Published: August 29, 2006
For the past decade, Providence has been the site of a radical underground art scene, giving rise to a multifaceted, unbridled aesthetic that is as distinct as it is influential. The work earns international press ranging from music and fine art to comic and shelter publications, yet the artists maintain their underground life-as-art practices.
The Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), will present “Wunderground: Providence, 1995 to the Present,” an exhibition celebrating Providence’s intersection of art and music, September 15–January 7.
This exhibition consists of two parts, representing present and past: “Shangri-la-la-land” and “Providence Poster Art, 1995–2005.” Organized by Judith Tannenbaum, Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the RISD Museum, the exhibition is conceived by a core group of eight artists: Matt Brinkman, Brian Chippendale, Jim Drain, Leif Goldberg, Jungil Hong, Xander Marro, Erin Rosenthal and Pippi Zornoza.
“This exhibition provides and extraordinary window onto a thriving creative world whose art is seldom-seen by mainstream museumgoers,” says Tannenbaum. “We hope to honor the nonestablishment spirit of this community within the museum’s walls.”
For “Shangri-la-la-land” the eight artists will construct a sculptural installation especially for the museum’s soaring 30-foot Main Gallery, transforming it into a fantastic landscape loosely based on the idea of a village.
“Providence Poster Art, 1995–2005” will display, floor-to-ceiling, some 2,000 screen-printed posters advertising rock shows, art exhibitions and community events held in Providence since 1995 — a comprehensive timeline of the signature creative activities of the underground’s last decade: silk screening and noise music. The posters date back to the summer of 1995, when two RISD students, Chippendale and Brinkman, founded the legendary artists’ collective/rock-show venue Fort Thunder in the Providence neighborhood of Olneyville.
An improvisational installation filled floor-to-ceiling with eye-popping sculptures, paintings and prints, The Fort housed a dozen artists in a sprawling, historic mill building. More than 200 artists created these colorful, graphic, cartoony posters for happenings at off-the-radar venues such as Safari Loung, Candle Factory, Box of Knives and Pink Rabbit.
“Wunderground” will be accompanied by a full-color, illustrated catalog with a foreword by celebrated artist and designer Gary Panter.
The RISD Museum of Art is at 224 Benefit Street. For information, 401-454-6500 or www.risdmuseum.org.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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