Rainy weather didn’t stop a bunch of local artists from taking to the streets on Saturday, May 13 for the kickoff of the eighth annual Bay Ridge Storefront Art Walk (SAW).
For the eighth year in a row, the walk — which spans Fifth Avenue from 84th to 69th Street — brings a range of visual art to one of the neighborhood’s busiest shopping strips, via installations in the windows or inside of 15 local businesses.
“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.”
Annually, 15 artists are selected from the applicant pool. For the first time this year, participating creators were given an increased stipend of $500, courtesy of SAW, to do site-specific installations along the corridor (for example, Greenpoint artist Bethany Robertson’s piece in the window of the Owl’s Head, 479 74th Street, is a white-lined jungle scene encompassing, you guessed it, owls).
“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,” Avelluto explained. “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.”
Special to this year’s SAW — slated to run through Sunday, June 11 — is the artwork of local high-schooler Lauren Silverman. The Fontbonne Hall Academy senior — who just last month committed to the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY for after graduation — created an installation for Galaxy Comics (6823 Fifth Avenue) that focuses on “the nature of human communication.”
“I’m making a display with paper mache balls that are composed of submitted texts,” Silverman told this paper prior to SAW’s launch. “They contain dialogue people have either sent or received in conversation, over text, and so on.”
Those typed-out texts — submitted by fellow classmates at Fontbonne — now hang in the window of the comic book shop.
Silverman is the first student artist to participate in SAW.
Other artists include: Eirini Linardaki (on display at Bay Ridge Animal Hospital); Maureen Drennan (on display at the Arab American Association of New York); Lara Atallah (on display at Antepli Baklava); Eri Honda (on display at the Verrazano Bicycle Shop); Henrietta Audu (on display at Bubbles & Suds Laundromat); Quimetta Perle (on display at Sinzl Wireless); Erin Dodge (on display at Quench Wine & Spirits); Linda Serrone Rolan (on display at Kruchkow’s Shoe Shop); Kazue Tacuchi (on display at Hair Culture); Ivava Olenick (on display at Fritsch Custom Upholstering); Maura Falfan & Berdscarnival (on display at Long’s Wines & Liquors); Jennifer Grimyser (on display at Lincoln Brokerage Corp.); and Matice McMillan (on display at the UPS Store).
The main goal of SAW — which, since its inception in 2010, has gone on to become an official 501C3 — is 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,” said Avelluto. “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.”
In terms of Saturday’s attendance, Avelluto said, “We weren’t expecting a category 55 storm that day, but it didn’t really stop anybody from coming out.”
To boot, the organizer said, SAW reached its fundraising goal of $1,000 at the kick-off’s after-party.
“Attendance, despite the rain, was really, really great,” he said.
For more information or a map of the route, visit www.bayridgesaw.org.
Additional reporting by Jaime DeJesus