On April 23rd, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund office was buzzing with anticipation and excitement for the launch of No Longer Empty’s mini-retrospective of This Side of Paradise. The original exhibit was first introduced in 2012 at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx. Situated on the Grand Concourse, the Home was once a symbol of paradise for the formerly wealthy that lived there from the 1920s to the early 1980s. Built to mirror a grand palazzo, the Home provided the accoutrements of a rich and civilized lifestyle for the elderly who had lost their fortunes—white glove dinner service, a grand ballroom, and a social committee who organized concerts and opera performances. Fast forward to present-day Bronx, the Home was mostly shuttered due to a depleted endowment. Referencing this quixotic history, No Longer Empty’s mini-retrospective of This Side of Paradise exhibition launched at the Illumination offices on April 23rd.
No Longer Empty, a non-profit organization that presents professionally curated, site-specific art exhibitions to promote socially conscious artists and to build resilience in communities through art, engaged more than thirty artists and Bronx-based organizations to “reactivate” the building. Now the Andrew Freedman Home houses artists’ studios, a Head Start program, job training, and even a bed and breakfast.