NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The death of George Floyd led to widespread demonstrations, and even some looting in the city. In SoHo, some of the plywood used to protect storefronts was turned into art, which is now on display at the National Arts Club.

The sight of broken glass last summer and hollowed-out storefronts were followed by boarded up businesses.

“It was totally deserted, like a ghost town,” artist Maxi Cohen recently told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.

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Cohen was one of 700 artists who decided to make the most of that awful moment.

“It did feel really important to somehow bring back the spirit of SoHo, the spirit of art to the neighborhood,” Cohen said.

“As soon as we started painting on the streets people started showing up, started signing, changing the neighborhood, and it felt so great,” artist Timur York said.

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Those artists are part of the Art 2 Heart collective, but they got some help along the way.

“Grandmothers came with their kids. They all painted,” Miriam Novalle said.

Now, almost a year later, some of the work they created on the streets are on display at the National Arts Club.

The pieces of art exist on the same plywood that was used to board up storefronts in SoHo.

“It was a tremendous burst of creative energy that happened in the city,” National Arts Club curator Robert Yahner said.

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Yahner said every piece has its own story to tell.

“What happened to us over this last year is not going to make sense to everybody in the same way. It’s going to be our own story,” artist Gordon Kindlon said.

And the stories are meant to cover the ongoing reality, from civil unrest, to the coronavirus pandemic, with the hope of inspiring compassion, healing, and love.

The exhibit is free to the public and runs through the end of March.

CBS2’s Kevin Rincon contributed to this report

CBSNewYork Team