Arts initiative brings color-filled galleries to empty NYC storefronts

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A creative project has opened in Manhattan, where closed stores now stand, with the hope of getting New Yorkers to engage with the art world once again.

It can take a toll -- all the empty spaces and the vacant, papered over scars left behind by a year of a deadly pandemic. So many businesses couldn't survive its paralyzing grip.

Some see darkness here, but schoolteacher Barbara Anderson saw hope.

"We wanted to liven up and energize the community and bring art down to the street where they could enjoy it," Anderson said.

So, she created Art on the Avenue NYC, where drab, empty Greenwich Village storefronts are transformed into sun-splashed galleries filled with color and art.

The initiative was started in June 2020, and first started with nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side.
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Kemberly Richardson reports nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue have transformed empty storefronts into art galleries where artists can showcase their talents.

"I think this is a wonderful way for us to utilize one of those negative or less sightly parts of the city and sort of embody them with this new appreciation of art and just revitalize these windows with some color and some new imagery," Eley said.

The space is provided for free by landlords, many of whom are local residents, like Pauline Oudin, who care about the neighborhood looking its best.

"We are both owners and residents and being able to participate in something that gives life to the neighborhood at least gives you the feeling of what it can be again," Oudin said.

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"What you are experiencing is how art transforms a community," Norma Krieger said. "People come together and their mission is to amplify and give voice to the voiceless and to give opportunities to underrepresented and emerging artists."

In the village, there are 14 businesses hosting the art. You can get a list of them and a map to see them all, by scanning the QR code on the window, and even hear from the artists featured.

"I hope it brings a little energy into the neighborhood and that energy that's created from something different," Anderson said.

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