The Avenue’s Providence Utility Box Program
The boxes serve as tools for community building connecting residents, visitors, and businesses throughout PVD encouraging public art and addressing graffiti challenges. And through this program, we test ideas and seek feedback from local artists and residents over time. We pay artists’ and promote their work through social media, as part of our Avenue Public Art Tour app, and on our website. We supply materials and techniques to work effectively and efficiently in public, providing skills for artists to apply for future public art installations with TAC or other programs.
Boxes become connectors for building partnerships with community organizations and businesses, and we’ve facilitated 24 since 2020.
Spring 2021 Downtown & Upper South Providence Boxes
- funded by a generous grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.
- artists: Sara Breslin, Arthur Cayo, Kiera Gonsalves, Lara Henderson, Benny Notorangelo, YSANEL, and ArTwerk
Summer 2021 -Biltmore Park Utility Boxes
- funded by BankNewport City Center Rink, Providence Parks Department.
- artists: Forrest Curl, Kobe Jackson, Rene Gomez
Fall 2021 Vartan Gregorian Elementary School
- funded by Vartan Gregorian Elementary School, Ward 1 Councilman John Goncalves, Vartan Gregorian Parent Teacher Organization, Fox Point Association
- artist: Natural
Thinking Outside the Box: Utility Box Painting in Providence
Pensando Afuera de La Caja
Sara Breslin is a RI-based artist whose body of work explores her own struggles and growth as a young woman, including life and death, womanhood, and mental health. Breslin graduated with a BFA from the University of Rhode Island in 2014 and has exhibited her work in many local galleries such as the Jamestown Art Center, Brown University, and Hera Gallery. She currently works with the United Rare Disease Foundation as one of their founding volunteer artists in the Beyond the Diagnoses Exhibition.
“My pieces are driven by memory, mental illness, and the losses I have experienced. All of these experiences have given me the chance to look deeper within myself and discover things I never realized. Through my art I have opened windows to my own spirituality and connecting with my feminine energies.”
Arthur Cayo, City Life Utility Boxer
Arthur Cayo is a Providence based artist living and practicing in Olneyville. He was born in Brooklyn and raised in Rhode Island. Cayo fancies himself a people person and so most of the art he creates are portraits. He is grateful for art because he sees it as an outlet for him to release his energy in a positive way whether it’s painting at home, or painting murals around the city. During the summer of 2020 he started painting heart murals on boarded up storefronts then started painting hearts on pretty much any boarded up building he could find. Cayo decided to use the heart stencil because it was a quick, effective, universal message. He is currently the in-store artist at Mott & Chace Sotheby’s. He looks forward to making more art and relationships.
Kiera Gonsalves, Untitled
Keira Gonsalves is a 19-year-old local Rhode Island artist, also attending URI for a Bachelors in Fine Arts. She has been practicing artwork for the last 9 years, primarily working with pencil, charcoal, and acrylic paint. She started Stone Soup, her small business, to gain more experience and exposure for her artwork.
The themes Gonsalves likes to explore in her work have to do with pain and healing. She finds it interesting that healing, while an overall positive experience, is also a painful process. She captures these feelings as well as juxtaposes the positive experiences and feelings surrounding healing and growing with the reality of a painful transformation. Gonsalves emphasizes these conflicting emotions further through contrast between beauty and simultaneous grotesqueness in the specific imagery and colors used.
Lara Henderson, Prisms
Lara Henderson is a book artist, printmaker and designer based in Providence, RI. She prints out of AS220, a community printshop located in downtown Providence and also runs Make Books, a small business where she teaches book arts and creative coding. Henderson is an educator and presenter and holds a BFA in Graphic Design from UMass Dartmouth and a MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from the University of the Arts. Henderson’s books are in multiple collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Free Library, the American Philosophical Society and RISD.
Natural, The Fighter
Natural (Benny Notorangelo) is a multimedia artist, focusing mainly on spray paint in recent years. He uses his knowledge of pencil, pen, paintbrush to explain his vision in spray paint. Natural has painted several large-scale murals, with flora and fauna, creating an extremely imaginative world, which he easily creates in a blink of an eye.
YSANEL, La Broad de Mi Alma
Dominican artist YSANEL is a multidisciplinary artist working in poetry, public art, music, sculpture and theater. Her work emphasizes unique character and color play, sometimes enjoying the relationship between modern day and history and always serving BIPOC power. In 2017, YSANEL was awarded the Public Art Fellowship by the City of Providence. Her most known work in public includes a series of portraits on outdoor utility boxes of selected inspirational women for a female empowerment project that was eventually featured in Providence Monthly’s August 2019 issue called The Faces of Street Art. YSANEL also performed as background for Spike Lee’s Netflix Film called “She’s Got to Have It”.
ArTwerk is an interdisciplinary advance studio where we explore the part of Industrial Design that connects users to their environment, and bridges the gap between Art and Design in order to engage audiences with social justice topics. We look at design through a lens of Justice, Liberation, and Equity. In order to design for communities, we examine and engage with the intersectionality of social justice issues to best approach creating design experiences for diverse user groups. Through a series of projects, we will confront and examine our own biases, share stories, rely on our live experiences, listen and learn in order to build empathy, and design for inclusivity through public engagement.
Waterman St. x Benefit St.
Benefit St. x Angell St.
Washington Pl. x North Main St. (two boxes)
Forrest Curl, Down The Shore
Forrest Curl is a Philadelphia-born, Providence-based Artist and Angler. In 1982 Forrest and his twin sister were given matching, custom-made 9-foot Surf Rods by their father for their 12th birthday. Together, with these rods, the Curl Twins learned to fish Saltwater “Down the Shore “off the piers and jetties of Southern New jersey. Forrest still has both rods and still fishes Saltwater. His favorite thing to do is chase Striped Bass around in the Block Island surf at night with giant handmade lures.
Rene Gomez, Ice Down Medallions
I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In the late 70s, my family and I followed my grandparents to the US. We settled down in Providence, RI and started our new lives here. I was 4 years old. Being so young and not speaking the language, I spent a lot of time watching Sesame Street which was instrumental in my learning English. As far back as I can remember, with my first drawing of Batman in the first grade, Art has been my passion. In the 3rd grade, I earned a scholarship to RISD which afforded me the opportunity to take classes in different mediums. I’ve since continued looking for ways to express my creativity.
One of my first projects was at age 19, a mural in Providence in conjunction with Martha Martinez of Rhode Island Latino Arts.
As a child, I always attended the Dominican Festival Parade. As an adult I felt the need to participate and bring my brand of creativity to it. I wanted to introduce something new and exciting. Something that truly captured our Dominican culture. In 2015, I entered my first display to the parade, a Tribute to Las Hermanas Mirabal. I created 25-30 outfits for the young girls from Hispanic United Development Organization to wear. The outfits represented butterflies in honor of the sisters who in their lifetime were nicknamed The Butterflies. I have been participating and contributing my ideas to the parade ever since.
In 2015, I completed my first solo mural project inside La Broa’ pizza, located in South Providence. In 2020, I created a design for a banner campaign on Covid-19 in the Hispanic community, with fellow artist Shey Rivera. I consider myself a Pop artist whose specialty is portrait art.
Kobe Jackson, Hemerocallis fulva
Kobe Jackson is primarily an oil on canvas artist but makes work in all disciplines. They have spent time on the west coast during which they were commissioned by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, to paint ten electrical boxes. Jackson has spent eight years in Rhode Island and currently has a day job at a furniture-making shop in Central Falls.