Curbside Canvas Project
Bringing Color to the Neighborhood One Sidewalk at a Time
It goes without saying that 2020 was one of, if not the most difficult year we’ve all had to face. In addition to the overarching, self-explanatory damage that COVID brought on, one facet of everyday life was hit particularly hard: the restaurant industry. With countless local businesses forced to limit their capacity, change their venue entirely, or shut down indefinitely, restaurant owners across the city did their best to adapt and survive, and one NYC resident was determined to do his part.
Tribeca native, Bill Tsapalas, comes from a family background of both restaurants and art. One day in August of 2020, while riding his bike through SoHo, his heart ached for all of the boarded up storefronts he was passing. Restaurants that had managed to stay open were attempting to be resourceful and offer outdoor seating, though most of the structures Tsapalas saw were made of blank plywood. “Coming from a restaurant family, I clearly [understood that] those restaurants did not have the bandwidth, resources, manpower, or vision to do anything more. That’s when the lightbulb went off,” he says.
“And so the NEIGHBORHOOD CURBSIDE CANVAS PROJECT was born: a volunteer, neighborhood-recovery effort to drive interest, energy, foot traffic and business back to these establishments and give local artists a public forum.”
Needless to say, Tsapalas hit the ground running. After reaching out to any and all connections he had, including local blog, Tribeca Citizen, restaurant association, The Taste of Tribeca, neighborhood art gallery, One Art Space, and friends and neighbors alike, the project truly took off. A GoFundMe campaign yielded enough donations for Tsapalas to buy art supplies for 20 volunteer, local artists who managed to paint murals for 13 Tribeca restaurants throughout the month of September.
As news of Curbside Canvas gained momentum, so did the locations (or canvases) in which they produced their art. You’ve probably admired their work by now at several of our local favorites, including Oliver’s Astoria, Halsey’s, Mom’s Kitchen & Bar, Big Alice Brewing, Maggie Mae’s, and Zenon Taverna. Today, they have “an army of over 100 artists, 50 of [whom] have lent their creativity to murals for 50 restaurants across ten NYC neighborhoods, [with] two currently in the works.”
If you haven’t seen their artwork yet, what are you waiting for? Go to any one of the above locations and join Tsapalas in achieving his ultimate goal of supporting local businesses, inspiring a sense of community, and encouraging your neighbors’ artistic expression. “It’s all been a wild, fun, nourishing and unexpected ride,” he says. “I just happened to have the right background, skillset inclination, and the right time to act on it. At some future moment, I know I’ll be able to look back and say I stepped up to help two industries I love, the neighborhood I love, and the city I love, during this most difficult period in history.”
If you’re an artist looking to contribute or a restaurant owner looking to add a splash of color to your curbside, learn more at curbsidecanvas.com and follow them on Instagram at @curbsidecanvas.