For the sixth consecutive year, Bay Ridge will play host to the Storefront Art Walk (SAW), a month-long display of creativity brightening storefronts along Fifth Avenue to promote the arts in the area as well as local businesses.
“I launched the event in 2010 with Heather Hamilton, the owner of Long Wine and Liquors,” said SAW Co-Founder John Avelluto, a Brooklyn College alum and artist. “We both noticed there weren’t any artistic outlets or representation for visual artists in the Bay Ridge area. SAW came out of the feeling that we wanted public to be involved with art.”
The event’s mission statement is to provide the public with free art. Artists audition to be part of the display. The top 15 artists are independently voted on and selected by a panel of five judges. “More and more artists apply every year. We are very happy that they are interested in participating,” Avelluto said.
Attendees can expect a diverse collection of work. “There will be varied sources of media that artists will be engaging in,” he said. “There will be performance artists for limited time and performance pieces.” There will also be videos.
In addition, art will be matched with the theme of the store. “We want the artists to engage in each storefront aesthetically, conceptually or both, and work with the specific space,” he said, giving examples such as photographs of people in the community on display at Councilmember Vincent Gentile’s office and a map of the world of wine for Long Wines. “It’s a nice visual.”
Since the first SAW in 2010, the event has grown in popularity, making it easier for the co-founders to promote.
“As time has gone by, we’ve had to do less, especially in spreading the word what we are now that we have a background behind us. It’s been easier to find businesses to partner with over years,” Avelluto said. “I think that as our public relations have grown, we’ve reached a wider audience. Parents now ask for a map of where the art will be. We’ve had really great response with people on the street.”
As an artist, Avelluto is proud that the event has reached its current status. “The most important thing is that we get a space for artists to be seen,” he contended. “It’s great to see local artists come out and show their work. Most of the attention goes to north Brooklyn. It’s great to see the community form together.”
SAW kicks off on Saturday, May 16 at 11 a.m. near the Community Board 10 office, 8119 Fifth Avenue. Artists will be stationed in front of storefronts along the avenue from 68th Street to 84th Street until 1:30 p.m. An after-party and fundraiser will take place at Owl’s Head Wine Bar, 479 74th Street throughout the afternoon. All of the proceeds will go to SAW.
The exhibition will run through June 28. For more information and a list of participating artists and their installation sites, visit www.bayridgesaw.org.