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New galleries sprout on Federal Hill

By GREG COOK  |  June 18, 2008

A mini gallery district is sprouting on Providence’s Federal Hill, with three galleries moving onto Atwells Avenue, all within a few blocks of Gallery Z, which has been there since 2004.

The Gallery at 17 Peck last week moved out of its namesake location, in Providence’s financial district, to a handsome, sunny storefront that owner Dan Kelley renovated at 303 Atwells Ave., at the corner of Acorn Street. He hopes the location will attract more foot traffic.

The gallery began as a way to help promote the custom framing Kelley did at an art supplies and frame store that he bought five years ago. The art exhibits, which at first of-fered just his own paintings, eventually took over the store and expanded to include work by others, particularly contemporary Native American artists.

At the new location the business will become Gallery 17 Peck. Kelley, of Barrington, says he’s built up too much name recognition for the gallery in national advertising to com-pletely abandon the name. “Most of my work is sold out of state,” Kelley says. They gallery’s grand opening is scheduled for on Thursday, June 19 from 5 to 10 pm, with pottery by Glen Nipshank and paintings by Nocona Burgess, both Native American artists based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Strong Eagle Daly from Massachusetts will play flute.

Gallery 17 Peck’s new home sits across the street from Royal Gallery, which opened at 298 Atwells Ave. in April. It is owned by Munir Rihani, a Cranston-based art collector, re-tired engineer, and co-owner of a medical supplies export company. Right now the gallery offers tasteful realist female nudes, landscapes, and small marbles.

“We call it the Royal Gallery because we want to have the best art there is,” gallery director Leanne Tremblay says. “We want to have all styles to appeal to all different collec-tors.”

Chabot Art Gallery at 379 Atwells Ave. opened on June 10 for the Federal Hill Stroll, but gallery director Chris Chabot says they do not expect to open for regular business until late July.

The gallery shows realist and expressionist landscape paintings by her husband, Lee Chabot of Glocester, a retired advertising man and longtime painter, as well as others. The gallery opened in Pawtucket last fall, where Mr. Chabot will continue to maintain his painting studio.

At the center of all this is Berge Ara Zobian, owner of Gallery Z at 259 Atwells Ave. and a co-chair of Providence’s monthly Gallery Night tour. “It’s been a dream come true for me,” Zobian says. “My dream for many years is to create such a mecca for art in one area.”

Rihani and the Chabots have been clients of Gallery Z. And Kelley says, “Berge has been bugging me for a year to move up here.”

The four galleries are discussing doing joint advertising. They see each other as complimentary, rather than competitors. “We want to get a lot of galleries up here,” Kelley says. “The more the merrier.”

  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Visual Arts , Painting , Cultural Institutions and Parks ,  More more >
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