Art on the Ave exhibits art inside Manhattan shops and storefronts

The nonprofit Art on the Ave is aiming to take Manhattan's Upper East Side beyond just its buildings by showcasing a gallery walk. For a limited time, residents can learn more about the neighborhood and check out some art in the most unexpected locations. 

Tucked inside Dashnor Tailoring on East 81st Street is an oil painting by Rujuta Paradkar. In the business Rita's Needlepoint across the street hangs an acrylic by Amah Dongo. And along 3rd Avenue, several works are displayed inside a vacant Duane Reade.  

"My customers love it — they take pictures," said Dashnor Begaj, the owner of Dashnor Tailor.  

Small businesses, neighborhood history, and local artists are all highlighted in the latest Art on the Ave exhibition called "Beyond the Bricks." 

An acrylic painting with shapes of different colors next to a small artificial tree.

An acrylic painting by Amah Dongo displayed in the window of Rita's Needlepoint on the Upper East Side. It is part of an exhibition called "Beyond the Bricks" from Art on the Ave. (FOX 5 NY Image)

Art on the Ave founder Barbara Anderson called the exhibition a "win-win-win." Anderson worked with Friends of the Upper East Side and Manhattan Sideways to ask property owners to let them install, hang, and display artwork. It started as a pandemic project when empty storefronts were increasingly common.  

"Having these big empty spaces is an eyesore," Friends of the Upper East Side Executive Director Rachel Levy said. "Being able to enliven it, not just with art, but with the stories of some of these small businesses throughout the neighborhood — it's amazing." 

Anderson said she doesn't want the artwork to get old, so Art on the Ave exhibitions only last around three months. Many of the sales happen when the pop-up studios turn back into tenantless tenements.

Two colorful paintings seen behind glass

Two paintings on display in a window of an unoccupied retail space on the Upper East Side. The display part of an exhibition called "Beyond the Bricks" from Art on the Ave. (FOX 5 NY Image)

"The week we take the art out and then all of a sudden the artists start to get calls," Anderson said.  

Passersby can use QR codes to capture artist information, get the history of neighborhood buildings, and an interactive map that lead them to the small businesses inside.  

"Our hope is really to drive people to these businesses at the end of the day and support this vibrant small business community on the Upper East Side," Levy said.

An oil painting on a wall; the painting shows a figure in a blouse and trousers sitting on a chair

An oil painting by Rujuta Paradkar hangs in Dashnor Tailoring on the Upper East Side. It is part of an exhibition called "Beyond the Bricks" from Art on the Ave. (FOX 5 NY Image)