Bridging the Divide: Baruch Houses, Manhattan

  • Ashes57
  • Nancy Saleme, I am Here Because I Care About You, 2022
  • George Torres Jr., Starship Imagination, 2022


The artworks developed at Baruch Houses are a testament to the perseverance of the community and artists. The program confronted a number of road blocks due to post Hurricane Sandy construction as well as the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the local community—including the incredible Baruch Houses Resident Association, the office of Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, and residents themselves—were able to rally together to ensure that this exhibition fully represents the history, hopes, and spirit of the Baruch Houses. Workshops were held at Abrons Art Center, the Resident Association Office, and a Community Art & Resource Fair that included numerous community partners. Through these events, residents were able to contribute their own ideas to the final artworks.

Photo Credits for all Baruch Houses artworks: Paul Katcher

Ashes57 (Delphine Ettinger), Night by the East River, 2022

Night by the East River, by Ashes57, depicts a portrait of the Baruch Houses. Using her distinctive black and white palette with an occasional burst of color, the artist portrays the houses and various local landmarks. The Williamsburg Bridge, East River Park, and FDR Drive are inhabited by musicians, revelers and a cast of typical New York birds and animals milling about the streets of the Lower East Side. Residents were able to add their own characters to the artwork during the workshop that the artist led as part of the Community Art & Resource Fair.

72 Baruch Drive, New York, NY | @ashes57

Nancy Saleme, I am Here Because I Care About You, 2022

Nancy Saleme’s I am Here Because I Care About You, transformed photographs of flowers local to the Baruch Houses into vibrant digital paintings punctuated by graphic floral patterns. Her palette transitions from colors associated with sunrise to those of sunset to trace the journey of a complete day. Responding directly to a comment made during one of her workshops, Saleme designed this piece to bring joy to her community, as one resident shared, “I would like to see something that makes me smile, because there is enough sadness in the world.”

Various fences near Baruch Drive, New York, NY | @threadingtrends

George Torres Jr., Starship Imagination, 2022

George Torres Jr.’s Starship Imagination invites the youth of Baruch Houses to put down their digital devices and get outdoors. His artwork features train engines and space stations, elements of jungle gyms that were placed in public housing developments across America in the 1960’s. The Williamsburg Bridge and an image of two friends holding a baseball bat, their hands intertwined in camaraderie and teamwork, are also depicted. The artist put these images over abstract backgrounds inspired by workshops he held at Baruch. Torres, who grew up in the Houses, hopes his artwork offers the older generation a sense of nostalgia, while prompting the younger generation to get energized and play.

Various fences near Baruch Drive, New York, NY

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