Public art program shines a light on vacant properties

breathing-lights

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A $1 million public arts grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies is transforming some of the 2,500 vacant buildings in Albany, Troy, and Schenectady into works of art.

“What we are trying to do is create the image of an imagined occupancy in each house, referencing the life that was there, and the life that might be coming back again,” says artist Adam Frelin. “Along with that we are turning each house into a living, breathing creature. And with hundreds of them throughout the capital region we are referencing this life force that exists beneath the entire region that’s coming out through these particular architectural nodes.”

Project Breaking Lights worked with the banks that own nearly 250 of the 2,500 abandoned buildings in the area, to get inside and illuminated the potential of each property.

Right now, without the art project, these buildings are blight.

“They stress out the neighborhood. They make it difficult to get insurance, and they test your quality of life,” says Barbara Nelson, an architect. “Things happen in these buildings, we think they are vacant, we think they’re empty. But very often there are people who use these buildings for things they shouldn’t.”

“These aren’t neighborhoods that are completely bombed out and blighted,” says Frelin. “It’s one abandoned building here, one there, surrounded by people that have to live with them. So, part of the project is drawing attention to the larger region about this, but also creating something beautiful for the people that live around them.”

If the lights weren’t in the windows, no one would care about or even look at these buildings. But when the lights are on and breathing, it’s meant to make you think about why they were abandoned in the first place, and what needs to change after this project is over, so in the future it can be avoided.

“At night, you really get the sense that the building is swelling with light,” says Frelin. “Then I want them to start to think, if all these buildings are vacant, maybe they’ll start to notice other buildings that are vacant, and maybe start to be reminded again of how much of an issue this is in our area.”

The project uses art and architecture to shine a light on a dark situation.

The breathing lights can be seen from 6 to 10:00 p.m. in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy until the end of November.

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