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Vacant storefronts transformed into temporary exhibit space for artists

Montclair Arts Council and Montclair Center Corp. BID Launch “Windows Project”

Portrait of John Lewis, by Bill Westheimer
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Wondering what the enormous photographs of human hands hanging in the old Screening Zone building on Bloomfield Avenue are about? The installation of images from “The Manual Project” by artist Bill Westheimer at 544 Bloomfield Ave., a vacant commercial building most recently occupied by a lighting store, is the first completed storefront of the MAC/BID Windows Project.

The Montclair Arts Council (MAC) and the Montclair Center Corp. Business Improvement District (BID) are co-sponsors of the Windows Project. The purpose of the project is to provide artists with an opportunity to temporarily display their artwork in vacant retail spaces in the central business district of Montclair. In return, the overall look of the downtown is improved when these otherwise empty storefronts become highly-visible art exhibits.

“Taking what could be a potential eyesore and turning it into something beautiful while giving an artist the opportunity to exhibit their work is one of the best win-win situations we could hope for,” said Jim Peskin, executive director of the Montclair Arts Council.

Tom Lonergan, executive director of the Montclair BID, agrees. “In addition to providing invaluable exposure for the pieces and their creators,” Lonergan said, “the Windows Project is intended to help energize the street, keep properties secure and maintain community spirit.”

The four hand portraits from Bill Westheimer’s series displayed at 544 Bloomfield Ave. include: “Portrait of Orestes Gialanella,” who was a butcher in Newark for 45 years and lives in Bloomfield, N.J.; “Portrait of John Lewis,” a tattoo artist in New York City; “Portrait of Dorothy Godlewski,” who was a teacher in Rutherford, N.J. for 45 years and is now retired and lives in Essex Fells; and “Portrait of Janet Taylor Pickett,” a retired art teacher who is now is a full-time artist living in Montclair.

“These images of hands reflect the personality and the life of the subject. Lifestyle, work habits and sensitivity are revealed. Without the distraction of faces these images of hands are absolutely honest and deeply perceptive portraits,” explains Westheimer, a resident of West Orange, on www.manualproject.com. For more information on Bill Westheimer, visit www.billwest.com.

About the Montclair Arts Council

The Montclair Arts Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to expanding and enriching arts and culture within Montclair. It supports local artists and arts organizations, acting as a catalyst for arts and cultural events, and seeking to enhance economic development through the arts. The Montclair Arts Council is funded in part by the Township of Montclair.

Montclair Arts Council ? 205 Claremont Avenue ? Montclair, NJ 07042

T: 973 – 744 – 7555 ? info@montclairarts.org ? F: 973 – 746 – 2461 www.montclairarts.org

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