As a newcomer to the city, Gallery Night Providence was a personal starting point in my discovering the different art galleries here. Founded in 1996, the organization helps the public view the latest exhibitions in spaces that stay open late for the occasion by providing free bus and bike tours to different galleries. In the past 16 years, Gallery Night has grown to include 25 exhibition spaces across the city; the majority are located here on the East Side.
A no-brainer starting point to the East Side scene is the RISD Museum. Even though plenty of locals have been to the museum, they might neglect the Gelman Student Exhibitions Gallery; the Dreyfus Gallery for new media is reachable only by stairs from the Chace Center lobby or elevator. This space features shows curated by students, allowing them visibility to the rest of the community. If you want to feel the pulse of what is happening among the student body at RISD, this is a great place to start.
Right down the street is the Providence Art Club and the studios at the Deacon Taylor House. Several artists have spaces in these two neighboring houses, including Anthony Tomaselli and Joan McConaghy, who are featured on the Gallery Night tour. In contrast to what is usually going on in the Gelman gallery down the street, the artists who work in this space are mainly painters working with conservative subjects such as landscapes, portraits and still life. If tradition and aesthetically strong work is your taste, Thomas Street is a must-see for you.
A little bit deeper into the East Side are the Wheeler and Moses Brown schools. Within these two private schools are gallery spaces that show contemporary artists. Chazan Gallery at Wheeler has been given more attention since Dr. Joseph Chazan, a local art patron, backed the space, but this is no reason to disregard Moses Brown’s Krause Gallery, pleasantly isolated from the rest of town once you drive through the gates and onto the gorgeous campus. For Gallery Night this October, both spaces will be featuring group shows.
Some other spaces on the East Side are geared more towards craft and are set up more like shops than galleries. These include Three Wheel Studio on Wickenden, featuring ceramic pottery, and Gallery Belleau, also on Wickenden, selling blown- glass works.
There is truly is something for everybody on the East Side; visual culture is at your fingertips when you walk out your door. You can access it all to your heart’s content through Gallery Night and never have to worry about parking. Whether you’re new to town or not, Gallery Night is the way to go.
The next Gallery Night Providence will take place on October 18.