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Pop-up galleries help revitalize Soho

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Helping bring life back to Soho’s storefronts while highlighting great local art, the 5 Borough Art Fair features work by an eclectic group of creators from around the city.

The exhibit, at the NYC Arts Empire gallery, at 456 Broadway, between Grand and Howard Sts., held its opening on April 1 and runs through April 18.

iHON, who goes by a single name as an artist, is in the 5 Borough Art Fair. He likes to do paintings with a different twist — such as an unsmiling Charlie Chaplin, since the comic actor usually sported a sunny expression. The exhibit also includes other portraits of his of iconic figures, like John F. Kennedy and John Lennon. (Photo by The Village Sun)

The space is the brainchild of Elaine Mendez. An artist living on Staten Island, she had always dreamed of being a gallerist, and during the pandemic the timing and situation seemed right to take the plunge.

As she explains it, landlords are interested in having pop-up art in their vacant ground-floor storefronts as a way to generate interest in their spaces by long-term tenants.

A singer performing at the opening of the 5 Borough Art Fair. (Photo by The Village Sun)
This is the first public exhibit for Andrea Marie, from the Bronx. She said she took up painting as a way to help heal from post-traumatic stress disorder from 9/11. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Mendez also has another NYC Arts Empire pop-up gallery space in the address next door, 454 Broadway, where artists like Juan Carlos Pinto and Ian Knife exhibit.

And, not stopping at two, she is working on opening a number of other art spots around the Downtown area.

Liking to mix in performances with art, Mendez’s openings feature live music.

A painting evoking the angst of the COVID pandemic. (Photo by The Village Sun)
Villo Varga, a painter and photographer from Jersey City, said she found The Vessel walkable sculpture and the mall at Hudson Yards, which were done up with lights for the holidays, visually captivating as photo subjects. “It’s futuristic… I love the lights,” she said. (Photo by The Village Sun)

In addition, on Sat., Feb. 10, the 5 Borough Art Fair featured Mike Fiorito reading selections from his new book, “Falling from Trees.”

The space at 456 Broadway is open Wed. to Sun., 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and weekends 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Wooden sculptures at the 5 Borough Art Fair. (Photo by The Village Sun)
(Photo by The Village Sun)

The 454 Broadway space is open daily from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

For more information on upcoming exhibits at 454 and 456 Broadway, visit

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