ILLUMINATE Gallery Event Explores Creative Use of Vacant Space

The process of obtaining a good tenant for a vacant commercial space can be lengthy and difficult, especially if ownership of the building in question changes hands in the process. As a result, empty windows and lifeless storefronts can linger in an otherwise vibrant area, reducing foot traffic and giving the street an underdeveloped appearance. The solution: vacant space can be used creatively, on a short-term or one-time basis.

 The outside of the currently vacant building.

The outside of the currently vacant building.

When the building at the "Point" of Culver and Merchants Roads was bought, the new owner was quick to make contact with the Triangle Merchants Association to explore how to approach the valuably located space to make the maximum positive impact on the Triangle. Residents of the Triangle neighborhood, Healthy Blocks staff, and volunteers from the ImageOut Film Festival and Gallery Q joined forces to host a one-night First Friday gallery event in the space. The event served dual purposes—to draw attention to the neighborhood as a place that celebrates the arts and LGBTQ communities and to help the community (and perhaps even potential tenants) to envision how beautiful and visually interesting the property could become with a small amount of TLC.

 A view into Katie Efstathiou's exhibit from the sidewalk.

A view into Katie Efstathiou's exhibit from the sidewalk.

Indeed, the "Point" was transformed for those few hours. Posters advertising the event were prominently displayed in the windows, and passersby could peek into the illuminated ‘gallery’ rooms and see photography and animation by artists Chen Wang, Katie Efstathiou, and Citlati Fabián projected on the walls. Oil paintings and multimedia creations from residents Julie Boswell and Zirrus VanDevere lined the walls of the foyer area, where folks gathered around food and music. In the hall, a photographic installation by Tina Star captured the guest’s attention in the space between galleries. Attendees commented on the suitability of the space for this type of event—but in reality, a number of community-focused, creative events could have served the same purpose. The presence of other humans is what allows a space to come to life, and the event saw around 40-50 people pass through.

 Guests enjoy a painting by Julie Boswell, with photography by Tina Star opposite.

Guests enjoy a painting by Julie Boswell, with photography by Tina Star opposite.

 Attendees gather in the main lobby, enjoying food, music and art.

Attendees gather in the main lobby, enjoying food, music and art.

 Photographer Citlati Fabián shows guests her portfolio.

Photographer Citlati Fabián shows guests her portfolio.

It is worth noting that the City Newspaper and the Democrat & Chronicle both ran short articles to promote the event, which can be read here and here.

Are you interested in opening a business in all or part of this great space? Call (585) 237-860 or send a note to info@optimistcp.com and be a part of the continued revitalization of the Triangle.