This past Friday evening, I had the pleasure of attending one of the Rubin Museum of Art's K2 events. Chelsea's Rubin Museum (RMA) is dedicated to the collection, display, and preservation of the art of the Himalayas, and every Friday evening their café transforms into the K2 lounge, offering cocktails, a Pan-Asian tapas menu, and a live DJ to accompany thematic gallery tours and programs.
The Rubin's Young Patron group, Visionary Circle, is launching this September, and I attended the Visionary Circle Summer Happy Hour at K2—a "pre-launch" gathering of Visionary Circle members and those curious about learning more. The Lounge was packed with its Young Patrons, along with friends and supporters of the Rubin, and those simply looking for a fun kickoff to their Friday night.
As soon as I arrived at RMA, I entered an enticing, dimly lit space that exuded elegance, class, and a hint of mysticism; I was both surprised and impressed by the RMA's transformation into a nighttime lounge. Located in the heart of Chelsea, K2 is a great place to venture, especially if your late-night plans have you headed toward the West Village, the Lower East Side, or even Williamsburg.
"K2 is in Chelsea, and we're open late. This is a definitely a unique gem in a prime spot," explains Lauren Gedacht, Coordinator of Visionary Circle.
I continued to talk "mission" with Lauren, who described what Visionary Circle is set out to achieve. "The mission for the group is to relate the art of the Himalayans to today; we're trying to make it modern by relating it to this younger generation. Every museum has a young patrons group, and because of our location and Himalayan devotion, I think we have something unique."
After mingling with some of RMA’s young employees and enjoying one (or two) of the bar's pineapple-sake martinis, I had a chance to talk to some attendees of the event, asking them why they came to the Happy Hour:
"I really like the atmosphere and social interactions I can get from a younger group of patrons that are philosophical and political at the same time," explained Mike M. "I want to be near like-minded people that are into culture and its importance, and I think I can get that out of what they've developed here. Still, this doesn't feel like school; I'm out on a Friday night, enjoying a few drinks, and am also culturally stimulated."
Chris G. had a similar opinion: "It's really rare to find a crossroads of Himalayan, Buddhist interest, and ...to put it bluntly, people drinking."
And yet, it went beyond Buddhism and booze for Chris:
"I recently traveled to North East India, where I allotted a large amount of time to simply sitting in temples, contemplating the expanse in our minds and the expanse beyond our bodies. I realized that there is something to Buddhism that you can't find in other religions. There's a philosophy that makes sense based on the logic."
I asked Chris if he considers himself a Buddhist.
"No, I'm not a Buddhist, but I think they have some of the right ideas."
Chris's travel partner, young philanthropist, and Visionary Circle member Walter Arader was also at the event, and I had a few moments to talk with him as well. Walter's enthusiasm for the RMA and Himalayan culture was contagious:
"I can't help myself. I love it, I dream about it. I was in that temple too, and being here tonight, supporting the Rubin, makes me feel like I'm back there in a way."
The Visionary Circle's launch is set for Friday, September 30th. It will feature a discussion with Contemporary Artist Kanishka Raja about the current exhibition Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, followed by drinks in the Café with the artist.
For additional information, please contact:
Coordinator Visionary Circle
Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212.620.5000 x 239
The Visionary Circle is a group of culturally active young advocates who are interested in and support the exclusive programs and social events within the Rubin Museum. Visionary Circle is designed to further engage its members with the Rubin and all it encompasses and represents. Members enjoy an array of exclusive experiences held at the museum, from unlimited free admission, to artist studio visits, private networking events, exquisite parities, and drinks and discussions with leading artists and philosophers.