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Storefront displays

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How much is that artwork in the window?

It’s not really for sale, but both the artist and the store’s merchant will be glad it stopped you in your tracks.

For instance, the artists, Rita Leduc and Patricia Brace performed in front of Gothic Cabinet Craft and incorporated the business owner.

“Steve, the manager of Gothic Cabinet Craft and his friend, Taki danced, sang, and played instruments to traditional Greek music inside the store while we cut out their silhouettes on the sidewalk outside,” said Leduc and Brace. “This piece surpassed our expectations by not only responding to the space but also to the people who work in the space, marking it as a seminal part of the series.”

One of the initiatives of the 4th Annual Storefront Art Walk (SAW), a project by the 5th Avenue Business Improvement District, is to have site-specific art installed in the storefronts of myriad businesses along 5th Avenue, Bay Ridge. The project was chiefly organized by local art aficionados, John Avelutto, Heather Hamilton and David Gitt.

Not only does SAW brighten the neighborhood with striking works of art, but it also benefits Brooklyn-based artists and local businesses. Artists gain the opportunity to showcase their craft by sprucing up or drawing attention to merchants’ storefronts. The social art project is also commendable for boosting cooperation within the community.

Each artist tried to incorporate his or her partnering business in the art. “Beautifully Unnatural,” a luxurious floral print by David Brown, pieces together photographs of flowers sold by Orchid Florist. Meanwhile, Melissa Beck’s impressive tower of towels spans from floor to ceiling in the window of Hair Culture. In Dave Eppley’s installation for Long’s Wines, rainbows cascade out of large bottles painted on the windows and spill onto the sidewalk. The vibrant artwork adds a cheery and welcoming touch to the storefront.

“It’s a unique project in that artists were the ones who approached the merchants,” said organizer, Avelutto. “It’s very much a social experiment. There is a lot of juggling and variable issues to be had between the wants of the store and the artists, so they compromise.”

Leduc and Brace were attracted to the their storefront collaborators for the same reason most people stop by — the furniture.

“We initially chose Gothic Cabinet Craft because of the modernist forms the furniture created in the storefront window. As hard-edged, clunky objects, they were full of potential for a plethora of interventions that include both performance and installati­on,” said Leduc and Brace.

Although colorful Bay Ridge is hardly lacking of culture, the neighborhood has a deficit of art galleries and contemporary art sites.

“There’s not much studio space in the neighborhood. The architecture doesn’t blend itself to that, so there are more residential spaces. We wanted to find ways to bring contemporary art to the neighborhood without necessarily having open studios,” explained Avelutto.

Those keen on doing the art walk may download a map of the participating shops and artists on the SAW website.

“5th Avenue Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk” is between Bay Ridge Ave and 81st Street along Fifth Avenue, Through June 21st.

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