Up until about a year ago, it seemed there was no end in sight to the real estate boom devouring New York City neighborhoods. Brooklyn in particular was hit hard by developers rushing to cash in on a market they assumed would continue to go up and up. “Luxury condominiums” were built without regard to scale or style of surrounding neighborhoods, erected in the hope that buyers would be unable to resist the temptation of “lifestyle living” at million dollar price tags. With the collapse of the real estate market, the rug was pulled out from underneath the developer fantasy world, leaving stalled, incomplete and abandoned construction projects in their wake. Empty storefronts, construction lots and scaffolding litter the landscape, creating a new urban blight that inflicts additional punishment on neighborhoods already struggling with NYC’s vicious cycle of gentrification.
Willoughby Street in downtown Brooklyn was one such blighted block – businesses were vacated over a year ago, ostensibly in preparation for demolition to make room for new development. The storefronts remained shuttered, dark and empty… until the beginning of July. In cooperation with the MetroTech Business Improvement District, the Ad Hoc Art gallery curated an exceptional storefront installation show. Garrison and Alison Buxton of Ad Hoc marshaled some of New York City’s biggest names in urban art to donate their time and considerable talent to decorating storefront windows. Featuring the oversized stencils of Logan Hicks and Chris Stain, the formidable printmaking skills of Cannonball Press and Dennis McNett, chalk installation photography by Ellis G., the colorful, graffiti character stylings of Cycle, and a life-sized fiberglass mold sculpture by John Ahearn, each of the 12 storefronts displays each artist’s unique style.