BUSHWICK - Artists in Bushwick say they are having problems getting their art seen by the public, and they say that big businesses are to blame.

Over the last few years, more big businesses have been paying store owners thousands of dollars to place ads in spaces that were once reserved for art, according to the artists. They say that the ads often mimic the murals they painted in the community.

Artists say it is becoming significantly more difficult for them to express themselves. They also claim that big business ads are ruining the character of their neighborhood.

Store owners say that the billboards are an easier way to make much-needed money.

Phillip Kafka, owner of Prince Media, one of the companies that buys ad space in the area, says that artists and businesses need to form a symbiotic relationship.

"All in all, commerce is vitality; art attracts the potential for commerce, advertising legitimizes an area, and promotes more commerce," said Kafka. "People can hate on either component of the system, but it is hard to deny that they feed off each other."