Stumble upon incredible art at these once-vacant storefronts in Lower Manhattan

Whether it’s decorated with stockings or trimmed with holiday lights, the fireplace mantel serves as a cozy symbol of the holidays. A new installation in Lower Manhattan called “Art Above the Mantel” asked street artists to create their own interpretation of a mantel inside vacant storefronts.

Works by six artists are now on view along the Nassau Street corridor until the first week of January. You can see the artwork anytime while walking by, just like strolling by a holiday window. Public art-making workshops are open on Wednesdays from 4-7pm and Saturdays from 1-4pm. 

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In each location, artists painted their mantels and then hung a signature piece of artwork above it. They’ll also create new work during public sessions. The project has transformed empty spaces into artist workshop spaces and hubs for the public to peek into, step into, and shop in. Each artist will sell work for all ages and price points at the locations.

Street art does not need to be relegated to the sides of buildings and subways. It is worthy of sitting above the mantel.

“Art Above the Mantel is the idea that street art does not need to be relegated to the sides of buildings and subways,” Barbara Anderson, co-founder and executive director of Art on the Ave NYC, tells Time Out New York. “It is worthy of sitting above the mantel.” 

Claudia Echeverría at Art Above the Mantel
Photograph: By Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Alliance for Downtown New York | Claudia Echeverría at Art Above the Mantel

Featured artists are Calicho, CLoDKate FauvellAmir Diop, Lucas Goly, and Shanequa Benitez. In Fauvell’s work, she takes black-and-white photographs of NYC, then rips them apart to collage the city in the way she wishes it would be. Meanwhile, Diop will do art activities with kids and read to them from the book he wrote and illustrated called Lionel the Lying Lion. Growing up with dyslexia, Amir suffered through school and lacked confidence in himself until he found art during the pandemic. In his space, people can see Lionel the Lion come to life with AR and make bookmarks.

For Art on the Ave, the initiative helps further their mission of creating “highly accessible exhibitions that amplify underrepresented voices in unique ways across the city,” Anderson explains.

Amir Diop holds his book.
Photograph: By Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Alliance for Downtown New York |

The arts organization partnered with the Downtown Alliance to create this project in an area where people don’t typically stumble upon art. 

“Nassau has gritty charm and a vibe all its own in a district known for business and finance. We want people to know that there is more to do on Nassau Street this holiday season than buying a slice and going to the smoke shop,” Anderson says.

33 Maiden Lane storefront.
Photograph: By Jason DeCrow/AP Images for Alliance for Downtown New York | 33 Maiden Lane storefront.

Organizers hope Art Above the Mantel will bring the warmth of the holiday season to the Financial District. Find Art Above the Mantel locations at 72 Nassau Street, 80 Nassau Street, 25 John Street, 33 Maiden Lane and two spaces at 28 Liberty Street.

“This holiday season, we are bringing art and cheer to empty storefronts along Nassau Street,” Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin said in a press release. “These pop-up galleries, created by local NYC artists, should brighten up both shop windows and our spirits.” 

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