Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts

The City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT) and WaterFire Providence will convene collaborators to generate a series of site-specific performances and temporary art works along the banks of Providence’s historic urban waterway in anticipation of the Woonasquatucket River Greenway extension project (2020/21 – see here for more on the Woonasquatucket Vision Plan developed by the Department of Planning and Development). Manton Avenue Project and Wilbury Theatre Group will work with the history and built environment of the Woonasquatucket to create performances; temporary public art works will be curated by ACT and WaterFire Providence in collaboration with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, The Steel Yard  and The Dirt Palace. A culminating celebration along the Greenway in summer 2019 will demonstrate the potential for a permanent linear art park connecting downtown to emergent arts institutions and diverse residential neighborhoods. Following the WRGA demonstration project, partners will convene to refine a vision for the permanent park’s arts infrastructure.

This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

     


Adult actors performing in Olneyville the Operetta by students from the Manton Avenue Project
Adult actors performing in Olneyville the Operetta (2018) by students from the Manton Avenue Project

Project Timeline:

October 2018

  • Public Art Selection Committee, led by Dirt Palace and Steel Yard artist facilitated, and incorporating neighborhood champions, meets to develop request for public art qualifications/proposals to be sited along San Souci Drive and in Riverside Park.
  • The Steel Yard and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council determine sites for sculptural animal habitats to be fabricated by Steel Yard artists.
  • October 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Daniella Ben-Bessat goes on view.

November 2018

  • November 25, 6:00PM – 7:30PM
    Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.

    Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk and closing celebration with Daniella Ben-Bessat:
    EELS in the Olneyville Square?? PROOF!!

    Daniella Ben-Bassat is an artist and musician based out of Providence, Rhode Island. With an interest in making paintings, music, and sound sculptures that reveal the presence of the mystical in the mundane, she draws inspiration from trash, nature, spirituality, and psychedelic culture. Her work aims to exist in a tenuous space that warbles between morphing abstraction and the material of the everyday.

    “I first found out about the eels in the river at a 4th of July party. People were throwing chicken pieces into the water, and the eels were swarming. Equally mesmerized and furious that no one had told me about this phenomenon sooner, I needed to know more.Eel larvae migrate from the Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea — floating for about a year until they reach fresh water in the Woonasquatucket (often translated as an Algonquin word meaning ‘where the salt water ends’). As they approach the shore, they become more pigmented and yellow, mirroring their increasingly muddy surroundings. Sexual differentiation only happens once the eels are between 1 and 3 years old, and it’s highly dependent on environmental factors like population density. With a high tolerance for pollution, they live in the river for between 5 and 20 years until they reach sexual maturity and their physiology changes in preparation for their return back to the sea to spawn. Their digestive tracts get smaller and their pectoral fins get bigger to improve their ability to swim long distances. The skin becomes thicker, the composition of their body fluids changes, and their retinas adapt to prepare for deeper water with less sunlight.

    Determined to capture video of my neighbors, I purchased two orders of chicken nuggets at the local Burger King and a friend joined me at the river with an underwater video camera. We found a 2×4 piece of wood and fastened the camera to it. We also fastened pieces of chicken nuggets to the wood with some strong Gorilla Tape. The long piece of wood, once submerged in the Woonasquatucket, would allow us to get underwater footage without actually going into the river, and the pieces of chicken nuggets would lure the eels close enough to the camera to capture some (hopefully) good shots. This technique proved to be flawless in execution. The eels were most excited about the chicken nuggets that were fully submerged, and were less likely to get the pieces of chicken that were bobbing on the surface of the water.”

  • November 28 – Public Art Selection Committee, led by Dirt Palace and Steel Yard artist facilitated, and incorporating neighborhood champions, meets to refine and finalize request for public art qualifications/proposals to be sited along San Soucci Drive and in Riverside Park.

December 2018

  • Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts: Temporary Art

    Selected artists will design, fabricate and install temporary public art that will enhance the design of civic infrastructure (the greenway) by improving people’s experiences of using this place and interacting with its natural ecology and cultural amenities. This project is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and as such, the art/artist selection process will be implemented with project partners.

  • December 5 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Shey Rivera goes on view.

  • December 19 – Shey Rivera Artist Talk at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
  • Public Art RFQ Deadline (exact date TBD).

January 2019

  • January 12 – Closing of Shey Rivera installation at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
  • January 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Sto Len goes on view.
  • Public Art RFP goes to shortlisted artists (exact date TBD).
  • Sto Len Artist Talk at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery (exact date TBD).
The Steel Yard hot weiner trash can
The Steel Yard hot weiner trash can

February 2019

  • February 24 – Closing of Sto Len installation at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
  • Sculptural animal habitat fabrication begins.
  • Deadline for Public Art RFP (exact date TBD).

March 2019

  • March 5 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Matt Tracy goes on view.
  • Public Artist selections and Art in City Life Commission approval (exact date TBD)

April 2019

  • April 12 – Closing of Matt Tracy installation at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
  • Public Art fabrication.
  • Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show 5 (artist TBD) goes on view (April 19).

May 2019

  • Public Art fabrication.
  • Sculptural animal habitat fabrication.

June 2019

  • Public Art installation.
  • Sculptural animal habitat installation.
Providence Fringe Festival 2018; photo by Erin X. Smithers
Providence Fringe Festival 2018; photo by Erin X. Smithers

July 2019

  • July 21 – 28: Fringe Festival 2019 including site-specific performances by Manton Avenue Project and the Wilbury Theatre Group.
  • Final public art installations by selected artists and WaterFire.
  • Processional and celebration (exact date TBD)

August 2019

  • Public listening meeting 1 of 2 (date TBD).

September 2019

  • Public listening meeting 2 of 2 (date TBD).
Woonasquatucket River Greenway branding and design by the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Woonasquatucket River Greenway branding and design by the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
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