Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts 2018-2019 Timeline

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 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.

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 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?
Brendan Rose – “Dandelion”

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 – 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.

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.

April 27
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Andrew Moon Bain in conversation with Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.

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.

Moon Bain - Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain – Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain - Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain – Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain - Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain – Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain - Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem
Moon Bain – Gradient Forest : Xylem & Phloem

May 2019

Public Art fabrication.

Sculptural animal habitat fabrication.

June 2019

Public Art installation.

Sculptural animal habitat installation.

Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery show, Heron Now, by Eli Nixon, goes on view.

Heron Now

A heron and their habitat. Not just Great Blue Heron but Huge Ass Blue Heron, towering above us. Flapping in the diesel tinged wind of our traffic. Me and my La Lupita breath huffing shellac (made of beetles) to protect a beast bigger than the indoors from the acid rain outside. I’m working on shifting my scale, human scale, in time and size: 450 million years of horseshoe crabs, heron talons large enough to scoop me from the Woonasquatucket River, were I fool enough to swim there.

Instead, I am grateful to have been bathed in the help of many friends, new and old, who used their hands and hours toward the creation of this cardboard kin. I’m humbled by the challenge of building “nature” together.

June 27
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Artist Eli Nixon in conversation with Xander Marro
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.

Eli Nixon builds portals and gives guided tours to places that don’t yet exist, or already exist but call for imaginative intervention. They are a settler-descended genderqueer clown, a cardboard constructionist, and a maker of plays, puppets, parades, pageants, suitcase theaters, and low-tech spectaculah- on their own, and in collaboration with artists, activists, animals and other more-than-human life forms. Their performances and installations occur on street corners and stages and in partnerships with schools, senior centers, and addiction recovery and mental health programs. Eli’s current creative efforts include identifying opportunities to dismantle Manifest Destiny, foster intra and interspecies kinship, and co-parent a 10 year old human. Eli is a Rhode Islander by birth and choice, living on Pequot, Nipmuc, Niantic, Narragansett, and Wampanoag land.

Eli Nixon – Heron Now
Eli Nixon – Heron Now
Eli Nixon – Heron Now
Eli Nixon – Heron Now

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 7 – 28:
“Museum of the Moon” – a free art installation by Luke Jeram – for hours and additional special events and lectures see waterfire.org/moon

July 20 – July 27:
Fringe Festival Performances – for more info see fringepvd.org/index.html

Deborah Spears Moorehead – Parcel 1 A. Providence River from 1600 to Contemporary


Deborah Spears Moorehead - Parcel 1 A. Providence River from 1600 to Contemporary
Deborah Spears Moorehead – Parcel 1 A. Providence River from 1600 to Contemporary

Parcel 1 A. Providence River from 1600 to Contemporary

As a part of the Providence Preservation Society’s Sites and Stories Explored Through Community Engaged Art and Scholarship project, artist Deborah Spears Moorehead explored the Colonial, Industrial, and Contemporary uses of Providence waterways. Her work resulted in a mural that addresses several aspects of water usage, including how bodies of water can sustain differing cultures. Her research production involved both the State House Lawn and Parcel 1A, two landscapes that relate directly to the Woonasquatucket, Mosshasuck and Providence’s Rivers.

Thursday, July 25
Dirt Palace Storefront Window Gallery Artist Talk with Artist Deborah Spears Moorehead (Kutoo Seepoo/Talking Water/she/her) and Taylor Polites
6:00PM – 7:30PM
Dirt Palace, 14 Olneyville Sq.

“My artwork is homeland based and every picture of my relative land or seascape tells a story …”

Deborah Spears Moorehead MA is an internationally known Native American, Visual, and Performing Artist, Author, Cultural Bearer, Educational Consultant, Water Protector and Song Writer. Deborah employs her artwork to promote social and earth justice. She holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Swain School of Design and a Masters in Arts in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College. She is a member of the Seaconke, Pokanoket,Wampanoag Tribal Nation, and descends from the “ aka Thanksgiving Indians” Chief Sachem Massasoit, who befriended the Pilgrims in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621, and saved their lives through their first winter. Deborah is also Narragansett, Pequot, Mohegan and Nipmuc.

