We Need to Talk About “Adventure Time”

This iconic work of public art will take its last bow this summer – but don't worry: an incredible new mural will follow.

So, we’ve got something important to tell you and we don’t want you to panic. Are you sitting down? Are you comfortable? Do you need something – perhaps a nice, relaxing chamomile tea?

Ok, we admit, we’re stalling. We’re just going to come out with it. Here goes…

This summer, we’re going to decommission Natalia Rak’s iconic “Adventure Time” mural in Downtown Providence.

What does that mean exactly? Well, we’re going to rotate it out to bring in a new mural. That means we’re going to paint over it and “Adventure Time” will no longer grace that huge wall on the rear of the George C. Arnold building on Washington Street.

There, we said it. How are you feeling? Are you good? We feel better just having said it out loud.

All jokes aside, this is a big deal for us – and we know it will be a big deal for our community, which has embraced this mural as a local landmark.

We’re sure you’re wondering why. Allow us to explain.

Though it might be hard to remember now, when we installed this monumental work in 2015, it was never intended to be permanent. Regular rotation of work is part of our identity as an organization. The graffiti walls at our Paint Bar are painted and repainted nearly every week. Our Weybosset Facade Mural Residency, which goes into its sixth iteration this summer, has replaced existing works with new ones every year for the past five years. Our sculpture pads routinely rotate the works on display. Our mission is to create public art encounters, not erect monuments.

Furthermore, we feel we have a duty to honor both the artists we collaborate with and the community we serve by only presenting these works at their best. As artwork ages, it becomes more difficult to showcase it as the artist intended. Bricks crumble. Our rugged New England climate is not particularly kind to art.

Perhaps most importantly, rotation creates space for new voices and stories and provides opportunities for new artists. Providence is a small city and the number of spaces in which monumental public art can be installed is limited. Decommissioning older works to make way for new ones is an important way to foster new voices in public art.

With all that being said, we recognize that we’ve never initiated a rotation of a work on this scale. People have gotten used to seeing that young redheaded girl up on that wall. (Did you know that this mural has a particularly devoted following among redheads?) She’s become a familiar, beloved presence Downtown. She’s been the backdrop for so many selfies. And we realize that a lot of people are going to be sad to see her go.

This rotation is going to be a huge undertaking, starting in August, when we will roll over the mural and continuing into September, when we will paint the new one. Before that happens, we will provide the community with opportunities to say a proper goodbye to “Adventure Time.” That’s the reason we’re telling you about this now. We want you to have time to pay her one last visit, tell her how much she’s meant to you (we most certainly will not judge you for talking to the mural), get one final shot for the ‘gram. (Pics or it didn’t happen.)

As for the work that will replace “Adventure Time”… well, we’re not quite ready to reveal that yet. We feel it would distract attention from paying respects to the departing work to start talking about the new one right now. But we promise, it will be INCREDIBLE, and a worthy successor to one of our original Downtown murals.

So, that’s our big news. We hope you understand – and we hope you’ll help us give “Adventure Time” a proper send-off.