Although we are Durham natives, I have been getting to know downtown in a whole new way since moving into our condo right outside the loop. The area is growing and it has changed so much in the past decade. Brand new shops are popping up in empty historic spaces. But there are a lot of vacant buildings left.
Durham is a lot like Galesburg, Il, where I went to college. Galesburg thrived in the first half of the century as a railroad town, and home of the Maytag factories, but then suffered a swift economic decline. The evidence was all around us, as students and residents. In my last semester I did an independent study in typography, and decided to do a project addressing the empty buildings in the area. The idea was to make a sign that looked like a legal notice, but on closer inspection…. Results are below:
There are some artists who have addressed similar things here in the Triangle. I love the Durham Store Front Project, which display’s artist’s work in empty store fronts across town. And what about New Neighbors from Dave Alsobrooks? (Click ‘my work’ and the middle picture of a house). Dave created images of people doing ‘everyday things’ and hung them on houses in east Durham. From his website:
New Neighbors sought to highlight the unrealized potential of abandoned properties in a Historic District Neighborhood in East Durham. It was a community outreach and arts initiative rolled into one local project
Triangle ArtWorks is working on a new pop-up store toolkit that will help artists and building owners connect and make use of empty spaces. I love this idea. Blending art, design, and commerce is at the heart of The Makery.
Do you know of any similar projects in NC, or the US?
P.S. For you abandoned building peeping toms, here is Abandoned NC for your viewing pleasure.