For the last thirty years, Etkin has considered community involvement an important facet of his busy art career. As far back as 1971 (having just graduated with an art degree from Brooklyn College in New York), Jay immersed himself in teaching art classes at inner-city daycare centers throughout New York. He was later funded through the South Brooklyn Council for the Arts to conduct printmaking workshops for at-risk teens in Brooklyn.
Jay continued to create his own work while teaching throughout N.Y.C. Etkin's life in Memphis started in 1983 with an exhibition at the Memphis College of Art. Jay immersed himself in the local art scene quickly supporting and advocating the rich visual arts talent he encountered here. Ever committed to his personal work as a painter, Etkin also saw great value in supporting various causes outside the arts community. His idea was to involve the arts in all area of life in Memphis. Whether it be St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Heart Association, or Friends for Life, the arts could be used as a tool for fundraising while putting emphasis on the larger value of the arts in a growing city. Etkin' s work is in corporate and private collections throughout the United States, Geneva, Switzerland, Israel, and Japan.
Etkin has been the owner and director of the Jay Etkin Gallery
(formerly the Cooper St. Gallery) since 1989.
Jay was also featured in Elite Memphis Magazine in 2002. He was profiled in Memphis Downtowner Magazine in the Spring 2004, and in Memphis columnist, Frederic Koeppel's article in May, 2006.