Warren, Rhode Island, hosts many creative things in its path, but I stumbled upon a foundation that is worth receiving a shout out. The IFA, (Imago Foundation for the Arts), located on Market Street, is a wonderful 1500-foot space that houses a cooperative place dedicated to the arts. It’s free and open to the public. With fundraising activities, grants and a community that loves this gallery, it has been in operation for over 10 years. I recently was in amazement of the multiple mediums in this gallery. From sculptures to photographs and paintings and the list goes on. I was so thrilled when I stepped in to explore further and was able to chat with two local artists about their works and techniques. It’s refreshing when new forms or art work are created and the end results are impressive and on display!
The membership encompasses 18 artists who participate and staff the gallery with four-hour rotating shifts. They have a few compensated volunteers and no paid director, therefore the space is open for 24 hours each week. The member artists are able to receive exposure of their works and can use the IFA’s website as another promotional vehicle. The website has links to the artist’s work, and promotes upcoming events along with YouTube videos on a specific artist. Unlike with most galleries, the commission rates are kept low and the exhibits include members’ works and holds an annual community show. For a small fee, any community member can submit up to three pieces of artwork (any medium) that will be displayed in the gallery. Their mission is to “support community involvement in a wide range of cultural activities related to the arts.” Warren is lucky to have this passion.
Partnering with various mediums of art forms, The 2nd Story Theatre, also in Warren, does an annual fundraising event with the IFA. They have captured ‘live’ art and related venues in forms of dance recitals, musicians and poets. Art talks are also represented in conjunction with the exhibits, various topics and panel discussions. The space is unique in that it can handle a variety of performances and be accommodate food and beverages.
The IFA partakes in the monthly (5x per year) Art Night in Bristol and Warren with extended hours. It’s a great way to introduce the gallery and art to the local area and visitors.
If you would like more information regarding the IFA or would like to be a member, visit their website and apply using the forms. Applicants for membership are asked to submit images of recent works, which are reviewed by the committee. Each applicant is invited to meet with members to discuss their works and ask questions about IFA and how the gallery operates. Come visit, it’s an exciting space that houses some of Rhode Island’s noteworthy artisans.
Imago Foundation for the Arts, 36 Market St, Warren. 401-245-3348; firstname.lastname@example.org; IMAGOfoundation4Arts.org
Abandoned Spaces centerspread — JULY 2017
Andrew Hem’s “Misty Blue” Mural
Both floors of Marc Greenfield’s office are curated like a museum, its walls adorned with paintings, photographs and murals by friends, colleagues and other local artists. Outside, the only piece by a non-Rhode Islander rises over the cars and street.
The piece, which covers an entire exterior wall of the building, is “Misty Blue,” a new mural by LA-based artist Andrew Hem. It is a project sponsored by the Avenue Concept, a nonprofit committed to supporting and developing sustainable public art in Providence.
Yarrow Thorne, the organization’s founder and artistic director, had been eyeing the location for about five years. It was prime real estate for a mural: a large exterior surface, flat and visible. Greenfield has owned the building for just about two months.
Thorne explained that the city of Providence approached the Avenue Concept about a collaboration, a mural, completed in time for PVDFest, which took place in early June. The Avenue Concept had already reached out to Hem and secured him as the resident artist for the summer.
The original mural Hem had in mind was a two-figure piece, which evolved into a one-figure mural. After seeing a photograph of the location where the mural would be situated, he wanted to create a nature scene, with greens and blues to contrast the red brick around it.
His inspiration, he said, came from stories his mom told him about her time in the jungle during the Cambodian genocide. Hem is Cambodian, and he said that after he heard about Providence’s significant Cambodian population, he wanted the mural’s subject to be Cambodian as well.
“For me, I definitely feel like it was one of my favorite murals that I’ve done,” Hem said, noting that something “clicked” for him while he was painting that has him excited about his future murals, as he feels he learned about colors and applying his methods to large spaces.
To complete the mural in time for PVDFest, the timeline of his work had to be significantly moved up. The original location selected for the project had fallen through, and Thorne was searching for a new place to house the mural.
Enter Greenfield and the building at 118 Orange Street.
Greenfield has long been a supporter and patron of the arts. He points to field trips and family trips to museums, as well as family members with interests in the arts as the genesis of what has been a lifelong love for artwork.
“I think [public art] is absolutely important. I think it kind of changes our view, changes our perspective. It takes you away from … the city, the normal, the humdrum,” Greenfield said, “and gives you a look at what is, what could be.”
Greenfield said the project was completed in about three weeks. All told, murals like this one can take months to complete, as fundraising, preparations and other work leading up to the project are set in motion and completed before work on the piece can begin, Thorne said.
For Greenfield, his interest in the project, after he was approached by Thorne about using the building, was immediate.
Having art in the workplace is something important to Greenfield and something he has incorporated into the two offices he’s had in his 25-year law career. The pieces have moved with him to his new office, including the first piece he ever purchased: a work titled, “Nefertiti,” by Alfred DeCredico, whose work makes multiple appearances throughout the office.
“I feel it’s the right way to have my work environment,” he said.
Hem, similarly, is a student of many types of art forms, and said his style is a result of being inspired by a variety of influences, including nature, anatomy and architecture.
“I like street artists and I like academic artists,” Hem said.
“You have to have an interest in a lot of things … to be truly original,” he said, noting that having singular influences can limit an artist’s scope.
Moving forward, Greenfield has plans to light Hem’s mural to maximize its visibility. He and the Avenue Concept have been collaborating on this front, and meetings have been convened to discuss options and plans.
The mural is located downtown, near the Red Fez, on the corners of Orange and Friendship Streets.
La isla fantastic or Fantasy Island — A Performance and Installation Art Show
Sheyla (Shey) Rivera Rios was born in Puerto Rico. Leaving her homeland some seven years ago, she landed in Providence at the advice of a mentor. With a new role as artistic director at AS220, her creative passion is as deep as her Caribbean roots. Bienvenido!
Fantasy island is a combination of works by Shey Rivera and Huascar Robles. Working separately on the political awareness of Puerto Rico’s economic and social oppression, the performance is a powerful homage to the outlook that exists in this Commonwealth. The performance/installation exhibit runs through the month of June at AS220 Project Space on Mathewson Street, Providence.
The gallery space is well fit for confinement with an urban oasis twist. With stark white walls and linear lines, it is almost as if the people of PR are being backed into a corner. The space houses black and white digital photos, a neon sign, an altar and digital art. What is it all about? The truth. The truth about Puerto Rico, generations of family, its lush failing land, its incredible history and the harshness of reality. With Huascar’s opening dialog, he is the well-dressed business man behind a contemporary glass desk, perhaps a visual of the fragility of the island. His crisp attire would appeal to the masses of financiers, creating an unrealistic view of tourism, urbanism and the social structure. He pontificates on decades of politics from the fountain of wealth, a vault of history and the economic crisis. Debt and more debt. Puerto Rico is not for sale. I am alarmed by the stages of ups and downs PR has endured and even more alarmed of the neglect of the Commonwealth. With a roaming eye, I seek out meaning for the other pieces hanging in the gallery that add to the performance installation. With Shey’s emotional voice, she clearly embraces her heritage with metaphors “This is a funeral”… “Tell me where are you from, did you get here on purpose, where are you headed, what are your dreams made of, mine taste like rain…”.
With social disparity of what is currently happening on the island and a dire situation for families, most people are totally disconnected from the reality they are facing in PR. Shey’s media art of real estate luxury spins off the internet culture, again, showing the lack of realism in society. The large altar of virgin and child is a reminder of the depiction of the influx of slaves that intermixed with the native community that makes the PR race today. The written gold graffiti of Nana Buruku displays for the people her spirit of the earth and moon. They hide their beliefs of their West African root, as this is how they grew up. The installation is about creating awareness of what is going on today.
Puerto Rico is in debt, big time debt. How much you ask? $72 billion. How did this happen? Here’s a quick history lesson:
Puerto Rico has been borrowing money (for years) by issuing municipal bonds.
Puerto Rico can’t afford what it currently owes.
The sales tax has increased, schools are closing and there are budget cuts for hospitals.
The marketing of PR as a tourist attraction is covering up the bigger picture.
Farmers Market and Pick-Your-Owns Centerspread — JUNE 2017
Beaches and Bike Paths Centerspread — JUNE 2017
Free Summer Fun
With so much to do in the summer, wallets can quickly become worn out from overspending. But not to worry — there’s plenty to do in Rhode Island in the summer that’s free — or at least very, very cheap — and none of it involves heading to the bathroom when the check arrives.
Movies: You should see Wonder Woman in a big theater with surround sound and a large popcorn. But not every movie needs that treatment. For a less expensive option, you could pile all your friends into your clown car and head to Rustic Tri-View to see the latest blockbusters. But if that is too rich for your blood, there are movie options for the low, low price of free! For family-friendly flicks, head to Rocky Point Park on Thursday nights where movies are projected on a screen in front of the lawn. Bring a blanket and arrive hungry because there’s always a line of food trucks waiting. For more grown-up movies, check out Movies on the Block on Thursday nights. Once a week, the movie screen on a brick wall at the corner of Union and Westminster Streets downtown draws a crowd of movie lovers and occasionally, a leashed cinephile (they’re usually dogs). Check our listings for the Movies on the Block summer line-up.
Music: Free music practically pours from every corner of the state in the summer. On Tuesdays, head to North Kingstown Town Beach for their summer concert series. On Wednesday nights, you have your pick of gazebo concerts. Check out the live music at the gazebo at Narragansett’s Town Beach, or head to Garden City in Cranston to listen to their gazebo concert. On Thursday nights, head to Burnside Park downtown when the park turns into a beer garden. The beer isn’t free, but the music is. And so is the entertainment for the littles (Legos and bubbles FTW!) On Fridays is the WBRU Concert Series at Waterplace Park. Check out Alt-Nation for this year’s line-up and check out Roots Report for other free music options. It’s also worth paying attention to the concerts held at the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park. They aren’t free, but they are reasonably priced and the scenery alone is worth the price of admission.
Museums: Most museums in the state offer free or discounted days on occasion. The RISD museum is free on Sundays and the third Thursday evening of each month. The Natural History Museum in Roger Williams Park is free to Providence residents on the first Saturday of every month, but even if your ID doesn’t say PVD, admission costs about the same as a cup of coffee. The Roger Williams Park Zoo also is free to Providence residents the first Saturday of the month. Museum membership is also worth considering if you’re a frequent museum-goer. The up-front cost can be steep, but membership quickly pays for itself after a couple of family visits. Memberships often come with museum reciprocity as well. So if you purchase a membership at one museum, partner museums will let you in for free. Another option is to contact your local library. Many of them hold a few passes to local museums and will check them out to you for the day on a first-come, first-served basis.
Munchkins: If your little ones are climbing the walls, bored with all that summer freedom, fear not! There’s plenty of free entertainment around that will keep kids (and you) busy. On Thursday mornings, head to Burnside Park to enjoy a free storytime. When storytime is over, kids are lead through a themed craft while you lounge on over-sized beanbags scattered on the lawn. Just about every bookstore and library in the state offers free activities and storytimes. The storytime at the Athanaeum is particularly fun, and in the summer, the librarian takes her show on the road, reading stories to little ones playing at Humboldt Park, located near Wayland Square, on Thursday afternoons. When temperatures really spike, Providence keeps kiddos cool by turning on the water at various splash pads throughout the city. And if things get too hot even for the splash pad, head to the Providence Children’s Museum. Admission is always free for EBT cardholders, and admission is free for everyone on occasional Friday evenings. Check their calendar for details. Side note: If you find yourself getting aggravated when little Johnny knocks down your awesome Magnet Tile tower … again! … consider hitting the children’s museum on their adults-only night. The playground at Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is super fun, also has an adults-only night. Neither of these events are free, but wouldn’t you pay any sum of money to finish your damn tower?! And of course, there’s WaterFire. Your kids will eat too much sugar and stay up too late, but they’ll create lasting memories and you’ll get to smell the campfire scent in their hair as you carry your sleeping cherubs from the car to bed.
This list is far from exhaustive — we haven’t even touched on the hiking trails (see page XX), beaches, rivers (see page XX) and old-fashioned block parties. If you have a favorite free event we missed, let us know on Facebook and we’ll share your suggestion.
