Artists turn vacant Atlantic City property into pop-up art gallery

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (WPVI) – “Atlantic City should be a place that resonates with people as a place to come for the arts,” said Kate O’Malley. “Much of this kind of incredible diversity and creativity that exists here is worth it and should be capitalized on.”

O’Malley is the new COO of the Atlantic City Arts Foundation. Their program, ARTeriors, searches for vacant or transitional properties and uses them as a temporary canvas for art installations.

One of their transformations took place in 2015 on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City. Beth and Kurt Kwart, a couple who had purchased property in the adjacent block, were inspired by what they saw there.

“We were hoping the area would turn around,” Beth said. “And then we went to this ARTeriors event and it was just amazing to see all the amazing art that has come through this abandoned building.”

As a result, the Kwarts were inspired to acquire more properties in Atlantic City. This is the case with the three-story house at 112 South Ocean Avenue, which they temporarily donated to the Atlantic City Foundation for the Arts as the base for the 8th ARTeriors installation.

“It was the worst street in the area. There were a lot of people coming and they would release Megan’s parole and violators and put them in rooms in all the single-family homes,” Kurt said. “So we refuse to do it. Eventually we were able to turn one into Airbnb, and it continued to grow from there.”

The plan is to make the Ocean Avenue property an Airbnb as well. But before the renovation of the house began, local artists had the opportunity to make a statement in each of the different rooms.

“Because the house was fully furnished, the artists were given the option to take the house and use rooms that were already there for their installation,” O’Malley said.

12 artists from the jury and six volunteers let their imaginations run wild. They painted a monstrous face on an average living room couch, turned the kitchen into an indulgent nightclub, built a display rack from garbage collected from the beach, and more.

“You just throw a bunch of artists in one place and we’re like okay, yeah, give us three days, we’ve got that,” said Randi Meekins, an artist from Brigantine, New Jersey.

Visitors will have the chance to visit rooms like the Meekins Blacklight Bathroom at the Atlantic City property until November 21. The doors will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or by appointment.

“I think part of what makes the public art projects we do so unique is that they are temporary and it’s a time when we all came together and created something great. ‘amazing for our community,’ said O’Malley. “So let’s go. So come see him while he’s here.”

To learn more about the Atlantic City Arts Foundation or the Kwart family’s Airbnb properties, visit their websites.

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