The Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, in collaboration with the Gold Coast Arts Center, is launching Destination Downtown: ARTWALK, an innovative initiative using empty storefronts as art showcases to encourage increased interest in the downtown shopping district and patronage of local restaurants and shops.
“The pandemic has had a large impact on our downtown, as it has on downtowns on Long Island and across the country. This initiative, and the promenade nights and special gift card campaigns the Great Neck Plaza BID has implemented over the past several months, are focused on helping our restaurants and shops recover and thrive,” noted Ron Edelson, executive director of the GNP BID. “This art initiative will provide an added incentive for people to come visit our downtown, shine a spotlight on the artistic talent that exists in our region, highlight the incredible programs offered by the Gold Coast Art Center, and, most importantly, provide further exposure for our local businesses.”
Regina Gil, executive director of Gold Coast Arts commented, “In 1994, more than 40 stores in downtown Great Neck Plaza were shuttered with “For Rent” signs making the downtown look blighted. Working with Ron Edelson, who represented the business community, and then-Mayor Bob Rosegarten, we were able to bring art into these empty storefronts with cooperation from local landlords. Lo and behold, the downtown looked beautiful again and before long those very same stores were rented and downtown vitality was restored. Now here we are over 25 years later, I’m delighted to be working again with Ron, and a dedicated group at the Gold Coast Arts Center, assisted by Destination: Great Neck, an organization of residents committed to restoring downtown Great Neck to the beautiful shopping and dining district it has always been.”
Destination Downtown: ARTWALK is a bespoke collection of fine arts, graffiti, ceramics, solar etchings, photography and more. This timely exhibition features local artists who have been past exhibitors at Gold Coast Arts as well as new artists with a diverse pool of talent. Such artists include Patricia Pedraza, a self-taught digital photo artist and retired producer at CNN; Zoë Morsette, renowned prop designer for many popular Broadway shows and films such as “Hamilton” and “Mrs. Doubtfire;” Deborah Sable, an accomplished photographer whose images have been featured in the NY Times, a trio of Asian Artists from Beijing China, two of whom are experts in children’s art education and one a member of the Chinese Overseas Women’s Artists Association; graffiti artists Zimad, whose work has appeared in numerous shows and projects around the world and is a longtime friend of GCA; and Katie Reidy, a custom designer, character muralist, and instructor to 1200 students for ‘Urban Illustration’.
These are only a handful of great artists who will be at the Destination Downtown: ARTWALK Opening Night reception on July 21 from 6:45 pm – 9:30 pm, where visitors can view the exhibit, talk with the participating artists about their work and enjoy refreshments courtesy of The Bristal Assisted Living, an exhibit sponsor. This exclusive collection of art curated by Jude Amsel, gallery director and Regina Gil, will remain on display through Labor Day, and available to be viewed by appointment only. More information can be found at www.goldcoastarts.org/destination-downtown.
Visitors will also be able to enter the GNP BID’s raffle drawing to win a $650 shopping spree in Great Neck Plaza (2nd place: $350 shopping spree; 3rd place: $200 shopping spree) and sign up to receive the GNP BID’s SHOP-OUT and DINE-OUT $25 gift cards, good during the months of August and September (more information on the gift cards and participating merchants can be found at ShopGreatNeck.com).
The Gold Coast Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road (entrance is in the rear of the building through the Maple Drive parking lot).
Appreciation is extended to the non-profit community organization, Destination: Great Neck, which provided volunteers to assist in installing the artwork, as well as marketing support for the exhibit.
The art comprising Destination Downtown: ARTWALK will be showcased in eight vacant storefronts in the shopping district of Great Neck Plaza as well as in the main art gallery at the Gold Coast Art Center. Over 100 art pieces will be displayed during the initiative.
The Great Neck Plaza shopping district locations include storefronts on Bond Street, Grace Avenue and Middle Neck Road. Destination Downtown: ARTWALK will also include interactive elements, including maps providing a walking tour guide, artist receptions and family scavenger hunts that will be ancillary to the exhibits.
The formal launch of Destination Downtown: ARTWALK will coincide with the GNP BID’s concluding promenade night of the summer on Wednesday, July 21. The promenade will take place from 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. on Middle Neck Road between Grace Avenue and Maple Drive, and will feature outdoor dining from Shoshaku Asian Cuisine, Chez Kama, Teinei Ya Ramen, Gino’s Pizza, Rothchild’s, Swirl Crepe, and Haggen Daz. Musical entertainment will be provided by the David Lamm Band, back by popular demand after a rousing performance at the July 7 promenade on Bond Street. The evening’s on-street entertainment will also feature family art projects sponsored by the Gold Coast Art Center.
Funding for the Destination Downtown: ARTWALK comes from the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, the Gold Coast Arts Center and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (nassauida.org).
“The Nassau County IDA is proud to offer its assistance to the Gold Coast Arts Center and the Great Neck Plaza BID to help this program find success for the small businesses in Great Neck Plaza,” said Nassau IDA Chairman Richard Kessel. “The pandemic left no sector of our economy unaffected, and the arts have always been a way of helping to bring people together. The Destination Downtown project is a perfect example of how to creatively leverage the incredible art talent we have in our region to generate excitement in our downtowns that will ultimately help drive sales for local businesses.”
The Great Neck Plaza BID and the Gold Coast Arts Center would like to thank the property owners who have graciously allowed art to be displayed in their stores: Peter Andreasian of Andreasian Property Management and Andreasian Realty (AndreasianRealty.com), Michael Lamoretti of United Capital Corp. (United Capital Corp.), Donna Trappler of Great Neck Properties and owner of Rothchild’s Restaurant, and Bijan Nassi of 11 Middle Neck Road Corp.
For more information on the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District, visit ShopGreatNeck.com. For information on the Gold Coast Arts Center, visit www.goldcoastarts.org.