Bay Ridge

Storefront Art Walk wows Bay Ridge shoppers

May 19, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Margaux Walter said the goal of her work, which is on display in the front window of Enchanted Florist at7515 Fifth Ave., is to encourage the viewer to notice the beauty of flowers. Eagle photos by Paula Katinas

The new Whitney Museum is grand, but you don’t have to go to there to see thought-provoking works of art. All you have to do is shop on Bay Ridge’s Fifth Avenue.

The commercial strip has been turned into an art gallery for a special exhibition in which artists collaborate with merchants to create paintings, photographs, and sculpture that is placed in shop windows as part of a project called the Storefront Art Walk (SAW).

The Sixth Annual SAW opened on Saturday with a ceremony in front of the offices of Community Board 10 at 8119 Fifth Ave. Fifteen merchants are participating in the project this year. The exhibition will run from now until June 28.

Following the opening ceremony, the artists were stationed outside the participating stores to talk to curious shoppers about their work.

The idea behind the unusual art show is to have the artists create works that have an aesthetic connection to the store in which they are displayed, according to SAW Founders John Avelluto and Heather Hamilton.

“We wanted the artists to get to know the merchants. We really wanted them to create something original and something that reflects what’s being sold in the store. We believe art and commerce are inter-dependent,” Hamilton, the owner of Long’s Wines at 7917 Fifth Ave., a SAW participant, told the Brooklyn Eagle.

There is also another goal: to showcase the talented artists and “rich culture in South Brooklyn,” Avelluto said.

By and large, the artists, who were selected by a jury to take part in SAW, followed the vision of the founders.

Jeannine Bardo, a painter who worked in the window at Long’s Wines, even made use of the wine Hamilton sells. “I painted the land masses using wine as my paint,” she told the Eagle.

Over at Enchanted Florist, at 7515 Fifth Avenue, Margaux Walter talked about the large photograph she took that now graces the front window. At the center of the carefully composed image is a bouquet of flowers. The bouquet sits at the center of a table with four distracted women drinking tea and eating cookies.  “I want the viewer to see the beauty of the flowers and not get caught up in the commercialization of them,” she told the Eagle.

Ray Lin, who worked on his project at Verrazano Bicycle Shop at 7308 Fifth Ave., used bicycle parts to create an imaginary archaeological find. His work, called “Peugeot Fossil,” looked like something that might have been uncovered on an archaeological dig, with one major difference: the remains of the ancient dinosaur were bicycle parts that Lin arranged to resemble bones.

The shoppers who patronize the stores are part of the SAW process, too, said Avelluto, owner of The Owl’s Head, a pub at 479 74th St. “The viewers complete the project,” he said.

Here’s a list of the participating SAW stores and the artists who were commissioned to work there: Arab American Association of New York, Katherine Toukhy; Verrazano Bicycle Shop, Ray Lin; The Owl’s Head, 479 74th St., Christina Massey; Bubbles & Suds Laundromat, 7418 Fifth Ave., Marisa Tesauro; Enchanted Florist, 7515 Fifth Ave., Margaux Walter; Sichenze & Sichenze Law Office, 7703 Fifth Ave., Julia Whitney Barnes; Fritsch Custom Upholstery, 7915 Fifth Ave., Sebastian Carrasco; Long’s Wines, 7917 Fifth Ave., Jeannine Bardo; Alex Hair Salon, 7923 Fifth Ave., Amanda Hunt; Hair Culture, 7910 Fifth Ave., Deanna Lee; Le Petit Salon, 7920 Fifth Ave., Isabelle Garbani; Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office, 8018 Fifth Ave., Salim Hasbini; Lincoln Brokerage Corp., 8114 Fifth Ave., Yeol Jung; Dante Zeller Tuxedo, 8201 Fifth Ave., Liz Atzberger; and The Optical Center, 8310 Fifth Ave., Kristine Robinson.

SAW is sponsored by the Bay Ridge Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, The Red Hook Winery, Six Point Brewery and Bubbles & Suds Laundromat.

For more information on the exhibition, visit www.bayridgesaw.org