Gallery Night Providence Returns
Gallery Night Providence is one of those Providence activities everyone in the city should do at least once. It’s charming and pleasant and fun, and shows a side of our city you might not otherwise realize has been here all along, existing in the cracks between most citygoers’ daily experiences, coffee runs and commutes.
If it’s something you take to, it’s also a great way to get your art on – once a month or once in a while – and do it in a way that’s social and different. It’s a little like a Whitman’s sampler of chocolates – always a few you don’t much like, never enough of your favorites, but often including a few pleasant surprises you might not have tried otherwise. And hey, it’s chocolate (or in this case, art).
The tours start at the giant residential complex called Regency Plaza, right off the highway at exit 21, where there is loads of free parking. (You can tell Rhode Islanders came up with this. Just tell the box at the gate you’re there for Gallery Night.) The Regency features a lovely set of gathering spaces on the ground floor of the One Regency Plaza building, where you register, enjoy some snacks, grab a copy of Motif for later (shameless!) and get ushered to your bus of choice.
What happens between stops varies widely, depending on your group and your guide. I’ve been on Gal Night tours where there was nothing but reverent silence, participants presumably contemplating the artistic nature of life and the universe itself, speaking only in hushed tones with companions they’d brought along. I’ve been on tours where the guide led everyone in a sing-a-long between stops. I’ve seen guides test out their stand-up routines or work their karaoke skills. I’ve seen guides try to flirt with each other – points for cajones and for awkwardness, with a bus full of strangers watching. And I’ve seen a tour where a bevy of millennials simply pulled out cell phones and texted the whole way – this was a late-season tour, so it had gotten dark, and I was mesmerized by the floating, dinging, ‘gramming lights bobbing about in the dark bus as it carefully navigated the potholes of Providence.
The stops also vary significantly. Some are more curios, some more shops, some traditional-feeling galleries and some avant-garde demi-nightclubs. Most are small, safe spaces where the timid art of Providence can feel bolder and where pieces can find homes that make them shine. Plus there are often snacks and usually at least one stop will have wine.
I’ll be co-leading a gallery night tour for the first time on May 18 – in the spirit of this issue, or by insane RI coincidence – it’s the DIY tour (well, “Maker Spaces & Artists” tour). Taking off at 5:30pm (come early – although I’m not generally on time, Gallery Night is), this tour will visit J Schatz, Sprout, Gather Glass and Copacetic, all places filled with things that were handmade in Providence.
J Shatz is a nationally marketed custom maker of ceramics, from dishware to lighting, from birdhouses to entirely unique décor. We’ll see how they make all those wonderful toys by hand, out of clay. Sprout is a co-work space for fine artists that will feature four of the members showing what they’ve conceived in their friendly lobby at Rising Sun Mills, which always has something unique and expectation-bending. Gather Glass is a new stop where we can see glass art as it is being crafted, making the entire process transparent. Copacetic is a quirky curio featuring custom-made jewelry, gadgets and gizmos, and mesmerizing timepieces. This is the place to try and solve a puzzle ring or outwit a gyroscope.
Other tours on May 18 include:
A tour for the deaf to David Winton Bell Gallery, RISD Museum, Anthony Tomaselli’s Gallery and Providence City Hall galleries, guided by Peter Geisser
A youth tour guided by Hillary Salmons of the Providence After-School Alliance, to ArtProv Gallery, Gallery Z, the URI Feinstein Providence Campus Galleries and the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities & Cultural Heritage
A weaving and glass art tour visiting Peaceable Kingdom, Gallery Belleau, Gather Glass and the warren of artist spaces known as Inner Space Outsider Art Gallery @ ShareSpace
A tour of the BankRI Gallery in the Turk’s Head Building, Anthony Tomaselli’s work at Fleur de Lys, the galleries at the Providence Art Club and the Dryden Gallery
Every third Thursday of the month for the rest of 2017, you’ll find tours leaving every half hour from 5 to 7pm; they last roughly two hours, with about 20 minutes per stop (and you’re right, that time math doesn’t quite work. I think there’s a TARDIS involved.) and tours are free, and thanks to RI’s tax-free art zone, any art purchased is sales-tax-free.
