The challenge: take a massive building with beautiful old architecture that has fallen into disrepair and transform it into a community and art space that still pays homage to the building's roots and the history of the area. Each room was cleaned up and given new life by an artist, then shown to the public- marking the beginning of the building's return to something other than a vestige of old New York on the Bronx's Grand Concourse.
Strange, that almost sounds like the premise of a reality TV show, but the project has much more heart than that. This Side of Paradise is the name of the exhibit which is now in it's final days at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. Originally constructed through the trust of baseball owner and transportation mogul Andrew Freedman, the building was to serve as a retirement home for wealthy individuals who had lost their fortunes.
Inside the home, the previously wealthy would live in an illusion of grandeur - formal attire was to be worn to dinner, for example. Then the trust ran out of money. The amazing building fell into a state of disrepair with heavy water damage sat dormant and abandoned for almost twenty years. That's where the non-profit organization No Longer Empty enters the story.
The mission of No Longer Empty is to create high quality site-specific art installations that have a positive impact on the surrounding community, and often use formerly abandoned spaces to house the exhibitions. To use the only metaphor fitting enough for Mr. Freedman's memory, they hit this one way out of the park. The downstairs floor of the home has been restored to its former beauty showcasing a library, kitchen, and two ballrooms filled with contemporary works of art.
Upstairs, the long, ominous hallway is now splashed with color and texture, referencing the imaginative installations waiting to be discovered in each room. Trust us, it's absolutely worth discovering. The rooms are all so different from one another, with certain artists making use of the old furniture and equipment left behind when the building was abandoned and others clearing out the rooms and starting from scratch.
Do we have your attention yet? Perfect, because the exhibit is closing this week so you better hop on a train and get there! Worried that the train ride is long? It's really not, we made it from one of the farthest stops in Queens to This Side of Paradise in under an hour. If you're not able to make it, we promise to give you an in-depth look at all of our favorite parts of the show throughout this coming week.
what: This Side of Paradise presented by No Longer Empty at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx
where: 1125 Grand Concourse (B or D Trains to 167th Street)
when: April 4th to June 5th, 2012