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Art on the Ave NYC: Transforming vacant storefronts into community galleries 

According to founder and executive director Barbara Anderson, the goal is to offer passersby a break from the mundane and transform the high-visibility locations into interactive art exhibitions.

Edric Robinson

Dec 18, 2023, 11:56 PM

Updated 210 days ago

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In neighborhoods across the city, vacant storefronts stood as silent witnesses to the challenges posed by the pandemic. However, amid these empty windows, a vibrant initiative has emerged - breathing life into forgotten corners and providing a platform for local artists.
"Being part of something so big in a community that needs artwork is truly inspiring," said Emily Moreno, whose work is featured in the Inwood galleries.
For Moreno, it's a full-circle moment as her artwork graces the very neighborhood where she grew up and attended school.
"This neighborhood doesn't feature a lot of art education or galleries, and I think to be a part of the rise in galleries in these communities has been inspiring,” said Moreno.
Art on the Ave NYC, the driving force behind these street-facing galleries, transforms vacant storefronts into temporary showcases of creativity. According to founder and executive director Barbara Anderson, the goal is to offer passersby a break from the mundane and transform the high-visibility locations into interactive art exhibitions.
"Instead of the usual 'for rent' signs or papered-up windows, people passing by get to enjoy something different," explained Anderson.
City Council data from 2021 highlighted higher vacancy rates in lower and midtown Manhattan. This coincided with the inception of Art on the Ave NYC, starting with its first location on the Upper West Side. The initiative has since expanded to feature exhibits at prominent locations such as the Oculus and in Washington Heights. The latest endeavor in Inwood boasts eight storefront exhibits funded by the Inwood Merchant Association.
"Not everyone has the time, or not everyone has the habit of going to an art gallery or museum, so we're bringing that culture right down to the street," said Anderson.
The impact extends beyond visual appreciation. Featured artists like Gustavo Fernandez find opportunities to make money from pieces featured in these galleries. Art on the Ave NYC say they exclusively feature local artists largely residing in the communities they showcase, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the artists.
"Artists have the passion and talent, but we need the opportunities, and Art on the Ave gives us the opportunities to show our art," said Fernandez whose featured piece titled "Looking for Love" is featured in the gallery.
Due to the success of these Manhattan galleries, Art on the Ave NYC is set to expand its footprint to the outer boroughs, ensuring that this transformative initiative continues to enrich communities across New York City.


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