Willoughby Windows Walkby – Street Art on Display in Downtown Brooklyn

It’s a great idea to go window shopping these days —as opposed to actual shopping.

Since 70% of the American economy is fueled by shopping instead of manufacturing, we’re all supposed to be doing our patriotic duty accordingly. But sometimes the wallet is bare, bro.  And sometimes the local dollar doesn’t stay local.

In yet another case of Street Art improving a community, the Willoughby Windows project in downtown Brooklyn officially opened this weekend with 17 artists, babies, scooters, costumed dancers, a sidewalk DJ, and inquisitive mildly bewildered citizenry slowing down to peek through the glass into artists’ clever minds.

Artist Logan Hicks leans into his piece comprised of collaged crowds of New Yorkers on the street. (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Artist Logan Hicks leans into his multi-layered screenprint piece depicting crowds of New Yorkers on the street. (photo Steven P. Harrington)

A stupendous 3-D installation of printing expert Dennis McNett (photo Steven P. Harrington)
A stupendous animal centric 3D installation utilizing the full space of the display window by print expert Dennis McNett can only be appreciated fully in person (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Garrison and Allison Buxton, anchors and workhorses in the Brooklyn
Garrison and Allison Buxton; anchors and visionaries, bring Willoughby Windows to Brooklyn  (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In a joint effort with Ad Hoc Gallery and the local BID (Business Improvement District), Garrison Buxton and Allison Buxton and all the Ad Hoc interns have worked tirelessly for a few weeks with artists to install this show behind glass and to revive a moribund block in this sector of retail Brooklyn.

A highly detailed storyline from Cannonball Press (photo Steven P. Harrington)
A detailed storyline from Cannonball Press also features a giant old -style cash register (not pictured) that reminds you there once were real businesses and customers here (photo Steven P. Harrington)

At the very least, it’s not so friggin depressing to pass this block on the way to work.  At most, it can inspire creative impulses and conversations. Friday’s opening featured many children, gawking families, kooky creative types, chalk games on the side walk, even a feeling of “community”.  Huh.

Willoughby Window gazer (photo Jaime Rojo)

Willoughby Window gazer (photo Jaime Rojo)

In a window display that once featured
In a window display case that featured bagels and home-baked goods, the late afternoon shadows slide across photographs of shadow-tracing by street artist Ellis G.  (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Ironically a neighbor to bailout-happy JPMorgan Chase, whose skyscraper casts a shadow over this district of mom and pop businesses displaced by developers, the Willoughby Windows Project gives creative stimulus to the community with a fresh way to think of the shop window.

Chris Stain's stencil invokes imagery from his working-class roots (photo Steven P. Harrington)
Stencil artist Chris Stain invokes the imagery of Brooklyn neighbors (photo Steven P. Harrington)

Josh MacPhee

Josh MacPhee brings his Celebrate People's History poster series to this window, creating a patchwork of text and images (photo Steven P. Harrington)

In the wake of boom-era blustery press conferences and erect Powerpoint bar-graphs that fell limp, this project doesn’t bring back the businesses or feed their families, but it does invite a conversation about what a locally created economy means to the people who live here.  Pedestrian?  Yes, actually. Moribund? No way.

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