Capital Idea

Year of the City is a multimedia, metro-wide celebration of the Providence way of life


If Paris is more than the Eiffel Tower, Providence is equally more than WaterFire and Roger Williams statuary. Our capital is funky, dynamic, and centuries old. You could set up an entire gallery exhibit of our archival photos. You could arrange whole walking tours of each neighborhood. You could host lectures with local experts. Or – you could do all of these things, with 50 different curators, all year long.

Year of the City is a sprawling patchwork of cultural programs, which will overlap through the end of December. The concept is loosely based on Pacific Standard Time, a similar collaboration that took place in Los Angeles. First conceived in 2017, Year of the City will incorporate installations, presentations, and performances – and the open call for contributors is ongoing.

The project is spearheaded by a collaborative trio: Marisa Angell Brown, assistant director of programs for the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage at Brown University; Angela DiVeglia, curatorial assistant in Special Collections for Providence Public Library; and Jennifer Dalton Vincent, executive director of Providence ¡CityArts! For Youth.

But the full network of creative participants is vast and diverse, thanks to the initiative’s cosmopolitan mission. This month, Year of the City hosts three provocative new art shows, with countless more currently in development.

The Providence Album, Vol I
The famed photographer Harry Callahan moved to Rhode Island in 1961 to teach for RISD. Carmel Vitullo grew up in Federal Hill and became and acclaimed street photographer in the 1950s. In tandem, they documented the rapid decline of Providence, as inner-city denizens seeped into the suburbs. The Providence Album, Vol I illustrates this dramatic period in Rhode Island history.
May 4 – July 18. The Carriage House Gallery, 357 Benefit Street. 

Providence Waterways, Past & Present
Outside of riverbank parks and waterside restaurants, we often forget about the rivers that cut through Providence. Providence Waterways is an historical journey down the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers.
Through May 31. Rhode Island State Archives, 337 Westminster Street.

Ruffles, Repair and Ritual: The Art of Fixing
The historic Wedding Cake House is about to turn 150, and its renovations are nearly complete. For 32 years, this place was occupied by the Tirocchi sisters and their couture design business; soon it will expand operations for the Dirt Palace, an artist residency program based in Olneyville. This premiere exhibit will showcase 150 objects relating to local arts and history.
Opening May 18. Wedding Cake House, 514 Broadway.