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‘ON CANAL’ hopes to lure New Yorkers back to Canal Street to see rotating art exhibits

The artists and installations featured in the storefronts will switch out every month for a year.

"ON CANAL" will feature immersive art and experiences that will change every month, like "Threshold" by Lara Atallah Anne Spalter. Photo Credit: Shantastic Shan

Canal Street, with its hordes of tourists, bold hawkers, rumbling delivery trucks and overflowing garbage cans, is not far off from Times Square in terms of its ability to make locals cringe. But a new project called “ON CANAL: A District for New Ideas” hopes to draw New Yorkers back to the area.

For one year, 20 otherwise empty storefronts on Canal Street, between West Broadway and Broadway, will host experiential art and kinetic installations, including virtual reality and LED “video paintings,” which will change monthly.

The works by artists at Wallplay (a platform that creates programs for previously vacant retail spaces) and Vibes Studios will cover a range of topics and genres from fashion to wellness, as well as music, dance and even cryptocurrencies and alternative uses of blockchain.

For the first month, through Sept. 1, here are some of what you’ll see:

“Yellow” at 357 Canal St.

Really think about the color yellow as you walk through this installation of yellow flags, dancing inflatable men and strobe lights by Adrian Yu of Offline Projects.

“New Talismans + MND//BDY” at 325 Canal St.

If technology was magic, it would look like this. DiMoDA uses digital tech like magic tools to create immersive environments like VR headsets and floor-to-ceiling projections.

“Caroline Larsen: Flower Shop” at 359 Canal St.

Enter this colorful space by Caroline Larsen (who shows art at The Hole gallery on Bowery), who uses fake flowers to curtain and nestle the empty space for a flower shop-like feel. Art depicting mountains and fiery car crashes peppered throughout serve as an in-your-face confrontation.

“Threshold” at 329 Canal St.

This is Lebanese artist Lara Atallah’s first major exhibition in New York City. From 20 Polaroids of Mediterranean shorelines to three large, suspended cyanotypes and eight small “sun prints” made from pebbles from various beaches, “Threshold” by Atallah and Anne Spalter is meant to bring the dangers refugees face when they cross the Mediterranean to mind.

“KidSuper: Open Mic” at 323 Canal St.

This is a theater by KidSuper that will host open mic and comedy events daily. The theater itself was inspired by a claymation theater from the artist Russ’ “Cherry Hill” music video.

“Inside Out Project: Be A Good Neighbor” at 312-322B Canal St.

More than 600 local people took a photo of their neighbors and had their neighbors photograph them. Each portrait is being wheat pasted to surfaces along the street.

The whole point of “ON CANAL” is to bring New Yorkers back to more than 20 storefronts that were previously vacant for years, according to Laura O’Reilly, the CEO of Wallplay, who produces the programming with co-curator Sonny Gindi of Vibes Studios.

The installations are open Tuesdays through Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Check out oncanal.nyc for more installations and to see when events are taking place.

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