COMING OUT Steve Walker’s “In Celebration Of” at URI Feinstein Providence Campus.
Art in Rhode Island this fall is a parade of founding mothers and fathers. AS220 co-founder Umberto Crenca fills his institution with his latest "ugly" work. RISD showcases the work of founding feminist and process sculptor Lynda Benglis. And two of the painters who launched the Providence Art Club more than a century ago get retrospectives. To these community leaders, add CW Roelle’s unique wire sculptures and Brian Knep’s groundbreaking interactive digital doodles, and it’s a season of pioneers.
LYNDA BENGLIS | RISD Museum | October 1-January 9 | In 1974, Benglis published an ad in Artforum magazine showing herself naked and oiled up, with a giant dildo clutched be-tween her legs. It was a feminist bad girl battle cry about gender equality and advertising, plus a wicked joke that freaked out the squares. Reproduced regularly in art history tomes, it is still joltingly pornographic, overshadowing the rest of her career. Now RISD rounds up 50 works from four decades — feminist performances as well as big gloppy poured lumps of polyurethane foam and tongues of paint that seem like mutant offspring of Minimalism and macho action painting. | 224 Benefit Street, Providence | 401.454.6500 | risdmuseum.org
"OUR FOUNDERS, EDWARD BANNISTER AND GEORGE WHITAKER" | Providence Art Club | Through October 8 | As the club marks its 130th anniversary year, the august in-stitution highlights two of its roster of 16 founders: Bannister (1828-1910), one of the most prominent 19th-century African-American artists, and Whitaker (1840-1916). Here in 40 paintings by Bannister and 60 by Whitaker, see how they translated the moody, romantic style of early 19th-century French Barbizon landscape painting to the New England vistas. | 11 Thomas Street, Providence | 401.331.1114 | providenceartclub.org
FOUNDER Edward Bannister’s “At Pawtuxet” at Providence Art Club.
"ALL THAT IS CHASTE AND BEAUTIFUL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GORHAM DESIGN LIBRARY" | RISD’s Fleet Library | October 1-December 17 | Founded in 1831, Gorham Manufacturing Company grew to occupy 37 acres between Mashapaug Pond and Adelaide Avenue in Providence; by the mid-19th-century, it was manufacturing more silver dishes, church items, and bronze castings than any place else in the country. Closed in 1986, and the more than 30 buildings now gone, this exhibit digs into a rare RISD archive of the business’s designs. | 15 Westminster Street, Providence | 401.709.5900 | library.risd.edu
"LAMP LIT: NEW WORK BY CW ROELLE" | Craftland | October 14 -November 13 | Roelle magically twists wire into what seem to be Victorian pen drawings floating in air. In this case, the Providence sculptor sketches windows, a bird, a lady reclining on a tiger rug, a water tower, and koalas escaping from a cage. Plus custom lampshades with designs that change when the lights go on. | 235 Westminster Street, Providence | 410.272.4285 | craftland.myshopify.com
"BRIAN KNEP: EXEMPLA" | RISD Museum | October 22-February 28 | Cambridge digital artist Brian Knep turns children’s doodles into interactive projections that look like cartoon cells squirming under microscopes. Twisting a dial or pressing a pedal prompts the critters to move about, split apart, regroup, tumble down. The six pieces resonate with one an-other to suggest metaphors for life and how communities grow or fail. | 224 Benefit Street, Providence | 401.454.6500 | risdmuseum.org