The dressed-up mannequins, wine bottles, furniture and other merchandise on display in 37 downtown New Canaan storefronts will make way for art created by 38 local artists through May 23 for the fourth annual Art in the Windows exhibition.

Sponsored by the Carriage Barn Arts Center, the two-week long visual art gallery showcases watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings, as well as photography, prints and sculptures by artists from New Canaan, Darien, Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich, Wilton, Weston and Cross River, N.Y.

Barbel L. Green of Barbel Inc., a jewelry shop on Elm Street, launched Art in the Windows as a collaborative effort between local merchants and the New Canaan Society for the Arts, the non-profit parent organization that sponsors the Carriage Barn Arts Center. Green organizes the event, coordinating artists and their work with merchants and their window space.

"I just love art," she said. "It's fun and it's good for business. It's all local stores and I would like to push the corporate stores, too, because if they are in a small town, they should get involved with the community."

On Saturday, May 15, a dozen exhibiting artists will work en plein air throughout the day in front of the shops displaying their artwork. New Canaan artist Constance Old will work outside Design Solutions, where a number of her pieces are on display, on Shade of Clear, a rug hooking made of recycled plastic bags.

"It's made with all different clear plastics, like clear bags, J. Crew bags, newspaper bags and it's rug-hooked into a made in China plastic tarp bag," she said, describing the work in progress.

Old, who also makes prints and runs workshops for kids, said she has a degree in graphic design from Yale University. Twelve years ago, she began making collages from old magazine pages and gradually grew interested in working exclusively with recycled paper and plastic. She said "the excesses of consumer society" sparked her interest in recyclables as art.

"I got interested in using clementine box covers or any mesh bag that you might take to the gym," she explained.

Old is one of 21 New Canaanites whose work will be displayed for the duration of the storefront gallery.

The Carriage Barn Arts Center has been dedicated to promoting community interests and supporting creativity through visual and performing arts since 1977. Its headquarters, a restored 19th century stone barn in Waveny Park, hosts art exhibitions in the Betty Barker Gallery. In addition to visual arts exhibits, the Carriage Barn hosts concerts, lectures, classes and other cultural events that are free and open to the public.

In addition to the annual exhibition, Green, who is a Carriage Barn trustee board member, features work by a new artist in her storefront each month. Green said she organizes the galleries because they bring "tons of people" into the store, especially on the opening night of a new exhibit.

"We opened up the store 24 years ago, we are in out 25th year now, and we have done that from day one," she said.

All artwork exhibited at Art in the Windows will be available for purchase. Artists will donate 50 percent of sale proceeds to the non-profit Carriage Barn Arts Center. Sales will be on a cash-and-carry basis. Purchases can be made by credit card (Visa or MasterCard), cash or check.