Mini-Maker Faire 2017 at PVD Fest
After a number of years as part of the August Foo Fest, the Rhode Island Mini-Maker Faire (MMF) is moving to the June PVD Fest, still in close collaboration with local arts collective AS220. Among other changes, the move allows MMF to expand its hours; the event now runs from 1 – 8pm on Saturday, June 3, which is the third day of the four-day PVD Fest.
MMF describes itself on its website as “a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these ‘makers’ to show hobbies, experiments, projects.” Participating maker activities range from 3D printing and interactive robotics to beer homebrewing.
MMF volunteer producer and AS220 board member Brian Jepson, although emphasizing he was speaking personally and not on behalf of AS220, explained that MMF is produced under license from Maker Media, the publisher of the bi-monthly Make: Magazine. Jepson also coordinates the call for makers.
Asked about the new MMF affiliation with PVD Fest, Jepson said, “We started out as part of WaterFire, and that was really intense, very high-energy – it typically ended up being a much later event further into the evening. Foo Fest has been really cool, but there are limits. The physical space we were in is limited, although for the past couple of years we’ve overflowed into Foo Fest. But we also have the matter of people’s time: Foo Fest is an all-hands-on-deck production for AS220, whereas the Mini-Maker Faire is a pretty large event. We actually did have it separate from Foo Fest in 2014. So the opportunity came up, there was a conversation between someone from the city and someone from AS220 about the Mini-Maker Faire and what it is, what it means to the city. The mayor [Jorge Elorza] has been really interested in embracing, and very active in embracing, the maker movement for the city. And so it just seemed like making this part of PVD Fest yet still having it be an event that AS220 is involved in the production of is just a great fit.”
Jepson cited two particular historical examples of Rhode Island contributors to the Industrial Revolution, the more well known Samuel Slater and the less well known George H. Corliss who, Jepson said, “didn’t invent the steam engine but he essentially, for all intents and purposes, perfected it. He made it practical. He made the modern factory, as we know it, possible. We’re going to be in the old ProJo parking lot in the shadow of the George Corliss mural — a picture of Corliss’ Centennial Engine, which was his giant, freaking, 70-foot-high, dual-chambered, dual-powered, engine that powered the Machinery Hall of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. I feel great about this. The city has been great to work with. It’s really going to elevate the awareness of the Mini-Maker Faire, and we just couldn’t be more excited to have it be part of this.”
Other sponsors include Johnson and Wales University, whom Jepson called the “anchor sponsor with a big exhibit,” as well as 3DPVD from Ocean State Maker Mill. The Rhode Island Computer Museum will demonstrate Solidworks for Kids, which Jepson described as a “softer, squishier,” kid-friendly version of the widely used industrial 3D-modeling software.
Dan Berman, curator of the RI Computer Museum, said, “At Mini-Maker Faire, we’re going to be there with one of our partners, Dassault Systems, and they’re going to show off their Solidworks app, which is just for kids.” Berman continued, “What we’re going to to do is show off some of the little robots that we have the kids make at our facility, and probably have some breadboards and let them make very simple, basic circuits. We’re teaching them how to make a traffic light. We’ll have some LEDs and some resistors and some batteries, and then we’ll have a couple of Arduinos and if they want to stay around they can hook it up to an Arduino, and then if they want to go further we can hook it up to a Raspberry Pi and let them try to do some programming…”
In his experience, young children take to this technology, Berman said. “Our ‘clientele’ are anywhere from 6 to 12. We have had older ones, too, but it’s the little kids that really like it.” He said that the Scratch programming environment, designed at MIT to allow visual programming by drag-and-drop with elements such as “move forward” or “rotate right,” is an effective entry into learning the concepts of programming. “What we try to do is teach them some of the basics of Scratch with the drag and drop, and then we can get them onto the Arduino and they can turn the lights on and off and make a sequence on the lights in Scratch. From there, we take it and turn it into the Arduino code and show, ‘See, this is what you had in Scratch,’ this line of code, it says the same thing as it says in Scratch. So it’s a transition that we’re trying to show them how you can go from the Scratch language into the Arduino language into the Python for Raspberry Pi language.” Ideas about teaching programming have changed a lot over the past few decades, he said. “It’s funny how I’m a little older here – I’m 65 – and our first learning of code was a lot harder than for them. Two-year-olds will be swiping phones, so they have some of those concepts already embedded in their brain.”
