The forgotten status of old industrial buildings in Eagle Square and Olneyville was a key factor in enabling this creative scene to take flight. What’s your view of how surging development in these areas has affected the underground, and what does it mean for the future?
TOWER OF POWER: Marro works on her 26-foot sculpture, dubbed a “fantasy castle cathedral.”
Some of the artists have had to move a number of times. They basically moved to the Olneyville area in 1995, so we’re talking just a little bit over 10 years, and I know that they’ve lived in at least three places in that period, and that they’re faced with having to move at the end of this year. So I think it will definitely change the way people are living here. A lot of artists have moved from loft spaces, which are no longer available because they’re being turned into either residential or commercial spaces that are much more expensive and [beyond] what they can afford to live in. So they’ve actually moved to smaller places.
I think that some of them might wind up leaving. At the same time, there’s a new generation who are still moving here, because there is this word-of-mouth that Providence is a really exciting place, particularly for young artists, to be. So it’s hard to say.
A lot of the artists are very involved in what happens to their community, and we have on the back of the cover of the [exhibition] catalogue a poster that says, “Olneyville needs [a] library, not luxury lofts.” [Laughs.] That’s a very current poster, you know, that we saw reproduced in other publications, so the artists have a real investment in their community. So I think right now, we simply don’t know.
Buying property in Providence has moved beyond the reach of a lot of people, not just artists. Does this suggest that more economically depressed cities, such as Fall River, might be the next frontier for movements like the one highlighted in “Wunderground”?
I think that’s a very good possibility, actually.
: Museum And Gallery
, Visual Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Brian Chippendale, More