EYE-POPPING: Dale Chihuly’s “Persian Chandelier.”
The big, game-changing news of Providence’s fall arts season is the completion of the RISD Museum’s Chace Center (20 North Main Street, Providence), which offers new exhibition, education, retail, and administrative space — and frees up new space for galleries in the museum’s old buildings. It opens with a free admission day on September 27 from 10 am to 10 pm — which is also the opening of exhibits of two major artists who taught at RISD and exemplify pillars of the school’s program: exquisite craftsmanship and illustration.
“CHIHULY AT RISD” (September 27-January 4) inaugurates the new building’s changing exhibitions gallery with an eye-popping spectacle of 22,000 glass pieces by Seattle’s Dale Chihuly resembling Technicolor dream plants and undersea creatures. “BUILDING BOOKS: THE ART OF DAVID MACAULAY” (September 27-February 1) is a retrospective exhibit of final art from the Vermonter’s picture books — including The New Way Things Work, Cathedral, and Black and White (which won him the Caldecott Medal in 1991) — as well as preparatory paintings and drawings, models, and stuffed specimens. Then the museum presents “HARRY CALLAHAN: ELEANOR” (November 7-February 15), featuring 80 photos from the pioneering photographer and late RISD teacher’s long, loving portrait of his wife of 63 years.
Brown University’s Bell Gallery (64 College Street, Providence) presents “VIEWS AND RE-VIEWS: SOVIET POSTERS, THEN AND NOW” (September 6-October 19), a must-see survey of 160 posters from 1919 to 1960 promoting the power of the people, Soviet might, and a mirror-view of the 20th century. Then the Bell offers “ELIZABETH KING: THE SIZES OF THINGS IN THE MIND’S EYE” (November 1-December 21), featuring odd, unnerving articulated porcelain and wood people, plus animations showing them in action.
HORN OF LOVE: Alex Thibodeau’s “Tuff Luv,”
at Stairwell Gallery.
RISD isn’t the only art institution that is expanding. AS220 recently acquired the Mercantile Block building, next to its Dreyfus Building on Washington Street. They plan to fill it with art installations from September 19-October 12 before it is renovated and converted into studios, rehearsal rooms, offices, and live-work space for artists.
Other AS220 fall highlights include its FIRST BIENNIAL PRINT LOTTERY exhibit (September 7-27) at the main gallery (115 Empire Street, Providence), to raise money the institution’s printshop. Featuring 200 artists, it culminates with a lottery on September 27 in which anyone who buys a $75 ticket will get a randomly selected print or work on paper. In September, AS220’s Project Space (93 Mathewson Street), presents a 10-year retrospective of rock and roll posters by Providence’s PETE CARDOSO. At the main gallery (115 Empire Street, Providence),“THE SUSTAINABILITY SHOW” (November 1-30) presents prints by more than 30 local and national artists on the theme of sustainable living.
“NETWORKS2008” is a trio of exhibits celebrating the work of 16 influential living Rhode Island artists. The Newport Art Museum (76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport) surveys the art-ists’ work from October 25-January 25, AS220’s Project Space will present photos and video documentaries about the artists from December 7-28, and 5 Traverse (5 Traverse Street, Provi-dence) will present new work by the artists.
5 Traverse also offers “ART VS. OBJECT” (September 12-October 17), a group show featuring found objects and junk transformed into art, and “ENTANG WIHARSO: I AM BLACK GOAT” (October 31-November 22), by a rising star who splits his time between Rhode Island and his native Indonesia and is known for elaborate sculptural installations and mixed-media paintings.
One of the quiet treasures of the region is the Top Drawer Art Center (2731 Pawtucket Avenue, East Providence), which offers art programs for local adults with developmental disabili-ties and exhibitions of the visionary results. It opens the fall with “MY SHOW: THE FIGURE PAINTINGS OF EMMET ESTRADA” (September 6-October 3 ), featuring hundreds of tiny paintings of people and creatures.
Stairwell Gallery (504 Broadway, Providence) continues plumbing Providence’s electric hipster underground with exhibitions of paintings, prints, and sculptures by ALEC THIBODEAU (Sep-tember 14-October 12), Christopher Forgues (October 26-November 23), and Mike Taylor (November 30-December 28).
Fall highlights at Rhode Island College’s Bannister Gallery (600 Mount Pleasant Ave, Providence) include works by ARNOLD MESCHES of Florida (through September 25), whose large ex-pressionist paintings present a dark dream version of contemporary traumas, and RISD teacher DUANE SLICK (December 11-January 8), who explores his Native American heritage’s relation-ship to contemporary America. And sometime this fall — keep your ears open — the gallery plans a brief presentation of 159 ANDY WARHOL photos recently donated to the school by the Warhol Foundation.