Artist Tom West in the Pigeon Hole

Tom West; Photo by Lisa Gourley

The art scene in Olneyville is flat out legendary. A DIY lifestyle encompasses it all with an endless amount of creativity transforming abandoned warehouse spaces into havens of aesthetic beauty. A new gallery is opening up in the epicenter of Olneyville called Pigeon Hole. It’s a giant space that’ll be covered with art — no blank space will go neglected. Dedicated to making difficult art work for the artist and promoting the dark, weird and stupid as a basis for everything, the gallery have its grand opening on January 29.

Showcasing the work of local artists such as Arthur Cayo, Chris Heon, Tim Batty, Daniel Tanner, James Lastowski, Jolly Day, Mackenzie Elizabeth, Robert Houllahan and many others, Pigeon Hole will celebrate Providence’s artist community through diverse pieces of art work. I had a chat with one of the owners of the gallery and a pretty damn fine artist himself, Tom West, about what made him want to create, his love for Andy Warhol and what people can expect at the opening.

Rob Duguay: When did you realize you wanted to become an artist?


Tom West: Ever since I’ve been out of the military, I’ve always been art inclined. What I learned while in the military is that you can do anything you put your mind to, so immediately after getting out I wanted to pursue art. Regardless of whether my friends or family thought it was financially viable, I knew I could, so I pursued it immediately afterward.

RD: Your style of art is comparable to Andy Warhol in the sense that it stems from the realm of pop art. Is Warhol an influence of yours?

TW: Warhol is a huge idol of mine. Pop art definitely sang to me as a young person. In becoming an artist I used pop as a platform; I didn’t see the art that I wanted to see after that era. I feel like I’m a continuation of it in a way, but I also tackle more serious issues in terms of religion, education and war as opposed to pop culture, which normally went at the powers that be, the wealthy or whatever. I thought it was important to dig in deeper at the community level, education at the national level, war at the world level and religion. I just felt that it was a very powerful outlet, not full to the extent of what I wanted to see happening in art. I got into art to make what I wanted to see that I wasn’t seeing before.

RD: You take political stances using the pop art style, which has never happened before.

TW: Yeah.

RD: With Pigeon Hole, how long have you and the other people involved had this space?

TW: I’ve been in this space for two years and I feel it’s time to start using it for more than just a craft space. It’s so big, it’s humongous. My friend Ben gave me this space for a great rate, and I’m just taking advantage of it because why not?

RD: Along with a bunch of artists showing their work, what else can people expect from the gallery opening?

TW: As an opening night, it’s a call of forces. There’s going to be a bunch of people coming together showing art, of course. Secondly there will be a gallery DJ throughout the night spinning all sorts of music. We have sponsors, there will be food being served and adult beverages available to people over 21. We’re going to be having some live performance pieces. There will be an area showing video art. The gallery opening will have so much stuff going on, so people can expect to see a lot.

RD: A lot of mediums have transitioned because of the internet — journalism, radio, music and even art where people sell and show their work on their own websites. With all of this happening, what is your vision of art and what it’ll become over the next 5 years?

TW: In Olneyville, the area in general is such a huge hub that the nation is looking at it to be the future of art in Providence. A lot of the organizations that I’ve sat with and talked to at round tables and at board meetings seem to be focusing and telling me that the nation is looking to Olneyville. I don’t know what that’s going to become, I know I’m here with my feet on the ground running and I want to be part of whatever big thing is coming to the neighborhood. I want to be part of it and be relevant within it.

Event page for Pigeon Hole’s Gallery Opening: https://www.facebook.com/events/538393362979716/

Follow Pigeon Hole on Tumblr: http://pigeonholegallery.tumblr.com/