Alcohol and art have always been a great mix — and nobody knows it better than the guys at the Wicked Monk.
Painter Igor Korotash updated the Bay Ridge standby’s signature ceiling mural last month — 20 years and two avenues after he first began.
The idea for the overhead artwork came way back in 1993, when bar founder Michael Dorgan first imported its trademark woodwork, stained glass, pulpit, pews, and gargoyles from a monastery in County Cork, Ireland. Dorgan decided his new pub on Fifth Avenue between 84th and 85th streets was missing something — like a 36-foot-long original painting. The taproom owner drafted the Ukrainian-born, Soviet-educated Korotash, who was then lending his impressionist stylings to the East Village bar Burp Castle.
Korotash immortalized Dorgan and more than three dozen of his friends and employees — along with several frolicking monks — in his watercolor scene. The image was one of the bar’s defining features for the next two decades.
But in 2012, Dorgan — and his new partners James Whiffin, Brendan McSharry, and Anthony Rivera — determined it was time for a change. In November, the Monk made a pilgrimage out of its original, snug space to a much larger space, the former Ballybunions spot on Third Avenue between 95th and 96th streets. They brought with them all the old gothic details, plus more TVs and an expanded menu, but something was missing — the mural. Dorgan made a cutout in the ceiling to fit the piece, but he wanted to restore the painting and add in his new business associates. The only problem was that he had lost touch with Korotash.
Dorgan had friends and family try to track down the painter with no luck. Finally, though, Mike Maher — one of the Monk’s first bartenders and a face in the mural — found Korotash online and discovered the artist would soon be visiting New York. Korotash agreed to touch up the piece and incorporate the new partners. The piece slid into its new place.
“A lot of Monk customers say they really feel at home now,” said manager Bill DeLuca.Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderma