EAST PROVIDENCE — The hoped for arts district in city now almost literally has its vessel to carry on the stated mission.
At an unveiling ceremony held Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, the East Providence Arts Council and local dignitaries pulled the curtain on a sculpture titled "Rigging," a work that echoes the sails on a ship and encapsulates the area at the basin of Warren Avenue where the city's waterfront continues to be reshaped.
"Rigging," an approximately 20x20-foot piece, is the creation of area artists Alex Wynne and Julia Sullivan. It was commissioned by the arts council, paid for through Rhode Island Foundation grant money and placed on city-owned land at the foot of the Washington Bridge in Watchemoket Squar and the new linear park linking Providence with East Bay Bike Path.
"It's the first piece in what we envision to be a multi-visual sculpture park," said arts council chairman Rick Lawson.
To that end, the arts council has hired Kevin Alverson, a local landscape architect who recently worked in city on the redesign of the newly-named Honor Flight Park at Jones Pond adjacent to Pierce Stadium, to come up with a concept for the sculpture location.
"Having a design will make it easier to get donations and grants," Mr. Lawson said of sculpture park plan. "This area really is the gateway to the waterfront and outdoor entertainment district. With the new amphitheater coming next year, a lot of people are going to be coming into the city through this area. The park should be a centerpiece of the gateway to it. It's really exciting for us."
The sculpture park is just the latest achievement of the still-emerging arts council, which was only formed by the city council back in 2014. The arts council has aggressively moved to shape and influence East Providence's creative community with both concrete and abstract plans.
"We have the sculpture park now. We established ("the looff") arts festival. We were part of the event (with the Historical Society) at Hunts Mills. We've only been in existence two-and-a-half years, so we''re really excited about what we've already accomplished," Mr. Lawson said.
The arts chairman also credited a number of city administrators and bodies for their support including Planning director Jeanne Boyle, Public Works and Highway directors Steve Coutu and Rob Walker, the waterfront commission, the historical society and the East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce.
"It's amazing how many people are ready to work to make East Providence the gem of a city it can be," Mr. Lawson added.
— Photos by Tim Marshall