The arts are returning to Bay Ridge!
Starting Saturday, May 13 for the eighth year, the Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk (SAW) will bring a range of visual art to the neighborhood’s Fifth Avenue shopping strip.
“SAW is an organization that was built to connect artists in the Bay Ridge community with the community itself and local businesses,” said SAW Co-Founder John Avelluto. “Artists that put in an application are put in front of an independent jury comprised of 10 participating SAW artists and art professionals, such as curators and writers.”
Fifteen artists are selected from the applicant pool. This year, for the first time, they were given an increased stipend of $500 each to do site-specific installations in storefronts along the Fifth Avenue corridor between 69th and 84th Streets.
“The artists will unveil their installations which they worked with store owners and shops to create,” Avelluto explained. “These works are aesthetically or conceptually connected to the storefront so these aren’t like predetermined works like a gallery would have on the wall. They work with the store in order to get an idea visually of what they’re doing. These really emanate from the community of Bay Ridge and the storefronts in which they are placed rather than having artists just show up and hang whatever they want in the window.”
They are also including younger artists in the mix. “This year we’re happy to jump into our young artist program,” said Avelluto. “We engaged with Fontbonne Hall Academy and we worked with their art majors and accepted applications from their students focused on the arts. We selected one artist to participate. We feel this could help students looking to be involved in the arts and having something for their portfolio going into college.”
Lauren Silverman is the Fontbonne student selected, with her work being displayed at Galaxy Comics, 6823 Fifth Avenue.
Avelluto is proud of the growth of SAW since its inception in 2010. “We weren’t a 501 c3 eight years ago when we did our first event,” he said. “We’ve definitely raised awareness and people do recognize SAW as an organization. We receive more applications every year so we’re really happy about that and, with more funding coming in, hopefully we will be able to reach the community. I’m positive, with the results we are getting year after year with funding, that this will continue to grow.”
The goal of SAW remains to raise awareness of the arts in southern Brooklyn. “The statistic I give to everyone, based on studies, is that, on average, $3.81 in arts funding is spent per Brooklynite,” he said. “But our community district (Community Board 10) only receives 31 cents per person.We are really trying to make sure that the community gets to be involved with the arts, not only with the artists that are here, but also to feel involvement and connection.”
According to Avelluto, SAW is the only organization in CB 10 and southern Brooklyn sponsoring artists to create new works. “We are the only ones that commission artists to do new artwork. I grew up here and I’m happy we are able to fill that void. I hope more people will follow suit.”
Besides the Fifth Avenue BID, SAW’s efforts are funded by the Brooklyn Arts Council and Destination Brooklyn, the latter distributed through the office of Borough President Eric Adams.
For a list of participating stores and their locations, visit www.bayridgesaw.org.