“My work’s focus is on the contemporary cultural existence of Eastern Woodland Native American communities and the Cultural Sustainability of our Traditional Bearers and Environmental Knowledge Keepers.and Earth Stewards. Creation, Oral Tradition, and contemporary stories of resistance, resilience and fortitude, inspire me. I am an emic observer immersed in my Native community; my paintbrush captures the beauty of my people and culture through portraits. Dispelling negative stereotypes of Native Americans, as well as promoting awareness, and dialogue on the subjects of social and economic inequities, are one of my goals through Art. I am interested in the values, strength, and beauty of indigenous people, and ability to thrive into the future through adversity. My creative work, lectures and performances serve to educate, assert, promote , value and validate the identity Eastern Woodland Tribal Nations.”
Her business is called Painted Arrow Studio, Talking Water Productions where she exhibits Art, designs fragrances, Native clothing, and teaches Drawing, Painting and Jewelry. In 2014, Deborah authored the book “Finding Balance The Genealogy of Massasoit’s People and Oral and Written History of the Seaconke Pokanoket Wampanoag Tribal Nation. Her book dispels many biases and stereotypes regarding Native American culture and history and offers a Wampanoag perspective on America’s history.7:00PM – Olneyville Expo (Donigian Park)

As an Outreach Educational Consultant, she develops Native American cultural programs for educational institutions. In 1996, Deborah co-founded Nettukkusqk Singers, an all Native American women’s hand drum learning, teaching and performing group. Nettukkusqkq have been performing for over 30 years. Deborah believes in cultural democracy and has curated many Native American Art shows including the 2012 “fist ever” Native American Art Show for Rhode Island State Council of the Arts. Rhode Island State Council for the Arts honored her with a Community Leadership Award. She is a Muralist and was awarded the Youth Mural Project Grant 05-06 from the National Museum of the American Indian, (NMAI) Smithsonian Institute. In 2006 Nettukkusqk singers collaborated with NMAI and the Tomaquaug Indian Museum to produce a DVD called Memories Dreams and Legends of the Narragansetts.
Her piece” Good Energy” graced Congressman David Cicilline’s office walls in 2013. In 2017 she won the National Congress of American Indian Art contest award for her piece called “Whoosh.” Presently,“Whoosh” is being displayed in Congressman David Cicilline’s office. In 2019 Deborah was awarded the Sites and Stories Grant, from the Providence Preservation Society’s in which she painted a four panel mural serving to educate the public on the protection of our waterways.

For over thirty years Deborah has educated on Native American subject matter and her Art has been shown and procured throughout United States as well as internationally in galleries and museums such as the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, the International Gallery of Bolivia, Brown University, Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Metropolitan Museum of Fine Art, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Rhode Island, Wheaton College, Mohegan Tribal Nation as well as many other venues. Contact her by e-mail at paintedarrow2@yahoo.com

Thursday, July 25 CONT:
7:00PM – Olneyville Expo (Donigian Park)

Friday, July 26:
7:00PM – Olneyville Expo (Donigian Park)

Saturday, July 27:
3:00PM – Family Fringe (Donigian Park)
3:00PM – Manton Avenue Project’s Along the Woony 1 for bikers begins at The Red Shed in Riverside Park
3:00PM – Nicholson File and The Wurks Open Studios (Until 6:00PM)
4:00PM – Along the Woony 1 continues at Donigian Park as part of Family Fringe
5:00PM – Along the Woony 2 for bikers begins at The Red Shed in Riverside Park
6:00PM – Along the Woony 2 continues in Donigian Park as part of Family Fringe
7:00PM – Olneyville Expo in Donigian Park
9:30PM – Night Procession to WaterFire Arts Center begins in Donigian Park
10:00PM – Fringe Fest after-party at WaterFire Arts

September 2019

Gillian Christy – “The Return Home”

WRGA Public Art Bike Ride
Saturday September 21, 2019
3:00PM – 4:30PM
Pedestrian Bridge between Promenade St and Providence Place

Bike the greenway and learn about new and established art from Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, the Steel Yard and Greenway Arts public artists

Ride begins at 3:00PM on the pedestrian bridge between Promenade St and Providence Place near Gillian Christy’s “The Return Home” sculpture and ends at approximately 4:30 at Riverside Park for ONE Neighborhood Builders’ Olneyville Multicultural Festival.

Riders must provide their own bikes and be comfortable biking on city streets. Helmets are strongly recommended.

Free and open to the public.

For more information, see the event’s Facebook page.

What’s Next for Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts?

Woonasquatucket River Greenway Arts Feedback and Listening Session

Wednesday October 2, 2019
6:00PM – 8:00PM
Olneyville Branch of the Providence Community Library
1 Olneyville Sq.

Join the WRGA project team and artists for an exhibition style review of the 2018-2019 project and give feedback on new sites for public art integration along the Greenway.

More info coming soon.

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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