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LES BID Offers Artists a Canvas on High-Traffic Delancey Street

By Serena Solomon | March 14, 2013 8:41am

LOWER EAST SIDE — Imagine a 200-foot canvas that meets the gaze of 230,000 sets of eyes each day.

That is the opportunity the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID) is offering chosen artists whose works will cover a chain-link fence on the south end of Delancey Street at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. The BID began requesting submissions Tuesday for interested artists for the massive portion of fence that will be used to highlight the Lower East Side's cultural and creative institutions, with the designs due by April 15.

"This is a very unique opportunity because not just the location being the Lower East Side, but it is also at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge," said Natalie Raben, the marketing and communications manager for the BID. "There is tons of traffic — people and literal traffic."

Each day 140,000 motorists, 92,000 transit riders, 600 bikers and 500 pedestrians use the bridge everyday, according the city's Department of Transport.

The 8-foot-high fence surrounds two parking lots that are overseen by the BID and will eventually be developed as part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. The winning artwork will also provide the backdrop for the newly created pedestrian plazas on the strip, created after the death of 12-year-old Dashane Santana, who was killed by a car there in January 2012.

Artists have been asked for their designs to highlight the area's cultural or historical institutions, giving the example the Museum at Eldridge Street, which is a active synagogue on the Sabbath that operates as a museum during the week.  

"We are looking for creative types to devise proposals for these fences in a way that pays tribute to the history of the Lower East Side," said Raben, adding that the winning artist will also be given a $5,000 stipend to get the job done. 

The BID has partnered with with ArtHere.org, an organization that connects artists with open spaces in urban areas.

The BID is currently organizing a panel of local gallery owners, community leaders and artists to determine which art piece will end up covering the fence, according to Raben.

"It is a great opportunity for exposure to showcase their work in a changing and dynamic neighborhood," she said.