Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts (WRGA)
Celebration and performances on July 27, 2019
Public art installations on view July-October, 2019
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.
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk and Closing Celebration with Daniella Ben-Bessat
EELS in the Olneyville Square?? PROOF!!
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.
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 Souci Drive and in Riverside Park.
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. APPLICATION IS NOW CLOSED
December 5 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation, “Stormwater” by Shey Rivera, goes on view.
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Shey Rivera
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.
Shey Rivera Ríos (pronouns: they/them) is an arts manager and multi-genre artist active in the mediums of performance, installation, digital media, and poetry/narrative. The creations spam several genres and a myriad of topics, from home to capitalism to queerness to magic. As an arts manager, Rivera engages with art and culture as a catalyst for social change through placekeeping, community-driven design, cross-sector partnerships, and creative industries. Rivera is also a performance curator and producer of interventions that activate people creatively. They are an active member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) and board member of the Alliance of Artist Communities. They are also a Fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI), a Brown University Public Humanities Community Fellow, and have completed residencies in Santiago, Chile, at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Santiago alongside Las Proceres feminist collective; and in Pittsburgh, PA, at City of Asylum and BOOM Concepts Gallery. “Stormwater” is a mixed media installation reflecting on the environmental issue of storm runoff in urban settings. The piece pushes back on urban renewal by proposing green space instead of more concrete developments. The sunflower is Yoruba deity Oshun, goddess of the river. This is a digital prayer/spell that becomes physical in the predominantly Latinx neighborhood of Olneyville.
January 2 – Public Art RFQ Deadline.
January 10 – Public Art RFP goes to shortlisted artists
January 12 – Closing of Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation, “Stormwater,” by Shey Rivera.
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with STO LEN and luthier, musician and Woonasquatucket paddle guide Erik Tallery
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.
STO LEN is a NY-based artist and waterway worker, who came to Providence this past December to get to know the Woonasquatucket. On “waterwalks” that followed the river’s edge and a canoe trip through the most polluted sites, STO explored the more hidden areas of the river and documented his discoveries. Dark Side of the Woon features photographs, video, found artifacts, and site-specific mono prints. These “Chemotrophic Prints” were created with iron-oxidizing bacteria found near Lyman Mill Pond at the Centredale Superfund Site. Working en plein air (often from a boat), STO uses his own marbling-like process to print directly off of the surface of water with paper. The end results are ghostly imprints that contain both the natural and anthropogenic residue of the site’s history. Recent collaborations in the waterways of New York, Colombia, and Vietnam has enabled STO’s studio to be as large as a river and a practice that is both nomadic and global. Do you know the Woonasquatucket River? To know is to go. Its to see, feel, listen, smell, walk, ride, and even fall in. Its to share stories. To hop fences, feed the eels chicken, and have a secret spot. The Woon is ubiquitous yet unseen, its involuntary power of invisibility gets stronger the more we ignore it. While we have our backs to the water, it surges with power and endlessly flows through the city carrying with it a storied people’s history. Under the highways and bridges we made, under the ground we soiled, the Woony is live streaming, day and night, just for you. It is the bloodstream of the city, naturally pumping with fish and nutrients while seasoned with the industrial by-products of the revenue stream. The lab results show traces of dioxin and greed: toxicity but not a toxic city. “Dark Side of the Woon” documents STO’s initial trips on the Woonasqutucket, a journey that will continue to evolve over time. You can be part of his journey by signing up for a waterwalk here: email@example.com
January 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by STO LEN, “Dark Side of the Woon,” goes on view.
February 10 – Deadline for Public Art RFP
February 20 – Public Artist selections and Art in City Life Commission approval
February 24 – Closing of “Dark Side of the Woon” installation by STO LEN at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
Steel Yard Sculptural animal habitat fabrication begins.
March 4 – City of Providence Board of Contract and Supply approves awards for new Temporary Public Art works to be created by Keri King and Brendan Rose.
Keri King is a cross-disciplinary artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. With a vibrant practice motivated by collaborative world building and immersive visual storytelling, King’s work spans the worlds of public art, illustration, and design for theater. In the studio, King generates her imagery through an integrated process of collage, research, and drawing. She pulls from her background and formal training as an illustration major/ creative writing concentrator at RISD (’05); and often references her experience performing with a vaudeville-inspired dance troupe, the Danger! Danger! Birds (2005-2010). In the community, King’s projects and residencies over the past couple of years have included work with AS220, Providence Public Library, the Pawtucket Arts Festival, the Dirt Palace, PVDFest, the Providence Fringe Festival, and the Wilbury Theatre Group.
Providence artist, Brendan Rose, is a multi-disciplinary designer and architect, working in the fields of public art, custom fabrication, and architecture. Brendan began his work as a public artist while in graduate school at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture. Driven by his desire to work in the community on hands-on projects,
Brendan discovered public artwork as a means for building collective, place-based identity through design. Over the past eleven years, while developing his practice as an architect, Brendan has worked on neighborhood murals, sculptures, custom street-furniture, and public spaces. He’s a founding partner of the multifaceted design studio, Echo, based in Syracuse, NY. Brendan is committed to finding delight in both the process and product of design, and believes that art strengthens our affection for life.
