The Providence Journal described Connie Leslie (1949-1993) this way: “She was probably best known for her brightly colored ceramic columns, which mixed motifs borrowed from Greek and Roman architecture with more fanciful elements such as fish, fruit and geometric forms. Leslie was more than just a gifted sculptor with a special talent for the ceramics. She was also part of a remarkable group of artists… who put Providence on the map as a center for contemporary art”.
Karen Klingon, writer and artist, taught at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the Parsons School of Design, and at the Rhode Island School of Design. Illustrator and author Annelousie Mahoney remembered her positive influence: “I was lucky enough to have an illustration professor, Karen Klingon, who both inspired and encouraged me. She suggested writing and illustrating for children and encouraged me to pursue it. She pointed me in a direction and that is when the seed was planted.”
Hmong Artists, with a distinctive language and culture, previously lived in Southeast Asia. The quilts depict village life in Laos and are made by people who were forced to flee their homeland and emigrate to the U. S. after the end of the Vietnam War. Many Hmong refugees made new lives Rhode Island, where they began quilting to make a living and to illustrate their former lives in Southeast Asia.
Ruth Dealy always aims to challenge herself: “If I have a motto it is to stay scared. … My work falls into two major groups, self-portraits and landscapes. Both are constants, mutated by time, light and season. I try to paint directly from my eye to my hand, without the shadow of editorial opinion falling in between.” She has lived and worked in Rhode Island for decades.
Jacquelyn Rice, born in Orange, California, went east to Providence and Barrington. She is the former head of ceramics at the Rhode Island School of Design and former dean of fine arts there as well. Her students described her as a wonderful, down-to-earth professor. Her ceramics are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution. She also collaborated with Uosis Juodvalkis, a photographer and founder of Colorlab, to produce wearable art and jewelry.
Denny Moers is known for his highly imaginative, technically innovative monoprints, created by controlling the action of light on chemical-sensitized photographic paper during the print developing process. His black and white photographs have an extraordinary range of tonalities and complex form. He has photographed subject matter as diverse as New England architecture, medieval wall frescoes, and western landscapes and dwellings. He currently serves on the faculty of Roger Williams University and Babson College.
Esther Solondz is a visual artist who lives and works in Providence. She uses a variety of ordinary materials, such as salt, water, soap, and rust to create her art. These materials each have their own special properties that allow them to transform into highly various states, (i.e. solid to liquid and then back again.) She utilizes these properties to let surprising things happen as the materials interact and change. Her work, widely exhibited for over 20 years, has been displayed in one-person and group shows at museums and galleries throughout the Northeast.
Sarah Powers is an artist and the Executive Director of the Office of Raleigh Arts in North Carolina. Her mixed media work focuses on industrial and rural landscapes and landscape details. According to the Providence Phoenix Powers’ “use of minimalist simplicity, evident in both her technical and conceptual approach, is combined with arbitrary objects of our everyday world to create an elusive yet captivating scenario that seems impossible to forget.” Her work has been featured in galleries across the U.S. including Rhode Island’s RISD Works, The Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University and The Mahler Gallery.
Alice K. Miles is an accomplished artist and painting conservator. Once, she gave face lifts to the portraits of Providence’s former mayors hanging in City Hall. Miles was also the first woman president of the Providence Art Club, America’s 2nd oldest art club after the Salmagundi Club in New York. She conserved Stations of the Cross paintings at St. Mary’s Church, paintings on the walls of the Columbus Theatre, and portraits of many notables at Brown University. Miles’ favorite medium is watercolor.
Elizabeth A. Goddard co-founded Studio Goddard Partridge, which operated from 1999 to 2018 as a studio for printmaker artists in Pawtucket. She also served as the executive director of the nationally accredited Newport Art Museum from 2008-2015. She has taught painting, drawing, journaling and printmaking. Goddard has juried numerous exhibits, often appearing on radio and television programs about the arts.
Bill Drew, a professor of illustration has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design for more than 30 years. He is a past recipient of the John R. Frazier Award of Excellence in Teaching. Drew is an abstract painter. He was one of the three artists chosen for Rhode Island’s first One Percent for Art project. Drew has received many grants including a Fulbright-Hayes Grant to paint in Italy, a Mellon Foundation Grant, a faculty development grant for research in Italy, and an artist grant from the RI State Council on the Arts. A review of one of his shows, states that “these colorful abstractions invoke the suggestion of landscapes and reference the Luxemburg Gardens in Paris and Monet’s Giverny.”
Mostly a self taught artist, James Kubiatowicz has, for the past seven years, been pursuing an encore career as a painter. He concentrates on figures, environments and the telling of small stories. Working from memory and sketches, he strives for economy of form and content through the use of a limited palette, figures rendered as gestures and subordinated details which leave stories to be completed by the viewer. He states “I am amazed and humbled by the positive reception my work has received. I felt painting was what I was always destined to do. I’m extremely lucky to have the opportunity now.”
