The Broadway Mall Community Center on 96th Street & Broadway The Broadway Mall Community Center on 96th Street & Broadway. Photo by Lynn Lieberman.  

There are so many untapped treasures in our city – some hidden and some have been an open part of the landscape of our city for so long that we barely notice them.  The Beaux-Arts building sitting on the Broadway Mall on West 96th Street is one such structure.  With traffic moving to the north on one side and to the south on the other, this small building still bears the imprint of its former life on either side, reading – Women – Men. 

Original imprint of a former life as a restroom Original imprint of a former life as a restroom. Photo by Lynn Lieberman.

But on the weekends and Wednesday evenings, this tiny building comes alive thanks to a group of artists known as The West Side Arts Coalition.  This tax exempt art organization, which is open ten months of the year, was formed in 1979 and found a permanent home as a Gallery at the Broadway Mall Community Center in 1986.

Reception at Broadway Mall GalleryReception at Broadway Mall Gallery. Photo Source: Margo Mead

The West Side Arts Coalition was originally organized as a networking and support group for dancers, writers, actors, poets, musicians and visual artists, bringing artists of all disciplines together with the community through exhibits and performances.  Today, art shows rotate every three weeks from September through early July.  Each participating artist pays an exhibition fee and a yearly membership fee to cover costs of printing and advertising, and share in installation and gallery sitting for the duration of the show. The West Side Arts Coalition also curates exhibits off-site like the recent show “Art Lives” that was held at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President at One Centre Street last month.

The Black Renaissance Exhibitors Some of the exhibitors of The Black Renaissance show. Photo Source: Margo Mead

The current membership hails from many locations both here and abroad and is a welcoming opportunity for artists to gather and promote a shared passion for the arts.  This is also an opportunity for artists from many other organizations to come together and network. The West Side Arts Coalition offers each member a page on their website to display their work and connect to their personal website.  The monthly newsletters give an overview of member activities, current and upcoming shows.
So the next time you’re on West 96th Street and you see the banners up on the doors, stop in and say hi.  Exhibits range from fine art, mixed media, photography and craft arts in a wide range of prices.  With exhibits changing every three weeks, you are bound to find something wonderful! Next up – The Salon Show from June 19 to July 14, with an opening reception on Saturday, June 22.
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