March TBD – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Matt Tracy goes on view.
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Matt Tracy and Mary Kim Arnold
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.
Artist bio: Matt Tracy has been making art in Providence since 1999, focused mainly on painting and map-making, with occasional forays into mixed media three-dimensional work. He stopped painting for a few years because he was the co-ownership of an organic vegetable farm turned out to be quite a demanding job, but is thrilled to have returned to a regular studio practice and exhibitions in 2018.
“I’ve been living and working on the Woonasquatucket for 20 years, so I was thrilled to build an installation about the river for the Dirt Palace Window. The piece might be viewed as a diagram of a cycle, maybe physiological, ecological, and historical.
As I built the installation, I began to think about and grow specimens of an invasive exotic plant called Japanese Knotweed which has become endemic to the watershed. It is destructive to native plant and animal communities but spreads very quickly and is extremely difficult to get rid of. The argument around whether to eradicate, manage, or ignore these exotic invasive in our ecosystems has a long and freighted history, and meanwhile the plants seem to basically be here to stay at this point. Japanese Knotweed, then, began to serve as a symbol for the bigger, scarier threat of climate change, which is harder and way more somber to talk about, but that I couldn’t stop thinking about as I worked on this piece.
I came to think of fossil carbon as just the latest, albeit most deadly, in a long line of invasive factors introduced by humans that this particular ecosystem has absorbed and adapted to during the last 400 years. As such, the carbon in smoke that billowed from the stacks of Woonasquatucket textile mills 80 years ago has literally come back to weave itself into the living fabric of the river. It is now in every cell of every plant and animal, and will be here for centuries to come. This radical change is invisible, but these plants serve as a reminder that we exist in a natural system that operates on its own rules we are part of cycles that never stop, that we have no control over, but that choices we make as a species can and do affect them profoundly.”
April 13 – Closing of installation by Matt Tracy at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.
Public Art fabrication.
April 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show, Gradiant Forest: Xylem & Phloem, by Andrew Moon Bain goes on view.
Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Gradient Forest is a detail and reflection on appreciation of systems of water intake. I thought of the Woonasquatucket as a small forgotten river, that is just there. Something that has done so much for the community for so long and continues to yet is not considered. All the giving that has shaped it into the thin crescent it has become now. Magnified blue bristles resemble life-size nerve endings, moving from a deep blue to an aqua turquoise. This motion in color is an emotion, a transforming gradient as our bodies transform with water intake. Our mood changes when water is brought into our structure. Just as community is quenched when water is brought in. We can not have community without water present. Whether collected, piped in, carried or irrigated. This piece is subtly dressing up these water ways and tributaries in blue, gold and black. It is taking a river out for the night. They flow throughout our backstreets and collect the cities residue, forming into the groves of saplings, Sumac and grasses that burst between street cracks.
Andrew Moon Bain is a visual artist, record producer, songwriter, performing musician and part-time graphic designer. He was active in the arts growing up in Seattle, Washington and played as a cellist in the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra. He also worked at Dale Chihuly’s famed “Boat House” glass studios as a young teen. He relocated to Providence, Rhode Island as a young adult and earned a BFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. Bain remained in New England after earning his degree, subsequently becoming an active and integral member of Providence’s thriving art community of the era. His visual art is represented in numerous private collections, museums, and at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
He spent 14 years living in Brooklyn, New York working and raising his daughter, who is now studying animation at RISD. He has traveled and worked extensively in the United States, Europe, Jamaica, WI and throughout the Caribbean, which indelibly influences his life, art and music. He is a co-founder of Lustre Kings Productions, a US based reggae record label, he continues to make a significant mark in the genre of modern reggae music. He has written and produced records for compelling artists such as Wyclef Jean, Sizzla, Snoop Dogg, Major Lazer, and many others.
Bain is also one third of the ever prolific modern reggae production team, Zion I Kings, receiving a Grammy nod in 2013. for Snoop Lion, Reincarnated. He recently completed work on Jahdan Blakkamoore’s third full-length studio album, Order of Distinction, set to release winter, 2020. Right now he is working with French / New Caledonian singer, Marcus Gad.
As a visual artist, Bain is currently working at ZEA Mais printmaking studio in Florence, MA., making screen prints. He continues to be active making prints, installations, paintings and showing in the region. He is an avid gardener and naturalist. Bain now lives and works in Central Massachusetts.
Public Art fabrication.
Sculptural animal habitat fabrication.
Public Art installation.
Sculptural animal habitat installation.
July 15 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show with Deborah Spears Moorehead goes on view.
July 21 – 28: Fringe Festival 2019
Final public art installations by selected artists.
Processional Manton Avenue Project reprise performance of “The Woonasquatucket River Play” on the banks of the Woonasquatucket River beginning at Riverside Park.
Wilbury Group Chatacqua at Donigian Park.
Processional and celebration from Donigian Park to Eagle Square.
WaterFire lighting installation.
Public listening meeting for feedback – 1 of 2 (date TBD).
Public listening meeting for feedback – 2 of 2 (date TBD).