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Palm Springs wants to fill vacant storefronts with art

Eager to safeguard its image as an upscale tourist resort, Palm Springs is prescribing art therapy as a partial cure for downtown shops caught up in the economic doldrums.

The city is expected to adopt a plan requiring vacant stores to hang paintings, photographs of old Hollywood movie stars or come up with their own picturesque remedies to head off creeping blight in the city center.

“We have more vacant storefronts than we did in the past,” said City Manager David Ready. “Many are transitioning or looking for new tenants. This program wouldn’t cost the owner anything and would greatly improve the appearance of the buildings.”

Local artists will be invited to showcase their work and the city will finance the installation.

Nedra Young, chief executive of Social Mosaics, which teaches schoolchildren about mosaic art, contacted the city a few months ago about the idea after reading that Philadelphia was doing the same thing.

“Right now a vacant storefront is nothing but a piece of glass. It has no character, no interest, no nothing,  so people walking down the street say, 'Why do I want to be here? There is nothing to look at,' " she said.

Young has already put some of her work in a vacant storefront and will do so again Monday.

Councilman Rick Hutchenson said it has been difficult for commercial property owners to attract new tenants, leaving many shops empty.

“This is a concept many cities are pursuing, trying to turn a negative into a positive,” he said. “We can promote something interesting in these places like art galleries. We can use historic photos that tell the Hollywood history of Palm Springs.”

—David Kelly in Riverside

 
Comments () | Archives (3)

This has been going on in the Los Angeles area for a while. There is a group called Phantom Galleries that set up galleries in vacant store fronts in place like Pasadena and Downtown LA. As a pedestrian, I enjoy them immensely. It really brings something interesting and new to the streets that might otherwise be rather barren.

We have been doing this in Lorain, Ohio for a few years.
Next you'll have break-ins to steal the "junk" you put in the window!

sorry, but as an artist i don't buy into this idea which seems to be gaining in popularity in urban areas. i think it would be great if the artists were paid something for providing this service but otherwise it feels patronizing and takes advantage of artists yet again. i'm tired of cities giving lip service to artists with all the talk of how much they "support the arts" but fail to really support them where it counts- in the pocketbook and the wallet. do it-but pay the artists something. and artists- demand some pay for your service- we'll all be better off for it in the end.


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