Preserving Small Businesses with the Murrays

Preserving Small Businesses with the Murrays
Stage Diner closed in 2015

James and Karla Murray discuss some of the exhibit items

James and Karla Murray are influential artists, small business advocates, and 2015 GVSHP Regina Kellerman Village Awardees.  They have captured and preserved scores of Village locales (and thousands of NYC locales). Over 80% of the businesses featured in their first book have  gone out of business since its publication in 2008. Their photographs of these storefronts, and the stories of the people that ran them, are now all that remains of many of these important pieces of the fabric of our City, as we lose more and more every week. Their photographs are included in the permanent collections of major institutions, including the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the New York Public Library, and NYU Langone Medical Center. Their photography has appeared in the New York TimesNew York PostDaily News, and The New Yorker. 


Stage Diner closed in 2015

The Murrays, the Neighborhood Preservation Center, and other partners including GVSHP, held workshops starting in the spring that taught dozens of amateur photographers how to use photography and oral history to raise public awareness, build community, and encourage advocacy. The workshop resulted in a public art show at the Theater for the New City. Titled “Capturing the Lower East Side’s Storefronts Oral History & Photo Exhibition,” the show features a varied collection of photographs and interviews. See photos from the exhibit opening here.

According to the Murrays, “…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.” The show has been running for over a month, and if you haven’t seen it yet,  we highly recommend you do so before it closes on Monday. The exhibit is located at Theater for the New City, located on 1st Avenue between 9th & 10th Street.

Karla and James said they can (and they will) talk about the stories of these small businesses and their owners for hours. Too numerous to even begin to describe, every story represents a small slice of a community, and is a small community within itself. Every store that closes is a loss for the community, and every small business that opens is a chance to nurture and grow a part of your community. GVSHP could not agree with James and Karla more, and we sincerely appreciate the work they have done to preserve and honor our shared history.


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