Talking Murals with Johnny

A unique perspective on two of our most popular murals from the man who's probably spent more time with them than anyone: 86-year-old parking lot attendant Johnny Gates.

Back in the summer of 2015, we commissioned two large-scale works of public art in Downtown Providence as part of the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival (now known as PVDFest): She Never Came by BEZT, one half of Polish street art duo Etam Cru, and Adventure Time by Polish artist Natalia Rak. These murals still stand overlooking the parking lot at Washington and Mathewson Streets, and over the past few years they’ve become local landmarks, attracting daily visitors and inspiring Instagrams. But there’s one person who has probably spent more time with these works of public art than anyone: Johnny Gates, the 86-year-old parking lot attendant and a fixture in the city center’s cast of characters. Here he offers his unique perspective on the impact of public art in Downtown Providence.