Public Art Ideas Competition

In spring of 2019, ACT Public Art invited emerging and established artists in the Providence metropolitan area to submit an idea or concept for “Animating Public Space” that they would like to explore through a temporary work of art on City-owned public property or land. Four artists were selected through an RFQ to RFP process (see here for the application).

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some project implementation has been delayed.

Tracy Silva Barbosa (Duende Glass)
Intersection of Providence and Pearl Streets

On Saturday September 12th, 2020, commissioned artist Tracy Silva Barbosa and a group of volunteers worked together to complete a ground mural in the intersection where Pearl and Providnece Streets cross on the Southside. The concept for the mural, which was workshopped in the spring with neighborhood residents through digital community engagement, represents “unity” through a motif of interlocking hands and arms. Using the blue color palette from her signature “Azulejos Project,” Barbosa and a dozen or so volunteers made quick work, filling in her carefully-measured chalk sketch with stunning shades of sky, azure, and cerulean.

Coverage of Tracy’s project on Fun 107

Walker Mettling
“Where Long Pond Used To Be”
West End Recreation Center, 109 Bucklin Street

Print-maker and comic book publisher Walker Mettling is creating an historical map of Elmwood featuring the gone but not forgotten histories of Long Pond as well as a billboard mural depicting the pond on the West End Rec Center’s west-facing facade. Mettling originally envisioned a tri-part project: the map, the billboard, and a public screen-printing party to celebrate the research and final products. To follow along with his progress, check out #wherelongpondusedtobe.

Lyza Baum and Kristen Haines
“Olneyville Community Loom”
40 Sonoma Ct.

Multi-disciplinary textile artist Lyza Baum and textile artist/museum educator Kristen Haines will spend spring 2021 into summer conducting outreach to Olneyville residents and organizations to build connections and support for a summer weaving collaboration. The design (reference image only here) will be developed in virtual and in-person community workshops. Baum and Haines will install the community loom in the summer of 2021.

Ryan Cardoso
“Faces of Broad Street”
Broad Street between Trinity Square and Roger Williams Park, Various Sites

Photographer Ryan Cardoso will create a public portrait exhibition celebrating the culture and people of Broad Street in Providence. By printing images of business owners, and residents from the neighborhood on durable flags/banners at key intersections along the corridor Cardoso hopes to bring people from the Southside into a conversation about art in Providence by showing that their contributions and stories are integral to what the City is today. The artist is beginning his casting process in spring 2021 and will fabricate and install the banners throughout the summer.

The Public Art Ideas Competition is one of the key recommendations in the Temporary Projects category of the Art and City Life master plan. It builds on ACT’s history of commissioning and displaying temporary public artwork and Providence’s identity as a place for artists to experiment and innovate in creative and organic ways. The model is allowing ACT to explore new ways of working with artists and push beyond traditional modes of artistic display. ACT provides technical and project management support to commissioned artists and helps them gain skills necessary to work in public space and at new scales. The department also facilitates new opportunities for artists to think broadly about public space and the ways their work can interact with and make an impact on the built environment, natural landscapes, and the community who uses these spaces. Selected artists receive full project management and technical support from ACT staff and consultants, in addition to funding.

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