When everybody dropped by the Cedar Tavern

“You had painters coming in there, and poets,” wrote artist Larry Rivers in a November 5, 1979 New York piece about the Cedar Tavern.

The legendary beat-abstract expressionist hangout hit its stride in the 1950s and early 1960s, when it was located at 24 University Place.

Writers like Jack Kerouac (supposedly banned from the premises for peeing in a sink), Frank O’Hara, and Gregory Corso were some of the regulars.

But it was really more of an artist’s establishment, as Rivers explained:

“When you went to the bar, de Kooning was there and Franz Kline and Milton Resnick, and every writer who wrote about art . . . everybody would come down. That was the place to go—it was a scene.

“Women came in; parties emanated from there. It had a certain kind of exuberance, and every day and every night you could just drop in before you went home.

“It was your neighborhood bar, but the neighborhood was really the art community, the downtown art community.”

Photos by Fred McDarrah, chronicler of the Village in the 1950s and 1960s.

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13 Responses to “When everybody dropped by the Cedar Tavern”

  1. Nabe News: October 13 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] the Cedar Tavern, the 1950s and 1960s beat hangout which once resided at 24 University Place [Ephemeral NY] Tweet Street: n/a Tags: Nabe News You […]

  2. Richard Mook Says:

    Can anyone tell me about an abstract painter Alexander Marcinkiewicz that hung out at the Tavern in the 1950’s and 1960’s? Any info is appreciated.

    • neil murdock Says:

      Alex lived with our family in early 60’s for a year. Contact me if you need specific information, leave Alex’s name in subject of email

      • Richard Says:

        Thanks for you reply Neil, I found a painting of his titled Coney Island a few years back. It now has a new owner but would still like to learn all I can. He had a tremendous style. Any light you could share on his career would be appreciated. Best

      • Lara - Alex Marcinkiewicz Says:

        Dear Neil,

        I would really appreciate any information about Alex Marcinkiewicz. I’ve got two of his paintings at home, wonderful paintings, but I do not know anything about this artist.

        Thank you very much

    • Lara - Alex Marcinkiewicz Says:

      Hi Richard,

      As written in the comment below I’ve got two wonderful paintings of this unknown artist Alex Marcinkiewicz. Can you tell me anything about him? I would really appreciate it.

      Thank you very much,

      • Bob Kachnowski Says:

        Lara, If this is the same Alex, as far as I know, Alex returned to Rome around the end of 62. We had traveled together to San Francisco early that year and ran out of money to the point that we were boosting victuals from the grocery store to keep from starving. I went to the Franciscans and castigated them for their affluence and asked them for a little of it. They were kind. I split the money with Alex, and I crawled back to friends in Detroit for a few of months of work and then returned to the Lower East Side. He went to stay at the Catholic Worker in Oakland for a bit and then got the dough to return to Italy. I have a painting of his, too. I believe that MOMA had acquired some of his work prior to 1961. After 62, we corresponded a couple of times, but in the blitz of those years we lost touch.

  3. Richard Says:

    Hello Laura, I’m sorry I have not found any more information.

  4. Reading a 1960s Village writer’s “Lunch Poems” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] both were meeting and drinking at bars like the San Remo and the Cedar Tavern, next door to O’Hara’s apartment at 90 University Place (left), which he shared with […]

  5. Randi Anderson Says:

    Does anyone have any knowledge of a painter named Ben Isquith? He was part of the Tanager Gallery and frequented the Cedar Tavern. He was my uncle and I have many of his paintings. I have done research on him , but I thought I would post here. Thank you so much. Randi

    • Lance Moody Says:

      Hi Randi, do you think your Uncle might have also been involved with early computers? There was a Ben Isquith in New York in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s who was. He was a regular guest on the famous Long John Nebel radio show. You can find some of those shows…he had a good sense of humor.

      • Randi Isquith Anderson Says:

        Yes Lance!! That is him. He was such a talented man with a genius IQ. I have been researching him, and am focusing in on his art work. Over the years I have been able to gather more information but am still always searching. Thank you!!

  6. tim Says:

    Thanks for the photo credit. Did you know a place in Austin recently bought the actual bar and is about to open a new joint around it?

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