When Justin Aversano and Travis Rix started SaveArtSpace in 2015, their mission was to put art back on the public canvases which had been taken over by advertising. By buying up ad space (on billboards, bus stops and more), SaveArtSpace gives artists opportunities to show their work publicly in their communities, pushing back against the gentrification and hyper-advertization of numerous neighborhoods around the US. I spoke with Justin this week about some of the non profit’s most exciting past, present and future projects and the genesis of the incredible organization.
Justin jokes with me about the genesis of the brand: “The whole idea came from smoking a joint on the couch and thinking, ‘What’re we gonna do with our lives?’” And thus SaveArtSpace was born. The project’s first show, entitled Bushwick Open Studios 2015, was intended to support artists from Bushwick by giving them an opportunity to show their work publicly around the neighborhood. In 2015, Justin was self-funding these shows, but as word began to get out, they started accepting donations to fund future projects. SaveArtSpace continues to demonstrate that art is for everyone, not just members of the elite art old guard or those who have access to museums.
Justin and Travis aim to highlight art with a message that expands peoples’ understandings of the world around them. One of the organizations’ strengths is the way that the founders decenter themselves in the curation and selection of projects, allowing the community and their trusted artists’ to select themes for shows and suggest artists for future projects. For example, the 2020 show “WE DEMAND AN END TO POLICE BRUTALITY NOW!”, featured artist Adeshola Makinde's powerful invocation of the Civil Rights’ Movement’s vernacular during the turbulent summer of 2020.