On the Cover: Nick Marshall

The cover artist for our health issue is automotive mechanic and part-time welder Nick Marshall. Marshall chose smooth pulleys and gears with teeth to show the complexities in our brain. He says, “I used all different materials to show how complex the human brain is and show so much happening inside it, so much still learning.”

The piece took the better part of a day to make, with Marshall using gears from a box that had been sitting around for two years. Marshall, who has been a mechanic for around 10 years, does not classify his makings as art per se, but as constructively useful creations. Pinterest helped inspire him to take unused parts lying around his work and scrap yards and repurpose it.

Giving parts a second chance to be useful is a main reason Marshall loves creating so much. He says, “Giving an old engine or car part a new life, instead of it getting thrown to a junkyard, is very gratifying. I don’t hold onto everything but I hold onto anything I think could be made into something else or given another life.”

According to Marshall, tools hold a lot of memories, as he recounts fond moments spent with his grandfather working on projects growing up. This lends inspiration for some of the pieces he makes today. While taking commissions only sporadically, one of his favorite types of commission is when a customer comes to him with tools of a recently deceased family member. Marshall will take the tools and create a lasting creation for the family to remember their relative by.

Marshall does sporadic commissions and occasional maker’s markets. Reach out to Marshall on his Instagram @nicks_knacks_ne to see previous projects or to get an upcycled piece of your own!

On The Cover: Joseph Heroux

The cover artist for our Holiday Issue is a psychedelic illustrator whose enjoyment of the ’60s / ’70s era leant inspiration for the cover. Joseph Heroux, this month’s cover artist, created a piece that focuses on inclusivity during the holidays. 

Heroux has always been an artist, having his first gallery shown when he was just five years old at AS220. As he’s gotten older, his work has become more refined, incorporating influences from some of his favorite artists, such as Peter Max and Don Aquarius. 

Heroux also plays keyboards and synths in two experimental electronic psychedelic bands, Hew and Sinister Machine. His connection to the music scene doesn’t end there though, as he is also a member of the Big Nazo Space Transformation Station. In the group, Heroux composes the soundtracks and occasionally will decorate the masks that go along with the alien costumes worn by the group members. Heroux, who considers himself a spiritual person, says art “makes me feel spiritually well aligned with myself. Making art and playing music go hand and hand.”

The concept for the cover, which took Heroux an hour of sketching to come up with, was to make the Hindu God represent a sort of Shiva-Santa Claus opening up rather outrageous presents for the world. The world aspect comes into play with all the different religions being represented. Heroux says, “I was thinking about what I personally would want to see on the cover and how it should be incorporating hints of Hanukkah and have Kwanzaa colors popping out too”. 

You can see a trippy Hindu God, in meditation pose while holding the city of Providence, a menorah, as well as some bursting gift boxes. An elf can be seen in the corner, an artistic decision inspired by David Allen artwork. Everything in the design is a nod to Heroux’s love of the psychedelic. Heroux will continue his work with Hew, Sinister Machine, Space Transformation Station and the radio show he hosts Tuesdays, 9pm – midnight on WRIU. He also will be contributing to Motif’s own comic section, so keep an eye out for more work coming soon.

Saint Nip: Santa stroll hits bars in Jewelry District

What do you want for Christmas? Put aside your wishes for world peace and that shiny new bike, here’s one better: A Santa Stroll.

What’s a Santa Stroll you might ask? Picture a group, on the larger side, all dressed up as their versions of Santa, strolling together from bar to bar with activities and offerings from each location along the way. 

You must have been nice this year because The Motif Santa Stroll is coming and you’re invited!

Stroll through the Jewelry District as the group makes stops at locales like Xaco Taco, Nick-A-Nees, The District, Mirarbar, and Askew. Activities along the way range from group caroling to ornament making, from special drinks to holiday tacos, and including reindeer-inspired games. 

When the stroll ends that doesn’t mean the night does. Join us for our Annual Motif holiday party at Askew. Tarot card reading, henna tattoos, live musical performances by the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra and more are part of the night! Don’t forget to mark your calendars for December 15th.

Tickets for the holiday event are now up on Eventbrite, $25 for General and $35 for VIP. For more information and updates check out the event page on Motif’s Facebook.

Video Screening Series: Every type of music descends on Dusk

We had metal. We had opera. We had Latin music. We had folk, and pop, post-pop and pre-pop and some videos about music theory. But most of all, we had a great screening night, mixing the visual and auditory through a spate of over 20 music videos that gave a truly impressive cross-section of the musical talent lying in wait around our little state. “The production value really surprised me,” and “This was an amazing reminder of how much exceptional talent we have right here in RI,” were two of the feedback comments gathered during a QA with filmmakers and musicians at the end of the night.

