Portrait artist Rusty Zimmerman, who has painted Governor Andrew Cuomo and has appeared in the New York Times, is opening up his services for the people who lives in Crown Heights. DNAinfo reports that the 5-year Crown Heights resident is launching “The Free Portrait Project: Crown Heights,” in which he will attempt to paint portraits of 200 local residents. The residents will receive the portraits at no cost to the subjects. Portraits like these usually cost patrons $500 and up, said Zimmerman.

He has already received significant community support for the project, including donations. Several businesses have already agreed to host the paintings as well. “The idea is to create a ubiquitous presence throughout the neighborhood where people walk around and they say, ‘Oh, I keep seeing these portraits everywhere I go. What is this?’” he told DNAinfo.

The project is meant not only to bring the community closer together, but also to comment on how it’s changing. “It’s about painting a portrait of this place through its people by documenting who we are now, amid gentrification and rapidly shifting demographics, to document a cross section of the community and, in doing so, quietly upend the tradition of portraiture just being reserved for a wealthy few,” he said.

The project is holding a fundraising event on April 18 at Friends and Lovers in Brooklyn. Tickets can be purchased here.

UPDATE: Due to the media attention, Zimmerman is opening up fundraising efforts now. He has also automated the registration process for Crown Heights residents.

(Photo: Shawn Hoke)