Put a Bird On It: Olga’s and Tiny Bar Add Value Through Public Art

"The artwork adds to our business in both tangible and intangible ways."

Mercedes Woman by Anthony Quinn and mural by Ricki Vespia

“Mercedes Woman” by Anthony Quinn and mural by Ricki Vespia at Olga’s Cup and Saucer/Tiny Bar

When Joanne Chang purchased Olga’s Cup and Saucer, the beloved Jewelry District breakfast and lunch spot, she knew there was work to be done. The courtyard/patio area was uneven and cramped. Plus, there was the (literally) small matter of 377 Richmond Street, the diminutive adjacent building that was also part of the purchase.

She had a vision – one that would add value to both her business and the neighborhood. “We knew there was a real opportunity to create a lush, urban oasis,” she says. Part of that vision involved turning 377 Richmond into Tiny Bar, “an upscale, intimate jewel-box bar.” 

Public art was another part of that vision. “I lived for a while in Chicago, and have visited many cities all over the world with fabulous public art,” Joanne explains. “A community that values public art is one that is welcoming, thoughtful, and invites adventures.”

Knowing her desire to add art to her urban oasis, a friend from the Jewelry District Association recommended that she connect with The Avenue Concept. “Once we heard about The Avenue’s work in Providence, we knew immediately we wanted to be partners,” she said.

The resulting collaboration, which proceeded in tandem with Joanne’s redevelopment of the property, eventually placed three pieces of high-quality public art between Olga’s and Tiny Bar.

Holding On by Barrett Kern at Olga's Cup and Saucer

“Holding On” by Barrett Kern at Olga’s Cup and Saucer

In the spring, two sculptures were installed in the courtyard. The first, Holding On by local artist Barrett Kern, is a geometric piece made from wood and steel. The second is an abstract figure by Oscar-winning actor, artist and late-in-life Rhode Islander Anthony QuinnMercedes Woman

The collaboration has been really smooth, mostly because we both want the same thing: We want the public to have access to the high quality art in our space,” Joanne says. “We’re not artists, so The Avenue Concept took the lead in identifying the artists and pieces that they felt would work best with our vibe.”

With the completion of renovations at 377 Richmond and Tiny Bar ready to open in early November, the time came to add the final piece: a colorful, nature-inspired mural from local artist Ricki Vespia. The plan is for all of the pieces to be rotated out periodically to make way for new art.

The artwork adds to our business in both tangible and intangible ways,” Joanne explains. “We want to be a business that supports our local economy and artists with partnerships. In addition to attracting new customers, it lets our existing guests know that supporting art in public areas is important to us. And it definitely adds to the revitalization of the Jewelry District.”

She also believes other businesses that want to add value to their communities while enhancing their customer experience can benefit from public art. “Any organization that seeks to align themselves with this value should consider a partnership,” she says. “In Providence, we have been delighted to work with the Avenue Concept to bring this to the forefront of our business.”

Want to learn more about adding value to your business through public art? Contact us at 401-490-0929 or hello@theavenueconcept.org.