Over 50 appreciators of music, or music videos, or videos, gathered at Dusk in PVD to experience these overlapping art forms. Recent Overall Favorite Bartender Award-winner Danielle Tellier was coincidentally slinging gourmet-level drinks, while Puggles brought the grilled cheese and dogs and sponsor Jade Sisti brought the popcorn maker, all while videos were projected, 40-feet high, outside the club in perfect fall weather.

The evening featured work by local legends like NOVA ONE, SexCoffee, Amanda Salemi, Lauren King, High Planes and Big Nazo. And audience voting was all over the place, with a pop tune set in a time warp by Scout Lyons, an original opera about the loneliness of quarantine by Skycam Films, and a gamble of a video by Ravi Shavi taking home top honors (and some snazzy gift certificates along with some Smoke Lab vodka) over a ten-way tie for fourth place.

It was Motif’s last outdoor screening for the year, in a summer that included various collaborations with SENEFest, PVDFest, PVD Horror and the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Our screening series continues for the next few months indoors at R1 Indoor Karting‘s screening hall, in the close-to-PVD part of Lincoln (100 Higginson Ave). The October edition, on Wednesday, Oct 19, will feature sci-fi and some scary films, in collaboration with the Vortex Sci-Fi and Horror Fest produced by Fickers. Also on board will be Halloween-themed vendors from PVDHorror and a Halloween costume contest with prizes that are sure to include cash, R1 Goodies, Jerry’s Artarama gifts and some Smoke Lab Vodka. And probably more stuff we’ll scare up after press time. 

2022 Music Awards

Motif Magazine 2022 Music Awards are BACK!

Live musical performances, yummy food from The Biggest Little Easy, and spotlights on the best local talent during the awards ceremony!

Where?: Fete Music Hall

When?: July 18th 7pm-10pm

Let us know if you plan on attending and keep an eye out for more information at this link: https://fb.me/e/2EMrtnWcm

Vote Now!!!


See the results from last year!

Learn more about our nomination process.

2022 Bartenders Ball

We want to recognize bartenders that elevate tending to an art form. Join us in celebrating your favorite local bartenders! We are still taking nominations.

Voting is now closed. But if you’d like to sign up for some of the live competitions we’ll have at the event, here are the rules and the sign-up sheet.

Where is the event taking place? R1 Indoor Karting, Lincoln, Rhode Island! We know Lincoln sounds far away, but it’s less than 10 minutes from downtown PVD.

When is the event taking place? Monday, August 1st! Doors at 6:00.

Sign up for one of the live competitions here

Interested in attending? Let us know at this link: https://fb.me/e/1JkOpICgu

Or get tickets here

Crowdsourced Valentine’s Day Ideas: We asked the Hive Mind and Dating in RI what their VDay plans were, and shared our thoughts too…

Instead of leaving our Valentine’s Day plans in the hands of advertisers, promoters, and self-serving bloggers, we thought to ask you, dear readers and social media followers, what it is you’d be doing on the 14th if you didn’t have a partner. The results were not disappointing, so we at Motif figured we’d spread the love: 

“I’ll be on a solo trip to Disney World. Not because it’s Valentine’s Day, but the fact that it is didn’t factor into my decision-making process either way.” 
We hear Mickey’s been single ever since that thing with Minnie and Felix the Cat… 

“My friend and I are going to Gregg’s to take advantage of their Valentine’s Day specials! We went last year and really leaned into the cheesy nature of the holiday.”
Are you over 70?

“Crying and downing a bottle of wine.”
As long as it’s in that order.


“Buying myself a new toothbrush.”
Sanitary. We hope that’s a kind of foreplay for you! Buy two!

“Take-out and bad TV.”
Good take out?

“I haven’t had a SO on Valentine’s Day in years so idk outside of that”
Courage! Somewhere, there’s an SO who hasn’t had you on VDay. 

“Probably the same thing I did last year… Taking myself out for a steak and salad alone.”
As long as the steak has salad with it, they’re never really alone…

“Cook myself a full course meal, then buy discount v-day candy the next day.”
Yes! Although, the Christmas candy is on discount now!

“Wine and cookies.”
Do you dip the cookies?

“Getting back from my Bahamas vacation for my birthday. VDay is my birthday.”
Is your name Cupid?

“PlantCity and Veg Fest for Galentines!”
Extra eggplant at least, we hope?

“Myself probably.”
Well played!

“Since the end of a long term relationship in 2017, I’ve donated to my fave wolf sanctuary on Valentine’s Day.”
This feels like a metaphor.

“I vote second Halloween!!”
Yes! I call the one in the slutty nurse outfit.

“It’s a Monday so probably work, dinner, lay on the couch pantless watching TV.”
Well, at least there’s a pantless part.

“My tradition is to gather up some babies, give them little bows and arrows and throw them out the window to see which ones fly. I give them a little time with the bows first, just to see if they can hit anything.”
So wrong.

