Home to some of the nation’s top arts universities, Providence, Rhode Island is bursting with artistic activity. We look at the galleries that have shaped the art scene of this New England city.
Operating at the center of Providence’s art scene, Yellow Peril Gallery shows the work of emerging and mid-career artists whose work engages in a critical way with contemporary popular culture. Exhibitions gather inspiring and provocative work with the goal of prompting discussions between visitors that last beyond the brief visit to the gallery. Housed in The Plant, a historical mill now acting as a mixed use development, the gallery’s location unites artists, businesses and non-profit organisations together in a single complex to ignite creativity across a range of disciplines. Further importance is placed on the shared commitment towards social responsibility, and a portion of the money from each artwork sold is donated to a charity selected by the artist.
As home to one of the country’s most well regarded universities of art and design, The Rhode Island School of Design, as well as a number of other important institutions of higher education, Providence has no shortage of artistic talent. Chazan Gallery is a non-profit exhibition space showing work by some of the best artists living or working in the area. Artists are able to submit their work to the gallery for consideration during the open call to artists issued each fall, and are chosen by a jury of local artists, curators and academics. Works are selected purely on their visual or intellectual value, without consideration for their saleability. The gallery is funded entirely by Wheeler School as a gift to the Providence arts community.
Chazan Gallery at Wheeler 228 Angell St Providence, RI 02906 United States +1 401 421 9230
The Rhode Island School of design is one of the premier art universities in the United States, and the campus hosts an array of student exhibitions in a series of on-site galleries throughout the year. Many of these exhibitions are closed to the public in order to protect the students and their work, but The Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery offers wider Providence a peek into the activities at this incubator of creativity. All students, whether first year or graduate candidates, are welcome to submit a curatorial concept that may be realized within the Gelman or the Dryfoos Gallery for new media, a smaller space within the larger exhibition hall. Once a proposal has been approved, the winning student team works alongside the gallery staff to select the artworks, hang the show and prepare the accompanying written material.
Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery at RISD Chace Center, 2nd floor 20 North Main Street Providence, RI +1 401 709 8660
Situated on the campus of Rhode Island College, the oldest university in the state of Rhode Island, Bannister Gallery has been in operation since 1978, hosting exhibitions of contemporary art by local, regional and international art world names. Approximately eight to ten rotating exhibitions are held each year, featuring artworks in a variety of media from classic painting and drawing to contemporary installation and electronic media works. The university’s art department faculty members act as curators for the exhibition program, with each educator introducing projects relating to their own area of interest and expertise.
Comprised of residential and work studios, galleries, performance and education spaces, AS220 was founded on the belief that creative freedom is an essential component in the building of strong communities. The center was first established in 1985, when it occupied a single room above the Providence Performing Arts center, with only $800 in funding at its disposal. Today the non-profit initiative spans across 100,000 square feet in three multi-purpose buildings in downtown Providence, yet the fervent activity that takes place here has left the complex nearly overcrowded with artistic energy. The gallery spaces, among them Main Gallery, Youth Gallery, Open Window and Resident Gallery, provide residents of Providence a free space to exhibit work, and host over 150 artists in monthly shows each year.
AS220 + 1 401 831 9327
Recognised as the second oldest art club in the United States, Providence Art Club was founded in 1880 by a series of professional artists and art enthusiasts. Occupying several historic residences on the historic Thomas Street, the club is comprised of galleries, artist studios and a clubhouse which itself serves as a large, naturally illuminated exhibition space. The clubhouse has been designed and furnished with original features created by the artists who have over time frequented it, and is regarded as one of the most marvelous interiors in the city. The organisation continues to stimulate the local artistic community through its exciting schedule of exhibitions and public programming, as well as its array of art instruction classes offered to members.
The David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University houses the Ivy league institution’s permanent collection of more than 5,000 artworks dating from the 16th century to present day. Its exceptional holdings of contemporary art and works on paper include pieces by Frank Stella, Alice Neel and Lee Bontecou, while Rembrandt, Goya and Matisse are also represented. The permanent collection is always made accessible to students and scholars for research and is sometimes exhibited for public view. However the gallery’s primary mission is to present cutting edge contemporary art by established and emerging artists, which it does through a series of four to five major exhibitions each year as well as an annual show of student work and a triennial exhibition of faculty projects. Founded in 1977, the gallery takes its name from David Winton Bell, a 1954 graduate of the university. The gallery is located in the List Art Center designed by well known architect Philip Johnson, and occupies a notable position on the city’s skyline.