A Newbie's Guide to Galleries Along the Coast
By Karen Greco
With the city at its heart nicknamed The Creative Capital, it’s no surprise Rhode Island has a world-class arts scene. In a survey commissioned by the National Endowment for the Arts, our state ranks among the top 15 in number of working artists. Think you have to go to Providence to find them? Think again. In South County, a funky arts scene thrives with galleries that feature local and regional artists for every taste and budget. “Rhode Island is filled with artists,” enthuses Dave “Gilly” Gilstein, co-owner of Charlestown Art Gallery, “It’s almost an embarrassment of riches.” With 3,000 square feet of wall space, Charlestown Art Gallery is one of the largest in Rhode Island and mainly exhibits artists from the state. While there are a few outliers who live elsewhere in New England or farther flung, the artists all have some connection to the region, including many RISD grads. “We don’t sell investment art,” Gilly says, referring to the pieces that sell at auction for millions of dollars. “Our artists are contemporary working artists. We love their work.”
The Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly’s board president Arlene Piacquadio points out that with their new digs at the Westerly Train Station, the Artists Cooperative has exploded as downtown Westerly undergoes a renaissance. “We now get a lot of first-time visitors, including lots of Manhattanites, who don’t expect to find art here.” With a monthly rotation of visiting and member artists, the gallery is hopping year-round.
YJ Contemporary Fine Art Gallery in East Greenwich opened its doors in 2018, but its roots in the art world go back over 20 years. Founded by Rhode Island photographer Alan Blazer and his son Josef, the creation of the gallery was a natural expansion of their existing business, Blazing Editions. Blazing creates archival, limited edition reproduction prints and represents a number of internationally renowned artists like painters Josef Kote and Anne Packard.
With that background, a number of the country’s top artists are represented with stunning oversized prints lining the walls of their annex gallery. But their main show room features New England-based artists that have a contemporary flair. This month’s exhibit, Art & Design: A Conversation that runs through April 23, pairs four regional abstract artists with four local furniture makers. > More