by Caitlin Caldwell, Arts & Business Alliance of Eugene Intern
This month we sat down with Kate Ali, City of Eugene Public Art Manager, and Chanin Santiago, Downtown Program Assistant, to learn more about the Windowfront Exhibitions. These temporary installations were created during the pandemic to support local artists and businesses while bringing vibrancy downtown.
The exhibitions showcase local artists and arts organizations while transforming vacant storefronts into works of art. Because of the artwork featured in the storefronts, these vacant spaces have seen less vandalism, less trash, and a lot more love. By keeping downtown vibrant during these trying times, people have been inspired to frequent the area (even those who normally don’t come downtown) and see what’s happening next.
While the City and the community are on the road to recovery, the goal is to continue the Windowfront Exhibitions next year. They will make the downtown spaces continue to feel loved while businesses slowly return to the area. These exhibitions have provided an opportunity for those involved to work with the City to share their ideas for creative placemaking and community building. Kate and Chanin believe that public art is strongest when woven into the fabric of a community, and the exhibitions seek to create opportunities and collaborations that do just that.
The building owners enjoyed being a part of this project, as Kristin Peterson of Pacific Real Estate Services describes, “We manage multiple commercial retail spaces and office buildings in the Eugene area. We do not want empty storefronts for too long, especially in a recession. Partnering with the Windowfront Exhibitions creates a win-win for the arts community and landlords. Displaying art in an empty storefront offers life to an otherwise vacant space. The collaborative marketing draws additional attention to the artist and empty space through increased foot traffic, especially during events like First Friday Art Walk. With people’s interest in the art displays, they also learn of the availability for lease and Pacific Real Estate is able to convert the spaces to viable businesses. Together, we create a positive economic impact on all businesses in the community as Partners in Success!”
A window display at 10th Ave in Downtown Eugene.
A window display on Taiko drumming in Downtown Eugene.