photos by Lily Clark.
From the quiet, industrial streets of Long Island City, NY, stepping into The Oracle Club is something like falling into the rabbit hole. Between the nineteenth-century velvet horned furniture in its salon and the hand-painted harlequin floors of its library, there was something about the gathering space that transported us from reality as founders Jenna Gribbon and Julian Tepper guided us through the part library, part salon, part art studio space. Its carefully-curated aesthetic, reminiscent of old world literary salons, seems to have something to appeal to every kind of creative: hand-crafted bookshelves stocked with shelves of hardcover classics, beautifully-painted large-scale portraits hanging on the walls, and perhaps most importantly, a quiet, inspiring place to work.
Julian wears Classic Specs Sutton glasses in Brandy Tortoise.
Painter-novelist couple Jenna and Julian founded The Oracle Club in late 2011 after a vacancy happened to open up below their apartment in Queens. An idea, a conversation, and just two weeks later, the couple began putting together the beginnings of their artist-writer sanctuary. “It’s a place where people who are interested in a lot of things we are can come and work, and think, and perform, and interact and get to know one another,” says Julian.
Not only do members of The Oracle Club get to take advantage of the space’s private desks and well-stocked library, but they also get to be a part of the like-minded community of artists and writers that Jenna and Julian have grown over time. Readings, events, performances — some of which have been initiated by The Oracle Club’s members as the community begins to take on a life of its own — are all part of the experience.
Jenna and Julian take on a hands-off approach when it comes to managing the space, letting its community of creatives evolve on its own over time. They’re as much an integral part of The Oracle Club’s community as any of their creative members — Julian uses the space to write in the mornings (his most recent novel, Balls, tells the story of a man grappling with his masculinity after being diagnosed with testicular cancer), and Jenna paints in the downstairs art studios.
Jenna wears Classic Specs Prescott glasses in Whiskey Crystal.
“We knew we wanted something classical; a classical reference,” says Jenna of The Oracle Club’s name. “We liked the idea of the Oracle being here; this place being an oracle in the way that the people who are working here now are predictors of the future. They’ll be writing the books you’ll be reading, the paintings you’ll be seeing next year.”
“You come here to see the future.”