“AS220 Industries,” said its director Shawn Wallace, “which is the Fab Lab and the Print Shop and the Media Arts Program, we’re doing something with [projection beam] in the parking lot next to AS220 Industries,” after dark on Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3. “It will be a bunch of artists showing stuff … doing some projection mapping on the side of the building.” He refers to the Mercantile Block at 131 Washington St, PVD. “We have a 20,000-lumen projector and we’ll be showing artwork, working with Dennis Hlynsky who teaches at RISD [and who] created a 3D model of the side of the building. And we have special projection mapping software called ‘Mad Mapper’ to combine video plus a 3D model and create interesting effects,” Wallace said. “Projection mapping is a whole emerging field of artistic exploration now.”
In addition to opening its own facilities to the public, Wallace said, “Our Print Shop will show off various printmaking processes, and we do an ‘exquisite corpse’ with relief printing. We’ll bring some of our relief presses out onto the street, and a bunch of artists have made their linoleum cuts and wood cuts of different body parts and features, so somebody who is coming to PVD Fest can lay up a figure and do a relief press onto a T-shirt,” confirming a more literal use of the term “exquisite corpse” than is usually encountered.
“Mini-Maker Faire is one of the ways we connect with the larger maker movement, other people organizing on a global scale. There are Mini-Maker Faires happening all over the place. So I see it in a bigger picture in that sense: This is our local contribution to the global maker effort.” Wallace said that a significant achievement of the AS220 Fab Lab was its “Fab Academy,” the Providence participant in a worldwide, distributed educational network. “To me personally, it’s not so much about the making side of things, but it’s more about the sharing component. That’s what I think is important about what’s called the ‘maker movement.’ It’s not about 3D printers or anything specific, but what’s important is that people are collaborating on a massive scale and sharing inventions and ideas. Historically there hasn’t been a massive interconnection of people sharing ideas, it’s never happened before, that’s what in my mind is interesting about it and what’s important about it.”
Have you ever experienced a sense of wonderful excitement from something in the air around you – a natural inspiration? Rain is one of them. When air moves around mountains, water or the beach, it contains tens of thousands of negative ions — not found in closed homes or offices. With these invisible molecules, it increases your body’s natural serotonin, boosting mood and energy level.
Rachel Brask has always found solace in rain. She finds it quiet, still and clarifying. As she noted, “The earth can be beautiful when it embraces the rain and with April showers it brings May flowers! Rain brings hope for the stages in life.” With her blended colors she produced a stunning series of work entitled, ‘Abstracted Rainy Moments’ currently on exhibit at The Rhode Island Forget-Me-Not Gallery.
Her passion for color was “relentless” from an early age. She wanted to capture and stash every color she could find. From the sky, to nature, to multi-color row houses, that impression has always stayed fresh in her mind. She continues to use color and the power it can produce.
Her ‘Abstracted Rainy Moments’ project started about 10 years ago with sketches on a fall day. She was peering out of a window looking at all the fall hues and began sketching page by page. As the seasons changed year after year, her sketch book grew with drawing after drawing, each one capturing the colors and moods of the rain through a single pane. With a commissioned piece, she realized her sketchbook needed to become a project and the time to begin it was upon her…
Her technique begins with a stretched canvas, fully painted in multi-color oils for the first layer. She then paints the second layer in a Pointillist technique — small dots of color work together in a pattern to convey a larger image. This takes several hours to produce and several hours for the paint to dry. The next day (with the second coat of paint still very wet), she applies the third layer of stand oil (linseed oil that has been polymerized by heating) to the top of the canvas and lets it drip from top to the bottom. With this practice, the stand oil merges with the oil paint and produces a unique blend of colors and a rain-wash look blending all the paints together. The final step is when Rachel works the paint and oil on the canvas with a pallet knife to blend, move and finish the rain expression look for each piece. She produces stunning results with each work of art.
As I viewed her work on opening night I saw a whole host of guests that truly enjoyed not only her remarkable work, but her motivating presentation that evidenced her passion for and love of art. Bravo Rachel, Bravo!
Abstracted Rainy Moments exhibit runs through June 30, 2017 at The Samaritans of Rhode Island Forget-Me-Not Gallery, 67 Park Place, Pawtucket, RI; Samaritansri.org