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Empty Storefronts Not So Empty

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

September 30, 2009

Here's one way to fill empty retail storefronts -- ditch the retail and go for some art.

The Hartford Business Improvement District has taken 12 empty storefronts and given them new life. Read more below.


Jordan Polon

Director of Marketing/Commissioner of Awesome


Office: (860) 728-2289

Cell: (860) 985-8806


Hartford BID works with City of Hartford, Downtown Property Owners and Hartford Artists to show retail space in a new way while providing jobs and income to Hartford artists, residents and merchants.

HARTFORD, CONN., September 28, 2009 - The Hartford Business Improvement District (The BID) fills 12 previously unoccupied downtown Hartford storefront spaces with The Awesomest Art Thing Ever, an exhibition funded by a grant from the City of Hartford's 2009 Hartford Arts and Heritage Jobs Program.

Nine Hartford Artists were selected to install works ranging from full-scale three dimensional pieces to interactive artwork to graphic art. The unique projects will improve the physical appearance of the buildings and streets and enhance the vibrancy and marketability of the city of Hartford. Each space utilized for the project is for lease and the project intends to create additional visibility for developers and attract merchants interested in filling the storefronts permanently.

The Awesomest Arts Thing Ever aims to cultivate a new appreciation of the downtown area, encouraging pedestrian activity and engaging the urban environment in a creative dialogue. In addition, The Awesomest Art Thing Ever provides an opportunity for artists who have been affected by the economic downturn to display their creativity by transforming vacant storefronts into exhibition spaces that will present their artwork to a wider audience.

The participating artists are: Ethan Boisvert; Colin Burke; Jeff Cowie; Dawn Holder; Ryan Iverson; Tao LaBossiere; John Lepak; Joe Saphire; and Joel VanderKamp. All artists are either residents of the City of Hartford or rent studio space in Hartford. All carpenters, installers, and support personnel are Hartford residents and materials were purchased from merchants and vendors within the city of Hartford whenever possible.

The Awesomest Art Thing Ever will host a public opening this Thursday, October 1st, outside on the sidewalks of Pratt Street in Downtown Hartford from 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. with music by the Shag Frenzy DJs and performance artists Tony Olivares and Kurt Uccello.

Artists' work will be exhibited in unoccupied storefront windows provided by Northland Investment Corporation and State House square and can be seen along Pratt, Main, and Trumbull Streets in Downtown Hartford through January 2010.

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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