After COVID-19 put strict limits on travel and scared locals into staying mostly inside, The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce decided to start an initiative to remind people of what the area has to offer and “encourage community engagement,” as it said in a press release. So they came up with Live The Village.
Maria Diaz, director of the GVCCC, said that because more people are getting vaccinated and starting to feel comfortable going outside again, the chamber of commerce wanted there to be a purpose for people to come back to the West Village. “The bottom line was to help our businesses with more foot traffic and more customers to come their way,” Diaz said.
Starting April 15, which is the first day Art on the Ave comes the West Village, visitors can walk through the area and into some participating shops at their own pace and follow the corresponding mobile application.
The work of about 30 artists, which as Jackie Graham, one of the founders behind Art on the Ave said, “lean[s] more towards the abstract,” yet still is contemporary, will be showcased in 11 storefronts along Bleecker Street, Hudson Street and Christopher Street, with the center being The Lucille Lortel Theatre.
“It’s kind of turned into a bit of a meander around the Village as opposed to a straight up and down gallery walk,” said Graham.
Graham said they as an organization worked to platform underrepresented artists to embody the theme for this walkable gallery. “That was our call to art was asking our artists to submit pieces that that spoke to the theme of awakening in whatever way they interpreted it,” she said. “So whether that was a rebirth of the city, or kind of a self-looking-inward-at-themselves and learning something new about themselves. They chose to interpret it in a different way.”
Through the mobile application, people will be able to purchase art they are interested in. When Art on the Ave was on the Upper West Side from Fall 2020 to last January with 45 artists and 7 storefronts, they sold over $55,000 worth of art. There will also be QR codes along with each piece of art that passersby can scan, listen the biography of each artist and from there be directed to a page to buy the art.
The hope here for Diaz is that this will create a sense of larger community. “It goes so much further when a group of businesses are trying to attract a group of customers, she said.