“I like to print out photos of my exes and take them to some place like Dart City or the Axe Bar, where they let you attach them to the targets and throw things at them. Turns out doing that to the real thing can get you arrested, but with print outs it’s ok.”
We are glad we don’t have to inform SWAT.

“My VDay tradition is to get some high quality construction paper and cut out heart shapes. I write the name of anyone I need to release from my thoughts, and make a nice little fire to warm the mid-February air.”
I can’t figure out if this is really evolved or really scary.

A Whole Bucket of Fun: The Pawtucket Arts Festival brings two weekends of arts programming to the state

Twenty-three years ago, the Pawtucket Arts Festival was just a small arts fair that allowed vendors to set up shop and sell their art. This year, festival director Anthony Ambrosino and his team have pulled out all the stops. 

The festival, which is presented by the Pawtucket Teachers Alliance, The Pawtucket Times and the City of Pawtucket, will take place over the weekends of September 10 and September 19. 

Ambrosino, who became the festival’s director in 2019 when Eastern Equine Encephalitis was prevalent, says he believes the festival has minimal COVID-19 risk because it is all outdoors.

“I was more scared last year than this year,” he says. “ Everything is outdoors, so really the only worry is weather. People are desperate for things to do that are safe and get them out of their house, and we hope to provide that.” 

The free arts festival offers an eclectic itinerary of food, dance, music, painting, yoga and more. 

“We try to stretch that art definition as much as we can,” Ambrosino explains. 

Ten restaurants will compete for the title of best empanada, with festival goers as judges, and the festival has teamed up with Pawtucket Central Falls restaurant weeks to get people out to support local restaurants. 

Tree Yoga Studio will offer yoga; art studios and galleries will be open and interactive craft events also will be offered. There will be sculptures on site and live music performances throughout the event. For the little ones, there will be face painting, bouncy houses and more during the family fun day. 

The festival’s headlining attraction is Plein Air Pawtucket (see sidebar). En plein air painting refers to the practice of painting outside. For this event, 12 renowned artists will set up their canvases around the Blackstone River so that viewers can watch them paint live. “It speaks to what we’re trying to do with the festival, which is create art outdoors,” says Ambrosino. The artists will sit before Pawtucket’s landmarks and breathtaking skylines, and capture them on canvas in what promises to be an awe-inspiring experience for all those watching. 

The Rhode Island Philharmonic returns, bringing with them a sense of long-standing tradition.

“I hope to stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and bring the festival in the direction it needs now,” he says. Asking the Philharmonic to perform was important both because bringing tradition to the festival is a priority and, “it’s a celebration of a partnership that benefits our youth.” The Philharmonic has partnered with The Pawtucket Teachers Alliance for some time now, hosting many programs with Pawtucket schools.

With the world seeming a bit grey these days, it’s important to provide people with a colorful escape, though Ambrosino believes art is inescapable in our day-to-day lives.

“The arts are imperative,” he says. “Everything from song to storytelling to any kind of artistic expression goes back to the cavemen. The definition is so broad. From the design of your coffee cup to the Netflix show you are watching, art really is everywhere.” 

The Pawtucket Arts Festival takes place Sept 10 – 19. For more information, go to pawtucketartsfestival.org. 

Ecstatic Ekphrastic

Public art is meant to inspire conversation, and What Cheer Writers Club and The Avenue Concept recently teamed up to formalize that exchange in an event called Ecstatic Ekphrastic. The two arts organizations selected four pieces of Avenue Concept-installed art — “Condemned” by Richard Goulis, “Misty Blue” by Andrew Hem, “Night Flight” by Lauren YS and “The Revolution Starts in the Earth with the Self” by Jess X. Snow — then What Cheer Writers Club members were tasked with creating poems, essays or communal texts in response to the pieces chosen.

Writers who submitted work in July were entered into a random drawing for the opportunity to read their work at a virtual showcase that will be held Aug 13. For more information, go to whatcheerclub.org/ecstatic-ekphrastic

Writing on the Wall

After a June night of violence in PVD, many downtown business owners covered their surviving windows with plywood to protect them from being broken during anticipated protests. Local artists beautified the display by using the panels as blank canvases where portraits of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and messages of peace and justice emerged. The protests were peaceful and the panels unnecessary, but the art remains. They’re now displayed on Eddy Street, just across from the Biltmore Garage, where passersby can witness their messages.

Photo credit: Tess Lyons; art by @twobirds.Art, @diaryofaquarantinedartist, @coleseyeview, @mister.diablo, @_Happysloth_, @tattoovandal, @lunabadoula, @lizzysour, @96CYRI, @so.Roni, @naturalsnatural,  @lucidTraveler_Art, @joselin_0321, @Escoky, @_happysloth_, @brooxana,  @shelaughsxo, @martin_p292