It has been the most difficult retail period Berkeley has known. With empty storefronts blighting the city’s streets, the Downtown Berkeley Association stepped in to give people something to look at, help struggling local artists sell their work, and encourage businesses to rent empty shops.
With help from City Hall, the Downtown Storefront Art program began. Photographs, sculptures, paintings, drawings and chairs, by artists young and old, have filled the windows of four empty stores around Berkeley. Their artwork appears on a rotating basis.
Deborah Bahdia, the association’s operations director, said in the past year two of the empty sites had been let to new businesses. Mary Ann Merker, the city’s civic arts coordinator, hailed the project as “a hit.”