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Portraits of Hope

NYC laundries get colorful makeovers with children's art

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Something colorful is going on inside the Happy Family laundry in the South Bronx. It's is being turned into a fantasy land of color and flowers.

"We like to take public spaces that people take for granted and transform them," says Bernie Massey, the co-founder of Portraits of Hope, along with his brother Ed. It's a nonprofit project that's been bringing art to unexpected places since 1995, like to the top of taxi cabs and to beach lifeguard stands.

But the story behind the art is more than meets the eye.

"Portraits of Hope began as a creative therapy program for children in hospitals," Ed Massey says.

Bernie Massey adds: "We have special brushes we've developed for children who need to paint with their mouths, let's say, or their feet, we have telescope paintbrushes which extend up to 8 feet so kids sitting in wheelchairs can participate as well."

The program has since expanded to include tens of thousands of local school children.

Six Laundromats across the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights are getting the royal treatment.

Up All Night on Amsterdam Avenue is one of them. The owner says the art has gotten people talking, and that's one of the goals.

"We thought, 'wow what's the potential if we could just take an area where people come and frequent, children and adults, and get the community involved and have a chance to have some discussion, maybe one stranger with another stranger about the beauty of the new look to the Laundromat," Bernie Massey says.

The art installation in all six Laundromats will stay up for four months.

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