The Avenue Concept x RIHPHC Public Art Tour

This tour is designed for Rhode Island Historic Preservation Commission's Come Back to the Future conference.

The Avenue Concept x RIHPHC Public Art Tour

Providence, Rhode Island 02906, United States

Created By: The Avenue Concept

Tour Information

Siting contemporary public art in a historic city creates a current of energy between the past and the present, allowing old and new stories to emerge through artists' eyes and to the public that experiences them.

Providence has a rich history, held not only in the physical manifestation of bricks and mortar on land but also in the legacies and communities that have lived this place into existence over time. Providence is and has always been an intersection of cultures, as our city's Department of Art, Culture & Tourism notes that the city holds a "deep history [...] as a cultural meeting ground between Indigenous people, then European settlers, enslaved Aftricans, and free Black [people], and later immigrants who came to work on the waterfront, and today refugees and new arrivals from across the globe."

As our city balances its historic beauty and the movement into modern living, we see a space where thoughtfully curated, high-quality public art can create spaces for identity and resonance for life-long Rhode Islanders and new residents, for tourists and school children, for art lovers and art novices alike.

Public art creates spaces for identity within a city, a way for artists to acknowledge and honor communities, to anchor gathering environments, to enliven historic structures and to create a sense of identity through free and accessible world-class artworks. These artworks draw people into the city's downtown area to investigate it more closely, to walk through and see firsthand the beauty that Providence has to offer.

This tour will take you through a select number of installations curated and produced by The Avenue Concept, largely in our Downtown portfolio. If using our app, you may either do the tour live and in-person or by switching to "virtual" tour in Settings (upper left corner of the app). You may also experience a less visually-rich version of the tour through your browser.

Things to know:

  • To do the virtual tour in the app simply scroll down and click through the different "Places You'll See".
  • Don't miss the photos! Swipe/click through the photos at the top to see the historic spaces as well as current artworks.
  • Watch the Videos: If you see a "Watch Video" button, click on it. These interviews provide a special lens into the creation of the artworks, the artist's intention, how and why the piece was made. Nobody can say it better than the artist themselves.
  • Free Roaming: This is a "free roam" tour, meaning you can experience the installations in any order that suits you if you are doing it in person.
  • Experiencing videos: subtitles are available on videos through YouTube.
  • Sharing with friends: you can share your favorite artworks with others.

Two things to remember as you set off to discover:

Public art never closes! Public art is made to be enjoyed by the community as a source of inspiration, conversation, and engagement. Free and open to the public. If you love something, ask yourself why. If you don't, dig into that too! Art is meant to be an active way of engaging with the world. It's something we all need.

YOU make public art happen. At The Avenue Concept, our tagline is "we make public art happen". Our small-but-mighty team imagines public art installations, works with amazing artists to help implement those projects and then shares the stories of those artists and artworks with the community in order to make our cities more beautiful, livable, viable and safe. But as a nonprofit, we rely on people like you to help us make that happen through financial support, volunteering, and sharing what we do with your friends and family. Thank you! With your help, we make public art happen.

Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

Building name: 32 Custom House. Lot was home to the Daniels Building Architect: William R Walker Date built: 1873   Perhaps considered the most iconic mural in the current Downtown portfolio,  Gaia’s Still Here is a portrait of a conte... Read more
Driving North on 95 and as you look out onto Downtown Providence, you can see a square of brilliant blue, a solemn face, a shaft of green, a purple striped shirt. At 45’ square, Andrew Hem’s Misty Blue is backed by Johan Bjurman’s Tro... Read more
Building name: Providence National Bank Facade Architect: Howe & Church Date built: 1929, added 1950’s Preservation aficionados will know the story of the Providence National Bank Facade and how this architectural feature came to rema... Read more
Building name: Arnold Building/Mathewson Street Methodist Church Arnold Building: William R. Walker & Son Architects  Date built: 1923  Mathewson St. Church: Cutting, Carleton & Cutting Architects Date built: 1896   Cityscapes mo... Read more
Sculpture has a unique way of captivating attention and anchoring environments. From the form and shape, the way it lives in the space it occupies, the clues about its creation story, sculpture can ground us in a neighborhood, become a sign... Read more
Building name: Classical High School Architect: Harkness & Geddes Date built: 1970 An artist’s inspiration for mural work takes into account the surface upon which the work is created, the context in which the work is sited, and the v... Read more


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