As a product of our financial climate, cities all over the world have been experiencing a surge in one of the most unattractive urban visual blights: empty storefronts. In York, the city has transformed these bare eyesores into the centerpiece of a current urban art initiative, Windows of Opportunity.
Shop windows have always been the city dweller's canvas, from spray paint doodles and sad 'for-lease' signs to duplicated concert fliers and huge commercial billboards of underwear-clad David Beckham. Since York's shop vacancy rates are amongst the lowest in the UK, York Museums Trust and Visit York have seized these blank slates as a chance to revitalize the area and showcase emerging contemporary designers.
While we've seen diverse forms of window art, such as LA's Phantom Galleries, Picture Windows in Indianapolis, and Providence Art Windows, Windows of Opportunity -- nicknamed 'WOO' -- is an 'innovative digital design programme' that is taking advantage of both the recession and social media. The winning artists were chosen in a competition launched on Flickr and various online design communities earlier this year, and all submissions are being accepted only via their website. (These are site-specific windows as well -- designers choose which one to dress!)
Featuring external vinyls as the medium of choice, the first of the digital designs opened in the last week of August. Keeping in line with the program's mission, each delightful work projects a communal message that is brushed with the artist's own coating of hope and optimism to the community.
What'll the be the next recession-friendly urban art initiative, do you think? My bet's on a Scaffolding of Possibilites.