Empty storefronts in NYC transformed into galleries to support artists

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- New Yorkers are coming together to help support artists who have been hit hard financially during the pandemic.

Nearly 10 blocks of Columbus Avenue have transformed empty storefronts - forced to shut down because of the pandemic - into art galleries where the artists can showcase their talents.

"We're really trying to support our small businesses by creating energy and vibrancy in the neighborhood," said Nicole Paynter with Columbus Avenue BID.

Barbara Anderson had the idea to fill the shuttered stores with art.

"Walking up and down the street , it was getting a little bit sad, so many people had left town and more and more stores were closing," Anderson said.

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So in June, she created Art on the Ave NYC. And in just 30 days, roughly 200 local artists submitted work.

They settled on 27 to feature.

"For emerging photographers and artists, this is fantastic," said artist Kevin Kinner.

Until now, Kinner's photographs have only been in one gallery and at occasional pop-up events.

The overall theme of the show is The Art of Healing.

Deb Fong's work captures images from recent protests around the city.

"There is a universality in art that allows us to be part of that conversation and I'm happy to be one small piece of that conversation," Fong said.

And there's an interactive component too. You can scan a code with your phone and it takes you right to the website where you can learn more about the artist and purchase a piece.

"It's just uplifting and elevates everything," Anderson said.

Now, even stores that are still open want in. The show runs through the end of January.

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