GREAT NECK, N.Y. - When the pandemic hit, Great Neck, like so many other areas on Long Island, was faced with vacant storefronts as businesses shuttered. So Regina Gil, founder and executive director of the Gold Coast Arts Center, felt inspired to step in and brighten up the community.
"The village paid for easels, I got the artwork, we got permission from the landlords who were pretty desperate to get the stores some positive attention," Gil said.
Her nonprofit joined forces with landlords, the local business improvement district, and other organizations to display work from local artists in vacant storefront windows.
Queens artist Lisa DiClerico said that after a tough year, having her photography on display and being part of this mission is an honor.
"It was really difficult. I think the arts and creative outlets helped a lot of us get through this period of the pandemic and isolation," DiClerico said. "And it's wonderful to be reconnecting with the community and getting back."
Residents and visitors to Great Neck also told us they welcome this splash of color.
"I think it's great. I think it can only add more value to the neighborhood," Supriya Jagnanan, who works in the area, said. "I think it sends the right message. Having closed up storefronts definitely [doesn't] attract people."
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"It gives purpose to the vacant storefronts, it's giving folks an opportunity to see local art from local artists," resident Justin Meservie said. "It's exciting to see storefronts, the revitalization of the area."
For now, the galleries will be here through Labor Day. Of course, one of the goals is to get the stores rented by then.
If you do come to Great Neck and see a work of art you love, call the arts center to purchase it.
Resources for Destination Downtown: Artwalk
The art for this exhibition is showcased in the main gallery of the Gold Coast Arts Center and several storefronts in the shopping district of Great Neck Plaza.