Mimo Gordon Riley operated a studio for 20 years in Pawtucket. Her website states that “she does not plan her paintings. Confronting the broad and general subject of the natural world, she draws with a brush instead of a pencil, covering the canvas with layers of color. She then splits up the space with lines or shapes, pushing some colors into the
background, pulling others forward.” She has exhibited throughout New England for the last 30 years. She has stated that she “is grateful for Pawtucket’s spirit, its commitment to artists, and to reawakening the city through the arts.”
James B. Myette enjoys working in various mediums including watercolor, oil, printmaking and photography. Much of his art consists of paintings of maritime scenes along the shores of Maine, scenes that he knows well. He served as a guest lecturer at Providence College in the Math and Computer Science departments. “I love working in watercolor, oil, photopolymer printmaking, and photography. I find inspiration for my work by traveling the New England coast and Europe.”
Joseph Norman, born in Chicago in 1957, is the fifth of six children to parents who were the grandchildren of slaves. A move to Rhode Island launched his career, and he began to exhibit and teach at the Newport Art Museum. Now a Professor of Art at the Lamar Dodd School of Art (University of Georgia), Norman is a world-class draughtsman and printmaker. His prints reside in collections around the country, including the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), and the RISD Museum. He is considered by many to be the most important Black lithographer of his generation. His web site notes that “children flock to him to hear his funny stories and watch him draw and paint.”
Paulette Carr’s narrative is as multi- faceted as the tools she works with to create two dimensional and three-dimensional sculptures that can tower as high as eight feet, along with oil paintings of big sky minimal landscapes. Whether she is manipulating her welding torch with materials as varied as burlap, steel wood and patina to create a layering effect of fabric design for an imposing sculpture or using oil paint, palette knife and brush on canvases both large and small, it is the memory of the hand that guides her. She states: “There is memory to your hand and as any artist knows it is a memory to your gesture when you are working after years and years of practice,” she says. “Each artist has his or her very own rhythm, pattern and it comes with experience.”
Nick Swearer is to a large extent a self-taught sculptor. His website notes that he works primarily with cast and fabricated metals in his studio/foundry located in Northeastern Connecticut. His metal work takes on a broad range of expressions, from fantastical to social narrations using human or animal characters. He first created and welded bird sculptures at the age of eleven.
Maxwell Mays, who died in 2009 at the age of 91, was “a leading figure in the state’s cultural life for over a half century. He was best known as a folk artist of scenes of his beloved Rhode Island. A sought-after speaker and storyteller, Mays became notable for a number of highly successful art shows and magazine covers, including Yankee Magazine, featuring traditional New England scenes. He was Past President and Director Emeritus of the Providence Art Club, where the main gallery is named in his honor.
The Providence Art Club is one of the oldest art organizations in the country! Founded in 1880 to stimulate the appreciation of art in the community, the Club is a picturesque procession of historic houses, home to studios, galleries and the clubhouse. Through its public programs, its art instruction classes for members and its active exhibition schedule, the Providence Art Club continues a tradition of sponsoring and supporting the visual arts in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.
Regina Partridge, a Providence artist, works in monotype, pastel, and oil painting. In a statement from one of her exhibitions, she explains her inspirations: “From the morning mist of Glacier Bay in Alaska to the tranquil dawn of a Tuscan countryside, from the British Virgin Islands to the Westerly shores to ski trails in New Hampshire, these works evoke memories of moments of pleasure. Capturing these feelings of calm and color in print, paint, and pastel has been a life-long pursuit.”
Aaron Siskind’s early work as a social documentary photographer is best seen in his contributions to the Harlem Document (1932-40), a survey of life in Harlem. Siskind also identified with the ideas and styles of Abstract Expressionist artists in New York in the 1940’s. Siskind turned the medium of photography on its head, taking pictures of found objects that were simultaneously true-to-live and abstract; he was one of the first photographers to combine what was known as “straight” photography (recording the real world as the lens sees it) with abstraction. In 1971 Siskind was invited to teach at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he instructed until he retired.
Fritz Eichenberg, born in Cologne, Germany, was anxious about the rise of National Socialism. In 1933, he emigrated with his wife and child to New York. He later served as the head of the art department at the University of Rhode Island and laid out the printmaking studios there. He was a wood engraver whose life and artwork are published in the book “The Wood and the Graver: the work of Fritz Eichenberg.” Eichenberg was a long-time contributor to The Nation, his illustrations appeared in that magazine at various times between 1930 and 1980. in 1947, he was elected into the National Academy of Design. Eichenberg served as a former directorof Graphic Arts Center in Brooklyn and was on the faculty of the Pratt Institute.
Neal Drobnis is inspired by nature and ancient artifacts. He creates glass sculptures in an exciting combination of the cast and blown glass techniques, reinterpreting a tradition of glass forming used by the Romans over three thousand years ago. “My sculpture combines the processes of glassblowing and casting. In this exacting and action- packed physical drama, carved and assembled templates are pressed into the sand to create a mold, released and then manipulated. I use the vessel form to establish a contrast between interior and exterior surfaces: the former is a showcase for the depth and intricacies of the casting, while the latter offers a transition from the earthy texture of the sand to the polished lip of the piece.”