tired to trendy at the international boutique Comme des Garçons. There's a lot going on in the Chelsea art scene, so now would be a great time to subscribe to our Arts RSS feed.

Since appreciating art burns calories like nothing else, you'll want to restore your energy with one of the Chelsea-bordering-Meatpacking District's great restaurants. Places not to pass by include Pastis, a French bistro that brings the regional flavors of Provence to New York, the Asian fusion of Buddakan New York and Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's eponymous restaurant in the Chelsea Market, and the Craftsteak Steakhouse. If you want something with a more communal feel, there's Greenwich Village's aptly-named Bobo which also serves bistro-style food with a delicious selection of desserts and cheeses, all set amidst the atmosphere of a European dinner party. If you want something more low-key in an area that's anything but, head to the Nolita neighborhood—specifically, Mott and Elizabeth Streets—where you'll find a variety of great, laid-back, reasonably-priced cafes and restaurant. There's the swank Café Habana for Cuban food and the French-Moroccan cuisine of the more sedate Café Gitane. Or if you'd rather not stop too long when racing through SoHo for some shopping, have a pie at neighborhood favorite Lombardi's Pizza or tank up on espresso at Gimme! Coffee for refueling needs without breaking your stride.

Now that you've been demoralized by seeing hordes of people dressed far more trendily than you, it's time to go shopping. SoHo is the place for trendy boutiques and vintage gear, still edging out the East Village and the burgeoning bourgeoisie-bohemian Mecca of Williamsburg. Check out the "rocker-chic" designs at Barbara Bui or the celebrity-endorsed feel of Shvitz Comfortwear or go for the simplistic Japanese boutique MUJI, which deals in apparel, housewares, and more. For information on boutiques and stores nearby serving up retro styles, visit our guide to Vintage Style Maven.

If it's not nighttime by then, well, you're probably waking up too early for a bohemian. When the sun goes down on New York City, places like Max Fish light up with the creative underclassmen of the city. In fact, the Lower East Side is littered with sketchy bars, dives, and questionable cafes—the exact places that made and were made famous by bohemian arts and members of the Beat Generation. A straight line from the West Village—keeping in mind our guide to bars & music—to the East Village and maybe over the Williamsburg Bridge to the neighborhood of the same name will send you by more bars, bistros, and boho bastions than can be visited in one night.


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