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Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts – Art, Culture + Tourism

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.

#NEAOurTown
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#ACTPublicArt
#PVDCreativeCapital


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
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.”

Process photo of artist Daniela Ben-Bessat’s eel-cam.

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.

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. APPLICATION IS NOW CLOSED

December 5 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation, “Stormwater” by Shey Rivera, goes on view.

Still from an animated gif created for artist Shey Rivera Rios’ storefront gallery display

December 19
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 2019


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.

January 18
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: stoishere@gmail.com

STO LEN - Dark Side of the Woon
STO LEN – Dark Side of the Woon

 

STO LEN - Dark Side of the Woon
STO LEN – Dark Side of the Woon

January 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by STO LEN, “Dark Side of the Woon,” goes on view.


The Steel Yard hot weiner trash can
The Steel Yard hot weiner trash can

February 2019

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 2019


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 (photo by Erin X. Smithers)
Keri King (photo by Erin X. Smithers)

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.

Keri King - What's In The River Concept Art
Keri King – What’s In The River Concept Art
Brendan Rose
Brendan Rose

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.

Brendan Rose - Dandelion Concept Art
Brendan Rose – Dandelion Concept Art

March TBD – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery installation by Matt Tracy goes on view.

April 2019


April 7
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Matt Tracy and Mary Kim ARnold
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.

April TBD – Closing of installation by Matt Tracy at Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery.

Public Art fabrication.

April 19 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show with Andrew Moon Bain goes on view.

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 15 – Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show with Deborah Spears Moorehead goes on view.

July 21 – 28: Fringe Festival 2019

July 27

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.

August 2019


Public listening meeting for feedback – 1 of 2 (date TBD).

September 2019


Public listening meeting for feedback – 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

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.

     

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