Image courtesy James and Karla Murray

As part of an ongoing pursuit to document New York City’s disappearing mom-and-pop shops, photographers, authors and Untapped Cities contributors, James and Karla Murray, recently presented their new photography exhibit at the Theater for the New City. Entitled “Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts Oral History & Photo Exhibition,” the show features a collection of photographs and interviews created by amateur photographers during two free workshops held by the Murrays at the Neighborhood Preservation Center earlier this year.

Image courtesy James and Karla Murray

According to the Murrays, who curated the show, “… the purpose of the exhibition is to act as an artistic intervention helping draw attention to and raise awareness of the importance of preserving the small shops whose existence is essential to the unique and colorful atmosphere of the city’s streets.”

In keeping to this mission, James and Karla Murray taught workshop participants how to utilize photography and the power of oral history to encourage advocacy and build community. They have also published several books documenting these vanishing shops, including their acclaimed series: Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York and Store Front II – A History Preserved: The Disappearing Face of New York.

Image courtesy James and Karla Murray

The ephemerality of these businesses makes this mission more important than ever:

… two of the storefronts that participants photographed for the workshop, and were chosen by us to be printed for the exhibition are now closed; Cup & Saucer on Canal Street and the Golden Food Market on First Avenue in the East Village.” James and Karla tell us.

“… in the short time that we held the 2 two free workshops (between April and June of this year) and began printing the photographs participants took, we have lost 2 small businesses, both affordable eating establishments.”

Image courtesy James and Karla Murray

“This is shocking to us, but we hope that after people see the photos and read the interview excerpts, that they will help support these small mom-and-pop businesses by actively dining and shopping at them so that we don’t lose any more!”

“Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts Oral History & Photo Exhibition” is now on view through September 18th at Theater for the New City Gallery, 155 First Ave. on 10th Street.

Next, check out the photos series “Store Front II” Documents NYC’s Endangered Small Businesses, and other works from James and Karla Murray.