"THE PROVIDENCE ART CLUB"
Providence Art Club
11 Thomas Street
Providence, Rhode Island
by Meredith Cutler (for Artscope Magazine)
I’m on a guided tour of the Providence Art Club, and I’m lost. Guests “are always getting lost in here” quips Gallery Coordinator Kristin Grimm, as she shepherds me through the dark hallway of a period decorated, 18th century foyer leading to a soaring skylight. The back of the 1789 Seril Dodge House forms one wall of the corridor. I blink at the surreal perspective of the historic house’s wooden siding, now an interior wall, feeling quite like Alice through the looking glass. Welcome to The Club.
Boasting a proximity to breathtaking waterfront views ranging from Great Gatsby-esque to post-industrial, along with a critical mass of higher education institutions including the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence has long drawn both practitioners and lovers of the arts and letters to its steep-streeted bosom. It’s a fit home for the Providence Art Club, one of the oldest known art clubs in the country — second to New York’s Salmagundi, but the first to boast six women and an African American among its founding members.
Founded "for art culture" in 1880 by a group of 16 professional artists, amateurs and art collectors to stimulate the appreciation of art in their growing community, the Providence Art Club today has over 600 members, including practicing artists and the art lovers that keep the scene alive.
Image: Providence Art Club, exterior view.